Monday, December 12, 2011

Hot Cocoa on a Stick

I love the "winter"- now in Southern California, winter typically includes a couple of days of rain, a couple of days of drizzling waters, and sub-50 temperatures... horrible right? Well- my version of winter typically includes chilly evenings, baking and peppermint hot cocoa.  Throw in some homemade marshmallows and now we're talking!

Last year I made hot chocolate on a stick with homemade marshmallows- and I had to do it again this year- with a twist!  I flavored my marshmallows and added fun stuff to the fudge to make it a little more festive. Chopped pecans, chopped up candy canes and plain ol' chocolate were the variations of the season... so far :)

Here is the recipe again so you don't have to search through last year's posts:
Marshmallow Ingredients:

.75-oz unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes of Knox gelatin- 1 envelope = 1 Tbsp so .75 oz = 3 Tbsp)
1/2 C cold water
2 C granulated sugar
2/3 C light corn syrup
1/4 C water
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (or other flavor extract)
Confectioners’ sugar (for coating the outside)

1) Line 9 x 9-inch or 8 x 8-inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil it using your fingers or non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

2) In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for about 10 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil. As soon as it is boiling, set the timer and allow to boil hard for 1 minute.

4) Carefully pour the boiling syrup into soaked gelatin and turn on the mixer, using the whisk attachment, starting on low and moving up to high speed (this keeps the boiling candy from splashing and scalding you). Add the salt and beat for approximately 15-20 minutes (the mixture will be fluffy like the consistency of marshmallow fluff, and will be cooled to almost room temperature). After it reaches that stage, add in the extract and beat to incorporate. I prefer to use concentrated extracts to decrease the amount of additional liquid I am adding to the recipe, and I typically beat for about 2 minutes after the extract has been incorporated.

5) Grease your hands and a rubber or silicone scraper with neutral oil and transfer marshmallow into the prepared pan. Use your greased hands to press the marshmallow into the pan evenly. Take another piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap and press lightly on top of the marshmallow, creating a seal. Let mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until cooled and firmly set.

6) Once marshmallows have set, turn the block-o-mallow out onto a cutting board that has been covered with powdered sugar. Generously cover the top of the solid piece of marshmallow (I use a flour sifter or a powdered sugar shaker), and cut into 1" squares. It is best to use a heated knife (it can be run under water then dried) to cut the substance more easily. Cover with plastic wrap, or place in plastic bags or another air-tight container after cutting- leaving them exposed to the air can help them to dry out and become rubbery within a couple of hours.

Fudge Ingredients: (Originally from the King Arthur Flour Company, adapted by Foodie with Family blog)
½ C heavy cream ($3.29 / Quart) (Cost ~$.41)
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups) ($1.49 / can) (Cost~$1.49)
3 C semisweet chocolate (~1.5 bags) ($1.99 / bag) (Cost~$3) 
3/4 C 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips (~1/2 bag) ($1.99 / bag) (Cost~$1) (=Total Cost to make ~$5.90 + tax)
wooden sticks, lollipop sticks, candy canes or bamboo skewers ($4 / 50 bags, $3 / 50 sticks at Michael's)
optional, crushed candy canes, marshmallows and/or cocoa powder

1) Line an 8 x 8-inch pan or a 9 x 9-inch pan with foil and set aside.

2) Combine the cream and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Heat until it is steaming, but not boiling, stirring occasionally to keep from scorching.

3) Add all of the chocolate and remove from the heat. Allow the chocolate to melt, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.

4) After 10 minutes, whisk firmly until it is thick and shiny. You can add a few drops of flavoring extract or oil at this point, or add some powdered espresso or vanilla. Whisk vigorously again to incorporate the flavoring (if used.)

5) Use a rubber or silicone spatula to spread the mixture out evenly in your prepared, foil-lined pan. Allow to cool at room temperature 12 hours or overnight so that it firms slowly.

6) Take the fudge from the pan and remove the foil. Place on a cutting board. Using a knife heated with hot water and wiped dry, cut the fudge into 1" cubes.

Assembling the Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows... On a Stick

1) Skewer the marshmallow with a lollipop stick or whatever you are using to assemble your treat. Next skewer the block of cocoa (cocoa blocks can have candy decorations (peppermint, cocoa powder, coconut, etc) on them already, or be decorated after skewering them with the marshmallow).

2) Place on top of a parchment square, or place directly into a treat bag, then tie the bag to seal out additional air.

3) The treats will keep without getting stale for about 3 days at room temperature, about 2 weeks when saved in the fridge, or for up to 3 months when frozen in an airtight container.

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