Prepare a 9x9 pan by lining with plastic wrap, spray with non-stick vegetable spray and dust with confectioner’s sugar.
Put ½ cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatin over water and allow to sit for approximately 10 minutes.
As gelatin sits, combine sugar, corn syrup, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute. (Do not over cook or the syrup will get too hard.) Remove from heat.
Turn mixer onto high speed and carefully pour boiling syrup in the gelatin. Add salt and continue to beat at high speed for 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes or until the mixture is lukewarm, fluffy white, and the consistency of whipped marshmallows.
Scrape the warm mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly with wet hands. Dust the top of marshmallows mixture with more confectioner’s sugar. Allow to stand, uncovered, on the counter for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, to so the marshmallow mixture can set up and dry.
Remove the marshmallow slab from the pan by turning the pan upside down onto a board. Remove plastic liner if still attached, and cut the slab into squares (kitchen shears sprayed with non-stick spray make this job easier). Place in bowl and dust with additional confectioner’s sugar.
Yields 20-40 marshmallows, depending on size
For the Hot Chocolate:
½ cup water
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (to make this extra special, look for Mexican cocoa powder)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3½ cups milk
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup half-and-half
extra cocoa powder
In a small bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt. Bring water to a boil and whisk in cocoa-sugar mixture. Return to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 2 minutes, stirring constantly and being careful not to scorch the mixture. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil. Remove from heat, add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Divide the half-and-half among the mugs of cocoa and top with homemade marshmallows, sprinkle with cocoa and a dash of cinnamon. Enjoy!
Experiment with new marshmallow flavors and toppings: rather than confectioner’s sugar, line your pan with superfine sugar, finely crushed Oreos, mini chocolate chips, toasted coconut or other items to coat your marshmallows and give them your signature touch!
For an extra chocolaty touch, rim the mugs with a dusting of cocoa powder before filling.