Fall Treats – Graham Crackers, Hot Cocoa, and Maple-Cinnamon Marshmallows

I’ve got big news.  I turned my oven on for the first time since May.  And it has been amazing.  While there are still some warm days, fall is almost in full-swing.  Ovens are being turned on around the country and houses are starting to positively reek of baked goods and root vegetables.

The only cookie-cutter shapes I have are hearts and circles I hope you're better equipped.

While I am not ready to gain all that holiday weight just yet, I have been craving a fall-type snack, and I came up with just the right barely-fall snack – cinnamon graham crackers and hot cocoa with maple cinnamon marshmallows.  Light enough to not concern yourself with holiday weight, but full of warm fall flavors.

Are you fantasizing yet?

If you’re looking for Honey-Maid, Jet Puffed, and Swiss Miss, save yourself the trouble and just stop here and go read another blog.  These recipes taste nothing like those flavored sugar store brands.  This group of recipes provide all the nostalgia of childhood fall treats, but with a much more adult flavor.

The graham crackers have a coarse texture, suitable for dunking, and a hint of bold molasses flavor.

The cocoa actually tastes like cocoa – not sugar.

And the marshmallows….Oh. My. God.  The Marshmallows.  If you don’t at least make the marshmallows you will be doing yourself a huge disservice.  They are fantastic on their own, but when added to cocoa lends a warm maple-cinnamon flavor that really revs up the cocoa.  Happy fall everybody!

Cinnamon Graham Crackers
makes about 3 dozen 3 square inch crackers

Ingredients

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp coarse salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¼ cup honey

¼ cup robust or blackstrap molasses

1/3 cup plus 4 tbsp sugar, divided

¼ cup milk

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp cinnamon

Method

  • In a bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, AP flour, salt, and baking powder.  Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers, until the mixture looks like coarse wet sand.
  • Add the honey, molasses, and 1/3 cup sugar and combine.  Add the milk and vanilla, using your hands to mix it together until it forms a stiff dough.
  • Lightly oil 2 baking sheets.  Split the dough in half.  Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface and shape half the dough into a rectangle.  Cover the dough with another sheet of parchment and roll it out until it’s about ¼ inch thick, and roughly 12 x 15 inches.
  • Combine 4 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.  Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over the rolled dough.
  • Cut the dough into whatever shape you wish.  If you have cute cookie cutters, now is the time to break them out – pumpkins, leaves, ghosts, whatever you want.  If you’re like me and don’t have any cool fall cookie cutters, break out your pizza cutter and cut into rectangles.  Or get out your Valentine cookie cutters.
  • Once your shapes are cut, prick each shape with a fork all the way down the middle.  Then, since you’re the only one in the kitchen and you’re super curious, eat one of the dough scraps.  Very carefully transfer the shapes to one of your prepared pans and place in freezer to chill for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  • Repeat with second half of dough, and bake for 18-22 minutes, until browned at the edges.
  • While I am a BIG fan of fresh-from-the-oven goodies, you will want to let these cool completely before digging in.

Store in an airtight container, for up to 2 weeks.

Maple Cinnamon Marshmallows
makes about 36 medium-sized mallows

Ingredients

2/3 cup water, divided

3 packets (¼ oz. each) unflavored gelatin

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

pinch of kosher salt

1 tsp maple flavoring

1 cup powdered sugar

3 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  • Lightly oil an 8×8 inch pan and coat generously with powdered sugar.  Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, pour 1/3 cup the water and 3 packets of gelatin.  Let stand for ten minutes or until gelatin has softened.
  • In a saucepan, off the heat, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/3 cup of water.  Place the mixture over medium-high heat and clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom.
  • Cook the mixture without stirring until it reaches 240˚F, or soft ball stage.
  • Turn your mixture on low speed and very carefull add the molten lava hot syrup to the softened gelatin.
  • Add the maple flavoring and turn the mixer to medium-high speed.  Beat for 8-13 minutes.  Set a timer – you do not want to underbeat these puppies.
  • When the mixture is white, stiff, and sticky, turn the mixer off and spread the mixture into your prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula.  Set aside for at least one hour.
  • Sift together the cinnamon and powdered sugar into a bowl or shallow dish.  Run a wet knife around the edge of the marshmallow to loosen it.  Turn the pan out onto a work surface.
  • Cut the marshmallow into squares, wetting the knife between cuts.  Toss each marshmallow in the cinnamon sugar to coat.

Store in a single layer, or in layers separated by wax or parchment paper.  They will keep for 1 month when stored airtight at room temperature.

