One of the distinctive things about Peeps is their colored sugar topping. I was going to buy some dusting sugar from a local cooking shop until I saw that the stuff is around $5 for about a cup of it. Um, no thank you. So, I made some of my own. SUPER easy. Pour your desired amount of sugar into a Ziploc bag (have I mentioned how much I looooooove Ziploc bags?), drop in a little bit of yellow gel coloring and mush around for a couple of minutes until the sugar takes on the color. D-U-N. Done. And, mucho less moolah than buying it. Five dollars? Those people are crazy.
Last thing. This is totally a trial and error, learn as you go kind of process. Some of my “peeps” looked more like, um…well just imagine there’s a different double vowel in the middle. I’ll wait while you figure that out. Got it? Yeah. Not pretty. Some were lumpy and huge. Some were too small. Those had to be sacrificed to my mouth during the process. It was hard, but it had to be done. But as you go along, you’ll get the hang of it. Probably faster than you think. Speaking of fast, work quickly with the piping so your Peeps don’t all get stuck inside the bag as the marshmallow sets up fully. And don’t worry if they all bear no resemblance at all to the real deal – they are still going to taste ah-mazing!
Marshmallow for Piping (from Martha Stewart)
1 cup sugar
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- 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.
- Transfer marshmallow mixture to a large (14-inch) pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (No. 11 Ateco) tip, and use immediately. I just used my trusty gallon sized Ziploc bag…worked beautifully. I did set the bag in a large vase before filling it instead of my normal drinking glass to make sure I could fit all the mallow inside at once.
For Peeps (chicks):
1. Fill rimmed baking sheet or small bowls with about 1 1/2 cups colored dusting sugar. Pipe an oval shape onto sugar, about 1 inch wide, tapering the end and pulling upward to finish with the tail.
2. 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.
3. Immediately sprinkle sugar over the entire surface of the chick. Allow a few minutes for the shape to set.
4. Dip the end of a skewer into brown food coloring and dot on either side of the chick’s head for eyes ; lift chick out of sugar with a spoon or small offset spatula. Place in a parchment-lined airtight container until ready to serve, or for up to 2 weeks.