Kahlua marshmallows and homemade instant hot chocolate are a perfect holiday gift and a super cozy self-care treat for days when the snow is coming down or the rain is pouring. Many years ago, I went to a presentation at a conference for women in higher education and heard a president of a community college in Oregon whom I very much admire talk about the concept of self-care. This was several years before I formally entered into therapy (long story there) and hadn’t thought about the idea of work-life balance in any sort of depth. What really resonated for me from that presentation was the idea of “bliss breaks”: brief moments during the day in which you do something just for you, whether it’s taking a walk in the autumn leaves or drinking some hot chocolate. This recipe is perfectly designed for a bliss break: it’s easy to make, so low stress on the weekend, and can be stored in a plastic snack baggie in your desk drawer. Add hot water in a pretty mug, stir and call it a happy moment.
Marshmallows are incredibly easy to make and lots of fun, particularly because marshmallow fluff has a tendency to be very active as you are making it – crawling up the mixer beaters, for example, and creating beautiful peaks and valleys as it is being mixed. A few tips that I learned the hard way: first – when you finish with the sugar mixture and it’s been added to the gelatin, immediately start soaking your saucepan and candy thermometer. Otherwise, you’ll be chipping out sugar from your pan. Do the same with the bowl and any utensil that the marshmallow fluff comes in contact with – the faster you clean it out, the easier it will be, as marshmallow sticks to everything! The second is to butter the spatula that will come into contact with the marshmallow when you are transferring it from the bowl to a pan to set. This makes it so much easier to get it moved from bowl to pan. Finally, used powdered sugar liberally on any other utensil you’ll use on the marshmallow. I was able to cut out the cutest shapes from the set marshmallow by dipping the cookie cutters in powdered sugar first. The same goes for the knife you’ll use to cut the marshmallows if you decide to cut them into squares. I’ve also read that you have to have a stand mixer to make these. While I’d imagine it would be about a thousand times easier to do this with a stand mixer, I’ve used a hand mixer without any problems.
I’m going to enjoy Kahlua marshmallows and homemade instant hot chocolate while gazing at the lights of the Christmas tree and listening to Pink Martini’s holiday collection. With any luck, we’ll get a white Christmas here in the PNW or at least a pretty icy one. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup dry milk powder
- 1 ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ crushed candy cane (optional)
- 2 packets Knox Gelatin
- 1 cup cold water, divided into ½ cup portions
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons Kahlua
- Powdered sugar
- Layer the ingredients in a jar and mix by either stirring or putting a lid on the jar and shaking. This can be stored in a dry place for several months. To use, combine ¼ cup of the mix with hot water and stir.
- Prepare a baking sheet or cake pan by greasing it thoroughly with butter and coating it with powdered sugar (similar technique to greasing and flouring a pan for a cake). Set aside.
- Sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup of cold water in a large mixing bowl and set aside. (If you are using a stand mixer, do this part in your bowl for the mixer).
- In a large saucepan, combine ½ cup cold water and the sugar. Bring to a boil. Stir continuously and check the temperature with a candy thermometer. When the sugar and water mixture has reached 240 degrees (soft ball stage), take the mix off the heat.
- Add the sugar/water mixture to the gelatin. Add the Kahlua. Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to beat the combined ingredients for about 10 minutes or until the marshmallow is light and fluffy and starts to hold its shape. I generally figure I’m at this stage when the marshmallow is crawling all the way up the beaters to the mixer
- Butter a spatula thoroughly. Use the spatula to release the marshmallow fluff from the bowl and spread into your prepared pan. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the marshmallow and set aside to set – about thirty minutes or so. When the mixture is set, cut with a buttered knife or cookie cutters and roll the marshmallows in powdered sugar.
- Marshmallows will last for several days in an airtight container. Enjoy!