Viewing entries in

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows


Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

Fluffy satisfying and oh-so vanilla-y marshmallows, friends! These are the treats dreams are made of! 

I first tried to make homemade marshmallows a few years ago, while I was likely trying to do a few other things at the same time. I didn't read the instructions carefully and promptly did not divide the water as all marshmallow recipes call for... Without enough ingredients to fully double the recipe, I tried to just keep going but it resulted in a gooey unsuccessful mess. Don't do this, friends - read the recipe before you start like a smarty-pants baker! 

Anyways, I paid much closer attention creating this recipe for you, and the result was fluffy, dreamy, cloud-like mallows that I promptly devoured (but not before packing away some to mail to my loving friends!). Mallows make a great mail-able baked good because they last a long time and won't break in the mail! Plus, whoever you mail homemade marshmallows to is going to love you forever. That's just a given. 

My inspiration to try my hand at marshmallow making once again was inspired by a refilled stock of my favorite vanilla - Vanilla Bean Crush from Sonoma Syrup Co. This luscious vanilla is a high quality and flavorful extract studded with vanilla beans. It gives you all the satisfaction and flavor of using whole vanilla beans in your baked goods without actually using whole beans. 

Marshmallows are basically a whipped sugar and gelatin mixture, so they're a blank slate waiting to take on whatever flavor your give them - making them the perfect vehicle for a truly great vanilla. So if there's anything I can do to steer you in the right direction (aside from, you know, making sure you actually follow the recipe like I did not the first time around), it's to be sure you're using a high quality vanilla. You won't be sorry, I promise! 

Marshmallows are fun because you can cut them into whatever shapes you please! I didn't want to restrict myself to just one type, so I made a few. Classic cubes, which are the easiest mallow to cut. Giant circles perfect for placing just one big marshmallow atop a mug of cocoa. And little circles cut into crescent moon shapes - at the request of my sweet babes (he's a genius sometimes!).

Cubes are surely the most efficient shape to choose but cut shapes are a lot of fun, and you can snack on all the scraps while you work! 

This is the perfect project for the holiday season. Cold weather is made infinitely better with a cup of hot chocolate topped with homemade marshmallows. And your family and friends will surely be happy if you show up with a sweet little package of marshmallows (or send them one in the mail!). 


Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

This recipe was just slightly adapted from Alton Brown's classic marshmallow recipe.  

note: When substituting maple syrup for light corn syrup, the marshmallows will take on a distinct maple flavor.

3 packages / 3 Tbsp unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold water, divided

12 ounces granulated sugar 

1 cup light corn syrup or maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 Tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

Nonstick spray

  • Combine 1/2 cup of the water and gelatin in the bowl of a stand mixer. Give it a quick stir, and it will take on the consistency of applesauce! Let it sit while you take on the next step.

  • Combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan that holds at least 2 quarts. Cover and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, then uncover and clip a candy thermometer onto the pot (or if you're me and don't have one, hold your Thermapen patiently, ha!). If you see any granules of sugar on the side of your pot, use a wet pastry brush to clean them up. When the mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove it from the heat.

  • Head straight over to your mixer and put on the whisk attachment. With the mixer running on a low speed, slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl. Once you've added it all, cover the mixer with a clean town to prevent spatter and turn the mixer up to high.

  • After a minute or two, you can remove the towel as the mixture will have thickened. You'll want to mix for a total of about 13 minutes, adding the vanilla about a minute before the mixing is finished. When you're done, the mixture will be thick and fluffy - yum!

  • While the marshmallow is whipping, combine the corn starch and powdered sugar in a small down and mix it together. Lightly coat a 9x13 pan with oil, then coat it with the powdered sugar mixture like you're flouring a pan to make a cake.

  • When marshmallow is finished whipping, scoop it into the prepared pan and do your best to spread it evenly. Lightly coat the top of the marshmallow in the powdered sugar mixture and use your hands to finish pressing the mixture into the pan.

  • Let the marshmallows cure for 8-24 hours before cutting. Just set them aside, uncovered.

  • Turn the pan out onto a cutting board and cut the marshmallows using a knife, biscuit cutters, or cookie cutters into whatever shape you please!

  • Coat the marshmallows in the powdered sugar and store in an airtight container.


Disclaimer: I have received free product or money from businesses highlighted in this article - which helps me keep this blog alive. I take great pride in the advice I share here on Toot Sweet, and would never recommend a product to you that I'm not over-the-moon excited about, or that I wouldn't purchase for use in my own kitchen. 


