In Decembers past, I have quickly burnt out over too much on the calendar, too much on my list, and too much sugar. This year I tried a different approach: I made a conscious list of the "memory making essentials" that were really important to me and my family. This includes a few activities and foods that I don't want to miss out on. Everything else can go. This has really helped me to not feel bad about having to say no- whether it's to activities or events we are invited to, or rich foods that aren't on my list. At the very top of that list though, is our December first tradition. We started the tradition of decorating the tree and house on December first years ago when Connor and I were newlyweds, and about five years ago we added in homemade hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows to the mix and have not looked back. The hot chocolate is good, but the real winner is the combination of the two, with the homemade marshmallows melting inside. If I'm going to give myself one pass on sugar, this would be it.....not just because it's amazing (I have only had one hot chocolate from a gourmet chocolate shop that rivals it), but because of the memories surrounding it.
Ps. This tastes best with board games or a christmas movie.
Creamy Hot Cocoa
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups of milk
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup half & half (only if you are omitting the marshmallows)
*Combine cocoa, sugar, & salt. Blend in boiling water. Bring mixture to a boil while stirring. Simmer for 2 min (still stirring). Stir in milk until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into 4 mugs. (add cream if not using marshmallows)
Homemade Marshmallows (via Smitten Kitchen)
3 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (2 TBLSp. + 2 1/2 tsp)
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large egg whites
1Tblsp. vanilla (or mint/almond extract, but I prefer vanilla)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
* Oil Bottom of a 13x9 pan and dust with powdered sugar. In a large saucepan cook sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup of cold water, & salt over low heat (stirring) until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil mixture (stirring) until candy thermometer reads 240 degrees F (takes about 12 minutes). Remove from heat and pour over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved. Beat the mixture on high until white & thick and has tripled in volume (6 minutes for a standing mixer and 10 minutes for a hand held). In a operate bowl (with clean beaters), beat egg whites until stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until combined. Pour into the baking pan. Sift 1/4 cup of powdered sugar on top. Chill until firm (3hrs- 1 day). Use cookie cutters for shapes, or cut into 1 in. cubes. Last up to 1 week in cool room temp.