Chocolate-Dipped Vanilla Marshmallows for the Birthday Boy


Versions of chocolate-dipped marshmallows have been popping up all over the place, peaking around Valentine’s Day. I don’t know why I waited for so long to try my own version, but Mateo’s fourth birthday was the perfect excuse to give them a go.

We used square-cut homemade marshmallows from this basic recipe, although you can make the pops with store-bought ‘mallows as Amy has done. You could also cut them into shapes, like these beautiful hearts from Brenda.


So the method is simple: melt chocolate ( I used 85% cacao for a bitter contrast to the sweet marshmallow) and dip skewered marshmallows about halfway into the chocolate.

Stand skewers upright in water glasses to dry, or jab them into a cardboard box as I did in the photo above.

Once the chocolate has partially set (it will lose its glossy sheen), but before it is dry, add the sprinkles. This is a fun job for kids! Mateo decorated all his own marshmallow pops.


And that’s it! I made these the day before the party and didn’t bother to store them in an airtight container. They were fine left at room temperature until the party…and after? Well there wasn’t even one remaining, so I can’t tell you how long they keep.

Enjoy! For more party-planning tips and Mateo’s ‘Doodle Cake’ check out my recap of the party on Simple Bites.

WW: Earth Day ’11 Picnic for the Planet


The rain/hail let up last week just enough for us to celebrate Earth Day with a picnic and campfire on Friday. I teamed up with friends at The Nature Conservancy to promote their Picnic for the Planet. It was a great event!

Head to Simple Bites for the virtual picnic and to get the recipe for these Italian-Style Pressed Sandwiches.

I was to busy eating pasta salad and grilled chicken and chasing kids to pick up the camera, but here are a few shots Danny and I managed to get between the two of us.






Here’s to the coming spring and many more picnic days ahead.

Wordless Wednesday: Autumn Campfire

Thank you to Tim & Angela for capturing this favorite family pastime of ours…





ALL photos by Tim Chin

Marshmallows: The Basic Recipe


I’ve been playing around tons with this basic marshmallow recipe, adding coloring, cutting and piping it into different shapes…basically having loads of fun when I should probably be cleaning my house or shoveling snow.

I’m finding it’s incredibly versatile, hence these treats for Mateo’s 2nd birthday. The ‘fluff’ was softer than usual after the long beating, so I quickly scooped it into a piping bag and pipped out dozens of ‘M’s and ‘2’s instead of patting the marshmallow mix into a pan.
A dusting of powdered sugar finishes them off.


Aren’t they cute? Shh, he hasn’t seen them yet.
I hope there are some left for his birthday.

I wanted to share this recipe with you without delay, so you can start playing around and not miss out on any of the fun! It’s one of the simplest I’ve seen. Enjoy!

(more photos and tips to come, but this recipe is all you need to get started)

Basic Vanilla Marshmallows
(from the French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller)

3 envelopes of Knox gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Line a 9×13 pan with plastic wrap and lightly grease all over with vegetable oil.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for 10 minutes.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute.

Pour boiling syrup into gelatin and mix at high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. Add vanilla and incorporate into mixture.

Scrape into a 9 x 15-inch pan and spread as evenly as you can.

Cover marshmallow mixture with another piece of oiled plastic wrap and press mixture into the pan. 

Let mixture sit for a few hours or overnight.

Remove from pan, dredge the marshmallow slab with confectioners’ sugar and cut into 12-20 equal pieces with scissors or a chef’s knife.

Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners’ sugar. Enjoy!

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows


As I write this, with fingers still sightly sticky, several dozen pale green marshmallow ‘M’s and ‘2’s languish on my counter top, drying themselves and awaiting their dusting of icing sugar. They will then be tucked away in a glass jar until Mateo’s 2nd birthday, which is fast approaching. (that recipe for vanilla marshmallows to come in a later post)

I’ve discovered that marshmallows are an ideal do-ahead party treat, as they stay fresh for up to three weeks—I’m discovering a lot about homemade marshmallows these days.
It all started with this batch featuring toasted coconut.


Alright, so I may be the last one to jump on the homemade marshmallow bandwagon, but the point is, I’m here now and very happy about it.

I’m still holding out on the trendy cake-pops and macarons, or macaron-pops, for that matter. While I admire them (and the talented individuals that create them) immensely, I just don’t have that kind of time.

Marshmallows, however, I can do. They can be whipped up in a mere 15 minutes, perfect for squeezing in during a hectic day. And I do mean ‘whipped up’; do not attempt these without a stand mixer, as it does the brunt of the work.


This recipe was straight out of my new Gourmet Today cookbook, and are pretty darn fine. I loved the contrast of the chewy toasted coconut with the oh.so.soft marshmallow interior; however, the coconut police (a.k.a, Danny) had issues with it.

Since then I’ve played around with a few other versions, which I’ll be bringing you eventually. For now, these are a wonderful starting point, provided you like coconut!

Toasted-Coconut Marshmallow Squares

2 cups finely shredded unsweetened dried coconut
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavoured gelatin
1 cup water
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (I omitted this)

Special equipment:
a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
a candy thermometer

TIPS:

  • To avoid stickiness, make the marshmallows on a dry day.
  • The marshmallow squares keep, layered between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.


Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F

Toast coconut on a baking sheet in oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Lightly oil a 9-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle bottom with 1/2 cup toasted coconut.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water in bowl of mixer and let soften while you make syrup.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, remaining 1/2 cup water, and slat in a 1- to 2- quart heavy saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals from sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Insert thermometer and boil, without stirring, until it registers 240F (soft-ball stage). Remove from heat and let stand until bubbles dissipate.

With mixer at low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin in a thin stream down side of bowl, being careful to avoid beater. Increase speed to high and beat until very thick, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and coconut extracts and beat for 1 minute more.

Spoon marshmallow mixture over toasted coconut in baking pan and press evenly with dampened fingertips to smooth top (it will be very sticky). Sprinkle top evenly with 1/2 cup toasted coconut. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours.


Run a sharp knife around edges of marshmallow and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips, then cut each strip into 3/4-inch squares.

Put remaining toasted coconut in a small bowl and dredge marshmallows in it to coat completely.