I feel a bit funny about ultrasound scans in pregnancy. With my first pregnancy I had a scan at 5 weeks. This tiny blob actually had a heartbeat! It was surreal. I couldn’t wait for the next one at 20 weeks, and grinned away happily at the screen, understanding almost nothing of the technology, just pleased to see that the baby only had one head and was waving the requisite number of limbs.
After being scanned almost to death during a complicated second pregnancy, I no longer associated the warm jelly and darkened room with delight and happiness. At the final decisive scan the tight-lipped radiographer would say nothing. It was left to the young Doctor to gently tell my sobbing self that really it was going to be fine, this baby isn’t that small, a bit petite that’s all, try not to worry, we’re just being cautious. This Doctor, still seated a metre from me, then reached for her phone, called her colleague and said,
‘Jim? Hi, we’ve got a REALLY small baby here, we need to get it out fast. Yeh, it’s WAY off the bottom of the scale, yep, yep, tiny, can you do it tomorrow?’ Maybe Doctors really do think that women go mad in pregnancy, and also lose their ability to hear at close range?
By baby number 3 they were still all over me with the scanner, it was getting a bit boring, and I wasn't sure I liked my baby being examined quite so often. At least this Health Authority would tell me the sex. I used to play 'test the radiographer', ‘would you mind telling me the sex?’ When the fourth one had said, 'Look, there's the penis and here are the testicles', I thought it might be an idea to start buying some blue babygros.
The other day I took my littlest girl to see the Cardiologist. As he lay her down on the bed, produced some warm jelly and dimmed the lights, I was not feeling too chipper. Yet as I watched the valves in my girl’s heart work in a perfectly normal way, I did produce a rather large grin.
Open shut open shut open shut open shut. All open perfectly shut normal.
There was some explanation in French medical speak as to why the other doctor had heard a heart murmur, but I just nodded and smiled and didn’t listen to a word of it.
Open shut open shut all perfectly normal.
So I came home and baked these by way of a celebration.
Heart Murmur Shortbread
For the base:
150g rice flour
25g maize flour
130g dairy-free spread (here's one)
70g caster sugar
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (here's one)
For the squidgy bit:
100g dairy-free spread
100g unrefined sugar or brown sugar
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1tbsp rice milk mixed with 1 tsp cornflour
For the chocolatey bit:
100g dark chocolate (dairy-free, gluten-free, here's one)
- Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C. Line a 20x20cm tin with baking parchment
- Put the rice and maize flour into a large mixing bowl, add the xanthan gum and the sugar
- Add the dairy-free spread to the bowl and rub it into the flour. It will not resemble fine breadcrumbs, more sort of chunks of sugary flour-covered fat. Keep going until it's as mixed in as it will go and then squidge it all together to form a dough.
- Roll the dough out a little to get it as close to the size of the tin as you can and then lift the dough into the tin. Press it to the edges and use the back of a metal spoon to smooth it all off. Try to get it as even as possible, it will be quite a thin layer.
- Prick the base with a fork (to prevent it rising up when you cook it) and place in the oven for about 12 minutes until it is golden brown. When it is cooked, remove and leave to cool. You could make this part up to 24 hours ahead if you wish
- In a medium-sized saucepan melt the 100g dairy-free spread and add the sugar. Boil it gently, stirring all the time, for about 5 minutes. You want to try and get it as thick and syrupy as you can.
- Add the 1/8 of a teaspoon of xanthan gum and stir vigorously. If it makes little lumps, don't panic, use a mini whisk and whisk for dear life until the lumps have gone
- Add the rice milk and cornflour and keep stirring. Bubble for about 4 more minutes, stirring all the time, it should be thick and quite gooey
- Pour the gloop over the biscuit base, spread it evenly and leave to cool
- When all of the above is cool, melt the chocolate. You can do this either in the microwave on medium heat in a heatproof bowl (stir every 40 seconds) or in a small saucepan over a gentle heat
- Pour the melted chocolate over the biscuit and squidgey stuff and leave to cool in the fridge
- NOTE! Cut the shortbread into rectangles before the chocolate is completely set, otherwise the chocolate with crack when you try and slice it all up and your perfect creation will be ruined.