At Napa Valley Chocolates in St. Helena, California, Candy Dreyer delights in creating special holiday sweets, often with a touch of humor that brings out the smiles. Favorites with her customers are these marshmallow snowmen.
NOTES: Buy candy designed to melt for coating or dipping; it's usually found beside cooking chocolates at the supermarket. For easy dipping, melt more than needed to coat the marshmallows; save the extra for other uses. Candies suited for decorations (whole or cut in pieces) include orange, green, or red gumdrops, black licorice sticks or thin black licorice whips (or strings), small colored candies, miniature chocolate chips, and colored sugars.
To make a drying rack for snowmen, cut top flaps from a corrugated cardboard box, leaving a neat edge. Make holes in the corrugated edge by pushing a craft or lollipop stick into the edge at 4-inch intervals. Place a couple of food cans (3 to 4 pounds total) in the box so it will sit steady. Push snowman-filled sticks into prepared holes to hold confections vertically while candy firms.
Makes 6 marshmallow snowmen
Candies for decorating or dried currants
1 cup (6 ounces) chopped red, green, or brown
candy chips or chunks made for melted coatings
18 large marshmallows
6 (3 1/2-inch) wood craft sticks or (8-inch) cardboard lollipop sticks
2 cups (12 ounces) chopped white candy chips or
chunks made for melted coatings
1 to 2 teaspoons solid shortening (optional)
6 (4 x 8-inch) cellophane bags
Red or green ribbons (1/4-inch wide)
Assemble candies for decorating by colors. If desired, cut orange gumdrops into slender wedges for carrot-shaped noses, green gumdrops into leaves, red gumdrops into berries, licorice sticks into twig-like arms.
To make hats, heat chopped red (or green or brown) candy chips in a 1-cup glass measure or small, deep microwave-safe bowl in a microwave oven at 50% power until chips are soft, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Stir candy until smooth; if lumpy, heat in a microwave oven for 20-second intervals, stirring frequently.
Line a 12- x 15-inch baking sheet with nonstick cooking paper, cooking parchment or wax paper. Set 6 marshmallows, flat side down, at least 2 inches apart on paper. Spoon about 1 tablespoon melted red (or color of choice) candy onto the center of 1 marshmallow top and quickly, using a small metal spatula or dinner knife, spread candy over top and around side of marshmallow; spread excess that flows onto paper into a 1/2-inch-wide rim for the hat. Add more melted candy, as needed, to make brim even. If desired, while candy is still soft, decorate hat with gumdrops cut to resemble leaves and berries (see notes). Repeat to make remaining hats. Chill hats, uncovered, until firm to touch, about 10 minutes.
To make snowmen, line another 12- x 15-inch baking sheet with nonstick cooking paper, baking parchment or wax paper. Dip 1 craft stick about 3 inches into water. Slide through the center of a flat end of 1 marshmallow, then into, but not through, a second marshmallow, pushing them together. Repeat to make remaining snowmen; lay on the baking sheet.
In a 2-cup glass measure or small, deep microwave-safe bowl, heat chopped white candy chips in a microwave oven at 50% power until chips are soft, about 2 minutes. Stir candy until smooth; if lumpy, return to the microwave oven and heat for 20-second intervals, stirring frequently. If mixture is too thick for dipping (it varies with brands), stir in solid shortening; heat at 20-second intervals and stir often.
One stick at a time, quickly dip marshmallows into white candy to coat, using a spoon to pour candy over uncovered spots. Lift stick, letting excess candy drip back into cup. Lay marshmallow men at least 3 inches apart on paper-lined pan.
While candy coating is still soft, but not runny, make a face on the side of the top marshmallow of each stick. Use gumdrop wedge (see notes) for the nose, and chocolate chips, currants, or other small candies for eyes. On bottom marshmallow, press tiny candies down center for buttons; use thin licorice strips for twiggy arms or scarves. Pick up a stick and set hat on the snowman's head. If marshmallow coating firms before decorating is complete, glue with more melted candy (reheat in microwave, as needed). Stand snowman upright (see notes for rack). Repeat to make other snowmen.
When coating is firm to touch, 5 to 10 minutes, slip a cellophane bag over each snowman. Tie ribbons around bottom to close bag.
Per snowman: 431 cal., 40% (171 cal.) from fat; 0.4 g protein; 19 g fat (17 g sat.); 65 g carbo (0 g fiber); 81 mg sodium; 0 mg chol