Here is my Holiday present for you all. I love making hot cocoa mix and homemade marshmallows for the Holidays. The below is the recipes I use. Make a bunch, package it up and give it away with cute mugs you pick up on clearance. Everyone will think you are so clever!
HOT CHOCOLATE MIX
3/4 cups powdered milk
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
Mix the above ingredients together and seal in an airtight container until ready to use. You can use it in a ratio of 1/2 cup mix to 1 cup water - OR - 1/4 cup mix to 1 cup milk. Warm up the water/milk, place the mix in, stir thoroughly, until the little chocolate bits melt and everything is blended together.
* I use Trader Joe's 72% bittersweet chocolate Pounder Plus bars for the chocolate. They are fairly inexpensive and is really good quality chocolate. And you can easily make a quadruple batch from one bar.
** I always quadruple the recipe when I make it. You can go through this fast during a cold snap.
2-1/2 TBSP unflavored gelatin
1 cup water, divided, plus 1 TBSP
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract (the REAL stuff!)
NOTE: I use 12-1/4 x 8-1/4 in aluminum pans you buy at the grocery store (the kinds of pans with clear plastic lids) to make the marshmallows. They end up being just the right size for a big fluffy marshmallow. I suppose if you want smaller marshmallows, use a larger pan, so you need to spread out the marshmallow mixture thinner and then cut them smaller.
Lightly coat the pan with cooking and dust with powdered sugar; then set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water. Let stand 25 minutes.
At the same time, in a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, over low to medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Increase hit to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce to heat to medium and boil at a moderate rate, stirring frequently until the thermometer registers 244 degrees Fahrenheit - about 15 minutes. MAKE SURE THE MIXTURE DOES NOT BOIL OVER OR BURN.
I use a instant read thermometer to watch the temperature. A candy thermometer will work, too. DO NOT USE A MEAT THERMOMETER - THEY ARE NOT ACCURATE ENOUGH.
Place the bowl with the gelatin on the stand of the mixer, with the whisk attachment (you MUST have a stand mixer for this - if you don't have one, don't bother). Turn it on to low and gradually pour the hot sugar syrup into the gelatin, add the vanilla and the final 1 TBSP of water. Increase the speed on the mixture to high and beat at high speed and beat 15 minutes. In the end, the mixture should be white, thick and look like, well.....Marshmallows!
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Dampen your hands and press the marshmallow mixture into the pan until it is pretty well, smoothed out (it doesn't need to be perfect).
Let sit overnight, and then remove from the pan and cut into marshmallow-sized pieces and roll in powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.
NOTE: You need a heavy duty mixer to make marshmallows. I have one of the original (40 years-old plus) Kitchenaid stand mixer (I inherited it from one of my great-aunts), and after 15 minutes of mixing the marshmallows, my mixer head is pretty hot and needs a serious rest. If you have a portable mixer, I would call that annoying friend with all the expensive kitchen gadets and ask to borrow her Kitchenaid.