When I was growing up, one annual Easter treat was the marshmallow chick, or Peeps. My mother would buy a package or two and they looked so inviting sitting pretty in their package. Somehow, however, they were always the last Easter treats to be eaten. Most of the time, they had a kind of stale taste and they just weren't all that inviting after the first bite.
These homemade marshmallow chicks may not be quite as factory perfect, but they are quite delicious! Plus, they use very natural ingredients. Sweetened entirely with honey, there is no sugar or corn syrup in the recipe! (It will be completely sugar-free if you don't use any sprinkles on the outside.)
While making homemade marshmallow may seem scary, this recipe is quite easy to make! My only caution is to be very careful with the hot honey syrup, especially if you have children around. Whenever I make a syrup like this, I make sure the kids aren't in the kitchen as it could cause severe burns. But with proper caution (now that I've scared you!), this really is an easy recipe to literally "whip" together.
There are a few ways that you can make shapes with this recipe. The one that I like is cutting out the cooled marshmallows with cookie cutters. However, Martha Stewart, the source of all kitchen wisdom, has directions here
explaining how to pipe chicks that look a lot like Peeps. I haven't tried it yet, though I understand from other bloggers that it is not easy to do. You have to work quickly so that the mixture doesn't set up. Another idea is to scoop the marshmallow fluff into molds (chocolate molds, or specialty muffin pans). You could even chocolate cover the marshmallows for an extra special treat.
I've been making homemade marshmallows
for a while, and I've found that when using a hand-held electric mixer, you don't get the same amount of fluff in your marshmallows. This means that you will need a smaller pan to scoop it into. However, when you use something like a Kitchenaid mixer, you end up with super fluffy marshmallows, which will require a larger pan. Just something to keep in mind. Both turn out quite well in taste and texture.
If you want to have colored chicks (or whatever other animal/shape you want to use), you have a couple of options. You can sprinkle the outside with colored decorating sugar. I used India Tree's Sunflower Yellow which is tinted with curcumin for color. You could also buy (the very expensive) India Tree natural food dyes and tint the actual marshmallows which would be very pretty. Or, you could just leave them plain white. It's especially cute to have a white bunny marshmallow.
Homemade Marshmallow Chicks
1 cup of water, split into 2 half cups
3 tablespoons of gelatin
1 cup of honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1. Cover with parchment paper a 9 by 13 inch pan, or jelly roll pan (if not using a stand mixer, you will probably only need a 9 by 9 inch pan). Then grease the parchment paper.
2. Put 1/2 cup of water in a medium bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer with attached whisk), and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Set aside to soften.
3. In a small pot, place the honey, salt and the other 1/2 cup of water. Heat on medium heat. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 240 degrees. (You can also test it by carefully dribbling a little of the liquid into a bowl of ice cold water. It should be in the soft candy stage — which will form little soft balls when cooled in the water and taken out. It takes about 7-8 minutes to reach this temperature.) Remove from the heat as soon as it reaches the right temperature.
4. With the mixer on low, very carefully mix in the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture by pouring the hot syrup in a drizzle down the side of the bowl. Once it’s all combined, add the vanilla and increase speed slowly to high. Beat for 7-15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and fluffy and holds its shape when you lift the beaters out of the mixture. (It will look like marshmallow fluff.) Scrape into the prepared pan. I think it works best if the mixture is about 1/2 inch thick. How much the mixture fluffs up will make a difference in how thick the mixture is and how big of a pan you need to use. Adjust pan size at will.
5. Leave uncovered for 4-12 hours to dry. I found that after a few hours, it was dry enough to cut, but still sticky enough to roll in decorating sugar. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes. Roll in sugar immediately. If desired, make a mixture of cocoa powder and water to make eyes. Dab on with toothpick or chopstick. Keep covered in an airtight container for up to one week.