it was negative 28 degrees this weekend!!!!!! do you know what this means?! it is likely going to be physically impossible for the snow to melt before chrismukkah, so we are going to have the white chrismukkah that dreams are made of. yas.
i've become accustomed to wearing a layer of long underwear at all times and giving myself an extra 10 or so minutes before leaving the house to *get in costume* with all of my additional fluffy warm layers. my hats, scarves, and mittens all live in a large metal bucket next to the door, the kind of metal bucket you'd go bobbing for apples in if bobbing for apples was your thing. even a trip to the grocery store requires a few inches of padding between my skin and the air, just like a big green baymax. that doesn't apply to everyone though: you can tell a native around here if you see them running into the store in just a hoodie and sweatpants, leaving behind their pickup truck that's still got the engine on.
the weather has naturally led to more hibernation time at home, which i live for. there are just two main challenges: getting my bum to the gym and dressing up for the holidays. i am trying to fix the gym part by downloading workout apps that i can do in my living room. and for the holiday dress-up thing, i partnered with old navy again this month and found an answer that doesn't require tights, a dress, and freezing off both of my legs (and bonus: it also helps me maintain my naptime-chic aesthetic): velvet pants + faux fur. i am really excited about this. usually around the holidays i brute force my fanciness with black jeans and a nondescript sweater but that tends to not feel fancy enough, so these velvet pants are my new nice uniform, and i'm pairing them with velvet flats that fit snuggly into a bag to be slipped on once i remove my snow boots inside. the faux fur is, yes, like a wearable blanket, and what completes this ensemble is some color by way of jewelry, colorful outerwear, and... marshmallows. is that a stretch? that's probably a stretch. i just feel like if you're going to be showing up at a party with a tray of treats, why *not* try and have them be as festive as your outfit??
or maybe i'm just really into the color combo of my new yellow hat and these naturally dyed hibiscus marshmallows. i'm so into all of it that we took my new warm festive look for a spin by climbing to the top of our grain leg for a little hot chocolate date! don't worry, it wasn't -28º on this day, just a balmy 6º or so. here is the view from our grain leg:
here is us being merry and bright:
and now let's talk marshmallows and cocoa! hibiscus is my new favorite natural food coloring. it's such a great shade of pink and it imparts a nice citrusy berry flavor that helps balance out the sweetness of a marshmallow. the first time i had hibiscus i knew its brightness would go well with nutty almond, so i went with two-tone bbs that help make the prettiest cup of hot chocolate you've ever done seen. and my new go-to hot chocolate is dead simple: good chocolate + a can of coconut milk. so easy. but you're going to want something easy after you spend an afternoon making these marshmallows, they are a bit labor intensive but look at them! i think they're worth it :)
hibiscus almond marshmallows
yields 20 massive marshmallows
1/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/2 c dried hibiscus leaves
1 3/4 c water
3/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
in a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch. coat an 11" x 7" baking dish with cooking spray and dust the bottom and sides with half of the powdered sugar mixture. pour any excess mixture back into the bowl.
steep the hibiscus leaves in 1 cup boiling water, covered, for 20 minutes. strain out the hibiscus leaves and measure out the water. (It should be around 3/4 cup. add a little tap water or pour some out to make 3/4 cup.) Stick it in the fridge to allow to cool completely while you make the almond marshmallow layer.
to make the almond marshmallow layer: in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 1/2 cup of water (not the hibiscus water, just plain water), the almond extract, and vanilla. sprinkle 2 envelopes of gelatin over the liquid.
in a small saucepan, stir together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/4 cup more water (again, not the hibiscus water, just plain water). clip on a candy thermometer. heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches 240ºf, then immediately remove it from the heat and bring it over to the mixer.
turn the mixer on low and drizzle the corn syrup mixture in a slow and steady stream down the side of the bowl. once the entire mixture is in, gradually increase the speed to high and let it mix for 7 to 10 minutes total, until lukewarm and fluffy. while the mixer is running, grease a rubber spatula and have that standing by the mixer, as well as the prepared pan.
using your greased spatula, immediately scrape the mixture into your pan and spread it out evenly as best you can with the spatula. set this aside while you make the hibiscus marshmallow layer.
clean and dry your mixer bowl, whisk attachment, spatula, and small saucepan.
now, make the hibiscus marshmallow layer: repeat the process but use the hibiscus water this time! in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add 1/2 cup of the hibiscus water and then sprinkle the remaining 2 envelopes of gelatin over the liquid.
in a small saucepan, stir together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/8 tsp salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup hibiscus water. clip on a candy thermometer. heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches 240ºf, then immediately remove it from the heat and bring it over to the mixer.
turn the mixer on low and drizzle the corn syrup mixture in a slow and steady stream down the side of the bowl. once the entire mixture is in, gradually increase the speed to high and let it mix for 7 to 10 minutes total, until lukewarm and fluffy. while the mixer is running, grease a rubber spatula and have that standing by the mixer, as well as the pan with the almond layer.
using your greased spatula, immediately scrape the mixture into your pan and spread it out evenly as best you can with the spatula. dust the top with about half of the remaining powdered sugar mixture.
let set for at least 1 hour. cut into squares and dust the edges of the squares with the remaining powdered sugar mixture.
coconut hot chocolate
makes 2 to 4 servings
1/2 c good semi sweet chocolate
1 can coconut milk (full fat or light)
combine chocolate and coconut milk in a small saucepan. heat over medium heat until chocolate melts.
divide among mugs, top with marshmallows and enjoy!
all photos by chantell and brett quernemoen!