When is hot chocolate more than just a warm, sweet beverage, perfect for a cold winter day? When it is served at Caleb’s American Kitchen in Lahaska, where it is upgraded to a full-scale dessert.
Caleb Lentchner, owner and executive chef of the restaurant, created his “hot chocolate of the month” in October, when he debuted a version flavored with pumpkin spice and homemade marshmallows.
He followed that up in November with s’mores hot chocolate topped with a toasted marshmallow skewer and a chocolate-covered graham cracker.
December brought a peppermint hot chocolate, while the cold winds of January blew in the current offering, tiramisu, a coffee-infused hot chocolate with a chocolate-covered ladyfinger and a cinnamon crunch marshmallow.
Creating the recipes has been a lot of fun, Lentchner said. “I am always trying different ways to offer beverages,” especially hot chocolate, which is a popular choice at the restaurant during the colder months.
“I can go as crazy and over the top as my mind wants to go,” when making hot chocolate, he said.
Making homemade marshmallows is easier than people think, Lentchner said, and he likes to add flavors to make their more interesting.
For February he is mulling over different ideas; there may be red velvet cake involved, he said, in honor of Valentine’s Day.
His hot chocolate of the month will continue through April, and then he will start thinking about something light and cooling for hot summer days.
If you want to try making your own marshmallows at home, this recipe is from foodnetwork.com courtesy of chef Ina Garten:
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. Combine the gelatin and ½ cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.
2. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and ½ cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.
3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.
4. With a sieve, generously dust an 8- by 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners’ sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners’ sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.
5. Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. Dust them with more confectioners’ s sugar.