Belated Holiday Posts Part 1

At this point, I probably have no good excuses for leaving you hanging during the craftiest time of year. Let's chalk it up to shit got crazier than the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl and move along, shall we?

AHEM... While I wasn't posting, I was definitely not idle. For my co-worker gifts this year I decided to make cocoa mix in a fun mug with homemade peppermint marshmallows.

Both recipes I used were found via Pinterest, a website where I waste most of my time. The peppermint marshmallows how-to was written by Ruth of Living Well Spending Less. I love her pictures and the majority of the how-to was very clear but I am a dumb and have never made marshmallows (or any type of candy) before so I CLEARLY needed a little more info. More on that minor disaster later.... 

The cocoa mix in a cute jar is also a Pinterest find, this one is by Catherine at Weelicious. Her creations are mega cute, y'all. 

I started with the marshmallows because they need to sit overnight to fully gel before you assemble them into the jar or mug. 

Ingredients

  • butter or crisco
  • 1/4c corn starch
  • 1/4c powdered sugar
  • 3 packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 1c ice water
  • 1-1/2c granulated sugar
  • 1c corn syrup
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1tsp peppermint extract
  • red food coloring (optional)

Tools

  • candy thermometer (NOT OPTIONAL, folks. Easily available at a grocery store, I got mine at QFC in the baking aisle)
  • stand mixer (this part would be VERY arduous to do without one of these. Certainly possible, but SUCKY)
  • saucepan
  • flat spatula
  • 9-1/2 x 11 casserole dish

OK... So I recommend you follow Ruth's instructions (see above link), but I will add my two cents. 

  1. Familiarize yourself with your (probably brand new) candy thermometer. Round one of this recipe consisted of me trying to figure out how to read it while leaning over boiling sugar... Needless to say I took it off the heat too early
  2. When she says whisk the mixture until it is "quite thick", what she means is "until it looks like marshmallow fluff". On my first try with this I did not get the mixture hot enough or let it whisk long enough and it turned out like peppermint jell0 (ew)
  3. Be liberal with the crisco or butter. It makes everything easier.
  4. If you have gone the food coloring route, be really light-handed with the application, too much and the extra liquid will keep them from setting up properly. The first time around I ended up with what will hereafter be referred to as "Murder-Mallows"
  MURDERMURDERMURDER

MURDERMURDERMURDER

BUT! I persevered and decided to try again. I won't lie and say I didn't end up with marshmallow fluff in my hair, because I did. And on my sweater. And the floor. Don't be like me. However, clearly second time is the charm because they turned out lovely

Now for the cocoa mix! 

Ingredients (the following are for EACH jar)

  • 1/2c of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4c white granulated sugar
  • 1/2c chocolate chips
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-4 peppermint marshmallows

Tools

  • Measuring cups
  • Spoon
  • 16-oz mason jar with lid (or other cocoa receptacle, I got these mason jar mugs at Bed Bath and Beyond and the lids at my Ace Hardware in the canning section)
  • Labeling/wrapping supplies like tags, ribbon, bakers twine and colorful pens

As with the marshmallows, I followed Catherine's how-to (again, see link). The most difficult part of this was getting the layers to look nice and even. I ended up measuring each ingredient and then using a spoon to place it in the jar and tapping it around the edges to get it smooth. Not a science by any means. 

Then came the super fun part (for me) of decorating the tags and wrapping the jars up for my co-workers. On the tags I included the instructions "Place contents of jar in a saucepan with 8 cups of milk and simmer until smooth and heated throughout. Top with a peppermint marshmallow" as well as good holiday wishes and attached the tags to the top of the jar with red and green baker's twine. 

NEXT! Belated Holiday Part 2! An update on my holiday decor, Frango cookies and more! As always, let me know what you think in the comments, by email or on twitter @Katiloraine. I can also be found pinning copiously to my Pinterest account