Hot Cocoa Mix and Vanilla Marshmallows

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Guys! The world totes didn’t end, so if you’ve maybe put off your holiday gifts I have this super easy Hot Cocoa Mix with Vanilla Marshmallows for ya.

I always try to put together gifts that I would like to receive–since I’m kind of picky, I’m my own holiday litmus test. One of my favorite wintertime gifts is a new mug. Just a mug though seems a little wan to me, so I like to add a little something homemade to make it personal and sweet. This hot cocoa mix comes together in about 2 minutes, while the marshmallows take a little longer, but if you have a mixer it will do a bulk of the work for you. To make the marshmallows extra special and glitzy, I like to add about 1/4 teaspoon luster dust (found with cake decorating supplies) into the dusting mixture  It makes the ‘mallows shimmer a bit and takes them into gifting territory. Certain people in my life are receiving this exact gift. I’m hoping they love it as much as I love them.

Speaking of love, Happy Holidays! You are amazing and thank you for reading my crazy ramblings, peeping at my pictures, and being generally awesome.

Love and Peace to you all! XO!

Hot Cocoa Mix and Vanilla Marshmallows

Since this cocoa mix relies mainly on 2 ingredients, use a cocoa powder you really love. I used Valrhona–which is my favorite of favorites. I think a little espresso powder would be a nice addition as well. The marshmallows can be flavored however you’d like–peppermint would be super fun and appropriate, I think.

Cocoa Mix:

Adapted from Martha Stewart

3 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean (optional)

2 cups cocoa powder

Whole Milk to serve.

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and in a bowl, rub the vanilla seeds into the sugar until fragrant and well dispersed. Add the cocoa powder and whisk to combine.

For Cocoa: Stir 1-2 Tablespoons cocoa mix with 8 ounces of hot milk. Top with marshmallows.

Vanilla Marshmallows:

Adapted from this recipe. 

2/3 cup cold water

4 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

1/2 cup water

scant teaspoon vanilla

2 Tablespoons each powdered sugar and cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon luster dust–optional

In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the 2/3 cup water and set aside to soften.

Spray a 9X13inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a gallon bag, shake together the powdered sugar, cornstarch, and luster dust. Set aside.

Scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean and in a bowl rub seeds into the sugar until fragrant and well dispersed. In a medium saucepan combine sugar with water and stir gently to moisten. Heat the sugar and water over medium heat without stirring, until sugar dissolves and comes to a boil, cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin and vanilla to combine.

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the syrup until it becomes light in color, voluminous, and holds a medium-stiff peak. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and dust the top with powdered sugar. Allow to set up several hours before cutting and shaking the pieces in the powdered sugar mix to coat well. Can be kept in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

Rocky Road Brownies

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Hey!

I’m totes back…and…I made brownies!

I would apologize for the brief hiatus in the last few weeks, but, truth be told…I’m not super sorry about it since I was living life, soaking in some solid family and friend time, and clocking as much niece time as I could. Twelve days ago my newest niece was born and I just can’t resist snuggling new born babes–they’re a wonder, it’s for real. It was an exciting trip home, but I’m glad to be back with my husband, pups, and cooking in my own kitchen.

Anyway, about the brownies! There’s nothing about Rocky Road that I don’t like–chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts–so much texture. These are a rich, fudgy, sticky, gooey, and crunchy. Instead of the standard marshmallow, I switched it up and made these coffee flavored. I tried to bake the marshmallows into the brownies, but that resulted in a soggy, melted, marshmallow mistake.  Since the mallows were homemade I added them at the end of baking, which lets them melt a bit into the brownie, forming an irresistible topping.

Rocky Road Brownies

I adapted my fave brownie recipe for this, you could probably use whatever one you like best with fine results.

Coffee Marshmallows:

adapted from Chuck Hughes

4 teaspoons powdered gelatin

2/3 cup water

1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee or espresso (I used 6 teaspoons instant espresso dissolved in 1/2 cup water)

1 1/2 cups granulatred sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

powdered sugar for dusting

In a small bowl, soften gelatin in 2/3 cup water for about 5 minutes.

Prepare an 8x8inch pan by lining with parchment and spraying lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup espresso with the sugar, heat over medium high to dissolve and bring syrup to a low boil. Cook 1 minute, remove from heat, and stir in gelatin until it is completely dissolved and combined.

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the syrup until it become light in color, voluminous, and holds a medium-stiff peak. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and dust the top with powdered sugar. Allow to set up several hours before cutting and rolling each piece in powdered sugar. Can be kept in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

Brownie:

adapted from Alice Medrich’s Best Cocoa Brownie recipe.

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, cold

1/2 cup flour

Topping:

1/4 cup chopped almonds

10 marshmallows, cut in half

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*F. Prepare an 8×8 pan by greasing and lining with parchment. Set aside.

Fashion a double boiler out of a saucepan and a large, heatproof mixing bowl. Add butter, chocolate, sugar, cocoa, and salt–stir to combine until butter is melted and the mixture feels hot to the touch. Set aside and allow to cool to just warm.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in vanilla, then, add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. Add flour and combine. Once flour is incorporated, continue to stir vigorously for about 40 strokes. Pour into a prepared 8×8 baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownie comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove the brownie from the oven, top with almonds, marshmallows, and chocolate chips. Return to the oven, turn off heat, and allow the topping to melt onto the brownie top for 3-5 minutes in the still warm oven. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.