This do-it-yourself Valentine’s gift idea was so much fun last year (and seemed to make you all happy) so I’m reposting it as a weekend project for you and those you love on Valentines Day!
It’s a great idea for co-workers (ask mine…yummy right?!) or friends because you can make it all in bulk & it’s totally customizable…add your favorite spice to the hot chocolate mix…cinnamon, nutmeg, a little cayenne like me…just play with it.
Also…I discovered a new LOVE for homemade marshmallows…seriously addictive & the store bought ones can’t hold a candle to them!
Now, please know up front that giving out these gifts was just an excuse to attempt homemade marshmallows….something I’ve always wanted to try. And then there’s the chocolate factor!
Here’s your How To:
Supplies: Natural gift tags, twine and plastic pastry bags in 2 sizes (all from your local arts & crafts store), a stamp that ties in to whatever holiday you’re celebrating & ink and a few hours!
I wrote the “instructions” on the back of the tag, but you could use another white tag for some variety or you could have them printed instead of hand writing them…I just liked the personal touch. Then bag 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in the larger of the 2 bags and 1 marshmallow cut-out in the smaller. You can use a hole punch on the bags (or just cut a little slit in both) to thread the twine and tags through. Pass them out with a hug & enjoy the smiles!
Homemade Marshmallows (start with these…you’ll have some time while they’re setting to do the hot cocoa part)
- 3 packages (1/4-ounce each) unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup (8 ounces) cool water, divided 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (11 ounces) light corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract
- crushed peppermint candies, peppermint oil (what I used…delish), or espresso powder, all optional
- confectioners’ sugar, to sprinkle on top
Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cool water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup cool water in a small, deep saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.
With mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is very thick and fluffy, and has cooled to lukewarm, 8 to 10 minutes. (It should be cool enough that you can spread it into the pan without burning your fingers.)
Add vanilla towards the end of the mixing time. This is also the time to add a few drops of peppermint oil, if desired, instead of vanilla extract. Or try 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder for a coffee-flavored treat. To use the crushed peppermint candies, which will tint the marshmallow pink and add flavor, stir the candies into the marshmallow mixture, leaving some swirls of plain white.
Spread the marshmallow mixture into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan (glass or ceramic is best). Use your wet hands to smooth and flatten the marshmallows. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over the top, and let sit for several hours (or overnight) before cutting. Use a greased knife or cookie cutters to make squares or other shapes. Yield: about 100 1″ squares.
Hot Cocoa Mix – makes about 5 1/2 cups and is easily multiplied (don’t forget the cayenne pepper…it really adds a nice little bite…not too overpowering)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred – but use your favorite!)
- 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg or other spice…to taste
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. Can either be mixed with hot milk or water.
If you try these out & let me know how it goes….and if you have any great do-it-yourself gift ideas, please share…
Sending lots of love this February.