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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
The world wants us to make Peeps.
I discovered this last year on a day that began with reading an article in the local paper in which Marilyn Hagerty called a Ruby Tuesday “one of the stars in the restaurant scene” of my new town. It was a day I almost gave up on food.
On top of all of that, I had an all-around bad feeling about finding appropriate Peep-making tools following a string of failed attempts to locate recipe supplies in North Dakota. Brisket was only available frozen, daikon was nearly nonexistent, tapioca balls cost a fortune. It’s a tough life sometimes, the small town one.
But then, I found myself in an actual DIY Peeps section in my two local stores. As I stood there going back and forth between the metal mold and the two (two!) silicone varieties, I thought I might be dreaming.
More: Ready to take on another Easter project? Try these homemade Cadbury creme eggs.
I debated whether it would be a cop-out to spend money on a mold rather than trying to perfect my piping skills. But then I remembered why I hadn’t tried making Peeps before: I never wanted to ruin a batch of marshmallow batter by failing to pipe perfect Peeps. I cringed at the thought of going through the mess of homemade marshmallows only to come out with ugly blobs.
I wanted a surefire way to make perfect Peeps on the first try. I wanted that mold. I needed that mold. Is this what good marketing is?
So I took home the silicone bunny-and-chick mold and tested all of the possible ways I could imagine myself making Peeps: with the mold, a cookie cutter, or freehand piping. The mold proved the most consistent way every time, but if you can't find one—or you're up for the challenge of hand-piping your peeps—there are plenty of tutorials online.
Because I took the easy route and used a mold, I was left with plenty of brainpower to think up odd flavors: Matcha worked, Sriracha didn’t. I even used Campari, which proved to be a boozy success.
3/4 cup cold water
2 packets unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup colored sanding sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 pinch salt
Additional flavorings (liqueur like Campari, herb sprigs, citrus zest, matcha green tea powder, or vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon chocolate chips
In the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the cold water with the 2 packets of gelatin and set aside. (If you'd like to make boozy Peeps, replace 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of liqueur.)
Lightly spray your Peep mold with cooking spray and set it aside. Have a piping bag, rubber spatula, and any additional flavorings like extracts, zest, or powders standing by. Also, place the sanding sugar on a plate and set it aside.
In a medium pot, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup of water, the white sugar, the corn syrup, and the salt. If you'd like to infuse your Peeps with herbs, place a sprig in the mixture but don't break it up at all because it will be difficult to remove.
Heat the mixture over medium heat until it reaches 240° F. Remove it from the heat, and if you're using herbs, remove the sprigs with tongs.
Return to your stand mixer, where the gelatin mixture is sitting, and turn it on low. Drizzle the hot sugar mixture in a slow and steady stream down the side of the bowl. Once the entire mixture is in, increase the speed to high and let it mix for 10 to 12 minutes, until lukewarm and fluffy. Add any additional flavorings -- 1/4 teaspoon citrus zest, 1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract -- in the last minute of mixing.
Immediately scrape the mixture into your piping bag and pipe the mixture into the molds. Let set for 10 minutes. Gently remove the Peeps and coat them with sanding sugar.
To give the Peeps faces, melt the chocolate chips and spoon the melted chocolate into a small piping bag or into the corner of a sandwich bag. Snip a tiny bit off the end and pipe on their faces.
Let the Peeps dry and then store them in an air tight container. Enjoy the peeps within a few weeks (or before the bunnies hop away).
Photos by Molly Yeh