Homemade Hot Chocolate & Marshmallows

This year I’m doing an advent calendar with Gwendolyn, and yesterday’s activity was to make homemade marshmallows.  I’ve made peppermint ones before to give with Christmas cookie trays, and it’s a simple enough process – although I am always slightly wary of any recipe in which a candy thermometer is utilized.  Gwendolyn’s job was to mix the cocoa with water (then set aside to mix in at the end of the recipe); pour water, vanilla, and gelatin into another bowl; add water, sugar, and corn syrup to a pan on the stove; and let’s not forget the most important task: licking the beaters.  Before it sets into chewy marshmallow, it’s like marshmallow fluff.  Heavenly. 

The recipe I used this time around is a chocolate swirl variation of the Basic Vanilla Marshmallows from Brownie Points Blog.  I am not a huge fan of plain marshmallows, but love putting them in hot cocoa, s’mores, and other recipes.  I am dying to try some of the other varieties, like strawberry, or substituting brown sugar for white to give it a caramel flavor.  Some of the readers suggested toasted coconut, which sounds divine.  *sigh*  Why did I give up sugar? 

Anyhoo, today’s advent calendar activity is “Drink hot chocolate,” and I decided to make homemade hot chocolate to go along with the homemade marshmallows.  I opened up my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and made a variation of their simple recipe for hot chocolate.  I halved the ingredients since I didn’t want to end up drinking all the leftovers myself. 

Hot Chocolate
1/3c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3c sugar
4c milk (I used mainly unsweetended coconut milk)
In a medium saucepan combine chocolate chips, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the milk.  Cook and stir over medium heat till mixture just comes to boiling.

Stir in remaining milk; heat through.  Do not boil.  Remove from heat.  I didn’t do this, but you can also beat the mixture with a rotary beater till frothy.  Other variations include Hot Mocha in which you add 1T instant coffee crystals to the chocholate mixture, Spiced Hot Chocolate in which you add 1/2t ground cinnamon and 1/4t ground nutmeg to the chocolate mixture, and Low-Fat Hot Cocoa in which you substitute 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder for the chocolate and use skim milk.

The hot chocolate was a big hit with the kiddos.  And of course we saved some for Daddy.