Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Last Christmas, I baked all my family and friends different kinds of cookies as presents, but this year I wanted to do something different. While researching recipes, I ran across a post from Tracey's Culinary Adventures about the best holiday recipes. I had always wanted to make my own marshmallows, but never really had the right recipe. Well, now that I finally had the reason to make marshmallows, I thought it was time to get my own candy thermometer.

A few tips to start:
  • I opted to put both the fudge and marshmallows in a 8x8 pan, since when I first tried it in the 9x13 pan it came out a little thin. 
  • Slide the marshmallow on first from the bottom of the lollipop stick, and leave about an inch for the fudge below it. If you try to slide it on from the top, the marshmallow will get the entire stick messy on the way down. 
  • The fudge must sit for 12 hours, and the marshmallows must sit for 4 hours, so you make both components well before you actually need to assemble it. 
  • As gift wrapping, I put each fudge-marshmallow stick in a clear lollipop bag and tied it with a ribbon. 

Hot Chocolate Fudge
1/2 cup heavy cream
14 oz can (1 1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk
18 oz (3 cups) bittersweet chocolate (chopped chocolate bars or chips)
4 oz (3/4 cup) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
wooden or lollipop sticks

Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides so you can lift the chocolate out easily.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and condensed milk over medium-low heat until steaming, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and add all of the chocolate. Stir gently just to cover the chocolate evenly, then let sit for 10 minutes.

Return the pan to medium-low heat and use a whisk to stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Once melted, whisk vigorously until the mixture is thick and shiny (it won't take long). You can add flavoring at this point if you're so inclined.

Pour the chocolate into the pan and spread it as evenly as you can. Let sit for at least 12 hours so it can set.

Use the foil (or parchment) "handles" to lift the chocolate out of the pan and turn it over (so the top is facing down) onto a cutting board. Remove the foil (or parchment). Slice the chocolate into squares just slightly bigger than 1" on each side.

Homemade Marshmallows 
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer set up with the whisk attachment along with 1/2 cup of the water.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Source: Makes and Takes, Tracey's Culinary Adventures