Vanilla and Chocolate Marshmallows

Today I'm bringing you something different - a "Do It Yourself" Holiday gifting option.

First off, I would like to say something about DIY. In general, I prefer other people to do it for me. Even though I'm an artistic gal, crafting projects do not appeal to me. I don't want to scrapbook and the idea of making individual embossed place cards for a dinner party has me heading for the hills....of a craft-free zone.

At one point in my life (a deep, dark time, I will allow), I was mildly obsessed with making beaded jewelry. I do not use the word "obsessed" lightly, as I fixated on every bead, meticulously stringing them on wire, muttering to myself in a manner for which other people have been institutionalized.

Since then, I try to keep crafting projects to a minimum, only embarking on them if I feel like they are worthwhile and non habit-forming. Additionally, although I am opposed to DIY for most ventures, I make an exception for cooking and baking. In those cases, I always prefer to do it myself.

The holiday season usually presents a plethora of DIY gift ideas. I would like to contribute Chocolate and Vanilla Homemade Marshmallows - individually packaged along with Elana's Special Hot Chocolate Mix.

The individual serving of hot chocolate mix really is the icing on the cake for this little DIY gift. I've already gifted all of my creations and had the recipients squealing in delight over the combo. So, let us begin and the squealing re-commence:

For the Vanilla Marshmallows:

What You Need:

1 cup cold water, divided

3 1/4-ounce packages unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2/3 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

half of a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and reserved

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup powdered sugar

What To Do:

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and powdered sugar.  Spray a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and coat with  the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. Set both aside.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment. Pour the three gelatin packs over the cold water and let sit for about 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, honey, corn syrup, salt and the remaining cold water to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Attach a candy thermometer the the side of the pan and bring mixture up to 240 degrees F. There’s no need to stir the mixture, just let it get hot hot hot!

When the sugar is heated to 240 degrees F, turn the mixer with the gelatin and water on low speed. Carefully stream the hot sugar mixture into the bowl and the whisk moves. Be careful onto to pour into the whisk and spatter the hot sugar all over the sides of the bowl.  Gradually increase the speed of the mixer until you’ve added all of the hot sugar mixture.  Beat on high for several minutes until a thick, fluffy, white marshmallow batter has formed… about 8 minutes. Pour in the vanilla extract and vanilla bean and beat for another 2 minutes.

Spread the marshmallow mixture into prepared pan and smooth with a clean, wet spatula to prevent sticking. Top marshmallow with corn starch and powdered sugar mixture and let set and rest for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When set, remove marshmallow from the pan and place on a large cutting board coated with cornstarch and powdered sugar,  Use a pizza cutter, coated with non-stick cooking spray to slice marshmallows.  Once sliced, toss the cut marshmallows in the cornstarch and powdered sugar and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

For the Chocolate Marshmallows:

What You Need:

1 cup cold water, divided

3 1/4-ounce packages unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2/3 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder - divided

1/2 cup powdered sugar

What To Do:

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and 1/2 cup of the cocoa powder.  Spray a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and coat with the cocoa powder and powdered sugar mixture. Set both aside.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment. Pour the three gelatin packs over the cold water and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then, add in the remaining 1/2 cup of cocoa powder.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, honey, corn syrup, salt and the remaining cold water to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Attach a candy thermometer the the side of the pan and bring mixture up to 240 degrees F. There’s no need to stir the mixture, just let it get hot hot hot!

When the sugar is heated to 240 degrees F, turn the mixer with the gelatin and water on low speed. Carefully stream the hot sugar mixture into the bowl and the whisk moves. Be careful onto to pour into the whisk and spatter the hot sugar all over the sides of the bowl.  Gradually increase the speed of the mixer until you’ve added all of the hot sugar mixture.  Beat on high for several minutes until a thick, fluffy, white marshmallow batter has formed… about 8 minutes. Pour in the vanilla extract and beat for another 2 minutes.

Spread the marshmallow mixture into prepared pan and smooth with a clean, wet spatula to prevent sticking. Top marshmallow with cocoa and powdered sugar mixture and let set and rest for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When set, remove marshmallows from the pan and place on a large cutting board coated with cornstarch and powdered sugar,  Use a pizza cutter, coated with non-stick cooking spray to slice marshmallows.  Once sliced, toss the cut marshmallows in the cornstarch and powdered sugar and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

For Elana's Special Hot Chocolate Mix

Makes 8 servings - divide into individual bags for gifting

What You Need:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Optional: Add in 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper for a spicy hot chocolate

What To do:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together well with a whisk.

Divide into individual bags – 3 tablespoons per bag.

Seal bags and accompany with some chocolate and vanilla marshmallows!

Presentation:

For putting it all together, I visited my local Paper Source. Paper Source is a crafter's heaven. So, for the most part, I stay away. But for this project, I knew it would have exactly what I needed. I purchased:

Small white paper baggies

Teeny-tiny red and white striped paper baggies

Holiday-themed place cards

I put the marshmallows (4 to a bag) in the white baggies, and loaded the hot chocolate mix into the smaller, striped ones. Then, I attached it all using a place card stapled to both bags, like so:

Stuff stockings accordingly. People will love you for this. I swear.

* Marshmallow recipes based off this one by Joy the Baker.