Homemade Peeps

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Happy Easter! These little chicks from Dominique Ansel's recipe book have been on my Things-to-Bake list for years and I finally got around them! It involved investing in an egg topper, which is actually one of the coolest kitchen tools I know own (and seriously addicting to use). These are a little labor intensive and I actually messed them up the first time by not filling them with the warm homemade marshmallow fast enough, but the results are worth it! They are super fun to eat and were a big hit at as our Easter dinner dessert. Peeps are my Papa's favorite Easter candy and I wanted to make them for him as a special treat since he has been in and out of the hospital lately. 

Salted Caramel "Yolk"

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream            
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup            
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar            
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar            
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel      

Honey Marshmallow

  • 4 tsp powdered gelatin        
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water                    
  • 1 cup granulated sugar            
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup            
  • 2 tbsp honey                        
  • 1/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp water   

Additional Tools & Ingredients 

  • 18 eggs 
  • yellow sanding sugar
  • egg topper
  • candy thermometer 
  • 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 piping bags
  • one ~1/4th inch round piping tip 
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • optional: egg carton, egg cups, egg spoons 

Instructions:

Start by using your egg topper to cut the egg top off. This takes some practice, and the amount of strength you have to use depends on your egg topper. Definitely plan to have several mess-ups. Save your eggs in an airtight container for another recipe or plan to have scrambled eggs for dinner the rest of the week. After you remove the egg, rinse the egg under warm water and remove the membrane. You can do this by rubbing your finger on the inside of the eggshell until you feel it start to peel (see below). 

Also, save a couple of the egg tops as little "hats" for a couple of the chicks! Make sure you remove the membrane from these as well. Once you have washed all the membranes out let them dry in the egg crate. Lastly, add a small amount of nonstick cooking spray to each egg, making sure you don't spray the outside. It is easiest if you spray a bit on your finger and just rub it on the inside. 

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Next, make your salty caramel! Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and heavy cream in a bowl. In a saucepan on medium heat, sprinkle a thin, even layer of granulated sugar. As the sugar melts and caramelizes, slowly whisk in the rest of the sugar, one small handful at a time, until the sugar has been added. The sugar will caramelize and turn an amber color. When this happens. Add a 1/4th cup of the cream mixture to the pan, whisking with fervor as you add it. It will hiss but keep whisking! Add the rest of the cream mixture in 2 parts, whisking well each time. 

After the cream mixture has been added. 

After the cream mixture has been added. 

Turn up the heat and continue to whisk caramel, incorporating any sugar clumps that may have formed. Continue to whisk until the caramel reaches 221 degrees F. 

Continue to whisk until 221 degrees F. 

Continue to whisk until 221 degrees F. 

Pour hot caramel into a glass container and place in fridge to cool. Once it is thickened and cooled (an hour or so in the fridge) transfer it to a piping bag. You can use a round tip if you want, but I didn't and just clipped the tip of the bag. Store in the fridge until you are ready to use. 

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For the sanding sugar, you can buy it or make your own. I couldn't find a yellow that was a true "Peeps" yellow--they were all too orange, so I made my own! Just take plain white sugar and add a couple drops of gel yellow food coloring. Mix well with a fork. 

Last, make the marshmallow. Start by blooming the gelatin. Take 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl. Slowly sprinkle the 4 teaspoons of gelatin on top of the water, making sure that it doesn't clump. Let it sit for 20 minutes, allowing the gelatin to absorb the water. 

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While you are waiting, combine honey, sugar, 1/4th cup + 1/2 teaspoon water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. On medium heat, allow the mixture to heat up without stirring. Once it starts bubbling, add a candy thermometer. You want it to reach 248 degrees F. While you are waiting, get your mixing bowl ready to go because as soon as it hits 248 you have to remove it from heat immediately and pour it into the mixing bowl. You can do this with a hand mixer, but a stand mixer works better (I borrowed my mom's!). 

