Holly, jolly hot chocolate: Here's why it's worth it to make your own marshmallows

Southern Kitchen
Marshmallow Chicks
Homemade marshmallows make an excellent addition to your hot chocolate bar.

This is part of Southern Kitchen's 12 Days of Cookies and Cocktails series, which runs daily through Christmas Eve. Each day, we'll pair fun and festive cocktails with classic cookie recipes. These marshmallows are, of course, an essential element of a boozy hot cocoa bar.

Why make your own marshmallows? Not only are they delicious, but you can also add festive food coloring and even flavors, including mint, chocolate, coconut and more. The sky's the limit. 

You can also cut out your own shapes, so get out your holly-jolly cookie cutters and have some serious fun.

You can even bookmark this recipe for Easter and make marshmallow chicks with the method at the end. The total time includes 3 hours of setting time.

Recipe courtesy of Marshmallow Chicks.

Makes 16 to 20 marshmallows

Hands on time: 20 minutes

Total time: 3 hours and 20 minutes

Ingredients

3 envelopes unflavored gelatin

3/4 cup water

2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla (or other flavorings, such as mint or lemon )

1/4 teaspoon food coloring

Confectioners' sugar

Candy eyes, if making chicks

Instructions

Prepare a 9-by-9-inch pan by lining it with oiled plastic wrap (an oiled silicon pan may be used without wrap).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of the water. Allow the mixture to bloom for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and remaining 1/4 cup water. Bring to a rolling boil and continue boiling for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and pour the boiling syrup into the gelatin mixture to dissolve, beating with a whip at high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. Add the vanilla and food coloring.

To make marshmallows: Lightly oil hands and a spatula or bowl scraper and scrape the marshmallow mixture into the lined pan. Spread evenly with another piece of oiled plastic wrap, pressing mixture into the pan.

Let mixture sit for 3 hours. Remove from pan, dredge the marshmallow slab with confectioners' sugar and cut into hearts or other equal pieces. Cookie cutters dredged with confectioners' sugar work, or scissors. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar, if desired.

To make marshmallow chicks: Scoop the marshmallow mixture into a pastry bag (fold the bag over your hand about 2 inches, then use a spatula to scoop the mixture into the bag). Before piping, "burp" the bag to remove any air bubbles. Lightly oil hands so that the mixture doesn't stick to your fingers. Using full force with your piping hand, pipe a fat disk onto the prepared parchment paper, releasing the force as you pull up and away. Use your opposite hand to "clip" the mixture from the tip (a little conelike tip should form, making a tail).

Continue until about 24 chicks are formed, keeping your hand oiled throughout piping. Return to your first chick and pipe a head, using the same technique as in the previous step, only making a smaller disk. If necessary, use small oiled scissors to clip the beaks. Sprinkle the chicks with same-color sugar sprinkles. Finish each chick with a pair of eyes, using oiled tweezers to apply. Let chicks sit for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Nutrition

Per marshmallow (based on 16): 148 calories (no calories from fat), trace protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, no fiber, no fat (no saturated), no cholesterol, 57 milligrams sodium.

Per chick, based on 24: 36 calories (percent of calories from fat, 0), 1 gram protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, no fiber, no fat, no cholesterol, 35 milligrams sodium.