Peeps of varying shapes and colors line the grocery store aisles around Easter. They are the candy known for their sugary crunch on the outside and slightly stale gooey marshmallow center. I have friends that love them and swear by them, and although I tend to avoid them and pursue the milk chocolate Easter bunnies, I decided to try my hand at making a homemade version of the the sticky Easter treat.
They turned out to be marvelously rewarding despite the tricky marshmallow working conditions. Fresh marshmallow peeps are much stickier, gooier, and overall more enjoyable to eat than their store bought counterparts. So set aside an hour this Easter and make your own marshmallow peeps!
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
You'll need the following ingredients:
- 1 C White Sugar (for the marshmallows)
- 1 Cup of White Sugar (for every color you'd like to make. i.e. 3 C for yellow, pink and blue)
- 1 Packet of Gelatin
- Food Coloring
- 1/3 C Water (gelatin) + 1/4 C Water (dissolve sugar)
- Black Gel Icing
You'll need the following tools:
- 1 Large Piping Bag (A large Ziplock could be substituted)
- 1 Large diameter Piping Tip (I used a Wilton 1A round)
- Rubber Spatula
- 1 Saucepan
- Electric Mixer
- Candy Thermometer
- Mixing Bowl
- Cookie Sheet
- Wax Paper
Step 2: Color Your Sugar
Since marshmallow has a short time window before it hardens, I like to prepare all of my materials and tools ahead of time. Start by dyeing your sugar. Add 7-10 drops of food coloring to your cup of sugar. I chose red, yellow, and blue for this Instructable but get creative! Mix the coloring in thoroughly to your sugar with a teaspoon or fork.
I would recommend using liquid food coloring as it tends to mix in better. I used liquid food coloring for the yellow and blue sugar but gel food coloring for the red color and had trouble mixing it uniformly into the sugar.
Step 3: Spread It Out
Line a cookie sheet with a large sheet of wax paper. Although the wax paper is not necessary, it will help keep your cookie sheet clean and prevent the marshmallow from sticking to it.
Sprinkle and spread your sugar colors along your cookie sheet. These sugar layers are going to be the base of your peeps.
Step 4: Bloom Your Gelatin
Add 1/3 cup of cold water to your mixing bowl. Sprinkle one packet of gelatin on top of the water. Allow your gelatin to "bloom" by letting it sit on top of your water mixture for at least five minutes.
Step 5: Dissolve Your Sugar
Combine your 1 cup of white sugar with 1/4 cup of water into a saucepan. Place the saucepan on the stove and set the temperature to medium-high heat. Allow your sugar to dissolve into the water, stirring once or twice as needed. Place your candy thermometer in your sugar syrup. Continue to heat your syrup until your thermometer reads 235F (~112C), at this point your sugar syrup will have reached the "soft ball" stage, meaning that if you were to drop a teaspoon of your syrup into cold water it would form a soft ball. This stage is ideal for marshmallow making peeps because it can be easily squeezed through your piping bag.
Once you have reached 235F for your sugar syrup, remove your saucepan from the heat.
Step 6: Mallow Making
Now for the fun part! Pour your sugar syrup on top of your bloomed gelatin. Using your electric mixer, mix the two together. You'll want to mix on medium-high speeds for 10-15 minutes or until your mixture becomes white, opaque, and can form soft stiff peaks and hold it's shape reasonably well. Your mixture will become bubbly and aerated at first and then take on the white creamy color and texture as you incorporate more air into your mallows by mixing.
If you have a stand mixer, this is a great time to use it so that you don't have to stand and hold your electric mixer for upwards of 10 minutes.
Once your mallow mixture can form soft firm peaks, pour and scrape it into your piping bag using your rubber spatula. You may need an extra set of hands for this part.
Step 7: Shape Your Mallows
Once your piping bag is full you can begin shaping your Peeps! Using both hands, squeeze your marshmallow mixture on to the sugar beds you created earlier. I found two methods that worked reasonably well for creating the baby chick peep. The first method is just continuous piping, the second breaks it into two piping steps, they are otherwise identical.
1. Pipe a two inch long oval of marshmallow goo onto the sugar to create the body. In one singular motion and without breaking off the marshmallow begin piping marshmallow back onto the body creating almost an "s", this will be the head and neck of your chick.
2. Pipe a two inch long oval of marshmallow goo onto the sugar bed to create the body of your chick. Break off the marshmallow. For the head begin again at one end of the body and start piping a second layer of marshmallow towards the back of the oval. Stop about one third of the way and bring the piping layer back towards the front, creating almost a third layer. Pull the piping tip away from the peep you just made to taper the marshmallow and create the beak.
Repeat until your run out of marshmallow goo.
Step 8: Sugar Coating
Using a teaspoon, sprinkle all of your peeps with the remaining colored sugar that you have. Cover them thoroughly and quickly as the marshmallow will become less sticky as it dries.
Allow your peeps to sit for a couple of minutes to fully set up before moving on to the next step.
Step 9: Eyes
Draw and dab on some black gel icing to your peep's face to create the eyes.
I used black gel icing to place and draw the eyes because it was easy. If you want the original brown look, you can mix a bit of cocoa powder with water until you have a paste. Then using a toothpick or the tip of a fork prong, dab on some of your cocoa paste to create the eyes on your chick.
Step 10: Get Creative
Remember to have fun with this project. You can illustrate and create a bunch of different shapes using the piping bag! I attempted a bunny rabbit, and then changed one of my chick bloopers into an easter egg!
Step 11: Enjoy!
You're done! Enjoy your gooier, fresher, homemade peeps at your next Easter brunch or egg hunt! They definitely aren't exactly like the original peep, but they're pretty close and taste better. :)
If you need to store them at all do so in an airtight, sealed container.