Peeps brulee! Like toasted marshmallows, but awesomer

Give the candy critters a crisp, glassy caramel shell. Go ahead, show them a little love

Topics: Eyewitness Cook, Cooking techniques, Food traditions, Food,

Peeps brulee! Like toasted marshmallows, but awesomer

Before we start talking about torching up our Peeps, there are a couple of things you should know: 1) there’s a lot of trial and error, and 2) someone will probably yell, “What the hell is wrong with you? You keep away from my kids, sicko!”

But you can calm them down, because you’re just doing it out of love: Fire makes the sugar coating on Peeps get amazing, turning it into a glassy shell, all toasty and caramelly, a crackly crunch surrounding the soft, puffy marshmallow inside. Suddenly, everyone’s favorite candy Styrofoam tastes sophisticated! So you know in your heart of hearts that you’re subjecting these adorable critters to a flaming crucible because you just want them to be all they can be. OK, so that does sound kind of sick. Whatevs.

Anyway, as with crème brûlée, the magic is in the sugar and the heat. When dull, simple sugar gets hot, it breaks down and reforms on a molecular level, creating compounds that give us the nutty, buttery flavors of caramel. And as it cools, the liquid sugar turns into a new, solid crystal structure, which gets harder the hotter the sugar gets and the more it’s allowed to sit still as it cools. (This is why hard candies like Jolly Ranchers and taffies can be still mostly sugar but have such different textures.)

So, for both crème and Peeps brûlée, the trick is to get the sugar coating hot enough to caramelize without cooking the custard or marshmallow underneath. If you have a brûlée torch, you can get flame serious enough to pretty much instantly melt and caramelize the sugar before the heat penetrates into the Peep itself and makes it puff. Check out this awesome picture, even though I’m pretty sure they’re using a lightsaber, not a torch available on this planet.

But for those of us without pinpoint flamethrowers, you can still be in business as long as you have a gas stove and a skewer.

Peeps brûlée

Peeps (I have a slight preference for the bunnies, but the chicks work too.)

Special equipment: fire; skewers or thin, wood chopsticks; nonstick pan

  1. Skewer a Peep. The thing is, flat surfaces give you the best results, because they can heat and caramelize relatively evenly, which is why I like the bunnies. But a chick Peep’s head, for instance, is just going to burst into flames before the rest of the body gets hot enough. Which, granted, is kind of awesome to look at, but not so much to eat. So I prefer the flatter bunnies, and I go in with the skewer between the ears — so it looks like a Peep lollipop — to toast their wide bellies, and because this way I kill the Peep instantly. Er, ignore that. And the chicks do have great, flat bottoms, so I skewer them lengthwise, like so:
  2. Turn your flame on high.
  3. Start waving your Peep over the fire, letting the flames touch the surface of the sugar. After a couple of seconds, take a look: What you want, as much as possible, is an even, light brown caramel. Now, realistically, that’s not going to happen. The edges are probably going to get darker, the middle might not brown at all, and, if it’s taking too long and you’re starting to cook the Peep, it will start to puff up and deform. It’s all OK, just know that your bunnies are going to start looking like spacemen with oversize helmets and the chicks are going to start looking like puffy sneakers from the ’80s. Just keep waving the Peep over the flame, check on it every two seconds or so, and make sure a few things happen: you get some caramelized browning, the sugar on the parts that don’t brown at least turns glassy-looking, and you DON’T BURN IT. Blow out any flames right away, and if it’s starting to get dark brown, stop, unless you really like the bitter taste of char. If you’re working with bunnies, flip and caramelize the other side. If you’re using chicks, just kind of give the sides a perfunctory go at it, but pretty much the best stuff happens on the bottom.
  4. When the Peeps get as caramelized as you’re willing to risk, set them down, with the skewers still in them, on a nonstick pan so they can cool down and the shell can solidify. When you’re finished with the next Peep, the resting one should be cool enough to handle without ripping; now pull out the skewer.
  5. Arrange your charred, mutilated — I mean, toasty, crispy! — Peeps in a fun, carefree tableaux, and charm some young, impressionable children! 
Francis Lam is Features Editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>