HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE

By now everybody is getting ready for the holidays. Christmas is huge in my world! Probably because my birthday is in December. Shhh…..don’t tell anybody, it’s today!!! Most likely because I still believe in Santa Claus. Definitely because of the birth of Jesus and the true reason for the season. There are so many reasons to be happy and smile this time of year.

Lord knows I love a Christmas tree and love to decorate the house. I also love to bake  and make goodies for family and friends. I have been in the kitchen non-stop for the past few days. I make all sorts of cookies, dip pretzels in chocolate and bake bread. One of the things I love most is making marshmallows. I have a friend who is a chef. He said, “how do you do that? I don’t even know what’s in a marshmallow!”

I will admit my first attempt was scary. Now it’s just old hat. It still amazes me every single time. Just watching those few simple ingredients make magic. Once you have had these, you will never buy store bought again. They are little pillows of perfection. Light and airy and melt in your mouth.

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I choose to dip mine in chocolate. I mean why not? A little more decadence to an already delicious little morsel never hurt a thing. Wether you choose to keep them plain or cover them in chocolate; they are marvelous in hot cocoa. Trust me….this I know to be true.

After posting pictures on FB I got several requests for the recipe and how to. So on my birthday I would like to share a gift with all of you.

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HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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INGREDIENTS:

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 T plus 1/2 t unflavored gelatin
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C light corn syrup (Karo)
  • 1/2 C hot water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 t pure vanilla
  • 1/2 C cornstarch
  • Candy Thermometer (most groceries and Walmart carry them)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Lightly spray a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Put 1/2 cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it stand to soften.
  3. In a heavy saucepan, mix the sugar, corn syrup, hot water and salt together. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Place the candy thermometer on side of the pot, being careful not to let the tip touch the bottom of the pot. Continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage) on the thermometer.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin, stirring gently to dissolve; set aside.
  6. With a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.
  7. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the sugar mixture. Add the vanilla and continue beating for approximately 10 minutes. (I use a timer and do exactly 10 minutes and it comes out perfect every time)
  8. Transfer to your prepared 9×13 dish. Spread evenly. Spray a piece of parchment paper with non-stick spray and place it on top of your mixture smoothing it out with your hands gently.
  9. LET IT STAND OVERNIGHT (some people find this difficult…LOL)
  10. Remove the parchment paper, invert the marshmallow to a sheet of waxed paper or a plastic cutting board that has been sprinkled with cornstarch lightly. You may have to gently go around the sides of the pan with your fingers to help it come out of the pan.
  11. Trim the edges to make a straight line. (these peices I save and give to my grandson to put in hot chocolate or on ice cream or just eat).
  12. Cut into squares. In a plastic baggy toss with the cornstarch remaining.
  13. At this point it’s your choice, plain or dipped in chocolate. I use dark chocolate melting wafers that I get at Michaels or Hobby Lobby (directions for melting are on the package). I use skewers to dip and help me remove them from the chocolate. The melts come in all colors and flavors. Totally up to you. When done I allow them to sit out for the day and then put into a tin and keep in a cool place.

I hope you have fun with this recipe.  The oldest daughter said “thanks for ruining us Mom, I can’t eat store bought any more”. Oh well, what are mothers for?

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe, love and keep the ones dear to you close. Be kind to everyone. If all of us do these things “WE CAN” make the world a better place

Until next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

 

 

LET THEM EAT CAKE

Poor Marie Antoinette! She denies having said, “Let them eat cake!” to a starving French nation. She was very extravagant in all things. In her defense, she was barely a teenager. Imagine all that wealth and power. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have lost my head over it either.

Anyway, I love cake; I love to bake. There’s only one problem with baking a cake. There are only two of us!  When the kids were home it was perfect. I got a piece and they ate the rest. So what’s a cake lover to do?

I had an “aha” moment. Why not make a mini cake?  I have a 6×3 pan that I used for a topper on a wedding cake. All I had to do was decide what kind of cake I wanted to bake. I’ve seen them in the bakeries and grocery stores. Why haven’t I thought of this before? Would you believe me if I told you I actually had a dream about this? It’s true!

I learned a while ago to bake my cakes and freeze them. Prior to freezing them I brush them with a mixture of simple syrup. It makes them so moist you won’t believe it. You can freeze most cakes up to 2 months. When you make a small cake, like this one, you end up with 2 cakes. That means you will always have one in the freezer ready to frost and serve, or give as a gift. Winner, winner!!

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So my first mini is a  Raspberry Cake with Buttercream Icing. Buttercream and raspberries, how can that not be good?  It just screams summer. It turned out great and how adorable is this???? I am already thinking of my next creation.

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MINI PARTY CAKE

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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This cake is an adaptation from Dorie Greenspans “Perfect Party Cake”

INGREDIENTS:

For the Cake:  (this makes (2) 6×3 inch cakes. Slice in layers, wrap, freeze, and store one for later use.)

