Sunday, December 6, 2009

marshmallow dreams

This weekend marked the first real winter holiday weekend in New York. Following the much anticipated Rockefeller Center tree-lighting, the city erupts in holiday cheer. Holiday markets pop up in Union Square and Columbus Circle, Christmas tree dealers are on every other street corner and the scent of fresh-cut pine lingers all over the Upper West Side. Starbucks' red holiday cups warm chilly hands, snowflake lights go up on Columbus, and tourists swarm midtown hoping for glimpses of Rockettes, 5th Avenue windows, and the skating rink at Bryant Park. It's always my absolute favorite season in the city - we even had our first snowfall this weekend.

But even after a full afternoon/evening of Christmas cookie baking with my friend Emily on Saturday (more on that next post) and a festive holiday party tonight, I'm not there. And I'm haaaating that. I've done all the right things: I set up a Manhattan apartment-sized tree, put lights in my windows, hung my stocking from the mantle and bought holiday cards to mail to everyone I know. I downloaded The Hotel Cafe "Winter Songs" album and watched "Love Actually" and "White Christmas." I even planned the menu for a holiday party I'm hosting this week (all homemade and complete with favors!) but not even impending party hosting has me dreaming of sugarplums and candy canes quite yet.

When I was a kid, I figured the reason I loved Christmas so much was due entirely to the fact that it was the bonus holiday during my birthday month. My brother and I would count down the days on our advent calendars and when the mouse stopped at December 20th it was like Christmas came early. The celebration 5 days later was just an extension of my birthday filled with more gifts, stockings, and a Honeybaked Ham.

However, since life no longer revolves around my Santa list, I've thought a lot about what makes Christmas so special. It's not so much the gingerbread men and cinnamon stick candles and mistletoe and fires in the fireplace and mulled cider and twinkle lights and pine needles in the carpet and hot chocolate and ice skating and cold nights and warm quilts. Christmas is a feeling - in one word, Christmas is cozy. It's all of the things above wrapped up in a blanket and snuggled warm and breathed in. And not much can top it.

But for whatever reason, in the midst of holiday parties, temperatures dropping and holiday cards arriving daily, I'm just not feeling it. And I'm desperate for the coziness to begin. So the baking will continue this week as I go down my list of must-make Christmas cookies in an attempt to pull in some Christmas. I'll keep ya posted (literally).

In the meantime, here's a recipe I made for tonight's holiday party that's insanely easy to throw together and a total crowd pleaser despite its simplicity. Since eating S'Mores is pretty much one of my most favorite things to do of all time (Cut to: Every summer from '01-'03 roasting marshmallows at Camp Seafarer on sticks above our charcoal grill. Cut to: Summer 2004 roasting marshmallows on kebab skewers above the grill on the porch of my beach house during a torrential downpour. Cut to: Summer 2009 roasting marshmallows on chopsticks above my gas burners for National S'Mores Day), it was my delight when a colleague made "Indoor S'Mores" for our office Halloween party.

I could hardly stop stuffing my face long enough to ask her between bites for the recipe but I'm glad I did. With little more than an hour before the party started today I decided to whip up a batch as an extra sweet.

Let me put it this way - there weren't any left at the end of the night. Gooey and chewy and milk chocolatey and YUM. The Indoor S'More is the new Rice Crispy Treat.

Outside of the kitchen, if you have any suggestions for cranking up that holiday feeling, send them my way. I'm on a mission to warm my heart with Christmas cozy.

Indoor S'Mores
Courtesy of one of the Business Office gals

8 cups Golden Grahams cereal (one 13 oz box)
1 1/2 cups Nestle Toll House milk chocolate chips
6 cups miniature marshmallows (one 10 oz bag)
5 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.

Melt 5 cups marshmallows (save 1 cup for later), chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup in a 3-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Pour cereal into a large bowl. Pour mashmallow mixture over cereal, stir until evenly coated. Stir in remaining marshmallows.

Press mixture into pan with buttered back of spoon. Cool until as firm as you'd like (I put the pan in the fridge for 25 minutes and they cut perfectly). Cut into 24 bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature.


Anonymous said...

i stumbled upon your blog today. i love your writing. i hope you start feeling the christmas spirit soon! i'm not there yet either for some odd reason.

Anonymous said...

I'm there with you on the "not feeling it" aspect--but I am thinking that this recipe might cheer me up... (-:

Beth said...

So glad you like my writing! Literally I wrote the post on Sunday and then spent all of Monday night grocery shopping and prepping for a holiday party that I hosted Tuesday. I downloaded the Michael Buble Christmas album (cheesy, but good!) and listened to it on repeat while I cooked and man! By the time I got into bed I had a smile on my face and the spirit in my heart... I might have even dreamt of sugarplums ;) Now three more weeks of hot cocoa and chilly holiday nights. Thanks for the comments!

Julie said...

UM, those s'mores were shamefully delicious and we oh-so-enjoyed WAY too many of them on Tuesday night. Cheers to the hostest with the mostest :)

Sarah said...

Beth, I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoy reading your blog! You write so well - I feel like I can always relate :) And the recipes, oh my. I'm trying the molasses cookies this weekend! Thanks for sharing.

Beth said...

Jules, I'm glad you liked them! Thanks for coming over!
Sarah, so glad you're a reader, and thanks so much for the compliment! Let me know how those cookies turned out, yummm

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