Wednesday, March 24, 2010


So, I have done two kitchen experiments to make Peeps, and my conclusion? How in God's name do people manage to eat this much sugar in one go and not kill themselves? I never even heard of Peeps until I was in my 20's, so beyond the point where I would be tempted to try to eat something that so closely ressembled a plastic chew toy for dogs, but I was intrigued by all the hoopla surrounding 'Peep season'. So after I'd had a few successful attempts at making marshmallows, I figured that I would give it a go. Especially since Ella was dying to make them on Saturday afternoon while Georgia napped. As far as kid friendly recipes, this is a winner. It only takes a few ingredients and it is sort of magic when you watch the fluff start to build up in the bowl. On the other hand, marshmallow fluff is amazingly sticky so be prepared to take your assistant directly from the kitchen to the bathtub. Thank goodness that I thought to stick a chef's hat on her head or things would have gotten a bit screamy when it came time for clean-up. Otherwise, it all cleans up instantly with hot water. Easy-peasy, as Ella says.

First of all, when I make marshmallows at Christmas for putting in hot chocolate, I prefer to use a recipe with egg whites because they turn out lighter and fluffier. However, when piping the marshmallow it seems like everyone tends to use a recipe without egg whites. The mixture is a bit thicker and it isn't as sticky. This is my recipe:

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?

Pipe the shapes onto a tray filled with sugar. Immediately after piping, spoon sugar over the top of the marshmallow, as well. For this, I used colored sugar that I had bought at G. Detou and ground up finely in my food processor. I tried to use the sugar directly from the bottle but it was too chunky and it literally hurt my teeth to eat it. I think that it is best when the crystals are nearly powdered.

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.

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