Peeps are another one of the classic Easter treats. Soft, fluffy marshmallow shaped into cute Easter creatures (bunnies, or the classic chicks) coated with neon-dyed sugar. I can’t say I NEED them at Easter, but I certainly enjoy them when I do have them. I thought it would be a fun project, so I added Peeps to my Easter treat list this year.
Making Peeps requires making marshmallow from scratch, which I have never done before. I guess I must have been nervous about it (really anything that requires a candy thermometer generally makes me slightly nervous) and I stalled for days before actually tackling it. I guess I was worried for nothing, because it’s really not that bad. And actually, they turned out so great that I honestly don’t think I’ll ever buy marshmallows again. It’s not like I use them very often, so the time it takes to make them isn’t a huge deal. They are just so much softer and more flavorful than store-bought! I think using a generous portion of good quality vanilla makes all the difference.
Now there are two ways you could go about making these cute little animal shaped peeps. Making them just like the original chick peeps would involve piping chick shapes with the still-soft marshmallow. I’m not very good with a piping bag, so I went with option number 2: setting the marshmallows in a flat sheet and cutting shapes out with cookie cutters. Worked like a charm!
The ingredients are very simple. Sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, water, vanilla and salt (which I actually forgot to add, and couldn’t notice any loss in flavor so I just omitted it in my recipe). So basically, sugar and gelatin with air whipped in. You will also need corn starch and icing sugar to coat the pan and cut marshmallows in or they will stick to anything and everything they touch.
The first step in making the marshmallow is to sprinkle the gelatin into some of the water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Let it sit while you boil the sugar with the corn syrup and the rest of the water. This is where your candy thermometer comes in. You wouldn’t be able to make the recipe without it because if the sugar doesn’t get hot enough the marshmallow won’t set, and if it gets too hot, it will burn. The sugar mixture will boil vigorously before it reaches temperature.
When it reaches 240°F (FYI: this is called “soft ball” stage), turn off the heat immediately. Turn your stand mixer on low and pour the hot sugar slowly down the side of the bowl into the mixer. Once it’s all in, turn the mixer to high speed and let it whip for 10-12 minutes, until the marshmallow is very thick, white and just lukewarm. Add the vanilla and mix until it’s fully incorporated.
While you’re waiting for your marshmallow to whip, prep your pan. This will involve spraying or brushing it with oil, then fully coating it in your icing sugar/corn starch mixture. Tap any excess out of the pan and save it, you will need it later. If you are using a hand mixer, you will want to prep the pan before you start making the recipe, because you won’t have time to do it otherwise.
This is what your finished marshmallow looks like straight out of the mixer. Basically like marshmallow creme. Trust me, you will be tempted to eat it, but try not to. You don’t have any time to lose – the marshmallow starts to set up very quickly.
Getting the marshmallow from the bowl into the pan is messy business. This is VERY sticky stuff! I coated my spatula with oil, but it still got gooped up pretty quickly. Just do your best to get it smoothed into the pan, then eat whatever gets stuck in the bowl and on the whisk.
Sprinkle the top of your marshmallow with the corn starch/icing sugar you saved. Don’t worry about there being too much, you will be able to brush off any excess later. The let the pan sit, uncovered for a few hours to fully set. If you need to leave them for more than a few hours, cover them lightly with plastic so they don’t get a crust on the top.
Now for the fun (messy) part – cutting them. If you’re just cutting them into squares for regular marshmallows, it’s easiest to cut them with a pizza cutter that has been dusted with the icing sugar/cornstarch. If you’re using a cookie cutter, dip it in the mixture to prevent sticking.
You can buy colored sugar with cake decorating supplies in craft stores, or you can made your own by mixing a couple drops of food coloring with granulated sugar. I found mixing with my fingers worked best, but I did end up with tie-dyed fingertips. To get the sugar to stick, dip your fingers in some water, then dab it over the entire surface of the marshmallow, then toss to coat.
Then enjoy the sweet, fluffy little creatures!
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup ice cold water, divided
- 12 oz granulated sugar (about 1.5 cups)
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Canola oil spray
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Sprinkle gelatin powder over 1/2 cup of the cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Heat corn syrup, sugar and the remaining water over medium high heat in a medium, covered saucepan for 3-4 minutes. Remove lid and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Continue cooking until temperature reaches 240°F. The mixture will begin to boil vigorously before the temperature is reached.
- Once the temperature reaches 240°F, immediately remove from heat. Turn stand mixer on low and pour hot sugar mixture slowly down the side of the bowl. Once it has all been added, turn mixer to high speed. Continue whipping until marshmallow is white, lukewarm and very thick.
- While marshmallow is mixing, prepare a 9x13" baking sheet as follows: spray lightly with canola oil. Mix icing sugar and cornstarch together, then pour it into baking sheet. Turn pan around to coat it evenly with the cornstarch mixture. Pour excess into a dish and save it for later.
- Pour whipped marshmallow into the baking pan, spreading it evenly with an oiled spatula. Sprinkle the top with leftover cornstarch mixture, saving excess for later. Let sit uncovered for at least 4 hours.
- When marshmallow is set, cut it with a greased knife or cookie cutters in desired shapes.
- For making peeps: wet all sides of the cut marshmallow with your finger dipped in water. Toss in colored sugar (see note) to coat.
- Colored sugar can be purchased in craft or baking supply stores. You can also make it by mixing a few drops of food coloring with granulated sugar.