Home Made Marshmallows and Hot Chocolate: Recipes and directions

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A friend asked for this recipe this morning and it reminded me that I needed to make a batch of these to give to my neighbors as gifts. (Thanks, Laura!) Soooo, rather than wait to show you photos of what I make (although I'll do that later, too), I thought that I'd post recipes for those of you who are looking for the perfect "little something" to give to a neighbor or friend. Home made marshmallows are wicked-wonderful! Whether they are sandwiched between graham crackers with chocolate, dipped in hot chocolate or even eaten directly from the bag....they also make a great gift.  The photo above is one that I took of Valentines Day marshmallows and peppermint hot chocolate mix that I made for my "college kids" but you can easily either cut them into squares or use holiday cookie cutters to make them into snowflakes, trees or whatever your heart desires! For "stirs" I use candy canes or cinnamon sticks, dipped in melted chocolate and covered with sprinkles!

Here's the recipe for the marshmallows:
(makes about 90 One-Inch Cubes...fewer if you use cookie cutters)
About 1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tblsp plus 2 1/2 tsp) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water divided as follows:
            1/2 cup with the gelatin and 1/2 cup for the mix
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup HOT water (115 degrees F)
1/2 tsp salt
2 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla (I also add almond or peppermint extract depending upon what I'm using them for)

Oil bottom and sides of a 13x9x2 inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with confectioners' sugar.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water and let it stand to soften.
In a 3-quart 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 medium and boil the mixture, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240°F (about 12 minutes). Remove the pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over the gelatin mixture, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved.
With a standing (or a hand-held) electric mixer, beat the mixture on high speed until it is white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using a standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. (Depending upon the weather outside and the amount of humidity in your home, it may take longer but be patient, it will eventually whip up to the size needed) In separate medium bowl with clean beaters,  beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Then, beat the whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into the sugar mixture until it's just combined. Pour the mixture into the baking pan (don't worry if there's some "leftover"). Sift 1/4 cup  of confectioners' sugar over the top of the mixture. Chill the marshmallow, uncovered, until firm. (At least three hours but as long as one day.)
After they are chilled, run a thin knife around edges of the pan and invert it onto a large cutting board which has been dusted with confectioners' sugar. Hold up one corner of the pan and use your fingers to loosen the marshmallow and slide it out and onto your cutting board.
With a large knife, trim the edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (or use cookie cutters dipped in confectioners' sugar to cut shapes.) Sift the remaining confectioners' sugar back into an empty bowl or  baking pan. Roll the marshmallows in the sugar being sure to coat all sides before shaking off the excess and packing them  in an airtight container. 
Marshmallows will keep, in an airtight container, at a cool room temperature, for about a week. If you're mailing them, make sure to coat them well with confectioners; sugar as they will "weep" during shipment.
Once you've eaten these, you'll never go back to "store bought"!

Home made hot chocolate mix:
(makes about 45, 1 cup servings)

10 cups dry milk powder
4 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups powdered, non-dairy creamer (you can use different flavors to get flavored hot chocolate. Cinnamon and mint are my favorites).
2 cups shaved chocolate or mini chocolate chips (again, you can use mint chips, white or dark chocolate that has been flavored with peppermint or white chocolate with cinnamon to change the flavor of your mix)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. That's it...easy peasy. Store cocoa mixture in an air tight container.
For one serving: place 1/2 cup cocoa mixture in a cup or mug and add 3/4 cup of boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Top with marshmallows and/or whipped cream!