Thursday, 17 December 2015

Snowman Hot Chocolate Sticks


Christmas Teachers Gifts, Hot Chocolate Sticks, Snowman Marshmallow

Christmas Teachers Gifts, Hot Chocolate Sticks, Snowman Marshmallow

Aren't they adorable?! For the past few weeks I've been trying to perfect these cutesies, so that we can turn them into lovely Christmas gifts for the teachers, friends and family. It took me a while to find the perfect combination (okay, maybe their faces aren't all perfect, but both me and Abby had fun decorating them, and the recipients so far loved them) to make them look like this, while making sure that they will still make a delicious hot chocolate, and it's all worth it!

I thought I'll write down the recipe here to share it with you. The pictures aren't fantastic because I made these for the sake of making the gifts but not for the pictures, and the lights in my kitchen are just awful for pictures, but I can assure you that they will cheer any recipients up, even if they aren't really keen in hot chocolates!


Snowman Hot Chocolate Sticks (Makes 36)
Feel free to half the recipe, but I wouldn't make any smaller batch than that because it'll be quite hard to control the results for the marshmallows

I: Marshmallow Snowmen
II: Chocolate Truffle - Ganache
III: Chocolate Truffle - Shell (to preserve the ganache better so it can last outside the fridge for a few more days)


Christmas Teachers Gifts, Hot Chocolate Sticks, Snowman Marshmallow

Christmas Teachers Gifts, Hot Chocolate Sticks, Snowman Marshmallow

I: Marshmallow Snowmen (part 1)

Ingredients:
30g Corn Starch
30g Icing Sugar
2tsp Blue and/ or Silver Edible Glitter Dust
*3 Dr. Oetker Platinum Grade Gelatine Leaves (gives a gooey centre. If you like it firmer you can use another half a sheet)
210g Granulated Sugar
30g Liquid Glucose (Technically you should use Corn Syrup but I can only find Liquid Glucose)
120ml Water
90g Egg White
1-2tsp Vanilla Extract


You will also need:
- Large Baking Sheet, lined with greaseproof paper
- Sieve
- Stand Electric Mixer (or handheld electric mixer)
- Jam Thermometer
- A glass of cold water and a pastry brush
- Large Piping Bag with 1cm round nozzle, placed inside a large glass and fold the top over the edge. Stretch the middle open


* Gelatine Leaves and Gelatine Powder: 
This post is in no way sponsored by any company. The reason why I mentioned the brand for the gelatine leaves I used is because gelatine leaves have different grades, so you will most likely need a different amount of leaves if they are from a different brand. This is the same for gelatine powder. They are not directly substitutable with gelatine leaves as many believe. The only correct thing to do is to estimate the amount of liquid you need for the recipe, and use the correct amount of gelatine leaves or powder according to the packet's instruction.

So I thought I'll let you know which one I used in case you want to avoid the confusing calculation. You can get it from most supermarkets in the UK


Method:

1. Mix the Corn Starch and Icing Sugar together, and sieve a good amount of it on the lined baking sheet, until the sheet is fully covered. Mix the rest with the glitter dust, cover and set aside

2. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water, and set aside

3. Add the sugar, glucose and water into a small/ medium deep pan

4. Whisk the egg white until stiff

5. On a small fire, heat the syrup. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then stop stirring and turn the fire up to medium. Place the thermometer into the syrup and wait for the temperature to reach 120C. During this time, use the pastry brush to brush cold water on the pot around the edge of the syrup whenever you see sugar droplets form, to dissolve them. This is an extra safety measure to prevent the syrup from crystalising.

(if the syrup crystalizes, meaning that it will turn grainy when cooled, the marshmallows won't be smooth anymore)

6. Start whisking the egg white again when the syrup has reached 118-119C, and remove the syrup from the fire as soon as it reaches 120C. Remove the thermometer.

7. Turn the electric mixer to the highest speed, and pour the syrup into the egg white really slowly (in a trickle). Be careful not to get the syrup too close to the whisk as it can splash and you might get burnt.

8. As soon as all the syrup is gone, quickly squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine leaves, and add them into the syrup pot. The remaining heat should melt the gelatine leaves. Pour the melted gelatine slowly into the meringue.

9. Keep the speed on high and continue whisking the meringue until the bowl has cooled, and the meringue is really glossy, thick and just about pourable. Add the vanilla extract and wait until it is completely combined before stopping the machine and check the texture of the marshmallow. It should still be creamy and silky, really thick but still flowing, and when you test it in your mouth it should be thick and foamy (so dreamy!).

10. Pour the marshmallow into the piping bag, and twist the end so the top won't dry up.

11. Place the baking sheet in front of you. Pipe several 1.5 to 2 inches blobs onto the baking sheet, before going back to the first one and pipe a rounder, smaller blob on top of them. Keep doing this until all the marshmallow is gone or you ran out of space.

12. Dust the snowmen with the glitter icing mixture, and leave them aside, uncovered, to dry for at least 4 hours. This will form a dry, crispy skin on the outside of the snowmen. They do need that layer of skin even if you prefer them without, so that they can be handled.


While leaving them to dry, you can move on to make part II and III (don't worry, the hardest part is over!)


