Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Entertaining with Kathi newspaper column ~ December 20. 2007

From the December 20, 2007 Entertaining with Kathi newspaper column by Florida food writer Kathi Dameron. This is the original, unedited version that was submitted to the newspaper.

"Let These Home-Made Treats Help Sweeten Your Holidays"
By Kathi Dameron

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse, when momma awoke and slipped into her fur-trimmed robe and tip-toed to the kitchen for a time-honored tradition.

With husband and young ones still deep in their slumber, Momma carefully reached into her china cupboard to retrieve her vintage Victorian cocoa pot and mugs.

While outdoors the polar-esque winds of winter blew and icy negligees of frozen rain blanketed the peripheral gardens, indoors the kitchen was warm and toasty and fragrant with the aroma of Pecan Stuffed French Toast With Honey Nut Butter and the seasonal splurge of a lovingly brewed pot of hot cocoa with old-fashioned homemade marshmallows.

Rich frothy hot chocolate, decadent French toast and the opening of Christmas presents around a beautifully adorned and illuminated evergreen tree sing of the sweet joy of Christmas morning.

For Christmas morning, Christmas Eve or to warm a group of holiday carolers; a well-brewed pot of Hot Cocoa will delight the spirit and warm the soul. My recipe for hot cocoa has a couple of special twists. Rather than the standard dark chocolate, I’ve opted for a white chocolate with a jolt of java added. Instead of the usual packaged rubbery marshmallows, my recipe includes the how to directions for creating your very own homemade marshmallows like the ones made in days of long ago.

Frothy White Hot Chocolate Cappuccino (Serves 2)
1 cup steamed milk
2 tablespoons espresso
4-oz White Chocolate, melted
one-half teaspoon sugar
a dusting of cinnamon
Homemade marshmallows
white chocolate garnish of curls or shavings
2 cinnamon sticks

Pour steamed milk, espresso and melted white chocolate together. Stir well. Sprinkle top with sugar, cinnamon, homemade marshmallows and white chocolate garnish. Add cinnamon stick to be used as a fragrant stirrer.

Old Fashioned Home-made Marshmallows
3 packages Knox Unflavored Gelatin made with one half cup ice cold water
one and one half cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
one quarter teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar

Combine the unflavored gelatin with one half-cup ice cold water in an electric mixer. Set aside.
Mix together sugar, corn syrup, salt and one half-cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar melts. Increase temperature, insert candy thermometer and cook the syrup until it reaches 240 degrees.
Slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture. Mix well then increase to high speed for about 15 minutes. Whip the mixture until it is very thick. Add vanilla, mixing well.
Dust a glass, baking dish with confectioners’ sugar.
Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Smooth the top and dust with additional confectioners’ sugar. Let dry out over night at room temperature.
Cut in squares and dust with additional confectioners’ sugar.

Pecan Stuffed French Toast with Honey Nut Butter
From the Chicago Pike Inn, a Bed and Breakfast in Coldwater, Michigan comes this Christmas morning indulgence.
French Toast:
4 oz. cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped
1 loaf day old French bread, unsliced
3 eggs
one quarter cup milk
cinnamon or nutmeg

Honey Nut Butter:
One third cup pecans, chopped
One half cup butter
One quarter cup honey

French Toast: Blend cream cheese, vanilla, nuts and only one tablespoon of sugar.
Slice bread into one and one-half inch slices. Don’t use ends. (You should have about 16 slices bread.) Slice a pocket across the top to make a pocket to stuff with one tablespoon of cream cheese mixture. Mix eggs, milk the other one tablespoon of sugar. Dip bread into mixture and fry or grill in melted shortening. (It also works to bake it in the oven, flipping bread slices to bake on both sides.) Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg. Use the following honey nut butter to pour over the top of the French toast.

Honey Nut Butter:
Mix nuts with butter and honey till well blended. Heat mixture till warm and the consistency of syrup. Makes 1 cup.

The edited version of this article appeared in the Northeast Chronicle, a publication of the Tallahassee Democrat.

Kathi Dameron is a caterer, special event designer, food writer and teacher of cooking classes. She owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company. She can be reached at or at 850-539-7750

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