However cliche it may send the the Thanksgiving/ Christmas holiday season is my absolute favorite time of the year. To the point that my family and friends are always looking to see what epic things i’m going to do each year to top the next (they may be gathering intel to someday stage an intervention on me). I love all of it, the cooking...why have one meat when you can do 3-4., Baking...why have a couple of desserts for your guests when I believe a 5-6 minimum is in good taste and manners (and by good taste I mean there’s so many recipes I want to experiment with I have trouble limiting my numbers. Maybe that intervention is closer than I thought). Decor...well if Martha thinks handmade ornaments, christmas tree themes, kiddie crafts and floral arrangements are a must for the holiday season then who I am to disagree...the queen has spoken. So each holiday I comprise lists of recipes I’d like to try and things I’d like to perfect. Current perfection list this season is...royal icing. I know, it’s not rocket science with the actual ingredients checking in between 3-5 items dependant upon which recipe you’re following, but consistency (flooding versus outlining), raw egg whites versus meringue powder, color (gel coloring versus liquid) are all items that can change the outcome of your icing and those perfectly baked cookies you want to put it on so when I say it matters folks, it matters (or at least in the small grand theme of things concerning my love for all things holiday entertaining and the detail i’d like to put on my santa hat cookies...don’t judge me lol). New recipes tried this season thus far: red wine red velvet cupcakes with peppermint cream cheese, maple pecan pie, ginger shortbread...that's the short list. I'll leave you with my favorite recipe via Alton Brown for homemade marshmallows that I then cut into gingerbread men for the season. Put them atop a cup of cocoa, put a few in baggies and give as gifts or just continue to pop them in your mouth a pick me up snack while no one is watching, choice is yours lol!
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into ginger bread men using a cookie cutter dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary.