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Food

Mmmmm Marshmallows!

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Why not surprise your Valentine with a homemade treat this year?

Fresh, pillowy marshmallows are a refreshing change from the usual chocolate, and surprisingly addictive. My nephew's girlfriend, Julianna, whipped up a batch of these last Christmas and people are still talking about them. Check out The Brownie Points Blog where Julianna found the recipe. It is also reprinted here after the jump for your convenience.

Marshmallows will keep for several weeks at room temperature in an air-tight container. Try them in your Hotta Chocolata or Hot Chocki.

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Sambuca may seem like an unusual match for chocolate, but I use this combination of flavors in my tiramisu, and it is unbeatable.

Chocolate Espresso Sambuca Truffles

Sometimes the most romantic gestures are the ones that are a little unusual. Any recipe that requires wire cutters and a large trash bag is at least going to be fun! Make your own cotton candy at home. Suggested theme music: Funny Face, Cathy's Clown, Everybody Loves a Clown... I could go on.

Cotton Candy

Pralines take a little bit of skill; they can easily turn grainy. Just make sure you have a good candy thermometer and stir often. They are sure to melt the heart of any southern belle or gentleman you have your eye on.

French Quarter Pralines

If you're not up for kitchen duty, check out where to buy the best candy.

Photo by Elise Thompson for LAist

BASIC VANILLA MARSHMALLOWS

4 gelatin envelopes
¾ cup water
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
¾ cup water
1 ¼ cups corn syrup
½ tsp salt
Rice flour
Confectioners sugar

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Line a 9" x 13" (8" x 8") pan and a loaf pan with parchment paper. Coat the paper with vegetable oil or non-stick spray.

Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. In the mixer bowl, combine the ¾ cup of water (¼ c plus 2 Tbs) with vanilla extract. Sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid to bloom (soften).

Add the sugar, salt, corn syrup, and remaining ¾ cup water (¼ c plus 2 Tbs) to a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil with the lid on and without stirring. When this mixture is at a boil, remove the lid and continue to cook without stirring until it reaches the soft-ball stage (234-240 F).

With the mixer at medium speed, pour all of the hot syrup slowly down the side of the bowl into the awaiting gelatin mixture. Be careful as the hot syrup is very liquid and hot at this point and some may splash out of the bowl - use a splashguard if you have one. When all of the syrup is added, bring the mixer up to full speed. Whip until the mixture is very fluffy and stiff, about 8-10 minutes.

Pour marshmallow into the parchment-lined pans and smooth with an oiled offset spatula if necessary. Allow the mixture to sit, uncovered at room temp for 10 to 12 hours.

Mix equal parts rice flour and confectioners sugar and sift generously over the rested marshmallow slab. Turn the slab out onto a cutting board, peel off paper and dust with more sugar/starch mixture. Slice with a pizza cutter into desired shapes. Dip all cut edges in sugar/starch mixture and shake off excess
powder.

Recipe reprinted with permission.