Chick this out: Making your own marshmallow treats

03/20/2013 7:17 AM

03/20/2013 7:29 AM

If you’re looking for an Easter project to do with the kids, consider making your own marshmallow treats. They’re cute, festive and fun to make — for all ages.

You can use cookie cutters to cut bunny and egg shapes and then decorate them with sprinkles, edible confetti or other small candies.

Or go a step further and make your own spongy marshmallow chicks, like the 700 million Peeps typically sold at Easter by Just Born, the company that introduced them in 1954.

Making your own treats adds a personal touch to Easter baskets, and making your own marshmallows is like a super-easy science project. All you need is unflavored gelatin, water, sugar and corn syrup. Pure alchemy!

First you soften the gelatin (called “blooming”) in a liquid (typically water). Separately you heat together sugar, corn syrup and water for the syrup so it reaches 240 degrees. (You’ll need a candy thermometer.)

The two mixtures are gradually whipped together at ever-higher speeds (a stand mixer is recommended) until they triple in volume and become a silky batter of pillowy white fluff.

In less than 20 minutes, you have a base for making a pan of classic marshmallows or for filling a pastry bag to pipe out a couple dozen chicks or other shapes.

If you need more inspiration, check out “Marshmallow Madness! Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes” (Quirk, $16.95) by Shauna Sever. The cookbook is loaded with instructions for sweet and savory marshmallow treats. Even its cover is soft and puffy.

“People think it’s this big crazy mess,” Sever says of making marshmallows. “But it’s not as daunting as people think.”

Once you make the batter, all you need to do is let it set or “cure,” as she calls it, and then cut it in to squares or shapes.

She points out that homemade marshmallows are gluten- and egg-free and an alternative to the cookie or dessert platter.

“They also make a good edible gift,” Sever says.

The pages of her cookbook are loaded with marshmallow flavor twists, from bubble gum to root beer float. There also are dessert and craft ideas. Sever even developed savory marshmallows that use ingredients like bacon and rosemary, and cocktail-inspired marshmallows.

Margarita marshmallows, anyone?

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