Company arrived yesterday for a four day stay. It always feel nice to have visitors from home because it helps bring our two worlds together. We haven’t made many plans yet and are keeping things pretty relaxed.
Growing up we always had a house full of visitors, especially around special occasions. So, for me to have a houseful over Valentines and to play the hostess, makes me a happy woman.
My mom was always very good at creating a relaxing and welcoming environment in our home. A place where people could come as a reprieve and just be themselves. She instilled in me the want to provide a peaceful space for people to escape to. I don’t know if I have succeeded at all, but it is something I strive to do.
If there’s one thing about being a hostess that I have learnt from my mother it would be that it’s not as important how perfect your house looks but how people feel when they enter it. There’s no point in having friends over if your going to be running around getting stressed out. And, nobody likes it if the hostess is stuck in the kitchen all day. It’s always best to keep things simple and prepare ahead.
In my preparation, I have been baking cookies, whipping up bisquick mix and stocking my fridge and pantry so that if we decide to stay in all day we will have something to eat. My son’s stroller has been very weighed down and I have been getting strange looks as I struggle to push it onto the train with bags dangling from my arms and protruding from the bottom of the stroller.
I highly doubt that we will every actually stay in all day. As the museums and ski hills will be calling our names. And, when we come home to seek shelter from the bitter wind, this Barcelona Hot Chocolate with Strawberry Marshmallows will be calling our names.
Barcelona Hot Chocolate is a very “adult” way to enjoy the beverage we all love so much. Dark chocolate and coffee are the stars of the the show with just a hint of orange bringing up the rear. And, because it’s only sweetened slightly with a bit of brown sugar, the result is rich, velvety and soothing, but not cloyingly sweet as so many hot chocolates are. Perfect as an indulgent pick-me-up to keep you going for the rest of the day.
The Strawberry Marshmallows are as cute as buttons and taste amazingly like, Strawberry Marshmallows! Imagine that. If I had known that marshmallows were so easy to make, I would have made them ages ago. A great project to make with kids. And, dipped in chocolate they would make some pretty spectacular homemade valentines gifts. (I have included photos of the marshmallow-making process at the bottom of the post.)
I hope you all have a great weekend and are able to spend some quality time with the ones you love. xo
Strawberry Heart Marshmallows
Makes: 86 hearts + scraps
- 1/2 cup water
- 2.5 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup strawberry jam, preferably seedless
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- dash salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 4 envelopes gelatin
- red food coloring
- icing sugar, for dusting
- Add first 5 ingredients to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer.
- Meanwhile add 2/3 cup water to mixing bowl and sprinkle all of gelatin over top to soften (at least 5 min.).
- Once the boiling liquid has reached 238ºF on a thermometer. Remove from heat and pour over softened gelatin.
- With the whisk attachment, beat on low for approximately 5 min. Gradually bring the speed up to high, beating on each speed for 5-8 min. until mixture has cooled and peaks form when beater is lifted (30-40 min. total).
- In the last 10 min of beating prepare jelly roll pan (15×11 inch). Spray with cooking spray (or grease canola oil) and place a piece of parchment over top, pressing down to stick to the oil. Grease the top of the parchment.
- Once done mixing add red food coloring bit by bit and mix in until the pink color you desire is achieved.
- Pour marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and smooth top. Let sit, uncovered, for 3 hours or overnight until dry.
- Dust work surface with icing sugar and flip pan over to release the dried marshmallow. Peel off the parchment paper.
- Grease a 1.5 inch heart shaped cutter with cooking spray or wipe down with oiled paper towel. Cut out heart shapes, alternating direction to have less waste. Make sure to keep cutter well oiled. Toss heart cutouts in icing sugar to coat.
* these will last for up to one week in an airtight container at room temp.
* dip in chocolate for a little added fun.
* I chop up the scraps and use them as “mini marshmallows”.
Barcelona Hot Chocolate
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 1 1/3 cups milk
- 1 cup strong coffee or espresso
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 brown sugar, packed
- 1- 2inch strip orange peel
- Combine chocolate and water in a saucepan set over medium-low heat. Stir until chocolate is melted.
- Add remaining ingredients. Heat for 5 min, or until tiny bubbles form around the edges, stirring frequently. Do not boil.
- Discard orange peel and poor into mugs to serve.
* I subbed 1 cup water plus 2 Tbsp. instant coffee for the espresso