- 2 cups sliced natural almonds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
- Melted or softened butter, for brushing pan
- 2 packages (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups granualted sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
- Food color powders of your choice (see Note)
- 1 1/3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (see Note)
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast, for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Let cool; rub them between your hands until finely crushed.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and confectioners' sugar. Using a pastry brush, lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Dust the pan with the cornstarch mixture. Evenly coat the bottom of the pan with 2/3 cup of the crushed almonds.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water; make sure the gelatin granules are evenly moistened. Put the whites in the large bowl of a standing electric mixer.
- In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the granulated sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, washing down the sides of the pan occasionally with a wet pastry brush. Insert a candy thermometer (be sure the bulb is completely submerged).
- When the sugar syrup reaches 230°, begin beating the egg whites at medium-high speed. When the whites are foamy, add the salt and continue beating them until the sugar syrup reaches 245°. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and quickly whisk in the softened gelatin until completely dissolved.
- Beat the sugar syrup into the egg whites in a slow stream at high speed. Add the vanilla and almond extract, and beat the whites until just cool, about 5 minutes.
- Spread the meringue in the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Let stand uncovered in a cool dry place until set, at least 2 hours.
- In a small bowl, stir together about 1 tablespoon superfine sugar with the food color powders of your choice. Use pink powder for bunny ears and tails and orange powder for chick feet and beaks. In a medium bowl, tint 1 1/3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut with yellow powder for chicks; leave the coconut white for bunnies. Adjust the intensity of the colors to your liking.
- When the marshmallow has set, sprinkle a work surface with 1 cup of the coconut; set aside the remainder in a bowl. Using a bunny or chick cookie cutter, cut out the marshmallow shapes as close together as possible. If the cutter gets too sticky, rinse it under hot water and shake off excess water; it doesn't have to be completely dry.
- With dry hands, press the ears, tails feet or beaks of the figures into the colored sugar; shake any excess sugar back into the bowl. Press the figures into the remaining coconut to coat completely. Set on a rack to dry for 2 to 3 hours.
The marshmallows will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Food color powders are available at cake decorating supply stores. Unsweetened shredded coconut is available at health food stores.