Saturday, March 10, 2012

Homemade marshmallow peeps

Peeps seem to evoke strong reactions; you either hate them or love them and there doesn't seem to be much in between.  I'm a hater, and big time.  Ben, however, quite enjoys them so we decided to see if we could make some at home.

The biggest issue we had with this was trying to form the marshmallow into peeps rather than blobs. In hindsight, I think we would have better luck with the presentation if we had spread the marshmallow mixture in a pan lined with parchment paper and cut out shapes with lightly greased cookie cutters after it set up.  So if there is a next time, that's the route I'll take. 

We piped the marshmallow onto a bed of colored sugar sprinkles in a shallow dish and then covered them with more sprinkles (think glitter projects...catch the extra sprinkles to reuse).  Despite our best efforts to get them to go into the shape of a Peep, we didn't even get close.  At one point, Ben leaned over and whispered to me very seriously, "No offense, Mom, but those look more like Poops."  As usual, he was right.

To be fair, the recipe was for "marshmallow for piping", and maybe not really meant to hold up in character shapes.  I tried using it to pipe letters and that worked beautifully (ignore the issue with the N...that was user error).

Ben took one for the team (the rest of the team utterly refused to participate due to a sincere Peep hatred) and did the taste test.  Here are his ratings on a scale of one to 10 with 10 being the best:

  • Home: 4  (I think that was actually quite generous)
  • Store Bought:  6 (let's face it, they aren't all that pretty either)
  • Home: 9
  • Store Bought:  6
I think the vanilla extract helped the homemade peeps get the win on that part.  

Marshmallow Peeps
Adapted from 

  • 1 pack of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water to use with the gelatin
  • 1/4 cup water to use with the sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften for at least five minutes.  Ben saw this and said it looked like applesauce...and he was right, it does!
  • In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water and sugar, and stir over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and place a candy thermometer into sugar water; wipe sides of pan with a wet pastry brush if the sugar crystals have splattered up. Boil the sugar until temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238 degrees). 
    • This will feel like it's taking forever and has to be going on too long, but trust the thermometer.
  • Remove the syrup from heat and add to the softened gelatin. Use your whisk attachment and turn the mixture by hand for a minute while it's cooling down.  Then use the electric mixer and beat the mixture on medium high with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form and the marshmallow mixture holds shape...about 10 minutes. 
    • This will also feel like it's taking too long, but when you pull out the attachment, the mixture should come to a soft peak that blends back into the rest within ten seconds. If it blends in faster than that, put it back and keep beating for another minute at a time until you get the desired consistency. 
  • Put the mixture in a piping bag with a large tip (this is what we did) or you can line a pan with parchment paper, lightly greased and dusted with powdered sugar, for cutting later.  

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