These are my favorite cookies, hands down. They’re also my brother Jay’s favorites, as well as the favorite of all his kids.
They’re really simple, but there are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years:
- Don’t make a double batch. The marshmallow will harden before you’re done shaping all the wreaths; and if you try to re-heat it, the sugar crystals break down and it just doesn’t work.
- Don’t omit the almond extract. Without it, the corn flavor is too strong.
- And finally, there is no such thing as too much green food coloring (see the pics below of wreaths with not enough). You’ll use at least half a bottle.
Makes 2-3 dozen
1/3 c butter
32 large marshmallows (about 2/3 of a bag)
1 1/2 t green food coloring – as a starting point, add more as needed
1/2 t almond extract
1/2 t vanilla
4 c corn flakes
red cinnamon candies
You want a dark green color – remember, these are supposed to be wreaths, simulating pine branches. The ones in this picture are much too light.
Remove from heat and stir in the corn flakes, making sure to scrape your spoon way down into the corners of your pan to scoop all that marshmallow-y goodness onto the corn flakes. When you think you’re done stirring, stir for another minute – there’s always one more flake that needs coating!
That said, you want to work fast. You only get a certain window to work with the melted marshmallow and once it’s closed, you’re done.
To make a wreath, take a bit of the marshmallow mixture and pull it into something like a garland, then form a circle with it. Don’t try to make a pile and then poke a finger in it to form a hole, it won’t look right. Tuck 3 red candies into the wreath while the marshmallow is still soft so they’ll stick a little better.
A few more tips for successful wreath formation:
Buttering your hands: When you’re ready to start forming the wreaths, butter your fingers WELL. I keep a stick of butter near my work area and rub my hands and fingertips over it before shaping each wreath. Yes, your stick of butter gets mushed beyond recognition and covered in green food coloring. But it’s Christmas baking season – you’re probably going through a pound of butter a day. Just scrap off the worst of the food coloring and throw it into your next batch of cookies.
Spill a pile of red candies out near your work area for easy access. (Or, get a helper to follow after you with the candies). As soon as each wreath is formed, place 3 red candies in the still-wet marshmallow. Try to find a little nook or cranny to tuck it in, to help keep it from falling off.