Confession: We genuinely love Peeps. We’re all about their cheerful vibe. And how — from the soft crunch of the pink sugar to the gooey-sweet marshmallow — they taste just like all our sugar-coated Easter basket memories. Like childhood. This DIY recipe for Peeps is all that, plus a few good ingredients. We use the good chocolate chips, so you can actually taste that little dot of chocolate that is the Peep’s eye, and the marshmallow is flavored with vanilla bean paste. Don’t be alarmed, these little Peeps have not been fancified. They’re just as airy and scrumptious (read: sweet, sweet, sweet) as your kid-self could want.
Are there a lot of steps? Yes, but each one is straightforward and easy. Our one piece of advice is to keep it moving: In the test kitchen, we felt a little like that famous chocolate-factory episode of “I Love Lucy.” (The one where she and Ethel lose track of the conveyor belt and bonbons go flying.) Making Peeps is fast-paced and messy, but if you invite a friend to help and prep your sugar ahead of time, you won’t fall behind — and you’re sure to have a lot of laughs.
Here’s our pastry chef’s tip: Once you get the marshmallow into your pastry bag, you’ll want to move relatively quickly between steps so that your marshmallow doesn’t get too stiff. So pipe five Peeps (say that quickly 10 times!), pause briefly to coat them in sugar, and then pipe the next five, and so on — don’t stop ‘til all your Peeps are pretty in pink. This means letting go, finding your flow, and letting Peeps be Peeps in all their marshmallow glory. You’ll get better at piping with each set, and by the end, you’ll practically be a Peepmaster. Have fun!
Our tip: We went with pink for a festive splash of spring, but feel free to use whatever food coloring strikes your fancy. You’ll have leftovers, and the fine sugar makes a pretty decoration for sugar cookies and cupcakes.
Yield: about 40 Peeps
To make the sugar coating: In a food processor, combine the sugar and food coloring. Whirl for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sugar is thoroughly dyed and finely ground.
Strain ⅔ of the sugar through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl.
Scatter the remaining unfiltered sugar onto a rimmed baking sheet. Shake the sheet to spread the sugar in an even layer.
To make the marshmallow: In a stand mixer, stir together the gelatin and ⅓ cup of the water. Let bloom for 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the granulated sugar, agave, and remaining ½ cup of water. Gently stir to combine, being careful not to push the sugar up the sides of the pot. Bring to a boil and cook without disturbing until the temperature reaches 242º on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Immediately remove the pot from the heat.
Using a whisk attachment, beat the gelatin on low speed. Slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl and into the gelatin.
Add a pinch of salt and increase the speed to medium high. Beat for 2 minutes until the marshmallow is white and fluffy. Add the vanilla bean paste and beat until combined.
Increase the speed to high and beat for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the marshmallow holds stiff peaks. To test the peaks, dip a spoon into the marshmallow and pull it out — a small, slightly curved peak should remain.
Transfer the marshmallow to a large pastry bag fitted with a ½” piping tip.
Working quickly, pipe a row of 5 Peeps onto the sugar-lined baking sheet: Hold your piping bag at a 45-degree angle with the tip pointing away from you. In one continuous motion, pipe a 2”-long line towards you, then pipe in reverse ⅔ of the way, pause, squeeze a little harder to make the head, then stop squeezing and pull the piping bag toward you to create the beak.
Immediately sprinkle some of the reserved sugar over the Peeps, making sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies.
Continue piping and coating Peeps until you use up all of the marshmallow.
To make the eyes: In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate and vegetable oil. Microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until the chocolate is melted.
Using a toothpick or skewer, dot the chocolate onto the Peeps to create eyes.
Let the Peeps rest at room temperature for 1 hour to set. Note: The Peeps will continue to firm up over time. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.