Since I didn’t spend my childhood in the US, I never understood the allure of Peeps, those neon-colored spongy marshmallow-like confections that come in the shape of a baby chick. The original Peeps appeared each Easter, but they became so popular that they now arrive in many shades for all festive holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas—and even come in chocolate.
I do get the whimsical playfulness of these marshmallow chicks and understand the childhood nostalgia for them with which many seemed afflicted, but to actually eat one is like tasting a high-school science project. Peeps have an eerie not-of-this-world texture and a highly processed sugar taste. Try as I may to embrace American pop culture at times, these just don’t work for me. (M doesn’t understand why I even try to engage with these particular specimens.)
Now for the real thing. My marshmallow doesn’t come close to the cuteness of Peeps, but it definitely has the right texture and flavor of a fun treat—and it resembles food. It’s easy to make so you can buy Peeps for show, but eat real marshmallows instead.
Homemade Strawberry Marshmallows
Recipe by hungryrabbitnyc, 2010
NOTE: If you can’t find Strawberry Powder, you can grind or crush freeze-dried strawberry into powder.
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberry powder
Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Using a whisk attachment, turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Add the vanilla and strawberry powder during the last minute of whipping.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.