Browsing Tag


2 In festivities/ recipes

vanilla squared marshmallows 


I’d always been intimidated by homemade marshmallows, until I discovered that they’re astonishingly easy with the help of a candy thermometer and stand mixer. I first made these marshmallows last holiday season, and they may have ruined me for commercially-made ones forever. They’re irresistible by the handful,  super soft and flavorful, and they quickly go molten and so delicious when roasted or topping a hot drink.

marsh-sugarpour punchC-bourbonmarsh-vanillascrape

The name’s a bit punny. For serious flavor, I use homemade bourbon vanilla, along with scraping in a whole vanilla bean and adding a touch of almond for the NOLA nectar homage. I cut them into cubes mostly for speed and ease, and I find being generous with the starch-and-sugar mixture super helpful- I even fill a shaker with it.

marsh-cutting2 marsh-boxing1 marsh-boxing2 marsh-boxed

I’m all about the edible treats as holiday gifts… I make and share small batches of goodies all season long. So I filled sweet little holly-print boxes with marshmallows and curled shiny red ribbon for festive treats to be given to friends.

marsh-cocobythetree wrapping-RC marsh-tripodshot marsh-cocobythetree-close

These marshmallows melt so incredibly, they elevate simple hot cocoa to a fantastical treat. I behave like a five year old and just keep piling marshmallows into my cup.  Despite sticky-fingered snacking and the distraction of Elf, we even managed to get a few presents wrapped, so I’ll call it a winter evening success.


Vanilla Squared Marshmallows

(adapted from Alton Brown’s homemade marshmallows


  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon bourbon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • nonstick cooking spray



  1. Empty gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water into bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and powdered sugar.  Spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray. Add some of the sugar-cornstarch mixture and shake about to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return excess to the bowl, set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, attach candy thermometer to the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, about 7 minutes. Watch carefully and immediately remove from heat.
  3. Start the mixer on low. While running, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture- be careful! Once all of the syrup is added, increase speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes- it will be steamy at first.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts during the last minute of whipping.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using an oiled spatula if needed to spread evenly. Dust the top with enough of the sugar-starch mixture to lightly cover, saving the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  5. Once set, turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board or counter dusted with sugar-starch. Cut into strips and then squares using a pizza wheel. Lightly dust all sides of each cut marshmallow with the remaining mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.


The cocoa I serve is adapted from this one– I add cinnamon and a sprinkle each of cardamom and cayenne. It makes a rich semisweet cocoa that is perfect with the melting marshmallows. Feel free to thin with more milk or sweeten further, but homemade cocoa is so easy and delicious the packets simply don’t compare.





0 In festivities/ home/ recipes

home for the holidays


As much as I love latkes, I can’t eat them for 8 nights straight if I want to fit into my clothes. So I make a point of experimenting with and serving other foods with Jewish and Israeli foods as we celebrate Hannukah.


Having made several variations of chocolate babka in the past, Smitten Kitchen’s simplification of Yotam Ottolenghi’s krantz cakes are hands down the best. I decided to up the ante a notch by raiding/catching up on my Valrhona x Trader Joe’s chocolate calendar  and including several different dark varieties, and it was a scrumptious life choice.

decktheH-bobka-1 decktheH-bobka-2braid decktheH-bobka-rising

The cutting and twisting stage can be a little iffy, but refrigerating the dough to stiffen the butter makes all the difference. And as long as you get it into the pan in some fashion, it will rise up just dandy. And yes, I have to use a mug of water to humidify my microwave as a rising drawer- even in sunny SoCal, our house is an icebox.


I lose all self-control around this yumminess- that little pan of ends was history before I’d even finished glazing the loaves. With Hanukkah falling early this year, we’re celebrating the miracle of light as we prepare and decorate for our annual holiday open house, which we’re hosting this weekend.


The babka made for some scrumptious Hanukkah bush decorating fuel. The moist and tender brioche was swirled generously with melted chocolate, and warm slices paired perfectly with glasses of icy cold milk.


We don’t go too overboard with holiday decor. As much as I love the way it looks, I have limited patience for the untangling and wrangling, putting up and taking down, organizing and storing, and David even less so.  My mom is a holiday superdecorator and I’m nowhere near her level,  so I’m just grateful that she gifted us the majority of those gorgeous vintage glass ornaments.


But I loooooooveee the smell of a live tree in the house, so every year we wind up at the tree lot. It’s the same story, different year- I try and talk David into a 9 footer or the like, he laughs in my face. Then we inspect no less than a dozen (more reasonably sized) trees until I find the perfect one. And once we get it home, I’m hanging onto the mantle or teetering on the arm of the couch to perch the sparkly fleur de lis on the top.


There’s a lot of love on this little table. The chanukiah was a wedding present, and my mother in law crocheted the tablecloth as a gift for me. We collected the pinecones hiking in Big Bear during our 2nd wedding anniversary getaway, then cleaned and glittered them.  I can’t help but smile when I see it all- it’s simple but special.

decktheH-menorah-openingpresent decktheH-kendras

David got me a new MacBook Air last month, and his new camera body arrived a few weeks ago. Since we’re already using and loving our big gifts this year, we’re exchanging  smaller treats each night. Some are useful, like the previous night’s Restoration Hardware foot duvets (graphite for David, grey for me), some are indulgent, like these gorgeous rose gold and brown abalone Kendra Scott earrings, and some are silly, like the box of practical jokes and disguises David proceeded to open.


With all the travel I’ve clocked this year (24 round trips in 2015) it’s been really amazing to have put up the suitcases for the year.  To just spend some time around the house, making it fun and festive, just gives me all the warm and fuzzy feelings.


Skip to toolbar