4 sheets of gelatin (approximately 7 grs)
1/3 cup water
Place the gelatin and the water in the bottom of a large mixing bowl and let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Put the ingredients in a saucepan over medium high heat and stir until it comes to a boil. Put a thermometer in the mix and remove the syrup from heat when the temp reaches 114 degrees C. Pour the syrup over the gelatin and begin whipping with an electric mixer. Continue until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape when you lift the beaters, between 6 and 10 minutes. Bear in mind that the mix will thicken as it sits so it is best to stop mixing when the hold is slightly less than ideal.
For my first batch of Peeps, I used vanilla sugar. I don't think that you could taste the vanilla at all in the final product so this was a waste. In the second batch, I used about 2 tbsp of strawberry sugar (a treat that I bought Ella one day when shopping at the Grande Epicerie. I think that they have about a dozen different flavors available). This was perfect! The flavor wasn't overwhelming but you can definitely taste it. I would absolutely try this again with other flavors of sugar. I suppose as long as you are ingesting this much sugar, why be bothered about the artificial chemical flavoring, right?
I have a frosting gun from Pampered Chef that my mom gave me for Christmas and this worked great because it forced out the marshmallow even as it dried and got thicker. If you were using a pastry bag you would have to work really fast. It took me quite awhile to figure out how to do the ducks and even longer to figure out the bunnies (the trick? I needed a smaller nozzle for piping the ears. Good thing that I actually have two of those frosting guns) But it took me so long to figure out how to do the bunnies that half of my marshmallow mix ended up solidifying in the bowl before I could use it. Oh well. B and Ella still insisted that they couldn't identify any sort of animal in the piles of marshmallow on the tray so finally I put some melted chocolate in yet ANOTHER pastry bag and piped on eyes. They are slightly more convinced now but, honestly, since neither of them as ever seen an actual Peep, I'm not sure that they are experts on the subject.
It wasn't that hard of work and they are adorable. The only problem is, I still think it tastes like chewing on a sugar cube. B and Ella do not agree and would probably eat an entire plate of these insulin bombs in one go, if I let them. Now that they are a bit 'stale', I think they taste a bit better. I still don't dare take these to my in-laws for Easter or I am sure to hear a screed about why Americans are obese. As far as Peeps go, they might actually be right.