post-christmas post, part one {christmas eve delights}

our still fairly new family continues each year to try and establish our own family traditions for the holidays. some are already set in stone, such as the annual visit to the christmas tree farm, the decorating of the tree as we listen to sufjan stevens’ christmas albums, and allowing the kids to open one gift on christmas eve. as far as food goes, this year and last i was designated as the christmas day brunch chef, while my husband took care of christmas dinner (which this year happened on christmas eve). a little later, after our christmas eve dinner, we sipped on homemade hot cocoa and marshmallows and ate popcorn while we watched a family-favorite christmas movie.

cocoa

our homemade hot cocoa was made according to this recipe, which is extremely simple but delicious and rich, just like the recipe’s author claims.

{dairy and refined-sugar free hot cocoa}

put one can of (full fat) coconut milk, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a 4-cup glass pyrex dish. whisk. then slowly add about 2 cups of boiling water, and whisk again. finally, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir one last time.

i don’t know about you, but marshmallows are an absolute necessity in my hot cocoa, but knowing how packed they are with refined sugar, i assumed i’d have to skip on them from now on. just out of curiosity, i searched various blogs and websites for refined-sugar free marshmallows, and lo and behold, stumbled upon this recipe for honey marshmallows! i cut the recipe in half, but followed everything else to the letter, and the result was A-MA-ZING. simple ingredients, simple recipe, resulting in a fluffy, delightful treat.

{honey marshmallows}

place 1/4 cup water and 1-1/2 tablespoons (or 2 packets) of gelatin in your mixer bowl. let that rest while you bring 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt to boiling in a saucepan over medium-high heat. if you don’t have a candy thermometer (as i don’t), you’ll have to carefully watch your boiling mixture, and just when it starts to look clear and syrupy, remove it from heat (this takes about 5-6 minutes from the time it starts boiling). if you wait too long, it turns brown and you end up with a burnt flavor, which is less than desirable when you’re looking for a light and sweet taste. slowly pour mixture into your mixer bowl with the gelatin as you begin mixing on low. gradually increase mixing speed to high, and let it work its magic for about 7-8 minutes, until you see a white, fluffy mixture before your eyes.

marshmallows

marshmallows1

spoon mixture into parchment paper-lined 8×8 dish, and use the parchment paper folded on top of the mixture to smooth the top. leave it sitting for several hours (i left mine overnight), allowing marshmallows to set. when they’re ready, turn them out onto a cutting board and cut to desired size/shape. my son used a candy cane shaped cookie cutter to cut out a few, then sprinkled with red sugar sprinkles, and gave them to some friends (plus, ate a couple himself, of course). what a fun once-in-a-blue-moon treat!

post-christmas post, part two, regarding christmas day brunch, up next…

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