Christmas Teachers Gifts, Hot Chocolate Sticks, Snowman Marshmallow

II: Chocolate Truffle - Ganache
(This method doesn't create a smooth and glossy ganache, but it's easier and good enough for the hot chocolate sticks)

Ingredients:
300g 70% Cocoa Solids Dark Chocolate, snapped or chopped into smaller chunks
150g Whipping or Double Cream


You will also need:
- Fridge space
- A baking tray that will fit in that fridge space (and hold around 36 x 2 inches blobs, or you can prepare 2 trays), lined with greaseproof paper
- Piping bag with 1cm round nozzle (or similar), placed in a tall glass with the top folded over the rim. Stretch the bag wide open


Method:

1. In a microwavable dish, melt the chocolate in short bursts and stir in between bursts. You can start with 20 seconds for the first 2 rounds, and when the chocolate starts to melt, drop it to every 15, 10 then 5 seconds, to prevent the chocolate from burning. You can stop when you still see bits of chocolate chunks in the puddle, they will melt by the remaining heat and warmed cream.

2. Heat the cream in a small pot until it starts to smoke and it feels warm when you place your hand few inches on top of the pot.

3. Pour the cream into the chocolate. Wait for a couple of seconds, then gently and slowly stir the chocolate and cream together until fully combined. Do not over mix as the ganache will become grainy, and if you stir too fast the mixture might split.

4. If the texture of the ganache is thick enough to pipe, you can pour it straight into the piping bag. If it's runny, place the mixture in the fridge until it becomes pipe-able.

5. Pipe 2 inches blobs onto the baking sheet. It doesn't really matter how they look like because they will be covered later on

6. Cover the baking tray and place it in the fridge until needed


Christmas Teachers Gifts, Hot Chocolate Sticks, Snowman Marshmallow

Christmas Teachers Gifts, Hot Chocolate Sticks, Snowman Marshmallow

I: Marshmallow Snowmen (part 2):

Ingredients:

The Glitter Icing Mixture from part 1
Several pieces of dark chocolate (or ready to pipe chocolate with a small nozzle, or even black icing)
Orange icing
36 Lollipop sticks


You will also need:

- A fresh tray or plate lined with greaseproof paper
- Small sharp knife
- Sieve and large plate/ bowl
- If you are melting the chocolate (the same way in part II, but start with 10 seconds bursts), you will also need a piece of greaseproof paper folded into a cone, or a small piping bag to hold the small amount of chocolate, then fold the top so it won't leak
- The Chocolate Truffles from part II


Method:

1. Dust the small knife with the icing sugar mixture

2. Gently remove a snowman by slicing the base off the greaseproof paper, then dip the base into the icing sugar

3. Place the snowman into the sieve and shake it on top of the plate to remove all the excess icing sugar. Place the ready to decorate snowman on the freshly lined tray or plate.

4. Repeat 1 to 3 for all the snowmen

5. Have fun decorating them!

6. Gently slide a lollipop stick into the snowman from top to bottom. I did it from behind the head into the middle of the body so that the snowmen appear in front of the stick and you can still see the top of their heads. Be careful not to let the bottom of the sticks touch other snowmen as they can get messy

7. Pierce a piece of hardened chocolate truffle until the stick hits the bottom. I did it in an angle so that the snowman will sit in the centre of the truffle.

8. Repeat step 6 and 7 for the rest of the snowmen


III: Chocolate Truffle - Shell:

Ingredients:

Approx. 300g of 51% Cocoa Solid Dark Chocolate (you might need more, or you will have lots of left overs, because you need a good amount for dipping) chunks


You will also need:

The pierced Marshmallow Snowmen
Fresh greaseproof paper


Method:

1. Melt the chocolate the same way as before, using a microwave, starting with 15 seconds, then 10 and 5 seconds until only a few bits of chocolate chunks are left. Don't forget to stir in between heating.

2. Take a snowman lollipop stick, very carefully move the snowman up, then coat the truffle as much as you can with the melted chocolate. Slide the snowman down onto the chocolate truffle, be careful as it might tear, then remove any excess chocolate coating from the truffle with a spoon. Place it on a greaseproof paper to dry.

3. Repeat part 2 for all the snowmen.


Christmas Teachers Gifts, Hot Chocolate Sticks, Snowman Marshmallow

And that's it!

There seem to be a lot of steps, but it is easier when you make them. The hardest part will be making the marshmallows, once that's over the rest should be fun, and you could even do some parts while sitting down!

Do wrap them up as soon as you can though, or the marshmallows will start to dry up. It shouldn't be a problem for a hot chocolate, but I know some people prefer to eat the marshmallow and chocolate truffle as it is instead of dipping them into hot milk, so ideally they are nice to eat as well before they think that your hot chocolate sticks aren't really that nice!

The hot chocolate sticks should keep for a good few days inside the wrapping, and longer in the fridge. Do avoid warm rooms though as their faces will melt!


To make a delicious hot cocoa and watch the poor snowman melt in your mug:

1. Warm half a mug of milk (we did this in the microwave too)

2. Dip a Snowman Hot Chocolate Stick into the mug

3. Stir well (the chocolate will most likely stay at the bottom) and enjoy!


Christmas Teachers Gifts, Hot Chocolate Sticks, Snowman Marshmallow

We saved the really cute ones because I didn't have the heart to poke a stick through them. They ended up in the kids' mouth anyway *so sad*