Peppermint S'mores with Chocolate Graham Crackers


 
Peppermint S'mores with Chocolate Graham Crackers from Cloudy Kitchen. Puffy peppermint marshmallows are dipped in chocolate and rolled in candy canes, before being sandwiched between two chocolate graham crackers. A christmas twist on a holiday favourite
Peppermint S'mores with Chocolate Graham Crackers from Cloudy Kitchen. Puffy peppermint marshmallows are dipped in chocolate and rolled in candy canes, before being sandwiched between two chocolate graham crackers. A christmas twist on a holiday favourite
Peppermint S'mores with Chocolate Graham Crackers from Cloudy Kitchen. Puffy peppermint marshmallows are dipped in chocolate and rolled in candy canes, before being sandwiched between two chocolate graham crackers. A christmas twist on a holiday favourite
Peppermint S'mores with Chocolate Graham Crackers from Cloudy Kitchen. Puffy peppermint marshmallows are dipped in chocolate and rolled in candy canes, before being sandwiched between two chocolate graham crackers. A christmas twist on a holiday favourite

Oooooh there's one week to go until Christmas! Have you done all your planning? / is there any planning to do? We looked into flying back to New Zealand for the holidays, but quickly stopped looking once I saw how much the tickets were, so we are going to Jill's for both Christmas eve and Christmas day this year, which I am so looking forward to! Last year's Christmas eve dinner was the first time we ever went to her place, and now it's been a whole year and I've wormed my way into the family. Lady deserves a medal ;)

It almost doesn't feel like the holidays though. Yes It's snowed three times in the last four days, and yes Manhattan has their giant baubles and huge tree up, but aside from that it's kind of a weird feeling. I had a momentary window of holiday excitement when I made a wreath at a cookie swap yesterday, but apart from that it's very non-christmas around here and all holy-shit-it's-stressful-gotta-get-all-the-work-done.

So, I have this week to pull my head in. It's a week to go, and I thought what better way to lead up to the week than sharing a week full of recipes that to me, mean christmas. Or at least taste like Christmas. For us, because Christmas is in the summer, nothing really is very cozy and cookie-swappie, but I am determined to embrace that fully this year. I just pulled my Great Grandmother's christmas cake out of the oven, so the week is off to a great start - i'll be sharing the recipe for that over on Bake From Scratch later this week!

The best way to start is by sharing a recipe that I am super proud of - this was not only my first recipe ever in print, but it was the cover girl on a Magazine! Earlier this year, I worked on a co-branded issue of Bake from Scratch, who, along with The Feedfeed, produced an epic holiday cookie issue, filled with all of the cookies from all of the bloggers! You can still purchase a copy of the issue via this link

I brought a Peppermint S'more with a Chocolate Graham Cracker to the party! I started with a simple chocolate graham cracker, which I sandwiched with a peppermint mallow, which had been dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes. You can't get more Christmas than that. These would make the perfect holiday baking project, or a little secret weapon to have up your sleeve to win brownie points at a holiday cookie swap. Grab a copy of the magazine if you don't already have it - I have so many of the recipes bookmarked to make, they would be perfect year round. Thank you so much to Bake from Scratch and the Feedfeed for including me!

A few wee tips:

  • As with all marshies, a sugar thermometer and a scale are going to be your friends here. 
  • Measure the size of your graham crackers before you cut the marshmallow - they may change shape a little in the oven. 
  • Sometimes if i'm feeling extra fancy, I use a microplane to file down the edges of the graham crackers so that they are smooth
  • I usually prep the marshmallows first and then make the grahams while they are curing!
  • Prepare your baking dish and the tools you need before you begin to whip the marshmallow - things will move quickly once it is ready, and you want to get it into the tin as quickly as possible.
  • These can be made ahead - store the grahams and the marshmallows separate, and assemble before you eat for minimum risk of sogginess.
 

 

Peppermint S'mores with Chocolate Graham Crackers

- Makes approximately 20 S'mores -

Peppermint Marshmallows
1/2 cup (60 g) powdered sugar
1/2 cup (60 g) Cornstarch
28 grams (4 sachets) gelatine
152 g cold water
207g light corn syrup
152 g water
535 g sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla paste, or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 tsp (4 g) peppermint essence
250 g good quality dark chocolate, melted
125 g candy canes, finely crushed in a food processor or blender

Chocolate Graham Crackers
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp (110 g) whole milk
1/4 cup (100 g) liquid honey
1 tsp (4 g) vanilla essence
1 cup (130 g) Whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (45 g) cocoa
1 tsp (5 g) Baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup (150g) packed brown sugar
7 Tbsp (100g) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

 

- PROCESS -

PEPPERMINT MARSHMALLOWS

Grease a 9" x 13" baking tin with neutral oil or butter. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch and set aside. (This will be used to dust the marshmallows while they cure and as you cut them)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the first measure of cold water, and gelatine. Mix well with a fork, and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.

