I'm not sure where the harebrained idea to make my own marshmallow Peeps came from, but I'm sure glad it did. Yes they are a lot of work, yes they involve gelatin (an ingredient I don't often use) and yes, they are loaded full of sugar and not much else. Oh, and YES, they are a tremendous amount of fun to make and eat! Happy Easter, my friends.
As someone who's never made marshmallows before, let alone any recipe requiring a candy thermometer, I was admittedly a bit worried about how these Peeps would turn out. Fear not, the task proved to be entirely possible, just a little messy!
While there is a perfectly good recipe for marshmallow Peeps in our archive, it requires use of a pastry bag and some deft ability with said bag; I thought a sheet of marshmallow and cookie cutters would be a more intuitive, user–friendly approach. This easier version that I arrived at was absolutely doable. Just make sure to set aside an afternoon, resting time, and one more session to decorate (my favorite part).
I confess I've never bought Peeps at a grocery store — their alarming color and artificiality always turned me off. Now however, I think it's safe to say that I'm enamored with my little creations. I made chicks, bunnies and small flowers, but I do believe next year will be a band of sparkle sugar–encrusted elephants, lions and unicorns; why not!?
Have you attempted peeps at home? Do you think you'll try?
How To Make Marshmallow PeepsMakes about 12 Peeps
What You Need
7 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (I used 3 Knox gelatin envelopes)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Butter for greasing pans (and your fingers)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Smoked sesame seeds (for eyes of Peeps)
Candy thermometer (I used this one)
2 cake pans (or a pie pan or sheet pan would do fine)
1. Place the contents of the three gelatin envelopes in the bottom of the bowl for the stand mixer. Add 1/2 cup of cold water and set aside while preparing the next part of the recipe.
2. Prepare the candy mixture: In a medium-sized pot, heat the sugar, corn syrup, salt and vanilla over high heat. When mixture has come to a full rolling boil, stop stirring, but swirl the pan occasionally by the handles. Put the thermometer in the pot and bring the mixture to 240°F. This will take about 7 minutes.
3. Carefully pour the sugar/corn syrup mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add another 1/2 cup of water and use the stand mixer's whisk attachment to beat on high speed for about 12 to 15 minutes total. (This image shows the mixture after 5 minutes of whisking.)
4. After 10 minutes of whisking: The marshmallow is coming together, but not quite there.
5. After just under 15 minutes of whisking: The marshmallow is ready to go, or add food coloring as I did.
6. Add food coloring: I divided my marshmallow into two parts, for two colors. It took about 12–15 drops of food coloring to achieve the pale pastel color I wanted.
7. Pat the marshmallow into prepared pans: Lightly grease two pans or one larger one and pour the marshmallow into the pans. Greasing your fingers can help because things get really sticky.
8. Clean up tray: I found it helpful to have one pan dedicated to putting my sticky utensils down on, because this really is a messy, sticky job.
9. Cover the marshmallow sheets for about 4 hours or overnight: Then when you're ready, just turn the marshmallow out onto a flat surface and gather the cookie cutters.
10. Cut out your Peeps: Combine a little cornstarch and powdered sugar and dredge the cookie cutters in between cuts to make things smoother and less sticky.
11. Apply the sanding sugar: Dip your finger into a little water and coat the entire marshmallow. Dredge the marshmallow carefully in colorful sanding sugar. Let air dry on a cooling rack.
12. For the eyes: Use a little dab of corn syrup and a few smoked sesame seeds to create eyes on your creatures. I found a tip of a toothpick worked perfectly to apply the corn syrup and sesame seeds.
13. Enjoy your Peeps: Wrap up with cellophane, tie with a ribbon and delight your friends.
Peeps will keep covered for about a week.
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(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)