(Adapted from Giada De Laurentis’ Homemade Orange Marshmallows)
• Butter, for greasing the pan
• Powdered sugar, for dusting
• 1/2 cup water, plus 1/4 cup
• 3 tablespoons (3 packets) unflavored gelatin
• 2 cups sugar
• 1/2 cup evaporated milk
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• Red decorating sugar*
• *Can be found at cake decorating stores
• Special equipment: a candy thermometer
Butter the bottom and sides of an 8 by 8-inch straight-sided baking pan. Dust liberally with sifted powdered sugar and set aside.
Pour 1/2 cup water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow to soften, about 10 minutes.
In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk and 1/4 cup water. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, about 10 to 12 minutes. Pour the syrup over the gelatin mixture. Beat the mixture at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until thick, fluffy and tripled in volume, about 10 to 12 minutes. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla extract until just combined. Using a spatula, scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with orange decorating sugar. Allow the mixture to set, uncovered, in a cool place (not refrigerated) for at least 8 hours or overnight. Remove the marshmallows from the pan and place on a powdered sugar-dusted surface. Using scissors, dusted with powdered sugar, cut the marshmallows into about 1-inch squares. Dip the cut sides into powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Heat white chocolate bark squares as indicated on package. Once the chocolate is melted, drop pretzels into chocolate, coating the pretzels. Set the pretzels on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and insert into refrigerator for 10 minutes to cool and set. Once the chocolate has hardened, drizzle red decorating icing onto pretzels and place back in the refrigerator to set.
Cut off the tops of the strawberries making a flat surface. With the flat surface facing you, make a V with your knife and cut away excess strawberry to make a heart shape.
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and put the oven on a low broil. Using a bread knife; cut the tops off the croissants and place the top and bottom of the croissants on the cookie sheet with the cut side facing up. Cook on low broil for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Take out of the oven and cool. Once cool, use a knife to spread Nutella on the bottom of the croissant and Marshmallow Fluff on the tops. Put the top back on the croissant to serve.
White-Chocolate Dipped Bugles
Heat white chocolate bark squares as indicated on package. Once the chocolate is melted, hold the bottom of the bugle and drop the top of the bugle into chocolate. Set the bugles on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and insert into refrigerator for 10 minutes to cool and set. Store bugles in an air-tight container to keep crunchy.
Using store-bought cookie dough, roll it out on a surface sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out cookies and attach a lollipop stick to the back of the cookie before placing on cookie sheet. Cook using package instructions until a light golden brown. Take the cookie hearts out of the oven to cool before decorating with icing.
Chocolate Pound Cake
(Adapted from Paula Deen’s Cream Cheese Pound Cake from Paula Deen & Friends)
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups cake flour, sifted twice
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted with cake flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour heart-shaped cooking molds.
2. Cream the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until well combined. Add the sugar. Mix for 7 minutes, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each until blended. Gradually add the flour and cocoa powder, beating after each addition, until all is added and combined. Add the salt, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix again.
3. Pour into the prepared cooking molds. Hit the molds gently on the counter about five times to help settle the batter and remove any air pockets. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes. The cake is done when it pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted comes out clean (If using a Bundt pan, bake for 1 ½ hours).
4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely before putting it on a cake plate or in a plastic bag for party favor.
1 package of red Kool-Aid
1 cup of sugar
4 cups white cranberry juice or white grape juice
1 quart club soda, chilled
2 cups water
Stir together the white juice and water. Add the package of Kool-Aid and sugar, mix well. Stir in the club soda just before serving.