I'm thinking you want healthy treat options for your family this Easter. There's no need to miss out on Easter traditions when healthy marshmallow bunnies and chickens can be made with additive free ingredients and coated in homemade or dairy-free organic chocolate. This recipe is vanilla flavoured, see my Pink Marshmallow recipe to make both colours.
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Note: you will need Easter cookie cutters to cut out your marshmallow shapes.
Line a large 33 x 22cm rectangle baking tin with baking paper, you want the marshmallow no higher than 1.5 - 2 cm, or lower than the sides of your cookie cutters. (Add a little oil to the base and sides to help the paper stick to the tin).
Add 1/2 cup of filtered water, maple syrup and honey to a small saucepan. Heat on medium until the mixture is pipping hot, remove just before it starts to bubble (approx. 4 - 5 mins). Add the vanilla and salt, stir to dissolve the salt.
Add the second 1/2 cup of filtered water to a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl with high sides. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow to bloom (it will soften and swell within 2 - 3 minutes). If you are also making pink shapes, see Pink Marshmallow recipe for colour and flavour additions.
Beat the firm gelatin mixture on low using a hand-held electric beater or a stand mixer for 3 - 4 seconds to break up the mixture (I use a hand-held electric beater). Pour in approximately 2 tablespoons of the heated sweet mixture and continue beating to dissolve the gelatin. Start pouring in the remaining heated mixture, roughly 1 tablespoon at a time while you beat on medium, have all the sweet mixture beaten in within approximately 2 minutes.
Increase speed to high and beat for 6 - 7 minutes until the marshmallow is thick and fluffy, you should be able to see ripples on the surface made by the beaters.
Pour without delay into the lined tin, as it sets quickly. Place into the fridge uncovered for 60 minutes to set firm all the way through (but can be left longer or even overnight).
Use the baking paper to remove the slab of marshmallow from the tin and place it on a large chopping board. Add a little arrowroot flour to a saucer, use a pastry brush to dust the inside and outside of the cutting edges of the cookie cutters with arrowroot (this needs to be done before each cut to prevent sticking). Place cut shapes onto a lined cookie tray. Place the tray into the freezer for 30 - 40 minutes before coating with chocolate, or the shapes can be left in the fridge until you are ready to coat them the next day but don't skip the freezer step before coating in chocolate (the heat of the chocolate can melt the marshmallow a little).
Make my homemade Chocolate recipe without the nuts, seeds and berries or melt organic dark chocolate in a double saucepan (the marshmallow can thicken the chocolate, I find it easier to only do a few at a time and start again with fresh chocolate). Have a second tray lined ready to place the coated shapes on.
Pour some homemade chocolate mixture from the blender into a small bowl (recipe here) or some of the melted store bought chocolate. Remove one shape from the freezer and use 2 forks to assist in turning the marshmallow over to coat. Sit the flat base on a fork to allow excess chocolate to drip off, place on the lined tray (don't allow to sit too long in the warm chocolate). Remove the next shape from the freezer and repeat. Use a clean bowl to add more chocolate when needed and continue to coat as above. Place tray in the fridge or freezer to set the chocolate. (I remelt the left over thicken chocolate and add a few off cuts from the marshmallow shapes with nuts to make chocolate clusters).
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, if making ahead they can be frozen (the marshmallow doesn't freeze firm).
It's nice to make a mix of chocolate coated and plain marshmallow shapes. I've made white and pink for this Easter and coated some in dark and milk chocolate to suit all ages (I added 1 tablespoon of coconut cream and reduced the cacao in my homemade chocolate for my grandchildren and they are stored safe in the freezer for now).
I feel it's much better for our health if we filter our water. Our tap water contains disinfectants, chlorine and chloramine. Also floride is add which I believe is toxin to our bodies.
Maple syrup is an earthy, sweet tasting amber liquid that is produced by boiling down the sap of maple trees. Use organic 100% maple syrup which is a natural food sweetener, not a flavoured maple syrup. Pure maple syrup contains a decent amount of some minerals, especially manganese and zinc, some traces of potassium and calcium but it does contain a whole bunch of sugar. I try to reduced the amount of sweetness in each recipe to the lowest possible without compromising taste. Feel free to adjust to your liking. I use maple syrup in place of raw honey when I don't want the strong honey flavour coming through in a recipe. I have paleo cookies and desserts in my cookbook made from whole food ingredients with natural sugars but please don’t overindulge. Use as a treat only for special occasions.
Use unrefined or raw honey. It is the most common natural sweetener in my recipes. It's best to buy local unprocessed honey as it has wonderful health benefits and can help with allergies. Generally honey sold in supermarkets has been processed. Honey possesses antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
Use an organic vanilla extract (not an essence) or vanilla powder. Vanilla makes a big difference to the flavour of a recipe, I recommend keeping to the quantities I have stated in a recipe. I prefer Madagascar pure vanilla extract manufactured by ‘Simply Organic’ and for powder, Vanillamax 100% pure, finely ground Madagascar vanilla beans produced by Bulletproof.
Raw pink Himalayan salt crystals is unlike common table salt which can be a highly refined industrial byproduct, otherwise know as sodium chloride. Himalayan salt is completely pure and may naturally balance the body's alkaline/acidity and regulate water content. In addition Himalayan salt helps in the absorption of nutrients from food and contains many trace minerals for healthy cell structure. I purchase fine pink Himalayan crystal salt so I can use it in my shaker and for cooking.
Ensure you use unflavoured gelatin in my recipes. ‘Great Lakes’ is a brand I use which is made from Kosher grass-fed beef. When using gelatin to thicken desserts, use the red carton. The green carton (which is cold water soluble and does not thicken) I use to add to smoothies and drinks. Gelatin is pure collagen protein, which is good for bone and joint care. It is also excellent for skin, hair and nails (helps the wrinkles from the inside).
Arrowroot is a herb, the roots are cultivated for its starch properties. It is used in my recipes as a thickener and I also like combining it with almond meal to produce a much lighter texture, more like a gluten flour. I find the starch helps to bind the ingredients together. You can substitute tapioca flour, which is made from the dried roots of the cassava plant. Tapioca can be used in baking, it has a slightly sweet flavour. However, I do not recommend thickening with tapioca, as it has a stretchy, gummy texture. Supermarkets only sell in very small containers, which is not cost effective. Purchase from baking specialty stores, health food stores or online. ( When substituting for cornflour in recipes, 2 teaspoons arrowroot = 1 tablespoon cornflour/starch).
In some of my recipes I have used Paleo approved dark chocolate chips, they are dairy, soy, and gluten-free (the brands I like are 'Absolute Organics' 70% chips or ‘Enjoy Life’ (48%), purchased online or at health food stores). I also used 70 - 85% organic dark chocolate blocks broken into pieces or I make my own chocolate from: coconut oil or cacao butter, raw cacao powder and sweetened with 100% maple syrup, pinch of sea salt and vanilla extract.