Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Homemade Peeps

Since I tackled making the iconic candy corn last Halloween, it seemed fitting to attempt another classic holiday treat: Peeps.

I am no stranger to making marshmallows, however I knew my standby marshmallow recipe really isn’t suited to piping. After some online research, I found a very simple marshmallow recipe from Martha Stewart, requiring only 4 ingredients & minimal tools (though a candy thermometer is a must).  And, as a bonus, the recipe doesn’t have any corn syrup, like so many marshmallows do.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to flavoring the marshmallow base.  Vanilla is the most classic flavor, but if you shopped for marshmallows in the grocery stores lately, you may have noticed how many different flavors are available today.  I decided to add some coconut extract in with the vanilla & it was an excellent decision.

While gathering my mis-en-place & getting ready to make the peeps, I discovered that I didn’t have any pastel colored sugar.  I could have gone out and bought some, but since only very small quantities are needed (especially if you do multiple colors for one batch of peeps), I thought it both cheaper & easier to make my own.  A little sugar in a ziplock bag, plus a little food coloring is all you need.  Since I was already tinting my own sugar, I figured why not make a little green coconut grass on which the peeps could rest.  

Piping the iconic peeps shape does take some practice.  Of course, some turn out better than others, but honestly, I don’t want them all to look exactly the same.  They are homemade/hand piped, not machine made. I want them all to have character! Some just have more “character” than others :)     

When piping the peeps, you pipe the base first, ending with a peak for the tail, and then you pipe the torso/head, ending with a peak pulled over for the beak. One trick I use for piping macaron shells comes in handy when piping the peeps: when you want to end the shape, stop pressure on the piping bag, but don’t stop moving it--you more than likely have enough in the end of the tip or already piped out, you just need to shape the end of the tail or beak.

Store bought peeps have that slightly stale flavor & slightly crunchy outer layer. The homemade peeps can have different textures depending on how they are stored once completed.  Prefer a more pillowy, very soft marshmallow? Store the peeps in an airtight container.  Want that slight crunch? Let them sit at room temperature, uncovered overnight.  Just remember that regardless of which texture you prefer, marshmallows & sugar do not like humidity--it can cause them to become very sticky & the sugar to melt.  Another thing I don’t recommend doing with peeps, either homemade or store bought, is roasting them over a candle. Perhaps microwaved (briefly) and turned into a S’more, yes. But I can tell you from a funny college experience that roasting them over a candle simply doesn’t work.

adapted from Martha Stewart
yields approximately 14 peeps 

1/3 c Cold Water 
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1 c Sugar
1/4 c Water
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Coconut (optional)
Pan Spray
Colored Sugar
Black Food coloring 

  1.  Pour the cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle the packet of unflavored gelatin over the cold water & set aside to bloom.   
  2. In a small heavy, non-reactive sauce pan, combine the sugar and water.  Stir just to combine. Attach a candy thermometer (I used the Taylor Classic Candy and Deep-Fry Analog Thermometer) to the pot & heat the pot over medium high heat.  Do not stir.  Cook the sugar mixture until it reaches the soft ball stage (238 F).  
  3. Meanwhile, attach the bowl with the bloomed gelatin to the mixture & fit the mixer with the whisk attachment.  
  4. Once the sugar syrup reaches soft ball, turn the mixer on low & pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the bloomed gelatin. Be careful--the sugar is hot!!  Once all the syrup is added, increase the speed of the mixer to medium/medium-high (I used speed 6 on my Kitchen Aid).  Beat for 8 minutes, or until the mixture has cooled & significantly thickened.  When the marshmallow mixture is done, it should hold a good peak.  Stir in the flavorings. 
  5. While the mixture is whipping, prepare a pastry bag fitted with a large tip.  I used an Ateco 808 (like the ones found in the Ateco 6-Piece Pastry Tube and Tips Set). Line an inverted sheet pan with parchment paper.  Spray the parchment with non stick pan spray.  
  6. Transfer the whipped mixture to the prepared piping bag.  Pipe out your shapes.  For a peep shape, begin by first piping a tear-drop shape for the body. Then add the torso & head on top, finishing by pulling down for the peak of the beak.      
  7. Let the peeps set for at least an hour.  Once they are firm, but still  sticky, roll them in colored sugar.  If they have dried too much, brush them lightly with water to get them sticky again.  Use a toothpick dipped in black gel food coloring to draw eyes.  
  8. Store leftovers in an airtight container if you prefer softer marshmallows or allow them to “cure” at room temperature to establish a crisper crust & more stale flavor indicative of store bought peeps. Be careful that they do not come into contact with too much humidity or else the sugar will melt! 

