Locally-made drinking chocolate, from chocolatiers like Grocer’s Daughter in Empire or Great Lakes Chocolate in Traverse City, topped with a chocolate marshmallow is the most decadent thing you can pour your Valentine. Find the full Last Call chocolate marshmallow recipe below, and get ready to impress this Valentine’s Day.

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In the last few years, so many Northern Michigan chocolatiers have begun bagging “drinking chocolate” that I recently hosted an official cupping of this snow-day treat. While my group of tasters (spanning ages 8 to 80) had certainly enjoyed a cup of hot cocoa—a powdery mixture of cocoa powder, sugar, powdered milk and more—“drinking chocolate,” which dates back to ancient Mayan civilizations and is simply shaved chocolate that is melted in water or milk, was new to some of them.

We sipped offerings from Kilwin’s and Crow & Moss in Petoskey, Grocer’s Daughter in Empire and Great Lakes Chocolate in Traverse City. We tasted dark chocolate, milk chocolate, tannic chocolate. “I totally get bananas and walnuts,” one taster wrote on his worksheet. “It reminds me of an Almond Joy,” two others said of mug number six. While we couldn’t agree on a singular favorite that day—they were all such an improvement over packets of hot cocoa—we did agree on one thing: sipping high-quality cacao was even more decadent when topped with one of the chocolate marshmallows I’d made. This Valentine’s Day, swap that box of sweets for a bag of locally made drinking chocolate and these homemade marshmallows.

Hot chocolate with chocolate marshmallow

Photo by Dave Weidner

Chocolate marshmallow

Photo by Dave Weidner

Chocolate Marshmallow Recipe

Makes 16 2-inch Marshmallows

What you will need:

  • 1⁄2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar Butter, for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 3 1⁄4-ounce packets of gelatin
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 3⁄4 cup agave
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Someone making chocolate marshmallows

Photo by Dave Weidner

Cutting chocolate marshmallows

Photo by Dave Weidner

Step By Step Directions:

1. In a small bowl, sift together 2 Tablespoons of the cocoa powder and the confectioners sugar. Generously grease the bottom and sides of a metal, 8-inch square pan with butter. Toss a spoonful of the cocoa-sugar mixture into the pan, shaking the pan to distribute it evenly the same way you would dust a pan with flour. Reserve the remainder of the cocoa-sugar mixture for later use.

2. Into a large mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, stir together 3⁄4 cup water and packets of gelatin with a fork and allow to rest, or bloom. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Working off the heat, add granulated sugar, remaining 1⁄2 cup cocoa powder, salt, agave, remaining 1⁄4 cup of water and vanilla to a medium saucepan, stirring together until well combined. Fit the saucepan with a candy thermometer, and cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, just until the temperature reaches 240 degrees, about 7 minutes.

3. Beat the bloomed gelatin at very low speed. Pour the scalding hot syrup into the mixing bowl in a slow steady stream, being careful that it lands between the whisk and the side of the bowl so it neither splatters while the machine is working, nor firms up on the side of the bowl. Once all of the syrup has been poured in, slowly increase the mixing speed to high over the course of 1 minute, notching up the speed in increments. Proceed to whip at your mixer’s highest speed until the mixture is a light Silly Putty brown, has changed from a matte finish to a glossy one, and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl in strings, at least 10 minutes.

4. Working quickly, use a rubber spatula to scrape the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smoothing the mixture into each of the corners. Using a sifter or sieve, shake another spoonful of the cocoa-sugar mixture onto the top of the marshmallow pan and allow to cool at room temperature overnight.

5. The next day, flip the pan over onto a clean work surface and cut the marshmallows into 2-inch squares. Place the final spoonful of cocoa-sugar mixture in a large Ziploc bag, add cut marshmallows to the bag and shake to dust the cut sides. Make drinking chocolate according to your favorite chocolatier’s instructions, top with a large chocolate marshmallow and serve.


Pouring a cup of hot chocolate

Photo by Dave Weidner

Cocoa powder

Photo by Dave Weidner

Stacey Brugeman is a 20-year food and beverage journalist. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, Eater and on Instagram @staceybrugeman.

Dave Weidner is a local photographer for Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. Follow him on Instagram @dzwphoto.

Sarah Peschel, @22speschel, is a stylist and photographer with an appreciation for all things related to local agriculture, food and drink.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner