Peeps Who? Here's How to Make Grown-Up Marshmallows
These homemade citrus marshmallows are like what might happen if store-bought Peeps wanted to give adulting a try. Fresh-squeezed juice provides an upgrade in the flavor department (very fancy-pants), but dusting them in granulated sugar gives you that subtle familiar crunch you love about biting into the original.
Make these for Easter — or for a Tuesday! Making homemade marshmallows is a great cooking project for kids and adults alike, so check out tips below for Homemade Grown-Up Peeps success, then get mallowing.
Tips for Making Grown-Up Peeps at Home
Juices: Start with this recipe for Homemade Grown-Up Peeps, and choose any kind of juice you want! Fresh-squeezed is recommended because it has the perfect flavor strength to shine through in the batter, without any added sugar. Pictured in this article are lime, grapefruit, and lemon.
Stovetop safety: When you're heating the fruit juice with the sugar, DO NOT walk away from the stove. It will bubble more than traditional marshmallows that call for water instead of fruit juice, and it can bubble over very quickly if you're not paying attention. In fact, you may need to pull your saucepan off the burner a couple times to let the bubbles settle in order to see if the sugar has dissolved. Once it has, heat it up again just until it starts to bubble, then pour it into the gelatin.
Candy thermometer: I'm going to tell you a secret, but you can't tell anyone I told you: If you don't have a candy thermometer, it's okay. Just make sure your sugar is totally melted and the liquid is super clear. Then once the sugar/juice mixture is bubbling, it's hot enough.
Getting the batter right: Rather than letting a timer tell you when the batter is done, it's best to judge doneness by how it looks. A good way to test it is to stop the beaters and pull them out of the batter — if the ribbons of batter drip and sink right back into the batter in the bowl, it needs more time. But if the batter coats the beaters and takes a couple seconds to sink back in, that's what you're looking for. Just be careful about over-beating — unlike when making meringue, you don't want "stiff peaks."
Food coloring: Adding food coloring — or anything, for that matter — to marshmallow batter will "deflate" it a bit, so use it sparingly, and wait until the batter is just about done before adding it.
Slicing and sugaring: First, slice the marshmallow slab into strips, then into squares, coating all surfaces with sugar as you go. You can slice them in any size you want, but if you slice them in one-inch squares or smaller, the easiest way to coat all the sides is to toss a handful at a time in a bowl of sugar.
Cookie cutters: Slicing the batter with cookie cutters is a great way to give your mallows a little flair, but be sure the shapes aren't too intricate. The slab of uncut marshmallow batter will be too dense to react to smaller details as it's being cut.
Sprinkles or alternative sugars: Keep in mind that traditionally, marshmallows are dusted with powdered sugar, which is a very fine substance. So, regular granulated sugar is the coarsest substance that will easily stick to marshmallows. Unfortunately, cookie sprinkles are too big to "grab onto" marshmallows evenly.
Storing: For special occasions, I recommend making marshmallows the day before, just so they're looking their best on the day of. But marshmallows can easily be made several days in advance and be perfectly fine. The best way to store marshmallows is in a resealable plastic bag, with excess air pressed out to prevent them from getting dry. Add a few extra teaspoons of sugar to the bag to keep them from sticking together. You can also store them in the freezer for several weeks—marshmallows are a lot like alcohol in that they get really cold in the freezer, but they never actually freeze.
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