  • 2 1/2 C cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/ 1/4 C buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 C granulated white sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

For  the Buttercream: (this recipe makes enough for 2 small cakes or 1 large cake)

  • 1 C granulated sugar
  •  4 large egg whites
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Finishing:

  • 1/3 C seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously until spreadable
  • Simple syrup (1 C sugar and 1 C water boiled to dissolve sugar) cooled

 

DIRECTIONS: Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use the Magic Release (see directions below) to prepare two 6×3 cake pans. (you can butter, flour, and line with parchment paper if desired).
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and lemon zest and sugar until the mixture is very light and fluffy.
  4. Add the lemon juice beat til incorporated
  5. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture add 1/3, then half of the egg mixture. Repeat ending with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture until all is incorporated. Stir to bottom of bowl well with a spatula. Beat for an additional 2 minutes to make sure everything is mixed together thoroughly. Stop occasionally and stir with spatula.
  6. Place 3 cups of batter into each pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes, when tested with a wooden skewer into the center it should come out clean and should spring back to the touch. Check at 35-40 minutes. Oven temps will vary.
  8. Let rest for 5 minutes on a cooling rack.  Unmold, and invert onto the cooking rack, right side up, cool completely.
  9. Slice both cakes into 3 layers. Brush all 3 of the cut sides with the simple syrup. Place the layers on an aluminum lined baking pan and freeze. Once frozen place each layer in individual freezer safe bags. Cakes can be frozen for up to 2 months.

DIRECTIONS: Buttercream

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, put the sugar and egg whites and fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water, whisking constantly. Continue until it feels hot, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
  2. Remove from the heat, and put in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat for about 5 minutes or until cooled.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one stick at a time and beat each until smooth. Once all the butter is incorporated, beat for 6-10 minutes on medium high-speed. If it separates, keep beating, it will come together again.
  4. On medium speed add the vanilla.
  5. It should be shiny smooth, velvety, and white. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and set aside.

ASSEMBLY:

I made the cake the day before to ensure it was frozen. The buttercream was made the day of assembly.

  1. Remove and unwrap cake layers from the freezer.
  2. Place the first layer, cut side up on your cake board.
  3. Spread 1/3 of the buttercream, then 1/3 of the preserves.
  4. Top with another layer and repeat until the last layer.
  5. Place the last layer “cut side” down.
  6. Ice the top and sides of the cake with buttercream and decorate with fresh raspberries.

TIPS:

  1. You can vary the berries and jams.
  2. You could also use lemon curd as a filling.
  3. A whipped cream icing on the outside would also be a good variation.

**** Do you have difficulty getting your cakes to release from the pan? Fear no more! I came across this one some years ago. Try this simple concoction; you can thank me later.

Miracle Pan Release

  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 C vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C all purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Whisk thoroughly until everything is incorporated and smooth.
  2. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature.
  3. To use, dip a pastry brush (or use a piece of crunched up wax paper/parchment) into the mixture and spread a thin layer over the bottom and sides of pan(s). Use this for any recipe that calls for “greasing” and “flouring” your pans.
  4. This can be made into any size batch you want. Just make sure the proportions are equal in amount to each other as above.

* Wilton also sells this pre-made.

Since I have buttercream icing left over I plan on making a mini fresh peach cake. I’ll use fresh peaches and peach jam. I am also going to put a whipped cream icing on the outside with this one and add some toasted almonds to the top. Cake and coffee anyone??

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

nothing to “TRIFLE” about

I hope everybody had a wonderful Easter. I know we did! What better way to spend a holiday than with your family? We had a full house and it was amazing. It was so nice having everybody under one roof to celebrate.

We, traditionally, have homemade ravioli for Easter. We’ve been doing it since I have known my husband and nothing has changed. So far we have enlisted the oldest daughter and now my grandson. He did a fantastic job! Of course, my sister-in-law, husband, and myself, have been doing it for a long time. Easter Weekend and Ravioli I must say, I was so grateful to have my sister-in-law Dawn here to help. We haven’t been able to cook together for a while because she lives in Michigan. We had some fun!!

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I always make my homemade bread. EGG BREAD or CHALLAH Our oldest son, Ryan, would never forgive me if I didn’t. Of course Caesar salad is another tradition. I have a recipe that my husband and I made together years ago.  Unfortunately, that one is hush, hush, for the moment. I get asked for that one all the time. For now it’s in the vault. More to come on that!!!

Every good meal needs a good dessert, especially during the holidays. Dawn and I used to make this one all the time. In fact, both of us had that “aha” moment at the same time, “TRIFLE”. It’s easy, light, and quite a table stunner. Made with cake cubes, pudding, fruit, and Cool Whip.

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I’ve made it with different fruit, puddings,  and cake bases. You can tailor it to suit your taste buds too. Our trifle was 3 layers so all of the ingredients are divided into thirds. I happen to have a trifle dish but any pretty clear glass bowl will also work. Assemble all of your ingredients before you start. You will also want to make your pudding ahead of time so it sets up. I use Jello sugar free-fat free instant puddings. Again, use whatever pudding you like.

TRIFLE

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pre-made angel food cake, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large box of lemon pudding, prepared ahead to thicken
  • 1 quart of strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 1 pint of blueberries, washed
  • 2 bananas, sliced thin
  • 1 can of crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 large container of Cool Whip (I use Lite) thawed
  • 1/2 cup of sliced almonds

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Line all of your ingredients in front of you.
  2. Start with 1/3 of the cake cubes and line the bottom of your bowl.
  3. Next cover the cake cubes with 1/3 of the pudding.
  4. Use 1/3 of each fruit and lay on top of the pudding layer.
  5. Spread 1/3 of the Cool Whip on top of the fruit.
  6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the sliced almonds on top of the Cool Whip.
  7. Repeat these layers two more times.
  8. On the third layer of Cool Whip I like to dollop and swirl the remainder in little clouds and add a large berry to the top just to make it pretty.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

I would love to hear and see your combinations, so please feel free to share with me.

Until next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D