I have two modes in the winter: party and hibernation. I’m either dressed up with a drink in my hand or snuggled up on the couch brushing cookie crumbs off of my chest. Today’s outfit balances being comfortable with being chic, and with enjoying sweet treats on the couch. I teamed up with Gap Factory to pair the perfect recipe with my favorite “let’s stay inside and watch movies” outfit. The open back tee reveals just a hint of my lace bandeau, and the slouchy joggers are comfortable but still have the feel of a tailored trouser. It’s the perfect look for when you want to hang out with friends and hide from the bad weather.
Inspired by my monochromatic outfit and the grey clouds outside, I pushed my recipe for full contrast: Very Vanilla Confetti Marshmallows, topped on my classic hot cocoa recipe. So many sprinkles, so much color, so much fun. Giving in small and unexpected ways goes perfectly with Gap Factory’s theme of “From Us to You,” and a quiet night in with colorful marshmallows and a big batch of cocoa seemed like the ideal way to connect with friends. How are you planning on celebrating the holidays with friends? Post your photos on instagram with the hashtag #FromUsToYou to share! Find a Gap Factory store near you at www.gap.com/outletstore.
INGREDIENTS (VERY VANILLA CONFETTI MARSHMALLOWS)
For one 9 x 13 inch baking pan of marshmallows
About 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup hot water, divided
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
2 vanilla beans, scraped (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
5 tablespoons rainbow nonpareil (tiny balls), or whatever sprinkles you like (warning: it’s an aggressive amount of sprinkles)
Oil bottom and sides of a 13 by 9 inch rectangular metal baking pan, line with parchment paper, and heavily dust the bottom and sides with some powdered sugar.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, pour in a ½ cup hot water and sprinkle with the gelatin and the vanilla bean scrapings. Let it stand for about 10 minutes.
In a medium heavy saucepan combine the white sugar, corn syrup, vanilla pods, and remaining hot water over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240 degrees, after about 12 minutes. A word to the wise, this happens very very quickly. While I turned around to tidy up, the entire batch jumped to 275 and burned, so once the thermometer reads 200, keep a close watch, and take it off the heat when it reaches 238. The thermometer should still creep up to 240 after that. Remove the pan from heat, remove the vanilla pods, and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, add salt, and stir until gelatin is dissolved.
With the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed until pale white, thick and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer. In a large bowl separately beat the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Add the whites and one tablespoon of sprinkles into the sugar mixture until it is just combined (about 2 minutes). Add two more tablespoons to the mixture, and stir to combine (adding in stages prevent all of the sprinkles from melting). Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and garnish with two tablespoons of sprinkles. Let the marshmallow set uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to 1 day.
Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto large cutting board, it should pop right out. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallows into roughly 1-inch cubes. Sift remaining powdered sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat. Marshmallows keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Pop into some cocoa and enjoy!
INGREDIENTS (HOMEMADE HOT COCOA MIX)
For 4-5 cups
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate, either small chips or finely chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whisk the ingredients together. To make an 8 ounce cup (which is honestly enough for 2-3 people), mix 3 tablespoons of the mix with a dash of milk to form a paste. Gently heat the paste over medium-low heat until the chocolate bits start to melt. Add an additional cup of milk and stir until hot and steaming. Pour into cups and top off with a confetti marshmallow. Enjoy!