Up until a week ago, I didn’t realize you could make Peeps at home. I don’t know why it took me so long to make this discovery. I’ve made marshmallow at home before and I know Peeps are made of marshmallows……no idea why I never put two and two together. Perhaps it’s because Peeps look like they came out of some crazy nuclear experiment, with their bright neon colors and their “you kinda look like a baby chick but you don’t really look like a baby chick” shape. Making homemade Peeps was never on my radar and this is coming from a girl who wants to recreate everything at home.
Now, you might be wondering, “Why do you want to make Peeps?” or as my Dad put it when I told him what I was up to, “Wouldn’t it just be easier to buy them?” Well, there’s a very specific reason as to why I want to make Peeps and it can be summed up in one word, Boyfriend. He is obsessed with Peeps (hopefully he’s cool with me making that public knowledge…..if not….ummmmm…….sorry?). I’ve never met anyone who loves Peeps as much as he does. Until dating him, I had no idea they even made Peeps for holidays other than Easter (they make them for every holiday in case you’re curious). And to answer my Dad’s question – yes it would be a heck of a lot easier to buy them, but it’s way more fun to make them and they taste way better.
I’m not going to lie, making Peeps is a little harder than I thought it would be. I figured it would be a relatively simple process – make marshmallow, pipe marshmallow into little chicky shapes, then eat. Making the marshmallow isn’t bad. In fact, I quite like playing with hot sugar syrup and making candy at home. The tricky part of this whole making homemade Peeps business is the piping. These guys can be a wee bit difficult to pipe out. My first batch had more “bad” chicks than “good” ones. However, after some practice, I finally got the hang of it and my second batch was much more successful. They might not look exactly like the store-bought ones, but they look close enough and the taste more than makes up for their appearance.
To make my Peeps, I worked off of two different recipes. I found that the The Los Angeles Times had the best recipe for marshmallow, so I combined that with some very minor tweaks and tips on technique from a recipe on About.com. I’m pretty pleased with the final result. With Easter coming up, these are the perfect treat to make and surprise your friends and family with – they’ll probably be pretty impressed as well!
If I’ve piqued your curiosity enough that you decide to give this recipe a shot here is my quick safety warning about working with sugar syrup:
Working with hot sugar syrup is very dangerous! This is not something to do with the kids. It is scary hot and if it gets on you it will stick and burn……a lot. When I was a kid I got second degree burns on my leg from a marshmallow. I’m serious. I was making S’Mores and a blazing hot marshmallow fell on my thigh. My first reaction was to brush it off, but that just spread the hot, sticky, burning marshmallow all over my leg and got it on my hand as well. It sucked……it’s kind of a funny story to tell now………but seriously it sucked. So be careful!!
Makes about 2 dozen chicks
4 cups granulated sugar, divided
Food coloring of your choice
2 packages gelatin
¾ cup water, divided
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup chocolate chips
Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
In a gallon-size Ziploc bag, place 2 cups of the sugar and a few drops of food coloring. Make sure the Ziploc is well sealed and then thoroughly work together the sugar and food coloring, until the sugar is your desired shade. This step takes a little while (it took a lot longer than I thought it would). At times it might look like it isn’t working and you might worry that you just wasted 2 cups of perfectly good sugar (this is what I first thought). It’s a process, so just try to be patient and think happy thoughts and eventually you’ll have a beautiful bag of brightly colored sugar.
Sift the sugar over the lined baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Set the sheet aside.
Prep a pastry bag with a large round tip (about ½ inch or larger) and set aside. Quick tip, using a disposable pastry bag will make your life a lot easier when it comes to cleanup later. And while we’re on the cleanup note – immediately placing all used pans, utensils, etc. in warm soapy water will also help the process. Hardened sugar and marshmallow can be a pain to clean out of things otherwise.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup of water and let stand until the gelatin is softened.
In a large saucepan, carefully stir together the corn syrup, remaining 2 cups of sugar, and ½ cup of water. Using a wet pastry brush, brush down any sugar on the sides of your saucepan. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until it registers 245°F on a candy thermometer (do not stir or touch the sugar syrup during this process!). Remove pan from heat.
With the stand mixer running on low speed, very carefully and very slowly (remember our talk about safety….) pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the mixer (you want to be sure to avoid the whisk). Slowly increase the mixer speed to high. When the marshmallow starts to turn white and increases in volume, add in the vanilla. Continue beating on high speed until the marshmallow becomes thick, fluffy, and stiff, about 10 to 15 minutes (it will look like a stiffer version of “7 Minute Frosting”). Another good indicator is to touch the bottom of the bowl, it should no longer feel hot. It should feel barely warm. When the marshmallow is getting close to the desired consistency, add in a few drops of food coloring and beat until the color is evenly distributed.
Immediately, scoop the marshmallow into your prepared pastry bag. You need to work quickly here, otherwise your marshmallow will start to set and you won’t be able to pipe it!
Okay, so here comes the tricky piping part. About.com does a fantastic job showing you how to do this with pictures, sooooo I’m going to direct you over there to check them out. This slideshow really helped me with the piping process. Pipe the marshmallow directly onto the sugar lined baking sheet. Once you’ve piped out all your little chicks, spoon the extra sugar over them to evenly coat.
Place the chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 15 second intervals, until melted and smooth. Using a toothpick or whatever you have handy (I used a chopstick), dip one end in the melted chocolate and then dot the chocolate on your chicks to create eyes.
Transfer your brand new, super awesome homemade Peeps to a clean baking sheet and let set for about one to two hours. Then time to eat, enjoy, and bask in the glorious fact that you just made Peeps at home and that’s pretty bad ass.