Today is April Fool’s Day, so I thought I would use it as inspiration to be a bit goofy.
Perhaps that is in part due to spring weather being so topsy-turvy – snow in the morning and warm sun in the afternoon.
I don’t know about you, but I feel a little bit of whimsy is the best way to weather the storm. So, forgive the lack of nutritional value in this week’s listings and take pleasure in the fact that you now have water cooler fodder for the week to come.
Did you know that a real seasonal spring food is Peeps? If you have never heard of Peeps, you may still be able to indulge if you check out the local grocery and confectionary stores. Many connoisseurs even prefer their Peeps a few days old.
You might think I am trying an early April Fool’s prank here, but honestly, this is no joke. (The company’s founder, Sam Born, also invented the Born Sucker machine which revolutionized the lollipop industry but that is another story.)
Peeps are a traditional sweet made by a third-generation family-owned company called Just Born, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The company is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Peeps are just one of their confections, others include Mike and Ike candies and Hot Tamales.
Most commonly in the form of baby chicks, Peeps are now made in many shapes and colours. In the beginning, they were made by hand, taking 27 hours to produce. Bob Born, Sam’s son, came up with a mechanized process that reduced the time to only 6 minutes. He was known as “the father of Peeps”.
Peeps have a very loyal following, with some people taking their appreciation to quite imaginative heights. This is not just about consumption.
There are Peep pastimes such as Peep Jousts (arm your Peep with a toothpick under his wing for a lance, then put him in the microwave with another combatant and after placing your wagers on the winner, push the ON button. The winner is the one that expands enough to engulf his unwitting enemy.)
There is Peep art – patterns of the charming little fellows glued on canvas that sell for hundreds of dollars. With the array of colours and shapes available there are numerous permutations in design.
Simple indulgence in Peeps is ample goofiness however, and you needn’t feel too bad eating them – they are only 32 calories each. And there is no need to worry—350 million of them are made each year, so they are certainly not endangered.
If you are more of a purist, you could just stick to regular marshmallows as a treat. Did you know they have been around for 200 years and that originally the root of the marshmallow plant was what made them sticky and gooey?
Marshmallow root was also used to soothe sore throats. I don’t know if you could attest to a marshmallow doing that, but it arguably does make you feel better when you eat one.
If you feel like attempting a batch of marshmallow from scratch, I can verify that this link to a great recipe has produced smiles at our house. All you need is ingredients and a powerful mixer.
If you like your marshmallow with a bit of chocolate, here is another option. You could cut these into bird shapes and make your own Peeps variation, if you like. This recipe is big enough to share, even if you’re a gourmand like me.
3/4 cup Callebaut dark chocolate (or other quality chocolate)
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups white sugar
5 large eggs
Zest of 1 full orange, grated on a “microplane” using a fine grater) (optional, but very tasty)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups small Callebaut chocolate chunks
2 cups miniature marshmallows
Heat chocolate and butter in a pan slowly while stirring until melted. (This can also be done in a microwave at low heat. Be careful it does not burn.) Stir in sugar until it melts. Cool the mixture 10 to 15 minutes.
Add eggs and stir. Add flour, salt, orange zest if using, and vanilla. Stir well. Add chocolate chunk and marshmallows and stir until mixed.
Pour into your greased 13 by 9-inch pan.
Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 30 minutes so as not to burn the roof of your mouth when sampling.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.