Monday, November 15, 2010

Gifts from Scratch Day 1

I love the idea of giving homemade gifts at Christmas time but this year I have no extra money to buy any supplies so this time my gifts need to be made from items I already have in my pantry.

Here's one of my favorite gifts to give-
Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
3 1/2 Cups of Sugar
2 1/4 Cups of Cocoa
1 Tablespoon of Table Salt

In a large bowl combine all ingredients; Whisk together well. Funnel into a jar or Ziploc baggie. (If you don't have canning jars you could use a pasta sauce jar washed well.)

For individual hot chocolate servings:
Fill a microwavable mug with one cup of whole milk. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and stir. If needed, microwave at additional 15 second intervals, until desired temperature is reached. Add 2 tablespoons of cocoa mix, stir to dissolve, and top with homemade marshmallows.

For a larger batch of hot chocolate:
Warm the milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat; taking care not to let the milk boil as it warms. Stir in 2 tablespoons of mix for each cup of milk. Top with homemade marshmallows.

Homemade Marshmallows
2 1/2 Tablespoons of Unflavored Gelatin {approximately 3 1/2 envelopes}
1/2 Cup of Cold Water
1 1/2 Cups of Sugar
1 Cup of Light Corn Syrup
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract
Confectioners' Sugar {10X Powdered Sugar}

Makes 40+ Large Marshmallows

Combine unflavored gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, let sit for 30 minutes. {This can also be prepared without a stand mixer - Just place ingredients into a large bowl and use an electric hand mixer}.
In a small saucepan, combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and the additional 1/2 cup of water. Place over low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
Increase the heat to high and boil mixture, without stirring, until it reaches 244°on a candy thermometer. {Approximately 12 minutes} Immediately remove pan from heat.
With a stand or hand-held mixer on low speed, slowly pour the syrup mixture into the gelatin.
Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is very thick, white and nearly tripled in volume. {Approximately 15 minutes} Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
Spray a glass baking pan with a light coat of non-stick baking spray and dust with confectioners' sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan and sift a good layer of confectioners' sugar on top. Wet your hands and gently press on mixture, making sure it is even in the pan and somewhat smooth. Sift another generous coating of powdered sugar on top and place in fridge {uncovered} for at least 3 hours up to 24 hours, until firm.
Dust a large cutting board with confectioners' sugar. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan and invert. You may need to use your fingertips to gently pull the marshmallow out.
With a serrated knife, trim off the rounded edges and begin to cut into squares. It helps to dust the knife before each cut with confectioners’' sugar. If the knife becomes sticky wash, dry and complete steps above. A clean dry knife helps keep the cuts precise and the marshmallows square. Toss the cut marshmallows with additional confectioners' sugar to fully coat; This will prevent them from sticking together. The marshmallows will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.

Putting your basket together-

Fill jars with cocoa mix and attach directions for making it. Fill another jar with homemade marshmallows. Put in a basket or gift bag.

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