Last week was absolutely frigid here in New York City. I know, I know, it's January - it's supposed to be cold! Mike LOVES the winter, embraces it like the true New Yorker he his. I, on the other hand, happily hailing from below the Mason-Dixon, see nothing enjoyable about weather that freezes your face on the walk to work, so you arrive in a busy lobby not realizing your nose has been running for two blocks, balancing bags, gloves, hats while trying to find your building IDs, all while in a winter jacket that restricts full range of motion.
But I do enjoy an afternoon cup of hot chocolate on days like these. I enjoy the simple process of steaming the milk on the stove, whisking in the dark chocolate, ladling it into two mugs, and adding a homemade marshmallow that begins to melt just slightly upon contact with the warm liquid. I enjoy delivering the treat to Mike, watching him smile, sitting down next to him and clutching the mug close for warmth. That first sip - the sip with the most perfect ratio of hot chocolate to melty marshmallow - is all it takes to begin to warm my bones once again.
Recipe from Molly Wizenberg
I found this recipe just after I graduated college and it yields the most perfect marshmallow every time. You'll be surprised just how easy it is to make your own marshmallows and how much your hot chocolate or s'mores will improve because of them. Just remember to work quickly, but very carefully as the syrup is very hot!
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup cold water, divided
3 1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup potato starch (or corn starch)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil. Coat foil lightly with nonstick spray.
Pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.
Combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240ºF, about 8 minutes.
With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down side of bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to blend, about 30 seconds longer.
Scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top with wet spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours.
Stir potato starch and powdered sugar in small bowl to blend. Sift generous dusting of starch-sugar mixture onto work surface, forming rectangle slightly larger than 13x9 inches. Turn marshmallow slab out onto starch-sugar mixture; peel off foil. Sift more starch-sugar mixture over marshmallow slab. Coat large sharp knife (or cookie cutters) with nonstick spray. Cut marshmallows into squares or other shapes. Toss each in remaining starch-sugar mixture to coat. Transfer marshmallows to rack, shaking off excess mixture.
Makes 2 servings
You can use whatever type of chocolate you prefer, but I love the combination of a bittersweet chocolate with the sweetness of a homemade marshmallow. I always keep a box of Guittard 72% on-hand, as it is formed in wafers so I do not have to worry about cutting up the chocolate prior to adding to the warmed milk.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, cut into shavings (if not using wafers)
Over low heat, warm milk in a small saucepan until just beginning to simmer and bubbles form at the edge of the pan. Whisk chocolate into warmed milk until smooth and velvety. Divide evenly between two mugs. Serve with a homemade marshmallow.