Christmas Gift Bags 2009


Here’s a rundown of my Christmas gifting for this year. I am proud to say it received rave reviews, and I couldn’t be happier.

Christmas Cookies

Hot Cocoa Mix

Yields: 76 2-Tbsp servings, or 12 3/4-cup servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 24 oz high-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 9 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups Dutch process cocoa

Directions:

  1. Split and scrape vanilla beans and place in a large bowl or jar with the sugar. Work seeds into the sugar with your fingers. Bury the pods under the sugar. Cover tightly and let stand overnight (or up to months–vanilla sugar keeps forever) at room temperature.
  2. In a food processor fitted with metal blade, process semisweet chocolate and dark chocolate until finely ground, using 4-second pulses. Process in batches, if necessary (I started out with large bars so I first processed the chocolate using the grater attachment and then switched to the blade.)
  3. Remove pod from sugar. Add ground chocolate and cocoa powder to sugar and whisk to blend, making sure to combine well. Store mix airtight at room temperature for up to six months.

 

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows

Makes about 75 1-inch cubed marshmallows. Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.

“These homemade marshmallows are not only easy to make, they set as perfectly as promised: puffed and lightweight, bouncing off one another as I tossed them in the container. Even better, they toasted like a campfire charm speared on the end of a skewer, and s’mooshed between two graham crackers with a square of chocolate.” ~ The Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin (2 tablespoons plus 2 ½ teaspoons)
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting)

Directions:

  1. Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.
  2. In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.
  3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
  4. With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer.
  5. In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites, or reconstituted powdered whites, until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla, or your choice of flavoring, into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out. Sift ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
  6. Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. An oiled pizza cutter works well here too. Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.
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