Lemon Mallow Slice – Marshmallow Fail

Yesterday I mentioned I was going to tell you all about why I didn’t post on friday. Well, this happened:

Since it was my birthday last saturday and we were having a picnic, I decided rather than cake that what I wanted was my Nanna’s Lemon Mallow Slice, and the disaster that is the photo above happened. It wasn’t meant to turn out like that, really it wasn’t, but that photo is proof of what happens when you do not follow you’re grandmother’s recipe, no matter how odd, or in my case, short, it may seem.

I’ve made this recipe many times, usually with the help of my mum, and it is one of my childhood favourites, so you’d think by now that I would know better, but no.

See, all seemed fine at first. The recipe was doubled, no problem there. The biscuit base turned out a little sticky and was hard to smoosh out in the tin, but it baked well, even if there wasn’t a temperature mentioned or a length of time it needed to be in the oven.

The lemon filling worked brilliantly, and is lovely in the thick layer that resulted from doubling the recipe. The problem occurred when the marshmallow topping was read.

My Nanna’s recipes are short, to the point, and more a reminder to herself of what to do than actually being a set of instructions for someone else to follow. Her recipes usually contain the ingredients and amounts and a very basic method. This shouldn’t be surprising to me, for my nanna cooked by sight, with a ‘that’s about right’ approach to cooking, and both my mum and I do the same thing. We tend to ‘feel’ the amounts and usually everything works out. Not this time.

This time the marshmallow topping instructions were looked at, and were puzzled over, because frankly, it seemed to simple. I mean, dissolve, let cool and whip was just too easy. So another marshmallow recipe, another one from my childhood, was pulled out and followed.

Big mistake. Big BIG mistake.

The sugar/gelatine mix was put on the stove and boiled. I mean, that’s what the recipe said to do, so that’s what was done. It was taken off the stove, let cool and then poured into the mixer. Only, nothing happened. The sugar mix sat in the mixer while the whisk went round and round. It got whiter, but didn’t grow in size like it was supposed to, even the addition of lemon juice and yellow food colouring did nothing to help matters. What resulted, when it was given up for dead, was the image at the top. Edible, yellow rubber. It tasted lovely, if you like lemon rubber. But it was not marshmallow.

So, wanting marshmallow, my nanna’s recipe was approached with far more respect. It was followed exactly, and it worked. Perfectly.

And once left overnight, it was cut up the next day and packaged, all ready to go. And you know what? It was perfect and exactly as I remembered.

Of course there’s a lesson in all of this. It reminded me that I should never ever go against my nanna’s recipes, no matter how short, or strange they seem. She had a reason for what she did, even if it was never written down, and having lived in the country for many years she was bound to develop her own method. I am just grateful to have pieces of her, to be able to remember her and make her recipes, the ones I grew up with when I need a slice of my nanna.

Has something like this happened to you? Do tell!

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