Wondering what I've been up to all week?
A confession: I've always been a bit addicted to Marshmallow Peeps. Though they're terribly sweet and often stale, there's just something about them that makes me keep buying them every spring. (Perhaps it's the twisted joy of biting off their heads?) This year, after racking my brain for Easter gifts I just couldn't shake the idea of making them myself. I was starting to think it wasn't possible. Then I found the perfect recipe:
1 unflavored gelatin (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup cold water, for gelatin, plus 1/4 cup for syrup
1 cup sugar
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften, about 5 minutes.
2. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water and sugar, and stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and place a candy thermometer into sugar water; wipe sides of pan with a wet brush if sugar crystals have splattered up. Boil sugar until temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238 degrees). Remove syrup from heat; add to softened gelatin. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, hand-stir the mixture a few minutes to cool; place bowl on the mixer stand. Beat on medium high with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form and the marshmallow mixture holds shape, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Transfer marshmallow mixture to a large (14-inch) pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (No. 11 Ateco) tip, and use immediately.
4. Pipe an oval shape onto sugar, about 1 inch wide, tapering the end and pulling upward to finish with the tail. For the head, pipe a mound on the end opposite the tail, about the width of the body, pushing toward the tail and up. Pull away from the head to form the beak.
5. Immediately sprinkle sugar over the entire surface of the chick. Allow a few minutes for the shape to set.
6. Mix Cocoa Powder with a little bit of water. Use a tooth pick to dot on the eyes.
The difference in texture between homemade and store-bought is incredible. The ones we made just melt in your mouth - little pillowy clouds of sweetness. Truth be told, I probably still won't be able to stay away from the convenient appeal of slightly chewy yellow chicks straight from the store. But there's also no way we'll last all the way until next Easter before making them again. Homemade marshmallow Santa Clauses, anyone?
My boyfriend thought the homemade ones were so cute he almost don't want to bite their little heads off!