Summer is here. And with it, my favorite pastime-the campfire! There is nothing better than huddling around a fire with people you love, eating tasty food and drinking a brew or two, chatting about everything and nothing all at once.

My favorite campfire eat is the s’more. Bar none. Gooey marshmallow and chocolate, squished between two graham crackers. So good. After seeing a recipe for homemade marshmallows, I knew that I had to try it. You’ll need some unflavored gelatin to make this happen. It’s by the jello in your local grocery store. First step: set it to soak in a bowl.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and a bit of salt in a pot, and slowly bring it to 240 degrees F. Make sure you’re looking at the right side of the candy thermometer. Not that I know from experience, but the mixture will burn if you try to get it to 240 degrees C.

Whip the hot sugar with the gelatin until it’s fluffy and white. Mix in vanilla andย  whipped egg whites. Pour into a 9 by 13 that you buttered and dusted with powdered sugar. Spread it out as best you can. This will be a sticky mess! Don’t try to hard to get every little bit out of the bowl. You’ll regret it.

Dust the top with powdered sugar, and refrigerate up to a day.

Slide the marshmallow cake goodness onto a cutting board, and cut into inch square pieces.

Toss the squares in more powdered sugar so that they are coated.

These little pillows of sugary goodness will stay tasty for a few days if you store them in an airtight container. In my humble opinion, they’re better after they’ve been sitting for a day or two!

For the full recipe and step by step instructions, head on over to smitten kitchen. Follow it to a T and you’ll be in marshmallow heaven!

Ramekin Spice Cake (a recipe for one)

My dear neighbors just returned from a vacation in Paris. They brought me the most adorable, cornflower blue ramekin. It just screams of all things summer: blueberries, daisies, sundresses and Lake Michigan.

Because we’re not quite to the vast blue skies of summer, consolation cake is in order.

Stop thinking about your bikini. Go make cake.

With a little bit of adapting on this recipe, I ended up with a single serving spice cake. It didn’t take any less time than a whole cake, but you won’t have to deal with leftovers sitting on your counter, tempting you for the next week. It’s just you. Eating cake. Just one night. Vowing to wake up early the next morning to get in your run before work. Ahem.

Ramekin Spice Cake for One

Whisk together dry ingredients first:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 Tbs. corn starch
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • a dash each of nutmeg, allspice, and ground cloves

Use a fork to incorporate 1/4 cup room temperature butter into the bowl of dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, combine:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and pour into greased ramekin. You might not be able to use all of your batter, depending on the size of the ramekin. Feel free to use a spatula and consume the excess batter. Straight up. I won’t judge you.

Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. I fully and completely recognize that it’s not any faster. But really. I’m just one person. I don’t need to make a whole cake!

<Admire cute, blue ramekin> ๐Ÿ™‚ While it cools, whip up some frosting. I highly recommend butter cream.

Buttercream frosting:

  • 1 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbs. milk

Mix. And frost.

I wanna know: Do you have a favorite dish or kitchen utensil?

Whipped Cream

I impulse bought some strawberries today. And needed whipped cream to go with them (duh). Did you know that the first 4 ingredients of cool whip are water, hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup. The fifth ingredient is skim milk. Really!?

After a frantic call to Darcy (“what do I need to make whipped cream!? AHH!!!”) I went back to the dairy section, and found heavy whipping cream. Ingredients: Heavy cream. Praise be. That’s more like it.

This is such an easy process, it’s almost ridiculous.

First, put your bowl and the beaters (either a metal whisk or the whisk attachment to your mixer) into the freezer. Leave them for 10 to 15 minutes.

When they’re good and cold, pour 1 cup heavy cream into the bowl, and get whisking. You can do this by hand, with nothing more than a metal whisk, some iron will, and a sacrificial shoulder (just keep reminding it that it’s worth the cause). I started this way, and then switched to the hand-held mixer. More power to you, though, if you want to whisk by hand. You’ll be my hero.

If you’re using a hand-held or a stand mixer, start it on the lowest setting, and as the cream stiffens, raise the speed. Once it looks like whipped cream, it’s done! Mix it any longer, and it will become more and more like butter.

Add 1 Tbs. powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Whisk to incorporate.

The abridged version:

In a chilled bowl, whisk 1 cup of heavy cream until it turns thick. Do not over-whisk.

When it is the proper consistency, add 1 Tbs. powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Incorporate with whisk. Serve immediately or refridgerate.