In a medium pot, combine the water, corn syrup, vanilla, and sugar. Heat over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until the syrup reaches 240˚f (120˚c) then remove from the heat and leave to cool to 210˚f  (100˚c).

Turn the mixer on to medium, and mix for a few seconds to help break up the bloomed gelatin. With the mixer running, VERY carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixer. Turn the speed up to high, and whip for 5-7 minutes, until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, has turned white, and holds somewhat of a peak when you stop the mixer and lift out the whisk. Add the peppermint extract and whip for a further 30 seconds.

Working quickly, scrape the marshmallow into the prepared tin using a lightly oiled rubber spatula. Smooth the surface using an oiled offset spatula, or back of a spoon. Use wet fingers to help the smoothing process if needed. Dust liberally with the prepared corn starch and powdered sugar mix. Allow to cure for 3-4 hours.

Carefully turn the marshmallow out onto a board, and dust the entire surface with the powdered sugar and cornstarch mix. Using a sharp knife dusted with the cornstarch mix, cut into 2" x 3" pieces (or the same size as you have made your crackers). Lightly dust the cut surfaces of the marshmallow with the marshmallow dust to help avoid them sticking together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip half of the marshmallow into the melted chocolate, and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. Place onto the baking sheet, and place briefly in the fridge until set.

CHOCOLATE GRAHAM CRACKERS

Combine the milk, honey and vanilla in a small jug.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. Pulse briefly to combine.

Add the butter to the food processor, and pulse until the mixture has a crumbly texture. Slowly add the milk and honey mixture, pulsing to combine. Continue to pulse until a dough comes together that balls around the blade of a food processor.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and divide in two. Wrap up one half of the dough while you work with the second half.

Roll the first half of the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper, until it is very thin, approximately 1/8 inch, or 3mm (Roll thinner than you think, as the crackers will rise in the oven). Place the dough, still between the parchment sheets, on a baking tray, and transfer to the freezer. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Freeze for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350˚f  (180˚c). Remove the first sheet of dough from the freezer, and peel off the top layer of parchment. Using a ruler and a pastry wheel or knife, cut the cookies into a grid of 2" x 3" rectangles, either re-rolling scraps, or leaving them in place (they make great snacks!) Leave the dough as one piece rather than separating the cookies - you will do this once they come out of the oven. Cut the second portion of the dough while the first bakes, and store in the freezer until ready to bake.

Transfer the cut dough, on the parchment, to a baking tray. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly puffed and set. Remove from the oven, leave to sit for 5 minutes, then go over the cut lines with a pastry wheel or sharp knife. Leave to cool on the tray completely before breaking into individual crackers. Repeat with the second tray.

ASSEMBLY

To assemble, place a Peppermint Marshmallow between two graham crackers. Serve immediately. Store any extra crackers and marshmallows separately, and assemble just before eating. Undipped marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container, dipped marshmallows need to be stored in the fridge.

Peppermint S'mores with Chocolate Graham Crackers from Cloudy Kitchen. Puffy peppermint marshmallows are dipped in chocolate and rolled in candy canes, before being sandwiched between two chocolate graham crackers. A christmas twist on a holiday favourite

Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache


 
Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.
Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.
Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.
Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.
Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.
Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.
Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.
Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.
Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.

I have an obsession with marshmallow. And I'm not sure why. Somehow it makes its way into lots of things that I make - on top of tarts, inside s'mores, and of course into hot chocolates. I only made it for the first time a year or so ago, and have been hooked ever since. There's something about adding hot syrup to the mixer, and coming back in five minutes to a pillowy cloud of magic. Just as amazing cured and torched as it is straight off the mixer. Anything I make with Jill also has a high possibility of having marshmallow added to it - not only is it fun to make, but it adds another dimension and texture that you can't get from a buttercream filling. 

So when Feedfeed and Bob's Red Mill asked us to come up with a holiday cookie, I instantly knew it was going to include a marshmallow component. We started with a chewy sugar cookie - not too sweet, and rolled in sugar to give the outside the perfect crunch. Once they were baked off, we piped a fluffy ring of vanilla bean marshmallow onto the cookies, then added a blob of silky dark chocolate ganache in the centre. We then sandwiched them with a second cookie, drizzled them in white chocolate, and finished off with a heavy dose of snowy sprinkles. The result was the perfect take on a s'more - each component delicious enough to stand alone, but incredible once they were all married together. Quite possibly some of our best work ever - this one is going to be a favourite for a very, very long time Happy Holiday baking! 

