Sunday, 16 September 2012

Homemade Marshmallows

Marshmallows are a currency in our house.  Far be it from me to fib about bribing my child with sugar-filled products in order to get her to co-operate.  She knows the tariff for various activities like not messing around at the tea table (grapes and blueberries for pudding), tidying up (two bedtime stories instead of one) and probably the worst bribe of all, a marshmallow if she has her hair brushed.

Depending on her mood, hair brushing is somewhere on the scale between tedious and an all out nervous breakdown from the perspective of her parents.  Some days, we can get away with telling her she'll look beautiful like Lizzie (her favourite nursery nurse) and her hair is done without too much fuss.  Other days, one of her toys or one of the dogs will do her hair - she believes absolutely that inanimate objects and beings without opposable thumbs are capable of wielding a hairbrush, clips and bobbles - and the unlucky parent just about manages to get through the ordeal without reaching for something alcoholic.

So near, but yet so far...
On rare occasions, however, we do have to resort to all out bribery.  This usually happens when we've got somewhere to go and not much slippage in the itinerary for getting out of the door.  Bargaining starts before breakfast with the usual promises of 'beautiful Lizzie hair' or a list of animals or wooden jigsaw dinosaurs that she might like to have do her hair, but it's like she has a sixth sense that time is tight and she has a melt down at the mere thought of having her hair done.

I let her brush my hair and put conditioner in it.  This still doesn't persuade her to have her own done.  She sits rigidly with her head against the back of a chair and refuses to move, tears and snot coursing down her face.  A pile of unsuitable animals build up on the floor.  She doesn't want to look like any of her nursery teachers or her best friend Charlotte.  I threaten to have her hair cut off so she looks like a boy (which is what my mum did to me when I was small because I used to do this - and my hair is a hundred times worse to tame than Miss A's).  Even this doesn't work.  And her hair is so cute when it's done that I can't bring myself to follow through on the cutting threat.

And so I offer up a 'Marshie'.  And not just any marshie, but a pink marshie.  The snot covered child crawls onto my lap, smearing my top with snot (I've learned not to get myself ready to go out until the hair battle is over) and she reluctantly lets me tame her Cheerio and milk encrusted hair into bunches or a pony tail.  Eyes dry, we head into the kitchen to find the marshie pot.

So today's recipe of choice came about when I read about one of my fellow blogger's joy at being able to make her own marshmallows.  The recipe comes from the Eat Like a Girl blog and I knew that I just had to give it a go.  With a huge pile of 'marshie' you can even make your own shapes as Nelly of Nelly's Cupcakes did - melting a snowman into her hot chocolate.  What a fab, wintry idea.

Niamh gives you some of the science behind the actual marshmallow recipe.  Basically, marshmallows contain Italian meringue with some gelatine and flavouring thrown in.  The only downside to the recipe is that it's more descriptive than exact science and this meant that I had a bit of a disaster.  When whipping the meringue with the gelatine, the instruction is to "...continue to whisk until the marshmallow mixture holds its shape. Don’t over whisk or your marshmallow will lose fluffiness".  I was a bit worried about over whisking and consequently stopped whipping too early.  All looked well in the tray and it set well but sadly, the gelatine separated out.

The top bit tasted lovely although it was a little too wobbly - because it lacked the full amount of gelatine.  I then re-read Nelly's post and remembered she'd pointed out the length of time you need to whip it for.  Ah well.  Whilst Miss A announced that the top bit was "'licious" she decided the bottom "cheese bit is stinky winky" so it went in the bin.  But I'll try again another time when I have the house to myself and can put the mixer on for more than five seconds.

You can find the original recipe here.

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