Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hot Chocolate Cake and Handmade Marshmallows



Marshmallows and hot chocolate- what could be better in this winter season? Here's my play on the duo! Winter is usually a time when people buy boxes upon boxes of hot chocolate mix (not a bad thing). I was attempting to make brownies with hot chocolate mix, but it came out more as a dense cake. However, the cake pairs really nicely with the fluffy, sticky marshmallow. I think a brownie texture would be too heavy, but a light cake wouldn't hold the marshmallows well. The cake is really simple to make, and the marshmallows are simpler than you would expect! It's a great dessert to make for Christmas potlucks, or if you just have too many hot chocolate packets :)

Hot Chocolate Cake (Makes one 8x8 cake)
1 stick Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
2 packets Hot Chocolate Mix
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2.  Melt butter, and mix with sugar and hot chocolate mix. It will separate, but will come back together once the eggs are added
3. Add eggs and mix until completely incorporated.
4. Add flour and mix until it comes together.
5. Spray a 8x8 casserole dish wish cooking spray.
6. Pour the batter into the casserole dish and spread evenly with a spoon or spatula.
7. Allow to bake for about 20 minutes, until the cake does not wiggle when you shake it.
8. Allow to cool, then cut into 16 2x2 squares (or smaller pieces if you want).

Handmade Marshmallows (Makes 64 Marshmallows)
1 packet Unflavored Gelatin Powder (.25 oz)
2.5 oz Water

8.5 oz Sugar
1 oz Water
1/4 tsp Lemon Juice
2 oz Corn Syrup
1/4 tsp Vanilla
Corn Starch or Sweet Rice Flour

1. Mix gelatin and first (2.5oz) water together to bloom. Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes.
2. In a small pan or pot, bring 1 oz water, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil.
3. Allow it to cook until the sugar crystals are completely melted. Test this by dipping a spoon and allowing the sugar to cool, then feeling the mixture for sugar granules. Do not overcook. If you do, you will have a hard time cooling it (it will become a rock of sugar).
**If you overcook your sugar, you can finish the process, and then sift the fluff through a sieve to get rid of any large sugar pieces before you pour it into the casserole dish. However, you will have a smaller amount of marshmallow, and the texture will not be as nice. 
4. When the sugar crystals have melted, pour into a bowl.
5. Mix for 2-4 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed, until the sugar has cooled some. It should still be steaming, but not boiling.
6. Add gelatin mixture, and mix until it is completely melted and incorporated.
7. Add corn syrup and vanilla and mix on high speed until the mixture becomes white and has at least doubled in size.
8. Spray a 8x8 casserole dish with cooking oil. Then, sprinkle with corn starch or sweet rice flour. Make sure that it is completely covered, so that the marshmallow does not stick. The easiest way to do this is to shake the starch through a sieve.
9. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the casserole pan, and then dust the top surface with starch. There should be no uncovered portion.
10. Allow to cool completely, so that the gelatin will set. This will take about 30 minutes. You can tell by pressing on the surface. It will be soft, but will bounce back.
11. Turn the marshmallow onto a starch-dusted cutting board. Use a sharp knife dusted with starch to cut 1"x1" squares.
12. As each square is finished, roll it in a bowl of starch. Ensure each side is covered, so that when you store the marshmallows, they do not stick to each other. 
13. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not place into the refrigerator, because the humidity will cause them to stick and melt.
14. To finish the cake, place a marshmallow over each square and place in the oven on broil, until the marshmallows are toasted and melt slightly.

You can also use the marshmallows in a cup of hot chocolate. They taste much better than store bought marshmallows. I will be posting a delicious hot chocolate recipe in a few weeks- a much better alternative to the mix packets. The hot chocolate is perfect with the sweet marshmallow. Warm up this winter with some hot chocolate cake and homemade marshmallows. And, of course, don't forget to share! Share your stories, memories, and food with your family and friends this holiday season!


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