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 with 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 had 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 we do have a perfectly wonderful post on making marshmallow Peeps in our archive, that method requires use of a pastry bag and some deft ability with said bag — I thought a sheet of marshmallow and some cookie cutters would be a more intuitive, user-friendly approach.
This easier version makes Peeps a totally doable project for any skill level — it's also a fun one to do with kids! Just make sure to set aside some time for making the marshmallows, letting them set, and for cutting them out and decorating them.
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?
For more step-by-step instructions on making marshmallows:
How To Make Marshmallow Peeps
What You Need
To make the marshmallows:
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
To decorate the Peeps:
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)
- Prepare the pans: Lightly grease two pans or one larger one and pour the marshmallow into the pans and set aside.
- "Bloom" the gelatin: Place the contents of the three gelatin envelopes in the bottom of the bowl of the stand mixer. Add 1/2 cup of cold water and set aside while preparing the next part of the recipe.
- Prepare the sugar syrup: 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 handle. Attach a candy thermometer to the pot and let the mixture heat to 240°F. This will take about 7 minutes.
- Carefully whisk the sugar syrup into the gelatin: Attach the whisk attachment to your mixer. With the mixer on medium speed, carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl. When all the syrup has been added, pour in another 1/2 cup of water.
- Increase speed to high and beat for 12 to 15 minutes: After 5 minutes, the mixture will be opaque, but still very liquidy. After 10 minutes, the marshmallow has started to come together, but is still a bit soft. After 12 to 15 minutes, the marshmallows are thick, fairly stiff, and ready.
- Add food coloring: I divided my marshmallow into 2 parts, for 2 colors. It took about 12 to 15 drops of food coloring to achieve the pale pastel color I wanted.
- Transfer the marshmallow into prepared pans. This is a very messy, sticky job! It can help to grease your fingers and also have a spare plate or tray nearby to set your utensils down.
- Let the marshmallow set for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Turn out the marshmallow blocks onto a flat surface: When you're ready to make the Peeps, just turn the marshmallow out onto a flat surface and gather the cookie cutters.
- 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.
- 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.
- Make the Peep 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.
- Enjoy your Peeps: Wrap up with cellophane, tie with a ribbon, and delight your friends. Peeps will keep in an airtight container for about a week.