Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses

The perfect holiday treat!

Homemade Caramel Covered Scotch Kisses are the perfect holiday gift.
This post is sponsored by Sonoma Syrup Co.

And I can guarantee you won’t be able to eat just one. If you’re at all familiar with a certain popular candy store’s holiday offerings, these little nuggets of heaven I’ve dubbed “Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses” likely look like something you’ve seen before gracing their shelves before. If not, then prepare to be wowed by a delicious homemade holiday goodie that will put your standard cookie and fudge platters to shame. You’ve been warned.

I generally claim to have no preference between cooking and baking (yes, I’m one of those rare birds), but when the holidays roll around, all I want to do is bake up tasty treats and goodies. I’m a sucker for everything from cookies to coffee cakes, and would happily give up candy bars in exchange for baked goods any day of the week.

Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses are a great addition to any holiday cookie trays you plan on handing out to friends this year.

That’s why I’m so lucky to have partnered with Sonoma Syrup Co. this holiday season to create some super tasty treats using their syrups, extracts, etc. I kicked off the fall season with these Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Floats, then took advantage of my pumpkin obsession by whipping up this Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake with Amaretti Crumble. For the month of December, I wanted to showcase their super-fragrant and fresh Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush,” and what better way to do so than with some Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses?

To be honest, this was also somewhat of a self-challenge on my part. You see, homemade marshmallows (and heck, even homemade caramel) have been on my list of “Things That Intimidate Me” for quite some time now. But heck, that’s one of the reasons I started this blog, to not only challenge myself with new projects in the kitchen but also encourage you, my dear readers, to challenge YOURSELVES with cooking adventures that may have previously been holding you back.

Sure, homemade marshmallows require some special ingredients like silver gelatin sheets and acetate (thank goodness for Amazon Prime!) and a careful eye on the stovetop, but when you break things down they’re really not that complicated…and so much tastier than the store-bought stuff! And who better to turn to than the man Thomas Keller for guidance? I referred to his Bouchon Bakery marshmallow recipe for this first little foray into the ‘mallow world, and as usual was thankful for his overly detailed instructions and step-by-step guide.

These Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses are a fun and festive treat for the holidays.

To give the marshmallows an extra-special hit of flavor, I turned to the aforementioned Sonoma Syrup Co. Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush”. I tell ya, it’s amazing what just a little dash of this stuff brings to the table when dressing up a holiday goodie! I’m not even exaggerating when I say you can easily tell that they use only the highest quality Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla as the ingredients. It puts any other mass-produced vanilla extract to shame!

So, after we have the marshmallows made and chilled (carefully following the instructions – I promise it’s not too hard!) we make our super-simple caramel coating. And when I say super simple, I mean super simple – we’re talking just two ingredients and a saucepan away from having a huge batch of Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses ready for all your holiday gift-giving needs. Simply melt together some store-bought caramels with a little bit of heavy cream, let it cool slightly, and you’re ready to dip!

It’s important that you start with the marshmallows frozen so that they don’t melt into a gloppy puddle as soon as you dip them into the warm caramel. It’s equally as important to use parchment paper rather than wax paper when letting your caramel-dipped marshmallows set in the refrigerator and for wrapping them once they are ready to go (I learned this the hard way!)

I know this may all sound intimidating and time-consuming, but I promise, promise, PROMISE these Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses are well worth the little extra TLC they require. I also pinky promise that throwing a handful of these on any cookie or treat platter you happen to be bringing over to a friend or neighbor this season will be very well-received. Don’t be surprised if you leave them asking for more!

Change up your usual cookie platter this holiday season by adding some of these Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses!

You can find the recipe below, and head on over to Sonoma Syrup Co. to order their Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush” ASAP for all of your holiday baking needs!

This post contains affiliate links.

Homemade Caramel Covered Scotch Kisses are the perfect holiday gift.
Print
Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Vanilla-laced homemade marshmallows are covered in a soft yet chewy caramel to make the perfect sweet treat for the holidays and beyond!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 2 dozen
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the vanilla marshmallows*:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 4 sheets Silver Leaf gelatin
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon Sonoma Syrup Co. Pure Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush" (or other vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Special equipment for marshmallows:
  • 8 inch square baking dish
  • 8 inch square piece of acetate
  • Candy thermometer
For the caramel coating:
  • 22 ounces individually packaged caramels
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. First, make the marshmallows. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl.

