Peeps (I have a slight preference for the bunnies, but the chicks work too.)
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.
Turn your flame on high.
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.
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; nowArrange your charred, mutilated -- I mean, toasty, crispy! -- Peeps in a fun, carefree tableaux, and charm some young, impressionable children!
By Francis Lam
Francis Lam is Features Editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam.