I haven't given up hope. Indeed, I'm the eternal optimist still holding onto the chance of snow here in Middle Georgia. I check out the weather forecast daily and look 10 days into the extended forecast. For me, the colder the better! Windy weather? No problem; I love to get windblown. But snow -- or just the forecast of possible flurries -- I morph into a school kid!
I remember when Bill and I spent our first winter in Macon back in March 1994. We woke up one Saturday morning to a front yard deep in snow and the snow was still coming down hard and fast.
Our in-town neighbors, the Batts family, the Hockenberry family and the Davis family, had 12 rambunctious children (all cousins!). Our doorbell rang and these neighborhood kids wanted to know if we could come out and play in the snow with them! You bet we did -- and what fun we had! It made for great memories.
So yes, I'm still holding out for snow. And I'll be prepared, too. Of course there will be the required trip to the grocery store to "stock up" on the essentials -- because we'll be snowed in right? My favorite "snow foods" entree is spaghetti with a hearty, chunky tomato and vegetable sauce loaded with lots of Italian sausage. A good crusty loaf of bread and great butter are my partners of choice for the pasta. If you prefer a steaming bowl of chili or beef stew, you go right ahead. We'll be having spaghetti instead.
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I'll also be making my homemade marshmallows for an after-snow treat. Coming inside after playing in the snow demands a treat to replenish us and get us feeling warm and toasty before we go bounding back outside again. Just the threat of snow sends me into the kitchen to make a batch of pure white, cloud-like marshmallows.
What? Never had homemade marshmallows? They are infinitely superior to anything off the grocery store shelves. These are truly special -- but it always amazes me to see boutique candy makers and gourmet "foodie" markets selling marshmallows over $1 an ounce (as in $20 per pound)! Follow my recipe for homemade marshmallows and you'll be rewarded many times over. The recipe makes about 60 medium marshmallows -- surely enough to enjoy and share!
Of course homemade marshmallows are terrific in a steaming oversized mug of hot chocolate, but my favorite way to enjoy them are in a treat my family lovingly calls Snow Bunnies. My mother (aka "Bunny" by the grandchildren) used to always make these for us growing up and I think I enjoy them now even more than I did as a child.
Simply put, Snow Bunnies are made from super-fresh saltine crackers that have been spread with your favorite peanut butter, then topped with a marshmallow and placed in a toaster oven (or under the broiler in the oven) to brown the tops of the marshmallows. The tops are smooshed down a tad after coming out of the oven and allowed to cool just a bit before being devoured.
And why would you go to the trouble of making homemade marshmallows without making your own homemade hot chocolate? Homemade hot chocolate is simply the best! Topped, of course, with my homemade marshmallows. Yummy! Enjoy these treats and (hopefully) enjoy the snow!
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups water, divided
3 cups sugar
11/4 cups light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar
Makes about 60 medium marshmallows.
Spray a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Dust liberally with confectioners' sugar (don't forget the corners).
In the bowl of a heavy standing electric mixer, soften gelatin in 3/4 cup water. Combine remaining 3/4 cup water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the syrup reaches 236-240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.
With the whisk attachment of the mixer at low speed, add the hot syrup in a thin and steady stream to the softened gelatin. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high, then beat at for at least 5 minutes, until very thick and full volume.
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle top of marshmallow with confectioners' sugar. Evenly press marshmallow level in pan. Let stand at room temperature until firm (at least four hours or up 24 hours).
Sift a layer of confectioners' sugar on a large cutting board. Turn the slab of marshmallow out onto the sugar. Note: You'll probably have to coax it out of the pan by pulling the marshmallow slab if it sticks to the pan some.
Cut into marshmallows of desired size, coating all cut surfaces of each marshmallow in confectioners' sugar to prevent sticking together. Store airtight at room temperature up to two weeks.
Teddi's (Secret Recipe!) Hot Chocolate
4 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup liquid hazelnut coffee creamer
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place milk, whipping cream and coffee creamer in a large mixing bowl. Heat in microwave until very hot, but not boiling.
Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Carefully whisk the dry ingredients into the hot milk mixture. Blend well. Return to microwave and continue to cook on high until somewhat thickened, another couple of minutes, whisking a few times during the cooking.
Top each mug with a homemade marshmallow (or two).
Spread each saltine cracker with peanut butter. Top each with a marshmallow. Place in oven under the broiler until the marshmallow is toasted. Remove from the oven and lightly press the top of each marshmallow to smoosh it down a bit. Enjoy!
Note: This is my all time favorite "snow food." It's best with a mug of hot chocolate -- also topped with a marshmallow or two!