Posts by tag: gift ideas

  • Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle

Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle

Posted on December 11, 2017
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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lindt. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands and companies that help to keep my kitchen running!

I have too much “stuff”.

Yes, some of my stuff makes me happy. And yes, some of my stuff is essential to my day-to-day activities. But in general, it just seems like I have way more stuff than I actually need. It can feel overwhelming at times. Especially during the Holiday season.

To try to balance out all this “stuff”, I’ve shifted my gift giving habits over the years to focus more on consumables, either in the form of shared experiences or edible gifts. And today (like pretty much every other day, since this is mainly a food blog!), I want to share one of my favorite homemade treats that’s perfect for gift giving: Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle.

OK, let’s start by discussing some facts about homemade marshmallows. One, they are exactly three million times tastier (and the texture is incredible, too!) than store-bought marshmallows. Two, they are totally customizable. Three, they are easy peasy (I swear!). And four, you and your kitchen will inevitably get sticky in the process.

Yes, that’s right. You will get sticky. And you will end up with a dusting of powdered sugar on just about everything. But just own the mess. Because homemade marshmallows are more than worth it for the little bit of extra clean up.

Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle | www.floatingkitchen.net

Today, I’ve partnered with Lindt to bring you the recipe for these Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle. And let me tell you, the folks at Lindt sure do know a thing or two about edible Holiday gift giving!

Lindt has been part of my Holiday celebrations for as long as I can remember. My Mom and I always fill my Dad’s stocking with Extra Dark LINDOR Truffles (his personal favorite). While I’m partial to the iconic LINDT GOLD BEAR (there is something very satisfying about biting the head off, right?). And we always stock up on Lindt’s exquisite boxed chocolates to use for hostess gifts, party favors and whatever other last minute occasions might come up.

Whether you’re looking to customize a gift, or quickly grab a ready-made festive package, Lindt has you covered. There are 65 Lindt Chocolate Shops across the country (with 18 in New England), so be sure to check out their store locator to find the one closest to you. I guarantee that if you pop in for a visit, you won’t be disappointed. Their chocolate shops are just filled to the brim with sweet inspiration. You’ll easily find tons of ways to share the flavors of the Holiday season with all your family and friends!

Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle | www.floatingkitchen.net

For these Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle, I used my favorite Lindt EXCELLENCE 70% cocoa bars for melting and drizzling. I always have a big stack of Lindt EXCELLENCE bars in my pantry that I use for all my recipes. It melts beautifully and has a wonderful, rich flavor profile. And of course, it’s great just for eating as well! I love the audible snap you can hear when you take a bite out of a Lindt EXCELLENCE bar. That’s always the telltale sign of a premium chocolate bar!

I’m going to be boxing up these homemade marshmallows along with some LINDOR truffles and hot cocoa mix to give out to my family and friends this year. It’s going to be a great edible gift package!

Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle | www.floatingkitchen.net

Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle | www.floatingkitchen.net

I just want to share a few last tips on the recipe before you go off and embark on your journey to marshmallow nirvana. One, you will need a candy thermometer, so make sure you have one on hand. Two, I find the best way to cut back on the amount of mess is to have all your ingredients and kitchen tools at the ready, so you’re not hunting around your kitchen for “stuff” during the process. Three, be generous with the cooking spray and the powdered sugar mixture. And four, if you can wait the full 24 hours for the curing step, I highly recommend that as it will make it much easier to remove and slice the marshmallows.

Oh and most importantly, have FUN! Try playing with different flavors of melted chocolate and toppings. And don’t hold back on the chocolate drizzle. I never do.

Cheers,

Liz

Recipe adapted from my Chocolate-Dipped Gingerbread Spiced Marshmallows

Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen marshmallows

Very Vanilla Marshmallows with Chocolate Drizzle

Ingredients

  • For the Marshmallows
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 (1/4-ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 fresh vanilla beans, seeds scraped

  • For the Toppings
  • 1 Lindt EXCELLENCE 70% cocoa bar, chopped and melted
  • Crushed peppermint candies
  • Crushed cookies
  • Chopped crystalized ginger

Instructions

  1. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.
  2. Generously spray the bottom and sides of a 9 X 9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Then coat with the powdered sugar mixture. Set aside.
  3. Add the gelatin to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Then pour 1/2 cup of the water over the gelatin. Let the gelatin bloom while you make the sugar mixture.
  4. In a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup of water to a boil, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Attach your candy thermometer and continue to boil the sugar mixture until it reaches 240-242 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  5. Turn your stand mixer to low-medium speed. Then very carefully start streaming the hot sugar mixture into the bowl. Avoid pouring the sugar mixture directly onto the whisk, or it will splatter. Try to keep the stream near the sides of the bowl. Once all the hot sugar mixture has been added, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and increase the speed to high. Whisk on high for 10 minutes. The mixture will become thick, white and fluffy.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and the scraped vanilla bean seeds. Whisk for 2 minutes more.
  7. Immediately transfer the marshmallow mixture into your prepared pan using a spatula. The mixture will become more sticky over time, so work quickly. Spray the spatula with non-stick cooking spray and use it to smooth and even out the surface of the marshmallow. Then generously cover the top of the marshmallow with some of the powdered sugar mixture. Set the baking pan aside and let the marshmallow rest or “cure”, uncovered, at room temperature for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours. Save the remaining powdered sugar mixture.
  8. Once set, remove the marshmallow from the baking pan and place it on a cutting board dusted with some of the powdered sugar mixture. The best tool for this job is your hands, which you can use to slowly work/pry the edges away from the sides of the pan (coat your fingers in the powdered sugar mixture to prevent sticking). Once all the sides have been loosened, the marshmallow should easily come out of the baking pan as one large block.
  9. Once the marshmallow has been removed from the pan, use a very sharp knife to slice the marshmallow into squares. Toss the squares in the remaining powdered sugar mixture to coat all sides. Then place the marshmallow squares on a cooling rack set over a piece of parchment paper.
  10. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the marshmallows. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle with any desired toppings. Once the chocolate has set, the marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks, although they are best when eaten within one week of being made.
https://www.floatingkitchen.net/very-vanilla-marshmallows-with-chocolate-drizzle/

 

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  • Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread

Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread

Posted on November 30, 2017

This post was originally published here on December 19, 2014. I’ve since updated the photographs and text. Please let me know if you try it out for the Holidays!