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When it reaches 248, pour the hot mixture into the bowl. Add the thick gelatin on top and give it a couple stirs. It will look very unappetizing, like dirty dishwater, but it will turn into marshmallow! Let the mixture cool for 3 minutes, then turn the mixer on low speed, turning up the speed ever minute or so. You will slowly see the mixture go from clear to foamy to white. It will triple in volume and start to stiffen. You won't ever get "stiff peaks" like you do with meringue, but you want it to get to the point that it can hold a hershey kiss shape. Once it gets to this point (see photo below) you have to work FAST. Scoop all the marshmallow into the large piping bag fitted with the 1/4th inch round tip.

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Working as fast as you can, pipe a tablespoon of piping into an eggshell. Pipe a dollop of caramel on top, followed by marshmallow until the eggshell is just overflowing. Add a "kiss" of marshmallow on top to form the chick head. Quickly transfer the egg to the bowl of yellow sugar, pouring the sugar on top to hit every nook and cranny. Repeat for the remaining eggshells. The marshmallow starts to harden as it cools, and so you have to go as fast as you can! The first time I tried making these I wasn't fast enough and the marshmallow cooled to much and wasn't pipe-able anymore. I was so disappointed! 

For the eyes, melt your chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave. Transfer to your last piping bag, and make a tiny cut at the tip of the bag. Pipe two small eyes onto each chick. I actually thought this was the hardest part because it is hard to control piping onto a granular surface. A couple of my chicks looked a little drunk! Clean up any excess sugar that got on the eggshell with a damp paper towel. Chicks can be eaten immediately or stored in the fridge for 2 days. 

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Hope everyone had a great Easter! Thanks for reading. 

Xx

Chocolate Chip Cookie Salted Caramels

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Recently I was perusing the Food52 store and I saw they were selling caramels rolled in chocolate chip cookie crumbs, and I thought it was the most brilliant thing in the world: sweet caramel combined with the salty crunch of chocolate chip cookies. However, they were 25 dollars for 2 small bags, and so I decided to make my own! This Miette caramel recipe is one I've used for years--we used to make bags of caramels for the neighbors for Christmas each year. 

Salted Caramels (Recipe from Miette) 

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons water

Additional ingredients: 

  • Fleur de sel 
  • 2 extra large chocolate chip cookies, either homemade or store bought My favorite recipe is posted here   
  • parchment paper
  • candy thermometer 
  • wax paper 

Instructions

Start by buttering a metal pan, preferably a square 9x9, but I used a loaf pan because I didn't have a square one. Cut a piece of parchment that overlaps on the side, and butter it as well. I know it seems like lots of butter, I know! but caramel sticking to your pan is the worst. 

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Next, combine all caramel ingredients into a large pot--make sure it's big enough that it can han handle a rolling boil for a long time. The pot I started with was too small and I had to switch it.  

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Whisk continuously under medium heat. It will look like dirty dishwater at first but soon the butter will melt and it will start to simmer. 

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Once butter has melted add candy thermometer (I recommend a digital one for its ease!) and keep whisking. You are trying to get it to 247 degrees F. It definitely takes a lot of patience. 

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Once the mixture reaches high 190s-200s, it will have a continuous rolling boil. Keep stirring! It will start to thicken at this point. The second it reaches 247 degrees F remove from heat immediately and pour into lined pan. 

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Let caramel cool completely. Try not to disturb it while cooling.

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When caramel is completely cool, lift up on the parchment to remove it from the pan. 

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Meanwhile, take 2 large cookies and break into pieces. If your cookies are freshly baked, make sure the chocolate chips are no longer gooey. You can put them in the freezer for 20 minutes to speed up the cooling. Put cookie pieces in a food processor and blend into crumbs. 

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Place cookie crumbs and salt in 2 separate bowls. Cut wax paper into 4 inch by 3 inch rectangles. 

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To package caramels, cut a strip of caramel from the block that is 1/2 inch wide. Cut into 1-inch pieces. It's okay if they aren't all perfectly the same size. 

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Sprinkle a couple pieces of fleur de sel  on each piece of caramel, pressing them in so they stick. Next, press the caramel square up against the side of the bowl with the cookie crumbs. The crumbs will form a layer on top of the caramel when pressed against the side as seen below. 

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Place each caramel in the center of a piece of wax paper. Roll up and twist sides. Enjoy! 

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