Homemade Chai Concentrate


Homemade Chai Concentrate

I can weave the story of chai through much of my life, a flavor that has reappeared in new ways every few years as I've grown older. In high school, before the magic of coffee entered my life, sweet chai concentrate from the box was definitely my number one source of caffeine. In college, after traveling to India with a Tibetan Buddhism class and drinking chai day in and day out, I regularly made the simplest form of chai - sweetened milky black tea steeped with cardamom - just as the sweet man in a little hole in the wall chai shop taught me. 

These days, I am entering a new realm of chai which involves my own homemade version of that stickily sweet boxed chai concentrate - packed with ginger and cardamom, and only lightly sweetened! Having this simple 30 minute chai concentrate in the fridge means that chai is always one quick step away, and for that I'll never be sorry. Daylight savings time has arrived, meaning it got dark before 5pm today... warming my world with a little chai seems like the perfect way to welcome the quickly approaching winter season. 

So this Sunday morning, my sweetie and I sat down to big old mugs of warm chai (and I recruited him to be my model - he's hardly ever home when I'm shooting recipes, and it's so nice to have someone in the images!). This time around, we used homemade hazelnut milk made with hazelnuts from the sweet vendors at our neighborhood farmers market. If you haven't ever made your own nut milk before, it is incredibly easy! Just blend the nuts of your choice with some water and strain through a nut milk bag or a fine dishtowel. Search online to get the best ratios for each nut, though in my experience winging it usually works! 

The best thing about making your own chai concentrate? You can personalize it to your tastes! Consider this recipe a blueprint - somewhere to start. The spices can be altered to suit your tastes, and the sugar can be adjusted to your preferred sweetness level! 

Homemade Chai 

Making the Concentrate: 

5 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

3in piece of ginger, thinly sliced 

1 Tbsp cardamom seeds (more if you're using pods) 

1 tsp whole peppercorns 

1 tsp whole cloves

3 whole star anise

1 tsp whole allspice 

1 cinnamon stick

5 bags / 2 Tbsp black tea

2 tsp vanilla

  • Combine water, sugar, and spices (everything but the tea!) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. 
  • Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. 
  • Add tea and let steep off of the heat for about 8 minutes. 
  • Strain the concentrate with a fine sieve if using tea bags and a coffee filter if using loose tea. Stir in vanilla. Store in the refrigerator. 

Making the Chai: 

Hot Chai: In a small saucepan, combine chai concentrate with the milk of your choice, using about a 1:1 ratio. Slowly heat over medium until it just barely begins to simmer, stirring occasionally. If you want to give it a little froth, blend on high in a blender for about 30 seconds. 

Cold Chai: Combine chai concentrate with the milk of your choice, using about a 1:1 ratio. Pour over ice and enjoy! 


Citrus Rose Spritzer


Citrus Rose Spritzer

Friends, it's been a seriously hot world in Portland the past week. With temps hitting 100 degrees one day, and hovering in the high 90s for a number of days, I've basically avoided turning my stove or oven on for more than 10 minutes a day. It's just too hot in our little air conditioning-less apartment! There have been endless salad dinners, refreshing sparkling water, constantly running fans, and a much needed cool-off lying in a cool mountain river. Plus, this wonderfully refreshing drink that is designed to have you feeling a little better about life when the heat hits your part of the world - here's to summer, folks! 

This drink starts with silver rum, a hint of lemon simple syrup, and lime La Croix sparkling water, and finishes off with a hearty splash of White Rose Spirits from Thomas & Sons - adding an incredible botanical depth to the flavor of this drink. 

Thomas & Sons Distillery in Portland has quickly become one of my favorites for their totally unique spirits distilled at a low temperature from sweetened tea. This unique process makes for liqueurs that are packed with flavor and perfect for mixing up special concoctions at home! 

Keep cool out there, folks! 

Citrus Rose Spritzer

note: as are most drinks, this one is flexible! decrease the simple syrup if you want a drier drink and add a little lemon or lime juice. Add a little less sparkling water if you like a stiffer drink - it's up to you! 

1 oz silver rum 

.5 oz lemon simple syrup  (I used Sonoma Syrup Co's Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup)

1oz white rose spirits  (from Thomas & Sons Distillery

6oz lime La Croix (or another lime sparking water) 

  • Combine rum, lemon simple syrup, and rose spirits in the bottom of a glass and stir to combine. 
  • Add ice and sparkling water, and enjoy! 
  • If you want to make this for a crowd, I would suggest pre mixing the rum, simple syrup, and rose spirits. Then just pour with fresh sparking water as you go! 



Disclaimer: I have received free product or money from businesses highlighted in this article - which helps me keep this blog alive. I take great pride in the advice I share here on Toot Sweet, and would never recommend a product to you that I'm not over-the-moon excited about, or that I wouldn't purchase for use in my own kitchen.