Piped peep base, before the torso/head/beak were added

Food Coloring (liquid or gel) 
Zip-top bags

  1.  Add sugar to the zip-top bags.  Add a couple drops of liquid food coloring or use a tooth pick to add a tiny bit of paste.  Seal the bag
  2. Shake & squish the bag to disperse the color throughout the sugar. Keep mixing until all the sugar is uniform & there are no lumps of coloring.  
  3. Allow to dry at room temp briefly, then store in an airtight container.  

coconut variation: substitute sweetened coconut flakes for the sugar.  Place into the bag with a couple drops of food coloring.  Shake & use.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Glazed Doughnut Bread Pudding

We are finally moved into our new apartment!  There are still boxes to unpack & rooms to organize, but we’re getting there.  At least we have internet again after nearly a week.

We really, really love this new apartment. And I don’t care to move again for at least a year--I think moving twice in the last 10 months allows me at least that luxury.

We thought this move would be easy. HA! Going from a 3rd floor apartment to another 3rd floor apartment is no picnic....  Were it not for the help of our amazing friends, I’m not sure I would have survived.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so sore in my entire life....

Moving or not, I never want anyone who comes to our home to feel hungry. So we had a good amount of food & snacks available for our friends who helped us move.  I even bought a large box of glazed yeast-raised doughnuts.

Well, I was apparently a little over zealous in my food buying because we ended up with leftover doughnuts.  Even though I can’t eat them, I couldn’t bear to throw the stale doughnuts away.

Instead, I turned them to bread pudding.  We’ve invited those same friends over for a housewarming party this weekend & I think doughnut bread pudding will be the perfect dessert to serve.  If it lasts until then :)


Butter, for greasing the baking dish
8 ea      Large Glazed doughnuts, day old
4 ea      Eggs
3.5 oz (1/2 c) Granulated Sugar
1/4 tsp   Salt
1/2 tsp   Cinnamon
1 c      Heavy Cream
1 c      Milk {I used 2%}
2 tsp     Vanilla Extract
Confectioners Sugar, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a medium sized gratin dish (I used an oval Le Creuset gratin dish)
  2. Cut the doughnuts into eighths & place into a large bowl. 
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt & cinnamon until well combined. Add the heavy cream, milk & vanilla.  
  4. Pour the custard mixture over the doughnut pieces.  Allow to soak a few minutes, then toss to combine.  
  5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.  Place the baking dish into a larger pan with sides.  Slide the pan into the oven, then pour hot water into the  larger pan to make a water bath. 
  6. Bake until crusty on top & set, approximately 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven. Cool slightly.  
  7. Dust the top with confectioners sugar & serve.  
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Kelli & Daniel Get Married!!

I'm back in Texas after a great trip in North Dakota.  There hasn't been time to bake anything yet... lots of unpacking suitcases from my trip & packing boxes because we're getting ready to move (eeek!) into a different place this weekend.  So, I thought I'd share lots of  some photos of the wedding instead.

Kelli and I have been friends almost as long as I can remember.  Really.  Our moms knew each other from church even before we were born.  We went to the same school from kindergarten through 8th grade, though sadly my July birthday & her October birthday prevented us from being in the same class. We carpooled to violin lessons for years. We've had many, many adventures, including ones in France in 2010 (which you can see herehereherehere, and here). She's one of my dearest friends & even was my personal attendant when I got married last May :)

I have only met Dan a handful of times--they met & started dating after I had moved away from North Dakota/Minnesota.  But I do feel that Kelli has found a gem in him. Dan is an upstanding gentleman.  Their deep love for one another is visibly evident, as is their integrity.

Thankfully, my dad & youngest sister were great helps in capturing the moments of the day.  My dad not only worked as a second shooter, but he also loaned me his awesome camera equipment! Thanks, Dad.  I truly would NOT have minded if that D800 had sneaked back into my camera bag before I left.....  And Michelle worked as my assistant, holding lenses & some small lighting equipment & helping me stay on task and check things off my color-coded-shot list during formal photos.

It was truly a privilege to be a part of such a monumental day in Kelli & Dan's lives.  I am so excited to see them build their new life together & hope these images help them remember what an awesome, amazing wedding they had.

photo by Charlie Vein

photo by Charlie Vein

photo by Charlie Vein

photo by Charlie Vein

photo by Charlie Vein

photo by Charlie Vein

photo by Charlie Vein

photo by Charlie Vein

All images copyright Laura E. Vein.  Please do not use, copy, or repost without permission!