What is it about a cup of steaming hot cocoa on a cold December day? Today I’m sharing my secrets for the perfect cup of hot cocoa. It includes frozen whip cream swirls (that can be made and stored in the freezer for anytime use) and homemade marshmallows that are light as air and melt-in-your-mouth magical. Stir it all together with a chocolate candy cane stir stick, and you’re in hot cocoa heaven. (What? You hadn’t heard of hot cocoa heaven? It’s an amazing place.) The frozen whip cream cools down the hot cocoa just enough to keep it from scorching your tongue, the marshmallow melts to create a sweet cloud, and the peppermint candy adds a minty kiss to each sip. Heaven, I tell you! These recipes would be perfect for a holiday hot chocolate bar or after a long day of playing in the snow.
Frozen Whip Cream Swirls
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside. In a chilled mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until light peaks begin to form. Add in sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff peaks remain. Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag and pipe individual swirls onto parchment paper, then transfer tray to the freezer for 6-8 hours. Remove from freezer just before serving. Unused swirls can be stored loosely in a freezer bag or airtight container.
from Maida Heatter
vegetable shortening (for preparing foil)
1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons (3 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
Prepare a 9×13 inch pan as follows. Invert the pan. Cut a piece of aluminum foil long enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the foil over the inverted pan and fold down the sides and corners just to shape. Remove the foil and turn the pan right side up. Place the foil in the pan and press it gently into place. With a pastry brush or crumpled wax paper coat the foil thoroughly but lightly with vegetable shortening. Set aside.
Beating constantly at medium speed, pour the syrup slowly into the gelatin mixture. After all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and beat for 15 minutes until the mixture is lukewarm, snowy white, and the consistency of whipped marshmallow, adding the vanilla a few minutes before the end of the beating. (During the beating, occasionally scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. The marshmallow will thicken and become sticky — if the mixture crawls up on the beaters as it thickens, carefully wipe it down with a rubber spatula.)Pour the slightly warm and thick marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and, with your forefinger, scrape all the mixture off the beaters. Smooth the top of the marshmallow. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours or longer if it is more convenient.
Then sift or strain confectioners sugar generously onto a large cutting board to cover a surface larger then your pan. Invert the marshmallow over the sugared surface. Remove the pan and peel off the foil. Strain confectioners sugar generously over the top of the marshmallow. To cut into even 1 inch strips use a ruler and toothpicks to mark it every 1 inch.
Prepare a long, heavy, sharp knife by brushing the blade lightly with vegetable shortening. Cutting down firmly with the full length of the blade, cut the marshmallow into 1 inch strips. (After cutting the first slice, just keep the blade sugared to keep it from sticking.) Dip the cut sides of each strip into confectioners sugar to coat them thoroughly — you should have enough excess sugar on the board to do this. Now cut each strip into 1 inch squares. (You may place three strips together and cut through them all at once.) Roll the marshmallows in the sugar to coat the remaining sides. Shake off excess sugar. Store in a plastic box or any airtight container — or plastic bag.
Chocolate Candy Cane Stir Sticks
12 peppermint candy canes, unwrapped
1 cup premium chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
5 tablespoons heavy cream
vanilla candy wafers (optional)
In a small double boiler over medium heat, melt the chocolate chips with the cream, stirring frequently until the chocolate is completely melted with no lumps. Hold each candy cane over the pan and spoon a layer of chocolate over the bottom half of the candy cane. Give the candy cane a gentle shake to remove any excess chocolate. Lay each candy cane on a sheet of parchment paper to cool.
Melt candy wafers according to package directions and drizzle onto cooling candy canes. Allow chocolate and candy to completely cool and solidify before serving.