I think I’ve finally recovered enough from my post-Thanksgiving sluggish-ness (i.e. excessive pie and wine) to get started on some Christmas baking endeavors. Are you with me?

I sure hope so. Because today I’m bringing back an old favorite from way back in the day (circa 2014, which is like an eternity in the blog-o-sphere): my Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread.

Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread | www.floatingkitchen.net

I still remember the first time I ever made this recipe. Because as soon as I pulled it out of the oven, I immediately snapped a photo of the finished product and sent it to my Mom with the caption “Look! I made something pretty!”. I was so stupidly proud of how beautiful the bread turned out, that I just had to share that moment with someone. And my Mom was the obvious choice. Because really, who else can we brag to about all our accomplishments, even if they seem silly and insignificant?

In my eyes, however, this Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread was a masterpiece of epic proportions. Luckily, my Mom agreed with me.

Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread | www.floatingkitchen.net

Since that fateful day, I’ve made several other versions of this sweet, yeasted bread. The base recipe never fails to rise and bake up perfectly. And it’s show stopping presentation is one that always has my family and friends ooh-ing and aah-ing. It’s perfect for a special occasion, like Christmas brunch. Or for any weekend morning when you have a few hours of extra time on your hands. I love waking up early on a cold Winter morning to start the dough rising while I enjoy my first cup(s) of coffee. Nothing fills my kitchen with warmth and happiness like fresh, homemade baked goods.

Please don’t be intimated by the braiding part (steps 10 and 11 in the recipe instructions). It’s really not that complicated. And it doesn’t have to be perfect, either. The different sized swoops and swirls is what I think makes this bread feel so inviting and homey. It’s perfectly imperfect in all the best ways!

Cheers,

Liz

Recipe adapted from my Pecan Sticky Buns

Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread

Serves about 8

Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread

Ingredients

  • For the Dough
  • 3 - 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • For the Filling
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate-hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
  • Finely grated zest from 1 orange

  • For the Glaze
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • About 2 tablespoons orange juice

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, ground cardamom and yeast. Switch to the dough hook attachment.
  2. Warm the milk to 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the butter and let it soften in the warmed milk. It doesn't have to melt completely, you just want it to be very soft. Then add this mixture along with the beaten egg to the dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once the mixture is well combined, start slowly adding in more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is soft, easy to handle and easily leaves the side of the bowl. You'll need anywhere between 1 to 1 1/4 cups flour.
  3. Mix the dough on low-medium speed for about 5 minutes, pulling the dough down off the hook as needed. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured countertop for about 5 minutes.
  4. Gather up the dough with your hands and shape it into a ball. Transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it with a thin layer of oil on all sides. Then cover the bowl loosely with a thin kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until roughly doubled in size.
  5. Once the dough has risen, gently punch it down to deflate it. Remove it from the bowl and transfer it to a floured countertop. Then shape it with your hands into a rectangle. Next, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a 24 X 12-inch rectangle. This will take a little bit of time, because the dough can be fairly elastic and "springy" at first. If it's bouncing back too much, let the dough rest for a few minutes, then try rolling it out again.
  6. Once the dough is rolled out, make the filling. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cardamom and set it aside. In a separate microwave safe bowl, microwave the butter and chocolate-hazelnut spread for 20-30 seconds, or until the two are just soft enough to be well combined.
  7. Spread the softened butter/chocolate-hazelnut mixture out in a thin layer evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch boarder around the edges. Then sprinkle the sugar/cardamom mixture evenly over the top. Finally, top with the orange zest.
  8. Beginning at one of the long edges of your rectangle, tightly roll up the dough into a log. Then pinch the edges of the dough together to seal the log as best you can.
  9. Spray a baking sheet and the ring of a 9- to 10-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray and set them both aside.
  10. Using a sharp knife, slice the roll lengthwise, creating two equal sized long halves, but leaving one end still attached by about 3/4-inch at the very end. Slightly rotate the halves outwards so the layers are facing upwards. Then starting from the end that is still attached, cross the two halves over each other. Continue doing this until you end up with a single twisted/braided rope. Pinch together the end of the rope.
  11. Gently slide the rope onto your greased baking sheet. Starting with one end, spiral the rope into a closed circle. The circle doesn’t have to be tight, because the bread will rise and puff up as it bakes, filling in any small spaces. But it shouldn’t have a large hole in the center, either (think about making a shape that resembles a snail shell, not a wreath). Tuck the very end of the rope under the circle so it doesn't stick out.
  12. Place the ring of your springform pan over/around the dough circle to contain it. Then cover loosely with a thin kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Position an oven rack in the middle position.
  14. Remove the kitchen towel from the dough, but leave the springform pan in place. Transfer the baking sheet to your pre-heated oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and puffed. Then remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the bread to cool for 10-15 minutes before carefully sliding it off onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
  15. While the bread cools, whisk together all of the ingredients for the glaze. Then drizzle the glaze over the bread before slicing and serving.
  16. This bread is best when it's enjoyed the day it's made. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 2 days, and re-warmed slightly before eating.
https://www.floatingkitchen.net/braided-cardamom-and-chocolate-hazelnut-bread/

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