The Ups and Downs of Homemade Peeps

Homemade Easter Peeps

When I was younger, I always wanted to like Peeps — they were so cute and colorful and looked so festive it was hard not to want to bite their little heads off. But even as a kid, I’d get halfway through the pack and lose interest. They just weren’t as delicious as their bright candy colors made them seem. (They were still better than Cadbury Eggs, with their creamy yolks that still give me the creeps, but a far cry from my favorite Easter candy, mini-Whopper Robin Eggs.)

And yet, this year I became obsessed with making my own. After all — homemade marshmallows are infinitely better than store-bought ones, so it would seem that homemade Peeps would follow the same logic.

I did some recipe and technique research before I began, which led me to trying out Alton Brown’s recipe for marshmallows. Normally I am a big proponent of Martha Stewart’s recipe, but it seemed like as good a time as any to try something new. (Personally I still find Martha’s recipe to be fluffier and sweeter, but feel free to use whatever recipe you like best.)

If you are a newbie at marshmallow making, make sure you have a candy thermometer that is calibrated and that actually works (mine broke and I ended up having to test for the soft ball stage using a cup of water. Effective but not very fun). Also prepare yourself for the mess, especially if you try to color part of your mixture like I did. Imagine yourself in a stringy web of sugar — it gets everywhere!

And in hindsight, dying the marshmallows was pretty silly. The sugar covers them anyways, I was just experimenting.

Pink and White Marshmallows

Pink and White Marshmallows. They look unassuming but managed to put up quite a fight.

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Homemade Marshmallows & the Making of a Mug Topper

Mega MarshmallowI love marshmallows. Not so much on their own but I grew up eating a lot of s’mores and drinking a ton of hot cocoa, so every winter I start to crave their sticky, sugary sweetness. As an adult, I really appreciate a toasty mug of hot chocolate, spiked generously with Rumple Minze, topped with melty marshmallows. Last year, when this blog was just a baby, I decided to try making my own marshmallows with (shockingly) great success.

I was so impressed with myself that this year I thought I’d take it one step further.

Inspiration hit when I discovered these giant two-pound marshmallows online. (As an aside: I love Plush Puffs, their flavors are fun and — big bonus! — they actually taste good too. Not at all rubbery, just soft squishy marshmallow goodness.) Then, on the same site, I saw another item the company offers — mug toppers. They are slices of marshmallow that perfectly fit a cup of cocoa. Seriously brilliant!

I became a bit obsessed…

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One Sweet Sandwich — Peanut Butter Creme Sandwich Cookies

I was invited to an open house a few weeks ago by my friend DB. The first thing I did was ask if I could bring cookies. He agreed, asking if I’d make the same brown butters ones that I had given him a few weeks before. But, like the bad friend I am, I totally refused. Life is too short to not try new cookie recipes!

And I had just bought some marshmallow creme in hopes of finally making these peanut butter sandwich cookies  — pulled out of a very old (Nov. 2008!) Better Homes & Gardens magazine. Honestly I’m shocked that I’ve had this recipe so long without ever having made it, but I think I’m always one ingredient short of having everything I need. So it gets stuck back in the recipe binder while I bake another cookie in its place.

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Sugar Highs & Project Updates

So the days have gotten away from me…I was on a good roll, blogging almost daily, when the pre-holiday madness overwhelmed me. Luckily I had those rum balls to help take the edge off! My final opinion of Martha’s recipe? These balls are boozy, chocolatey and pretty fabulous. I was worried they might be dry but they really do have a texture like fudge. I can’t wait to take some to work tomorrow — and I love that I work in an office where eating rum balls in the morning will totally be acceptable. I also cannot wait to make them for every possible occasion, because dark rum and brownies were clearly made for each other.

Now on to other things: namely fluffy sugary things…The marshmallows turned out great! Making them was a little sticky, but they were incredibly easy (especially with the help of a standing mixer) and they taste fantastic. I did heed Smitten Kitchen’s advice in not scraping the mixing bowl too fanatically. It was hard to resist since I hate to waste food, but I was scared — with good reason! — about getting caught in a sticky sugar web.

oh hello, my new little friends!

A girl in my office, upon hearing of my weekend plans, asked if I was just eating them plain or if I had floated any in hot cocoa. Now, of course, I have done both (quality control is a serious thing), but I knew instantly what she was insinuating. These marshmallows turn into an almost whipped cream/marshmallow fluff once they are in hot cocoa. They are nothing like the chewy, store-bought ones that just seem to bob around in your drink and get in the way. There really is nothing quite like them.

If I thought the Plush Pluffs fancy marshmallows were good (and oh, I definitely do) it’s hard to imagine that my first-time attempt would even rate on the scale. But, even with some forced objectivity, these homemade ‘mallows are still some of the best I’ve ever eaten. And they look adorable, which is always a bonus in my book!

Marsha, Marsha, Marshmallow…

I have been on a marshmallow kick lately. Or, more accurately, I have wanted to be on a marshmallow kick. But the thing is I couldn’t track down these elusive peppermint marshmallows that I kept seeing on Pinterest. I figured Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table would have something similar, but upon visiting those stores last weekend, I struck out.

Then my husband showed me these amazing-looking marshmallows online. I wanted to buy some for me, for my mom, for everyone because they looked SO good. But how to choose with all the possible flavor combinations? How much would it suck to buy the two-pound marshmallow in a bad flavor! You have to choose wisely. So instead we tracked down the one store in our town that the website said stocked their products.

We left immediately and finally I had some success: a display carrying several varieties of these fancy little things. It was hard to choose because they all looked delicious. In the end, we certainly chose wisely. The toasted coconut marshmallow is simply melt-in-your-mouth amazing. I haven’t even had one in cocoa yet because I keep eating them straight from the package. The are fluffy and tender and not too sweet.

But I still kept dreaming about more marshmallows and the desire to attempt making them was overwhelming. I tried to convince my buddy DB to assist me in a marshmallow-making extravaganza but I got back an email that shut me down with a succinct “nyet” followed by “you’re not gonna Martha Stewart me.”

Every once in a while he will call me out on wanting to do something he deems a little too frou-frou. Like last summer, when he was headed over to my house and I asked him if he liked banana daiquiris. Trying to be a good host, I was going to have a blender full of icy rummy goodness awaiting his arrival. Instead I got back a smart-ass text asking if we were going to paint each others fingernails next. Then I discovered he had actually never had a daiquiri before and upon tasting mine, he quickly helped himself to one…with an additional 3 oz of rum to be on the safe side.

I didn’t even make him drink his out of a pineapple!

But clearly marshmallow-making was not a battle I was going to win. I was on my own.

I did some research, finally discovering that the peppermint marshmallows I had seen in the very beginning were (of course) courtesy of Martha Stewart. I read the reviews of several different recipes and ultimately decided on Smitten Kitchen‘s. I was nervous, but figured I’d try it when my husband wasn’t home just in case it was an utter disaster. My cats know better than to gloat at my failures.

UPDATE! Marshmallow Success!