Candy Conundrum and The Search for Halal Peeps

Test kitchened and Written by Theresa Corbin

Those who know me can attest to the fact that I am candy crazy. At one point while in high school I even overthrew the dictator teacher of my French class and became its supreme ruler just so that I could instate a weekly “sugar fest” where all my French class subjects would bring candy to feast on. My love for candy borders on the insane.

the search for halal peeps

All my favorite holidays, pre-Islam, were candy based: Halloween being numero uno in my book and Easter coming in at a close second. Christmas didn’t make it to the top two because some of the gifts were not candy.

My absolute favorite holiday candy treat was the peep. You know what I am talking about. It is the colored sugar covered marshmallow that people either love to hate or just LOVE. I fall in the camp of LOVE with a couple of extra o’s than the normal citizen of peep-land. And even better than a peep is a stale peep. When you open the wrapper of a peep phalanx and let it sit out overnight you will be rewarded with a crispy stale outer sugar coating that adds an amazing texture to the creamy mallow-y filling. *drooling*

Anyway *wipes mouth*, when I started to think seriously about converting to Islam, I started to incorporating the Islamic behaviors into my lifestyle. And one of those behaviors was to stop drinking alcohol and eating pork.

Which was all well and good and my life improved greatly with these changes. Until I started realizing how much food has hidden pork in it. If you are familiar with this, you are probably shaking your head right now in agreement.

Starbursts and skittles and marshmallows OH MY! All had gelatin in them. Gelatin being the boiled down bone marrow from an animal, and in most cases it is from a pig. This constitutes pork. I had given up eating pepperoni pizza and bacon on my burgers, but I had never imagined that this pork prohibition would affect my candy addiction.

Much to my relief, I realized that starbursts and skittles were both made from beef gelatin. I called the company myself and then began to call every company that touted gelatin as an ingredient. Just Born company’s gelatin peddling  peeps were 100% pork. Bummer!

Through the peep deprived years, I have thought about activating my Jewish and Muslim candy loving friends to protest the porked peep situation. But I just don’t have that much energy (Candy induced lethargy? Perhaps). So, I decided to take matters in to my own hands.

I ordered a rather large bag of halal gelatin powder online, did some digging around for homemade peep recipes and this is what I came up with …

What follows is my very own recipe for pork free peeps that taste better than store bought. :p to Just Born

Pork Free Peeps Recipe


3 tablespoons unflavored kosher gelatin (i.e. gelatin from beef, fish, and they even have veggie jelly)

1 cup ice cold water, divided by 1/2

1- 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon imitation vanilla extract (without alcohol-I got mine at dollar general)

A few drops of your favorite color food coloring

1/4  cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

Nonstick spray

another 3/4 cup granulated sugar for sanding



  1. Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat. Cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes (I don’t have a candy thermometer and 7 mins was the perfect time). Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
  4. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Add the vanilla and food coloring during the last minute of whipping.
  6. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans by combining the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
  7. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later.
  8. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  9. Now turn your marshmallow into peeps: Once the marshmallow is set, cut out peeps with a lightly oiled cookie cutter of your preferred shape.
  10. Put a few drops of your favorite color food coloring into 3/4 cup granulated sugar to make sanding sugar.  Shake the coloring and sugar mixture well until all sugar is colored and food coloring clumps disappear.
  11. Sand the cut marshmallows in colored sugar.

Caution: While this recipe is a bit involved, these can be very addictive. Make them at your own risk.


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