Side note: did you know that hot cocoa and hot chocolate are apparently two different things? When you see hot cocoa on a menu, it means it comes from a mix, like the one I'll be showing you below. When you see hot chocolate, however, it means that chocolate bits are melted on a stove. At least, that's what it is supposed to mean. Whether restaurants actually follow this, I must assume largely unknown, rule is another question.
Back to the task at hand! If you're feeling fancy, you can make your own hot cocoa mix AND your own homemade marshmallows! What! Yes, it's true. This is a great idea for a little gift, as well. Because let me tell you something, homemade marshmallows are about eleventy-billion times better than store bought. Just the facts, Jack.
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper, more to taste
- Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and incorporate evenly (easiest with a whisk). Fill about half your cup with the mix and add in hot water to the rest, stirring to combine. The rest can be sealed in an airtight container in your pantry for future use.
- ~1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup cold water, divided
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- Oil bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan, and dust it with powdered sugar.
- In your mixing bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water and let soften up.
- In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved (use a non-stick or wooden spoon). Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, for about 12 minutes. If you have a candy or digital thermometer, it should be at 240F. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until the gelatin has dissolved.
- Beat the mixture on high speed until white, thick and nearly tripled in volume. If you're using a standing mixer, make sure you use the whisk-type attachment. It needs to get some air beaten in there. This should take approximately 6 minutes with a standing mixture, but can take longer if you're using a handheld one.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat the whites and vanilla into the sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan. Sift 1/4 cup powdered sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours.
- Run a thin knife around edge of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. You're going to have to use your hands to loosen it and get it out, because it will stick. With a large knife, or pizza cutter, cut the marshmallows into roughly one-inch cubes. Sift remaining powdered sugar into your pan and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and storing them.
- They can keep for 1 week at room temperature, but it's totally fine to put them in the fridge too.
That's all them there hot cocoa mix ingredients ready to get mixed up.
Well hey, now it looks like cocoa mix! What in the world are we doing here? Oh right, making hot cocoa mix.
Now that your mix is ready, start working on the marshmallows. First you need to prepare your pan with some oil and powdered sugar.
Add 3 1/2 packets of gelatin to 1/2 cup cold water to get it softened up while you do the next thing.
Which is mixing together sugar, corn syrup, salt and another 1/2 cup cold water.
Now you've got to let this start to boil for awhile. Twelve minutes is about right. If you have a thermometer and want to be precise, it should be at 240F. But I don't have one, and it turned out fine.
Mix that in with the gelatin. The gelatin may have started to get a tad hard, but don't worry, the heat from the sugar stuff will dissolve it, just keep mixing.
While you start the sugar stuff to mixing, in a separate bowl, get your egg whites all fluffified. And don't take slightly blurry photos like me. Whoops.
Oh my goodness! Look what has happened to the stuff in the mixing bowl! This is after about six minutes. I initially had the paddle attachment instead of the whisk, and nothing was happening. Then I switched in the whisk and whoosh! The thing starts tripling in size and turning white! Amazing!
After you add in your egg whites and vanilla (I did not bother taking a photo as it looks basically the same), pour it into the prepared pan from earlier.
Sprinkle some more powdered sugar on there. Sugar sugar sugar, this is all about sugar!
Put it in the fridge for at least three hours to let it set up. When that's done, take a knife and go around the edges. You can try just turning it over onto the cutting board, but it's likely not going to just plop out. Use your hands and pull it away from the bottom! Hands! Use them! Once you've got it on the cutting board, you can use a knife, or use a pizza cutter and start cutting them into squares.
Roll around the marshmallows in some more powdered sugar and voila! Ready to consume! These will stay fresh for a week out and about, but you can stick them back in the fridge for longer.