A few wee tips:

  • The recipe here is in grams. The amount of flour used will change the amount that the cookies spread dramatically, and depending on the way you scoop flour your cup measurement can vary but up to 20g, so to ensure accuracy, use a scale to weigh if possible.
  • If you don't want to make the marshmallow or the ganache, the cookies are perfect just on their own. Feel free to make them a little larger, but make sure you leave room for spreading and adjust the cooking time accordingly. 
  • I bake the cookies one tray at a time - with 11 on each tray, I get about five trays worth. The cookies will come out of the oven very puffy, but will start to sink down and crackle as they cool.
  • Prepare everything you need for making the marshmallow before you start the process. Pair up the cookies and lay them out, fit a piping bag with a tip, and grease a small pan to have to put the extra marshmallow in (you will likely have a little). Once the marshmallow is done, it's all go to get it into the bag and piped before it sets too much
  • Make the ganache just before you start the marshmallow, and leave to cool a little in the piping bag before you use. It should be thick enough that you can use it soon after making. I like to use a kitchen clip just above the nozzle to help keep everything sealed off until I am ready to go.
  • Get yourself a couple of french star tips - they are my secret weapon!
 

 

Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla Bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache

- Makes about 25 Sandwich cookies -

Vanilla Sugar Cookie
226g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
300g (1 ½ cups) granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
300g (2 cups) Bob's Red Mill All-purpose Flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Vanilla Bean Marshmallow
14g (2 packets) powdered gelatine
76g cold water
103g liquid honey
76g water
265g sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Dark Chocolate Ganache
250g dark chocolate (approx 70% cocoa solids)
15g (1 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g heavy cream

To Decorate
Melted White Chocolate
Sprinkles of your choice

- PROCESS -

VANILLA BEAN SUGAR COOKIE

Preheat the oven to 350˚f /180˚c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla paste, and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined. Scrape bowl again to ensure that the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Place approximately a cup of sugar in a bowl. Scoop tablespoons of the mixture using a #70 scoop, and roll into balls. Roll each ball in the sugar to coat completely. Place evenly spaced apart on the baking sheet, leaving room for spreading (11 per half baking sheet works well). You will need to bake your cookies in several batches.

Bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes, until puffy and barely golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on the pan - during this time they will deflate and crackle slightly. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Repeat sugar rolling and baking process with remaining dough.

Pair up the cookies with another of a similar size. Prepare the marshmallow and ganache

VANILLA BEAN MARSHMALLOW

Fit a large piping bag with a round tip. Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. In the mixing bowl, combine the cold water and gelatin and mix well with a fork, and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.

In a medium pot, combine the water, honey, vanilla, and sugar. Heat over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until the syrup reaches 240˚f /120˚c, then remove from the heat and leave to cool to 210˚f /100˚c.

Turn the mixer on to medium, and mix for a few seconds to help break up the bloomed gelatin. With the mixer running, VERY carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixer. Turn the speed up to high, and whip for 5-7 minutes, until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, has turned white, and holds somewhat of a peak when you stop the mixer and lift out the whisk. Transfer to the piping bag.

DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Place the chocolate and butter in a small heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small pot over medium heat, until boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and butter, and immediately cover with a plate. Leave to sit for 5-6 minutes. Whisk well until smooth, microwaving for 10 second increments, if needed, to melt any additional pieces of chocolate, stirring well. Transfer the ganache to a small piping bag fitted with a star attachment.

ASSEMBLY

Match the cookies with another of similar size. Pipe a ring of marshmallow on one half of each pair. Pipe a blob of ganache in the middle of each cookie. Sandwich with the second cookie. Rest cookies for 20 minutes to allow the marshmallow to set.

Drizzle the cookies with melted white chocolate, and sprinkle with your favourite sprinkles.

Vanilla Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla bean Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate Ganache. The perfect Holiday cookie.

Thank you so much to Feedfeed and Bob's Red Mill for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.

Chicken Pot Pie


 
Chicken Pot Pie - a rich and flavoursome chicken, bacon, and vegetable mixture is topped with a flaky tender crust, and baked until deeply golden. The perfect winter comfort food
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Chicken Pot Pie - a rich and flavoursome chicken, bacon, and vegetable mixture is topped with a flaky tender crust, and baked until deeply golden. The perfect winter comfort food
Chicken Pot Pie - a rich and flavoursome chicken, bacon, and vegetable mixture is topped with a flaky tender crust, and baked until deeply golden. The perfect winter comfort food
Chicken Pot Pie - a rich and flavoursome chicken, bacon, and vegetable mixture is topped with a flaky tender crust, and baked until deeply golden. The perfect winter comfort food
Chicken Pot Pie - a rich and flavoursome chicken, bacon, and vegetable mixture is topped with a flaky tender crust, and baked until deeply golden. The perfect winter comfort food
Chicken Pot Pie - a rich and flavoursome chicken, bacon, and vegetable mixture is topped with a flaky tender crust, and baked until deeply golden. The perfect winter comfort food