  2. Line 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap and sprinkle the wrap generously with the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. Set the rest of the powdered sugar mixture aside.

  3. Place the gelatin in an ice bath to soften.

  4. Spray one side of the acetate with nonstick cooking spray, set aside (sprayed side up.)

  5. Prepare a bain marie by placing a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan filled with just two inches of water over medium high heat. 

  6. Remove the gelatin from the ice bath and squeeze dry, place in prepared bain marie. Cook until the gelatin is melted, the reduce heat and keep warm. 

  7. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

  8. Combine sugar, water, corn syrup and vanilla extract in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then simmer an additional 5 minutes or so, or until the temperature reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  9. Let the syrup continue to cook and turn the stand mixer on medium speed to start whipping the egg whites. The goal is for the egg whites to be forming medium peaks around the same time the syrup in the saucepan reaches 281-284 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the syrup reaches this temperature, remove it from the heat. If your egg whites start forming medium peaks before the syrup is done, lower the speed on the mixer slightly.

  10. Add the syrup to the egg whites by slowly pouring it down the side as you have the mixer on low. 

  11. Pour in the prepared gelatin and increase the mixer speed to medium-high, about 5 minutes, or until mixture is thickened and glossy, warm but not hot. 

  12. Spray a spatula with nonstick cooking spray and use it to spread the marshmallow mixture into the prepared baking pan that has been lined with plastic wrap. 

  13. Top the spread out mixture with the prepared piece of acetate, sprayed side down, and gently press it down. 

  14. Let mixture stand at room temperature for a few hours to set. 

  15. Once mixture is cooled and set, remove the acetate and coat the top with the reserved powdered sugar mixture as necessary. 

  16. Spray a chef’s knife with nonstick cooking spray and cut the marshmallows into squares, cleaning and re-spraying the knife between each cut. 

  17. Coat the marshmallows with more of the powdered sugar mixture as needed so they are not too sticky. 

  18. Place marshmallows on a cookie sheet or two lined with parchment paper and freeze for at least one hour before dipping in caramel.

  19. Once marshmallows are sufficiently frozen (this will help ensure they don’t melt into nothing as soon as you dip them in the caramel), start preparing the caramel.

  20. Remove the wrappers from the caramels and add them to a small saucepan with the heavy cream over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the caramels melt. 

  21. Once the caramels and heavy cream have melted together and combined to form a creamy caramel, turn off the heat. Using two forks (or spoons, or a combo of both) dunk the marshmallows in so they are sufficiently coated. Place dipped caramels back on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and refrigerate until caramel is hardened even to remove the kisses from the parchment paper.

  22. Individually wrap the caramels in small pieces of parchment paper and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. (They can stand a short period of time at room temperature, but for longer periods be sure to keep them cool.)

Recipe Notes

*Recipe for vanilla marshmallows adapted from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.

Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt

Oops…I’ve done it again.

Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt | CaliGirl Cooking

I’ve gone and taken a run-of-the-mill recipe idea and successfully morphed it into a weird dessert that you’re probably not too sure about. All my healthy readers out there are probably like “Why are you trying to be healthy using tahini and dates and then adding sugar and butter and WHISKEY?” and all of my more hedonistic food lovers out there are probably like “Bleh…Why are you ruining such great things like blondies and caramel with these HEALTHY foods?” But isn’t this what I’m here for? If this isn’t a recipe for a balanced life, I don’t know what is 😉

So this is where I ask you to trust me. Trust that I would not steer you wrong with something like Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt. I know, I know, it’s hard, because I was hesitant myself at first…Would this taste too “hippy-ish”? Would the flavors freak people out? Could I handle tahini in such high doses? So many unknowns! But I put my head down and I went for it, and I am sooo glad I did because out of everyone I’ve shared these with, none of them have turned up their nose.

Case in point: I brought these tasty little Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt into work and any time anyone started approaching them I’d find myself blurting out “Those are a bit more savory than sweet” or “Do you know what tahini is? Have you had it before? It’s that ingredient in hummus.” But because my coworkers seem to trust my baking skills at this point in time (I’ve been feeding them well lately), they go in for it anyhow. And every single person responded with “Yea, that is different. But it’s soooo good!” And proceeded to go back for seconds. I’ll call that a success in my book!

Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt | CaliGirl Cooking

While I’m at it, I might as well also share with you a few of my coworker crowd favorites from CaliGirl Cooking thus far:

Okay, so on to our sweet yet savory little Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt. Here’s the scoop: For the blondies, I riffed off of two recipes I found from some of my fave fellow bloggers, these Tahini Dirty Blondies from I Will Not Eat Oysters and these Blonde Brownies from Joy the Baker. Then, for the Whiskey Date Caramel, I riffed off of this SUPER easy recipe from the Minimalist Baker.

I have to admit, I have been wanting to try my hand at making date caramel for some time now (we still have loads of dates left over from the fiance’s last trip to Palm Springs and the infamous Date “Shakes”) but I’ve been just a teensy bit intimidated. (I might also mention that I bought a pre-bottled version of the caramel at the date farm on our last visit so I have really had no extra motivation to make it?) Excuses, excuses. But guys, I did it! And this recipe is soooo easy and it should not be intimidating to you at all. It will be even less intimidating if you take a sip or two of the whiskey you’re using while you’re making it….just saying.

So, I told you all about the blondie base and I told you all about the whiskey date caramel. Now’s the fun part of mixing the two together! We first layer all of the blondie batter into an 8×8 baking dish, then we drop dollops of the whiskey date caramel on top. Next, we swirl the tip of a knife through the dollops to make a lovely little design and voila! We’re ready to bake it off. Once we take our Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel out of the oven, our last step is to sprinkle on the sea salt. For best results, I’d recommend doing this while the blondies are still warm, but to be completely honest, I waited until they had cooled and it still turned out fine, the salt will just fall off a bit easier.

Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt | CaliGirl Cooking

Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt | CaliGirl Cooking

Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt | CaliGirl Cooking

But that’s it! It really is not a difficult recipe, and I promise you’ll impress even your most gourmet foodie friends with these tasty little treats. Oh, I must also mention that the deliciousness factor of Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt is at least doubled (if not tripled) when served with some French vanilla ice cream. You’re welcome for that little tidbit of information.

Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt | CaliGirl Cooking

So what do you say? Are you ready to hop on the tahini and date caramel bandwagon? I’ve certainly enjoyed going along for the ride, I’m sure you will too!

Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt

Yield: Makes one 8x8-inch pan

A delicious take on the classic blondie with the addition of tahini and a creamy, spiked date caramel.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter (I recommend Kerrygold)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup [unsweetened vanilla almond milk|http://amzn.to/1Sa2KCv}
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/3 cup Whiskey Date Caramel (recipe below), at room temperature
  • Maldon Sea Salt for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Preaheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8x8-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it starts to brown slightly. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Once butter is mostly incorporated into the brown sugar, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. Pour brown butter and sugar mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Add sugar, tahini, eggs, almond milk and vanilla bean paste. Using an electric mixer, mix until all ingredient are well combined.
  5. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Once again using the hand mixer, mix until combined. Pour batter into baking dish.
  6. Take the Whiskey Date Caramel and drop by large tablespoons-full onto the batter, spreading the spoonfuls out as evenly as possible. Using a sharp knife or toothpick, drag it through the caramel dollops and batter to make a swirl pattern.
  7. Place dish in oven and bake at 325 degrees for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Our oven runs a little cool, so you may need less time than this. I’d advise starting to check on the blondies every 5 minutes or so once you get to the 45 minute mark.
  8. Remove baked blondies from oven and sprinkle on sea salt immediately. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, remove blondies from baking dish and slice into desired number of pieces. For best results, serve with French vanilla ice cream.

Notes

For Whiskey Date Caramel (adapted from Minimalist Baker): Soak 20 pitted dates in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. Drain. Add dates to food processor. Pulse until dates begin to break down. Keeping the food processor running, slowly add 2-3 tablespoons of water and 1-2 tablespoons of whiskey (depending on how strong you want the caramel to taste.) Continue running the food processor, stopping to scrape the sides when necessary, until a smooth caramel forms. Transfer to a Tupperware container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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Tahini Blondies with Whiskey Date Caramel & Sea Salt | CaliGirl Cooking

I’ll be needing more than just “A Smidge” please…