… A Cold Winter’s Day Sweet Treat!
What a sweet treat to sip hot cocoa, some call it hot chocolate, on a cold winter’s day. You know that satisfying feeling of slurping rich and creamy lusciousness that warms all the way down the throat and into the chest, right? It makes coming in from playing in the snow or window-shopping in a festively decorated snowy downtown even more enjoyable. And what could be better than topping that cup of chocolate-y richness with some tender and springy, melt-in-your-mouth homemade vanilla marshmallows? Not much, in my opinion. So you’re getting a two-for recipe set today … non-dairy cocoa and homemade marshmallows. Oh happy winter day!
I wish I could take credit for this gluten-free, dairy-free marshmallow recipe, but it is such a close resemblance to Alton Brown’s Homemade Marshmallows, that I must pass the delicious and deserved credit to him. And I must share the recipe with you. These marshmallows are so easy to make (much easier than I anticipated) and have the perfect balance of tender “give”, sweetness, and subdued vanilla flavor. Some marshmallow recipes result in a candy that is too sweet or has an overpowering vanilla flavor – these are perfect! Thanks, Alton!
While the hot cocoa will disappear quickly, the marshmallows will stay soft and tender for up to three weeks when kept in an airtight container at room temperature. They can be cut into any size or shape you like simply by dipping your knife or cookie cutter into the extra dusting powder mixture (as explained below) before slicing. Re-dip the cutting tool between each insertion into the marshmallows so sticking is minimal. As you cut your squares or shapes, toss them into a bowl of the extra dusting powder to completely seal the sticky edges, then gently pat away the excess powder and set the marshmallows aside to enjoy or store for later.
Before I cut my marshmallows into cubes for hot cocoa, I used the full pan of marshmallow as a base for a winter snow scene for my gingerbread boys. These would also make beautiful decorations when cut into snowflake shapes and placed atop frosted cupcakes.
For a sweet and mild peppermint flavor in my hot cocoa, I like using a gluten-free, vegan candy cane by TruJoy Sweets as a swizzle stick. Extra yum!
Be creative, have fun, and celebrate a cold winter’s day!
Rich Gluten-free Dairy-free Hot Cocoa with Homemade Marshmallows
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cooking time: 1 ½ – 2 minutes
Makes: 1 serving (multiplies well)
8 ounces non-dairy milk – I prefer almond milk
1-2 Tablespoons ounces gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate – I like to use Enjoy Life Foods chocolate chips or Trader Joe’s 72% Dark Chocolate Bar, chopped
a few homemade marshmallows, to your liking
½ teaspoon cocoa powder, optional for garnish
candy canes, optional
Place milk in a microwave safe cup. Heat on high until quite hot, but not boiling, approximately 1-2 minutes, according to your microwave’s power. Place the chocolate into the cup and stir until the chocolate pieces have completely dissolved and the milk is smooth and rich. Float marshmallows on the hot cocoa. Dust with cocoa powder if desired. Serve immediately.
Gluten-free Dairy-free Homemade Marshmallows
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 35-40 minutes
Cool/set time: about 4 hours
Makes: a 9×13 pan of 1-inch thick marshmallows cut into any size or shape (for thinner marshmallows that can be cut with a cookie cutter use 2 9×13 pans and fill to only 1/2 inch thick).
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/4 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 cup ice cold water, divided
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Spray lightly a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Wipe excess spray so there are no obvious drops of oil, just a shiny surface. Set aside. Combine powdered sugar and cornstarch or arrowroot powder in a bowl and whisk well to fully homogenize. Set aside.
Pour half cup of cold water into bottom of bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add gelatin to water and let stand while doing the next step.
Combine half cup of cold water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepot. Heat over medium to medium-high heat, cover, and cook about 4 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking another 10 minutes or so, until a candy thermometer reaches 240ºF. (Alton’s recipe says this takes about 7-8 minutes; it took me closer to 12 minutes.) Monitor temperature carefully and immediately remove from heat as soon as it reaches 240ºF.
Drizzle gradually the hot sugar liquid down the side of the bowl, with the mixer on the lowest speed, and allow the dissolved gelatin to combine with the hot liquid. Increase the speed to high and continue mixing until mixture cools to lukewarm and becomes very thick, about 12-15 minutes. Stir in vanilla at the end of the whipping.
Dust the pan with the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture, while marshmallow mixture is whipping. Coat all the surface well then tap the bottom and sides of pan to loosen and spots with too much build-up. Pour excess back into bowl.
Pour/scoop fully whipped marshmallow mixture into prepared pan(s). Using a lightly sprayed spatula, press on the mixture to make as smooth as possible, working quickly and being careful not to touch the mixture (you’ll end up with sticky, stringy marshmallow all over your hands). Lightly dust the top of the marshmallow with some of the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture, reserving the extra coating mixture. Set aside the pan of marshmallows, uncovered and at room temperature, for about 4 hours.
Cut the marshmallows as desired, dipping the cutting tool into the powdered sugar mixture between each slice. Drop the cut pieces into the bowl of powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture to coat all sides, and transfer marshmallows to a re-sealable, airtight container. Enjoy on hot cocoa, dipped in melted chocolate, or as decorative toppers to frosted cupcakes or cake. Marshmallows should stay light and fluffy for about three weeks.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™