Sweet Winter Treats: Homemade Marshmallows and Chocolate Spoons

Season’s Greetings!!

Below are a couple of sweet winter treats that I made over the holidays that I wanted to share:
– The first is a mint marshmallow recipe by Martha Stewart. A lot of people tell me that they didn’t know that they could make marshmallows from scratch – and you can…and they taste WAY better than anything that you have ever purchased on a grocery store shelf. I was inspired to make my own marshmallows after visiting a delicious restaurant called Hot Chocolate in Chicago. They include a homemade marshmallow in their hot chocolate creations, and I decided to give it a try. After one failed attempt at making vanilla bean marshmallows, (they ended up being too rubbery), I came across this delicious and fluffy recipe from Martha Stewart. It’s not hard, but it does require you to pay attention and move quickly. It also helps to get a candy thermometer:

Mint Marshmallows

Below is the link to the recipe:
http://www.marthastewart.com/355781/candy-cane-marshmallows

I served these marshmallows at a party as a part of my hot chocolate bar and they were a hit! I highly recommend that you try them and experiment w/other flavors.

– The next item is extremely easy to make, and can serve as a nice touch for any winter party. These are chocolate spoons, which can be used for stirring into hot chocolate or coffee for an extra chocolate boost. They are incredibly easy to make, and could also be wrapped in cellophane w/a ribbon for a gift. I also included these in my hot chocolate bar. I had both milk chocolate spoons and white chocolate spoons, and drizzled the alternate color on top of each by putting the warm chocolate into a sandwich bag, and cutting a small corner of the bag to drizzle chocolate over the spoons. Very nice presentation, if I must say so myself.

Chocolate Spoons

Below is the recipe:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-spoons/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=chocolate%20spoons&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page

These are great recipes to add a special touch for any occasion.

Enjoy!

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How to Freeze Cookie Dough for Cookies on Demand!

I wanted to post a video about how I freeze cookie dough. I like to freeze the dough for my signature Chocolate Chip and Pecan cookies (I’m going to keep that particular recipe to myself), and other chocolate chip types of cookies (I haven’t tried this on sugar cookies).

The beauty of freezing the dough is that you don’t need to let it thaw out before you bake it. You can put the cold, frozen dough right on the cookie sheet and bake to your heart’s content.

This method is nice because you can make dozens of cookies and then bake them whenever you need them. Sometimes, I’ll cut off only 3 cookies, and make those just for myself.

Hope this is useful to you, especially for the holiday baking season.

How to Freeze Cookie Dough for Cookies on Demand!

Baked straight from the freezer

Below is a link to a delicious recipe that I will share. Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. You can freeze this recipe too – I have done it many times:

Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

How to Make Homemade Apple-Cinnamon Infused Vodka

I was inspired to create some homemade Christmas presents this year, and decided to make infused vodkas as a gift. I purchased the bottles from the Container Store (no more than $5 each), and used a mid-range vodka (Svedka) which is recommended when infusing – no need to spurge on the Belvedere when adding infused flavor. Once the vodka is finished infusing, remove the fruit, strain, and pour the vodka into the bottle w/a funnel. Decorate the bottle and wrap as a gift!

Check out my video for a demonstration:

Homemade Apple-Cinnamon Infused Vodka

Apple-Cinnamon Infused Vodka Recipe:
– 1/2 liter of vodka
– 3 apples
– 2 cinnamon sticks

I originally was planning on infusing it for 5 days, but it ended up turning into 3 weeks. The vodka was absolutely amazing and full of apple-cinnamon flavor. It was dangerous because you could literally drink it on the rocks. For an apple-cinnamon flavor, I would suggest mixing it with Sprite, Ginger Ale, or Apple Cider (hot or cold). I gave the vodka to my friend Jenny as a hostess gift for her holiday party, and I think she enjoyed it.
At this present moment, I’m infusing a Blueberry-Vanilla vodka as a gift for a party that I’m going to in 2 weeks. Vanilla doesn’t require as much time to infuse, so I removed the vanilla bean after 3 days, and I’ll let the blueberries continue to “marinate”.

Blueberry-Vanilla Infused Vodka Recipe:
– 2 cups of blueberries, sliced
– 1 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle
– 1 liter of vodka

Tips:
– Shake the infused mixture from time-to-time to accelerate the infusing process
– Taste the infused mixture along the way to ensure that it does not taste too strong with the infusing agent. If it does taste too strong, add more vodka to tone down the flavor.

– If you don’t have the time to infuse, you can also present the vodka and the fruit in a bottle, and tell the recipient to open after a certain amount of time.

If you like cocktails, or if you have a friend that does, this is a great gift that can be used year-round.

Cheers!

Cupcake Wars Party

I participated in a “cupcake wars” cupcake cookoff party,

and won best overall cupcake for my “Peek-a-boo Strawberry Cupcakes” – I named it peek-a-boo because there is a whole fresh strawberry right in the center, and it also had a delicious homemade vanilla-lime buttercream frosting.

Below is the link to the recipe, which I found on another foodie blog after searching for “unique cupcakes”:

http://www.howsweeteats.com/2010/03/strawberry-lime-stuffed-cupcakes/

I love the idea of putting fresh fruit inside of a cupcake, or having a “surprise” inside of a cupcake in general.

Below is another “surprise” cupcake recipe that I would like to try – if you are inspired to make it before I do, let me know how it turns out:

  • Oreo cupcakes – has a whole oreo cookie on the bottom of the cupcake!

http://www.beantownbaker.com/2010/04/oreo-cupcakes-third-time-is-charm.html

A cupcake cook off party is an excellent way to try a new recipes.

Below are a couple of my other cupcake favorites from the party:

Created by Syreeta Harris

14 "Karat" Carrot cupcakes. Great cupcake for an engagement party or wedding shower. Rings can be purchased at Michael's - Thanks to Syreeta Harris for the idea

Rubber Duckie Cupcakes – Great for baby showers. Just purchase the ducks from Michael’s. Thanks to Ana Serafin