Then weather in New Orleans has gotten decidedly cooler the past few days, dare I even say chilly. I get so excited at this time of year, when we bid adieu to the sweltering heat of summer and can once again enjoy the outdoors without worrying about heatstroke. The kitties have been happy because the windows have been open so they can sniff at all the things that they usually only see through their favorite perch.
I wasn’t really ready for this amazing weather, the cupboards are still in summer mode. I had cocoa powder and made a batch of plain hot chocolate with that but it just didn’t seem special enough to welcome the beauty of fall in New Orleans. Sigh. This mediocre cocoa feeling did not match the feeling of my warm fuzzy socks. Something had to be done. I checked, rechecked and emptied the cabinets looking for something great to add but nothing called out to me. Then I saw it, the jar of Biscrips and I immediately knew that I needed to make myself some marshmallows. (Biscrips is just another brand of speculoos spread like Biscoff, which I can not find in all of New Orleans.) This was it- just what I needed. If you’ve never made your own marshmallows before you really should do it immediately, it’s super easy once you understand one thing. Do not scrape the bowl and do not get your fingers in the mix (Deb from Smitten Kitchen shows and explains it best). You will never grab a bag of that dense tasteless crap from the store again after you’ve made your own marshmallows. I promise. The marshmallows don’t taste just like the cookies, but I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Yield: 8x8 pan, cut to your size & shape preference
You can absolutely substitute Biscoff or Nutella for the Biscrips here :)
Butter for greasing the pan
Powdered sugar for dusting
3 packets unflavored gelatin
½ c + ¼ c + 1 tbsp water separated
2 c granulated sugar
½ c biscrips
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grab an 8x8 baking dish and generously butter it then dust it liberally with powdered sugar. This will ensure that your marshmallows set properly and come out of the pan cleanly.
Pour ½ c water in an electric mixer and sprinkle all 3 packets of unflavored gelatin overtop to start softening and working their marshmallow making magic.
In a nonreactive saucepan over low heat combine 1/2c + 1 tbsp water with 2 c sugar and ½ c biscrips. Whisk this gently until the sugar dissolves and then STOP whisking. Let it warm, but do not stir it, until a candy thermometer reads 240 F. (Side note: I don’t completely know the science behind this but it’s got something to do with sugar crystals forming in the same manner that would happen if you stirred while you were making caramel. It really does make a difference, I made a batch while stirring the entire time it was heating to 240 and those bad boys were gritty. No one likes gritty marshmallows.)
Pour the warm mixture over your gelatin and water. Fit your whisk attachment and turn it on low to just combine everything. Stop, scrape the sides and bottom. Now resign yourself to the fact that this is the last time you will do that. Beat again on high for 12 minutes until the mixture becomes much lighter in color, thick and fluffy. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, try and scrape the bowl again. Please trust me and save yourself the trouble. Add the 1tsp vanilla extract and beat that bad boy on high again for another 3 minutes.
Take your marshmallow mix to the prepared pan and scrape it all in. Do not even try to get it all, no scraping and carrying on, you will make a giant mess. Wet your fingertips slightly and smooth out the top of your marshmallows then set them aside to set for 8 hours or overnight. You don’t want to refrigerate it, the entire thing will seize up and be completely inedible.
After it sets you can gently invert the pan and release the marshmallows onto the counter dusted with powdered sugar. Cut it with scissors or a knife dusted with powdered sugar. If you're feeling extra ambitious you could use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of the beauties. Dust the sides slightly with powdered sugar if they’re sticking together when in your container. These will keep for about 7-10 days in an airtight container, but I promise that you won’t want to let them sit around uneaten for that long.
A Cats in the Kitchen Original
One of my other fall joys is getting ready for the holidays. Next to Carnival, the winter holidays are my favorite time of year. I love all of the decorations, the lights, the displays, the random acts of kindness, the get togethers with friends and family and the anticipation of opening the mailbox hoping there is a card. Yes, I have a not-so-secret love for holiday cards. I send them out every year to as many people as I can in the hopes that it makes them smile, that for one special moment things are ok and you remember that someone loves you. Sometimes I have time to write special personalized notes to everyone, sometimes not so much, but each and every one of those cards if filled with thanks for wonderful memories, love beyond imagination, heartfelt laughs and wishes for a joyous new year. For the past few years we have used Shutterfly for our cards and always have wonderful experiences. This year they have graciously offered to give 3 of my readers a chance to create their own cards, COMPLETELY FREE! Talk about getting into the holiday spirit! The lucky winners will get 25 free cards, any style on the website. Need holiday cards? They got ‘em. New years cards, they have those too. Are you super duper ambitious and think you can get around to sending cards for Thanksgiving? Well, more power to ya, Shutterfly can help you do that (even though I will secretly snarl at you for having time to even think about a Thanksgiving card!). Don’t forget to send your thank-you notes! The possibilities are endless with Shutterfly’s designs and your own photos.
I have 3 sets of codes to give away, all you have to do is ask for it. I will give away a code here on the blog, one on twitter and one on facebook.
Simple, just like the hot chocolate.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Shutterfly provided me with free cards as well as promo codes good for 25 cards each for 3 of my readers. The opinions expressed here, however, are completely my own.