Bourbon Vanilla Marshmallows | for the love of the south

Christmastime is magical. Gleaming lights flicker and illuminate the night sky like stars twinkling pugnaciously to capture our attention. Fir trees are spotted on the rooftops of cars, silently nestled in their orange, netted jackets, just waiting to be adored and adorned. Fireplaces and kitchen stoves become a gathering place of comfort and conversation with loves ones. Mistletoe hangs innocently under every doorway, blushing at the thought of couples stealing a kiss right under its nose. Then, there is solace under the twinkling stars while cradling a piping hot mug of chocolate topped with a shamelessly melting homemade marshmallow.

Making homemade candies during the holidays is a great pleasure of mine. These marshmallows are particularly wonderful. The sound of the sugar and syrup boiling in the saucepan sounds like the pinging crackle of snowflakes hitting the ground, and the texture of the dusted, springy marshmallows remind me of a perfect blanket of freshly fallen snow. Mostly, I adore making these because I love hot chocolate, and these little beaming beauties are like the lights on the tree and the warmth of the hearth, they are the perfect crowning glory to a season of childlike wonder, pure happiness and eternal bliss.

May God bless your homes and hearts this holiday season!

Recipe: Bourbon Vanilla Marshmallows

Adapted from Bon Appetit |Orangette

Makes 24, 2-inch marshmallows

Note: Serve these wonderfully springy marshmallows with your favorite hot chocolate, sandwich them in between chocolate and graham crackers for luscious s’mores, or package up in cellophane bags as Christmas favors for guests to bring home and indulge in later.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

3/4 cup of cold water, divided

¼ cup of cold bourbon

3 ¼-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin

2 cups of sugar

2/3 cup of light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

1/4 cup of cornstarch

1/4 cup of powdered sugar

Line a 13x9x2-inch pan (or a 8×8-inch pan for taller, cubed marshmallows) with parchment paper. Lightly coat parchment paper with nonstick spray.

Pour ¼ cup of cold water and ¼ cup cold bourbon into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water and bourbon. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs liquid, at least 15 minutes.

Combine 2 cups of sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining ½ cup of water in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium to medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to a boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240 degrees, about 8 minutes.

With the mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until mixture is thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds.

Quickly scrape the mixture into prepared pan. Smooth the top with wet offset spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Stir cornstarch and powdered sugar together in a small bowl to blend. Sift a generous dusting of starch-sugar mixture onto a work surface, forming a rectangle slightly larger than your pan. Turn marshmallow slab onto the starch-sugar mixture and peel parchment off of the slab. Sift more starch-sugar over slab. Coat large knife with nonstick spray and cut marshmallows into squares. Toss each in remaining starch-sugar mixture to coat. Transfer marshmallows to a rack, shaking off excess mixture.

Marshmallows can be made two weeks ahead, kept in an airtight container with parchment paper in between the layers of marshmallows.



Chicory Granita & Bourbon Whipped Cream | for the love of the south

I have an inherited adoration for coffee. Notice I did not say inherent but inherited. I grew up drinking coffee. I did not grow up around coffee but drinking coffee. I distinctly remember my first cup.

My grannie fixed my sister and I two tiny glasses of coffee milk (which seemed to consist of more sugar than coffee or milk.) I stretched out my hands and took hold of the cold crystal glass filled with this lovely blonde beverage. My little fingernails slowly etched the scrolling flowery design on the tumbler as I quietly imbibed my very first glass of smoky, chicory coffee. In that one moment, I had unknowingly become part of a treasured ritual I would carry with me daily.

I’m not sure if it was the percolating sound of the coffeemaker puttering about or the smoky aroma that beckoned us out of our beds, but whatever it was brought us together in the mornings. In those small hours, we sat at my grannie’s solid wooden kitchen table and visited for the better part of an hour, hot coffee in hand, sharing life together.

Now, no matter how far I am from my grannie’s kitchen table, I sit with my morning cup of coffee and the comfort of knowing my loved ones are taking part of the same ritual that connects our hearts. Like Luisa Weiss once said, “Distance means nothing when your kitchen smells like home,” or in my case, coffee.

Recipe: Cold-Brewed Chicory Coffee Granita with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Serves 2

Note:  I love using Community Coffee, but If you can’t find chicory in whole bean coffee your favorite whole bean coffee will work just fine for this recipe. Also, the bourbon in the recipe is optional, just substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract if you prefer.

P.S. As the granita melts into the cream, the combination creates a lovely, silky latte effect so it’s good to the last drop, even if it melts!

For the Chicory Coffee Granita:

2 cups of strong chicory coffee, freshly brewed

2 tablespoons of raw cane sugar

Dissolve the cane sugar in the freshly brewed coffee. Allow the coffee to cool slightly.

Pour the  coffee into a shallow container with a lid. Let the coffee sit in the freezer for an hour. After an hour, take a fork and scrape the ice crystals. Place back into the freezer and scrape the ice every 30 minutes until the granita is fluffy and light. Serve in glasses topped with the Bourbon Whipped Cream (recipe below) if desired!

For the Bourbon Whipped Cream:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon of bourbon (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)

Whip all of the ingredients in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. The whipped cream should be able to hold a slight peak if inverted.