Hot Cocoa Mix
makes approx. 36 cups of cocoa, or 4 ½ cups dry mix

Ingredients

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder – splurge on this one, otherwise it won’t be worth it.

2 ½ cups malted milk powder – if you can’t find malted milk powder, just use nonfat dry milk powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cornstarch

1 pinch cayenne pepper – you won’t be able to taste this; it just amps up the chocolate flavor.  If you want to be able to taste it, use about a tsp of cayenne.

Method

  • In a large, airtight container combine all ingredients.  Secure the lid and shake to combine.
  • For hot cocoa, use 2 heaping tablespoons of dry mix per (regular size) cup.

Hot Chocolate Bombs with Cinnamon Marshmallows

At Christmas I made hot chocolate on a stick posted at The Giver’s Log.  It was just about the easiest and most appreciated kitchen related gift I’ve  ever done.  I had ambitions to make marshmallows to go along with them but it just got too hectic.

But not this time, baby.  For Christmas I did peppermint hot chocolate on a stick.  I’m not going to lie to you.  I had to try it a couple of times to get it to look like how I wanted – ask my neighbors and co-workers.  They all got what looked like a gift from Spunky – cat s#!t on a stick.

who, me?

This time around I decided to forgo the sticks entirely, and read up on how to temper chocolate so that they wouldn’t look all dried out.  Turns out it’s pretty easy.  So I got some really cute Valentine themed mini cupcake papers and got crackin.

Hot Chocolate Love Bombs

yields about 16 one ounce bombs

Ingredients

16 oz. chocolate – bittersweet, milk, semi-sweet, and (gag) white chocolate all work.  I used what I had lyin around, which was semi-sweet.  16 oz is about a bag and a bit more.

3 packets of your favorite hot cocoa mix

cupcake wrappers

Ziploc bag (for piping)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp (or pinch) chipotle or cayenne powder, I used chipotle

Method

  • Set your separated cupcake papers on a baking sheet.
  • Bring a bit of water to a simmer in a sauce pan, and place a glass or non-reactive metal bowl over it, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.
  • Put most of your chocolate (the bag, saving the other bit) in the bowl and let it melt, stirring occasionally.
  • Once the chocolate is melted, turn off the heat and remove the bowl from the sauce pan, making sure not to drip any condensation.
  • Put your hot cocoa packets, spices, and remaining chocolate in the bowl and return to the bowl to the saucepan, stirring to mix.
  • Once it looks all mixed up, open your plastic bag and scoop the chocolate into one corner (like you would with frosting).
  • Cut a smallish hole in the corner of the bag, and pipe chocolate into your awaiting papers.  Once all papers are filled, top with adorable tiny heart sprinkles.

You might want to tap the baking pan against a flat surface to even out the tops of the bombs, but I thought they were cute with a little piped swirl on the top.  If giving as a gift, make sure to include instructions, which are:

  • Drop one chocolate bomb into 6-8 oz (one regular sized mug) of hot milk.  Water does not work, the chocolate will not melt properly.

Cinnamon Marshmallows

Ingredients

3 packets unflavored gelatin

2/3 c. water, divided

1 c. light corn syrup

1 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp cinnamon extract (or vanilla, or banana, or whatever)

1/4 tsp gel food coloring (if desired)

powdered sugar for dusting

Method

  • Lightly oil an 8×8 pan with Canola oil and generously coat with powdered sugar.
  • Pour 1/3 c. of the water into a bowl, sprinkling the gelatin over it, and set aside.
  • In a saucepan, off the heat, combine the remaining 1/3 c. water, corn syrup, and granulated sugar.
  • Place the pan over medium-high heat.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and cook the mixture until it reaches 240*, avoiding the temptation to stir.
  • Every now and then, brush the sides of the pan (on the inside) with a pastry brush dipped in water to wash away residual sugar crystals.
  • With the mixer on low speed, very carefully add the lava hot syrup to the gelatin.  Add the cinnamon (and food coloring, if desired) and increase the speed to medium high.  Beat for 8-13 minutes, until the mixture becomes opaque and stiff.
  • Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, and spread around using a lightly oiled spatula.  Let sit for one hour, or until firm and cool.

pink gloop

  • Once the mallows are set, sift powdered sugar into a shallow bowl.  Run a wet knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the mallow sheet and remove it from the pan.  Cut into squares and toss each square in powdered sugar until completely coated.

    fluffier than any you'll find at the store

    Happy sipping folks!

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