Anyone who knows me knows that the first signs of spring are not daffodils poking up through the ground or the shedding of heavy winter coats.
For me, it’s springtime when the first box of marshmallow chicks appears. I prefer them just a bit stale, so I open the package and let them “air out” for a few days till they get the perfect amount of crispy (this is serious stuff, y’all).
Yes, though I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it, I’m a bit obsessed with those sugary, artificially dyed, crispy-chewy confections. And yet it never occurred to me to try and make my own.
Till I decided to try and make my own:
The recipe itself was quite easy — it’s marshmallow, of course, which is not difficult at all (you just need a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature). I had fun making my own colored sugar, and before I knew it I was piping my “peeps”!
Here’s where it got tricky. Getting that familiar shape just right was the most challenging part of the recipe, yet after a few “flops” I got the hang of it. And, needless to say, the flavor and texture was far and away superior to the commercial variety. I flavored mine with a little vanilla, but feel free to experiment with any colors and flavors that you like! And talk about bragging rights — I guarantee you a room full of wide-eyed awe as you present your homemade chicks at your holiday gathering!
Homemade Marshmallow Chicks
adapted from About.com
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: no cooking involved
3 c. sugar, divided
9 T. water, divided
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 t. vanilla
yellow food coloring
1 T. chocolate chips
Special equipment: candy thermometer, piping bag, 1/2″ piping tip
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place 2 c. of the sugar in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring and “knead” into the sugar for several minutes to evenly distribute the color. (Add more color if necessary till you achieve the desired hue). Sift the sugar onto your prepared baking sheet.
Place 5 T. of water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over and stir to dissolve. Let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1 c. sugar and 4 T. water in a small saucepan. Clip your thermometer to the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to cook till thermometer reads 235 degrees F (soft-ball stage). Remove pan from heat and stir in the gelatin, whisking till smooth.
Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and let sit till just warm to the touch. Beat on medium till white and opaque — add the vanilla and turn mixer to high. Beat for 10 minutes or till stiff and glossy. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring and beat till evenly distributed. Immediately place mixture into your prepared piping bag.
Pipe out chicks onto your sugar-covered baking sheet — holding the tip straight over the sugar, squeeze marshmallow into a 1″ circle and then pull back. Form a teardrop shape by releasing pressure as you go. To create the head, pipe a dollop atop the wide end of the base, move the tip back toward the tail and then forward, releasing pressure as you go to form the beak. Repeat with remaining marshmallow. Using a spoon, cover the tops and sides of the chicks with remaining sugar. For the eyes, melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl set over barely simmering water. Use a toothpick to dab on the eyes.
Let the chicks set for 4-6 hours and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days (or do like I do and leave them out to “air”!).