In case you were wondering, we received our first snow of the year in early November (the 1st to be exact), which is quite the rare occurrence in East Tennessee. No, it didn’t stick. No, I couldn’t play in it. But it still happened. You see, it’s not surprising for those of us who live here to have to wait until February to see beautiful, white flakes fall from the sky. Growing up, it was the weatherman’s cruel joke to warn us of a potential snow fall only to wake up the next morning to absolutely nothing on the ground. Usually, it didn’t actually rain so we couldn’t even hope that icy roads would delay the start of school.
Sure, you people who live up North laugh at us Southerners for getting the day off for an inch of snow, but what you don’t realize is that it’s really just the idea of a snow day. It was the school throwing us students a bone…”Sure, call off school. They’re built in days, anyway.” We got so excited for a snow day even though it rarely lead to an actual day of snow. But, man, when we finally got a good snow fall, those were some good times. It felt like Christmas morning. We would all wake up and run to the window to see the ground covered in snow. And it was beautiful because no one had walked all through it yet…it was pure, driven snow. We’d rush around, throwing on our cold weather layers and then we’d run straight outside to grab the sleds and head to the golf course, which is where everyone went to slide down the driving range. You’d see everyone you know and it was the ultimate day of fun.
But, perhaps the best part of it all was coming home and getting out of your cold, wet clothes while cuddling up with a blanket, a movie, and a cup of hot chocolate. You’d sit around reminiscing about all the fun you just had, including that time you almost slid head first into that tree…
These days, when I get cozy with a cup of hot cocoa it reminds me of those days and I can’t help but smile. Only, it’s not a cup filled with that pocket of powder and tiny marshmallows. I’ve learned to make homemade mallows and hot chocolate. Don’t worry, it’s a cinch. A little messy, but a cinch.
THE INGREDIENTS. For the mallows…
- 4 envelopes Unflavored Gelatin
- 3 cups Granulated Sugar
- 1 1/4 cup Light Corn Syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
- 1 1/2 cups Water
THE METHOD. It’s the ‘Hope and Pray’ method…he he…Just kidding. It’s about temperature and timing.
- Grease a large baking dish and cover with parchment. ( I used aluminum foil because I’m a fool who forgot the parchment at the grocery store. Work with what you’ve got.) Oil up the parchment, as well. Marshmallows are quite sticky…
- Add your sugar, corn syrup, salt and 3/4 cup of water to a pot and bring it a boil while stirring. Once it’s boiling, stop stirring and let it boil away until the syrup reaches 238 F (Use a thermometer for this process).
- In a large mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, add the other 3/4 cup of water and the packets of gelatin. Let it sit for 5 minutes, softening the gelatin.
- Once the syrup has reached the appropriate temperature, turn on the mixer to low and slowly add the syrup to the bowl while gradually turning the speed up until it reaches the ‘high’ setting.
- Continue to whip air into the mixture until it turns white as snow and forms a stiff peak. This should take 10-12 minutes.
- Quickly, pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth it out. I found that heating a metal spoon with hot water really helps this process.
- Let it sit uncovered until the gelatin is set. This should take about 3 hours.
- Cover a clean surface with 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and turn the set marshmallows out onto it. Remove the parchment.
- Using an oiled knife, cut the mallows into 2 inch squares.
- Toss them with the remaining powdered sugar. This will keep them from sticking to one another.
- Place them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
**Note: I halved the recipe because I would never have eaten 24 marshmallows in 3 days.**
Now, for the hot chocolate…(this is for a single serving)
- 1 tablespoon Unsweetened powdered cocoa (plus or minus*)
- 1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar (plus or minus*)
- Vanilla Extract
THE METHOD. It’s not very conventional, but it works…
- Place the cocoa and the sugar in a microwave safe mug.
- Fill the mug with milk (the type is up to you). Place it in the microwave for 1 1/2- 2 minutes (or until hot…)
- Add a splash of vanilla. Stir it up.
- Add your mallows and enjoy!
You could just as easily make it on the stove top. Basically, equal parts cocoa and sugar. Add your milk and vanilla. Heat it up.
* Depends on your particular chocolate/sweetness tastes…
ENJOY IT. Cuddle up and relax with your delicious cup of hot cocoa. It’s rich and decadent. So much better than that little pocket of powder…