Well, I think it is fair to say that we are elbow deep in silly season. There are orders coming out our ears, I've put off making my great grandma's christmas cake at least four times because I'm scared of the recipe (it bakes for SIX HOURS), and I have a list a mile long of things I want to do before Christmas. I will admit that it doesn't feel very festive around our apartment - we aren't getting a christmas tree this year. As much as I would love to, our current foster cat Winnie doesn't have the best track record with leaving the plants alone, so I have a feeling that a tree would result in far too many ingested pine needles on her part. Not a fun time. 

The best part about Silly Season though, is all of the comfort food. I'm still getting used to it not being boiling hot over xmas like it is back in NZ (and continuously in a state of denial that a cold Christmas is FINE and I'm not at ALL homesick), but am taking every chance I can get to make us cozy meals to take the edge off a little. 

This is one of my absolute faves, and for Rich is a total taste of home. The recipe for this comes from a laminated piece of paper they have in their kitchen at home - I think it might be from his sister's cooking class when she was at school or something along those lines. Regardless, it's an epic recipe. It's a flavourful veggie-chicken-bacon-sauce situation, covered with a lid of flaky pastry. I made my own for this pie because I had some in the fridge, but store bought works just as well and is equally as delicious, and much easier. There's a little chopping and cooking and mixing to do to prepare the base but it's totally worth it. I've also made this a couple of times after thanksgiving, adding turkey and stuffing, and it is next level. This is what comfy and cosy is meant to taste like. 

A few wee tips:

  • I made this with home made pastry, but 500g of ready made puff pastry, thawed, works perfectly in it's place! 
  • I pulled my best Julie Jones with the lattice - it was easier than I thought! I just latticed on a piece of parchment, then popped it in the freezer for a little bit to firm up. I then used a round tin the same diameter as my dish, and cut out a circle, which I slid onto the top of the pie. It was super effective and there were no edges to fiddle round with 
  • A plain lid of pastry works just as well here! You do you.
  • I often make this earlier in the day, and keep it in the fridge until I'm ready to bake it for dinner. That way you can just throw it in the oven when you need! Make sure to adjust the cooking time slightly if you are cooking it from cold. 
  • I use two pans to make this - one for the bacon and chicken and one for the veggies. It makes it much easier but you can do things in batches if you just want to use the one frying pan!
 

 

Chicken Pie

- Serves 4-5 people -

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups (310g) Flour
Pinch of Salt
2 sticks (226g) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) Apple cider vinegar

Filling
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
One medium onion, finely diced
3 ribs of celery, finely sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
Salt and pepper to season
100g bacon, de-rinded and roughly chopped
750g skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into small cubes. 
3 Tbsp Flour
1 1/4 cup (315ml) chicken stock
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp dried Thyme

1 Recipe Pie dough, alternatively 500g puff pastry, thawed
Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water

 

- PROCESS -

PIE DOUGH

Place flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or  your fingers,  cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.

Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 8-10 tbsp) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. Prepare a dish with a 6 cup capacity (I used a 9 inch diameter casserole dish, but a rectangle shape would work well too)

Melt 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot. Cook gently, stirring often, partially covered, until tender, approximately 20 minutes. Season well with Salt and Pepper. Remove from the heat while the chicken and bacon is finishing.

After the vegetables have been cooking for 10 minutes, heat a second frying pan over high heat. Add 2 Tbsp of butter, then add the chopped bacon and chicken. Cook until the chicken is golden brown, and cooked through. 

Return the pan of vegetables to low heat, and add the flour and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir well, then add the stock, cream and thyme, and stir until well combined. Fold through the cooked chicken and bacon and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and turn the filling into a dish with a 6 cup capacity. 

Remove the pie dough from the fridge. Roll out until it is approximately 1/8" (3mm) in thickness. Cut a thick strip (as shown in photos) and use to place around the edge of the dish to help seal. Brush the strip lightly with egg wash. Cut the remaining dough into strips, and decorate the top with desired lattice. Alternatively leave the piece of dough whole, and make a plain 'lid' for your pie - be sure to cut a small vent to allow steam to escape. 

Brush the top of the pie all over with egg wash. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Allow to stand 10 mins before serving.

Chicken Pot Pie - a rich and flavoursome chicken, bacon, and vegetable mixture is topped with a flaky tender crust, and baked until deeply golden. The perfect winter comfort food