I’m not sure how much I’ve mentioned it here on the blog, but a few Fridays ago, I dropped the bomb… I don’t drink coffee. More specifically, I don’t like coffee. I just haven’t developed a taste for it, although if you blend it all up into a pseudo-milkshake called a mocha frappuccino, then I’ll drink a little bit. Aside from that, if I’m ever at Starbucks, there is a 99.9% chance that I’m ordering hot chocolate. I have always enjoyed some of the higher-end packaged hot chocolate mixes, but a few years ago I discovered how ridiculously easy it was to make my own homemade hot chocolate mix. Not only is it great to keep on hand during the winter months, but it also makes a perfect homemade Christmas gift. You know what ups the “wow” factor of homemade hot chocolate mix? Homemade marshmallows. If it’s December, peppermint marshmallows are definitely in order.
Marshmallows are one of those things that never really occurred to me to make from scratch until I saw them in Baking: From My Home to Yours nearly five years ago now. After making them once, I was amazed at how utterly easy they were. Not only that, but they were far, far superior to anything you could buy at the grocery store. Hot chocolate and s’mores never tasted so good!
While it’s easy (and traditional) to cut the marshmallows into squares, you could also use a little round cutter to cut them to fit mugs if you’re giving them away as part of a gift. As you can see, I took some of the marshmallows and dipped the bottom half in dark chocolate then rolled it in crushed candy canes. This makes for a pretty presentation if you’re packaging them up with hot chocolate mix for the holidays!
However you cut, package or serve the marshmallows, once you’re done, drop a couple in a piping hot cup of hot chocolate, kick back and enjoy!
Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil, enough so that excess foil hangs over the sides of the pan. Spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and cornstarch; set aside.
Pour ½ cup of the cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand until the gelatin becomes very firm, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining water and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Pour the sugar into the center of the saucepan and add the salt. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, gently swirling the pan, until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Turn the mixer on low speed and carefully pour the hot syrup mixture into the gelatin mixture, avoiding the side of the bowl as much as possible. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip until the mixture is very thick and stiff, 10 to 12 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and peppermint extract and mix until incorporated, about 15 seconds.
Working quickly, scrape the mixture into the prepared pan using a spatula that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Smooth the top into an even layer. Sift 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar mixture over the pan. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature.
The next day, turn the marshmallow slab out onto a cutting board and peel off the foil. Sift 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar mixture over the slab. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, cut into 1-inch strips one way, and then across the other way for square marshmallows. You could also use round cutters to cut them out as well.
Place the remaining powdered sugar mixture in a large ziploc bag. Working with 3 or 4 marshmallows at a time, toss the marshmallows in the bag with the powdered sugar mixture, then toss in a fine-mesh strainer to remove any excess powder. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container or bag for up to 2 weeks.