Friday, 25 May 2007

Millionaire's Shortbread (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free)

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:
  • 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.
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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Lee said...

That's wonderful news! There's nothing quite like hearing that your children are healthy!!!

Lizzie said...

So glad the news was good, pig.
How long have you been in France BTW?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Lee, yes, a huge relief!

Lizzie, we have been in France since last August...still not unpacked all the boxes!

lady macleod said...

Huzzah!! "Perfectly normal", two very small words that can make the day of any parent. I am so happy for you both. I love good news! Thank you for sharing.

Drunk Mummy said...

Great news Pig!
Time to crack open something fizzy to celebrate (or maybe a dessert wine to go with the delicious shortbread)

muddyboots said...

great news! copying todays recipe if l may? what do they call it up here - rich man's short bread.

Jess Poskozim said...

Wonderful! Don't you love seeing those valves work just the way they're supposed to? I love that part of the ultrasound. It's magical.

Stay at home dad said...

Oh great news Pig. Hope you are giving the piglet extra milk in celebration.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Hurrah for the littlest piglet.

I would've been tempted to punhc doctor no2.

Muddyboots, I've heard it called 'millionaire's shortbread' before.

Andres Carl Sena said...

my wife really went through an ordeal with first childbirth and with our second on the way- mid july due date, the baby's hear rate is a bit slow so at each check-up my wife has to strap on the ol' monitor and lay on the table for twenty minutes. flash backs from the first childbirth run through her mind and its difficult to keep her stress free. thanks for sharing

beta mum said...

Great news... it's awful having worry hanging over you, especially when it's about the babes.

dulwichmum said...

What wonderful news. How very stressful it has been for you.

debio said...

I'm so pleased for you - what relief.....

Marianne said...

I sometimes think they over-test in pregnancy now. I spent most of my third pregnancy with '? Down's Syndrome' in my notes. Not a nice place to be, but I had ruled out an amnio for a number of reasons I won't go into here, so perfectly normal certainly resonates with me. As if we don't have enough to worry about.

Glad it was OK in the end for you. Didn't realise you were in France. Are you enjoying it? Perhaps you could do a Wife in France blog about it!

Brom said...

That brightened up a very gloomy morning.

Have you discovered Kinnerton chocolate?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Lady M, Huzzah indeed! I'm still smiling!

Drunk Mummy, I must start stocking up on your alcohol recommendations so that I have plenty in for occasions such as this. Cheers!

Muddyboots, yes, copy away by all means, do you mean to say it's not called 'Heart Murmur Shortbread'?! I've heard Millionaire's shortbread too...although I might be tempted to eat something a bit more lavish if i were in fact a millionaire, but still...
Let me know how the cakes sell won't you?! (by email if you get terrible feedback!!!)

Jess, thanks for stopping by, I've never seen the valves work as clearly as I did this time, it was soo reassuring!

SAHD, the piglet got extra milk and lots of cuddles and kisses! To which she responded, 'go 'way Mummy'. Bless her.

M&M, yes, could feel a bit fed up with all the worry, but I think there was a genuine explanation for why the first doc referred me to the 2nd doc. I don't care anymore though!

Andres, hello and thanks for dropping by. Sorry to hear about your wife's problems...I spent a large part of pregnancy number 2 strapped to machines, it's really, really stressful. Fingers crossed for you allx

Beta Mum, yes, nothing like problems with the little ones to bring out the grey hairs, and from what I'm told, the teenage ones bring out even more grey hairs, I may just dye it now and be done with it.

Dulwich Mum, bless you, feeling very relieved!

Hello Debio, thank-you!

Marianne, I also think that there can be too much testing in pregnancy, but then when they DO pick up the problems and they're right I feel very relieved. All a bit confusing. The Down's Syndrome thing must have been hard, I've heard of that happening before. I'm enjoying France most of the time, I don't enjoy pranging my car often because French streets are not made for big buses, and I don't enjoy being patronised and treated like an idiot when i stumble over my words, but I do enjoy the French wine. Don't think I could manage another blog, this one exhausts me!

Hello Brom, glad to be the bearer of good news...and I'm about to google Kinnerton chocolate! Thanks for the tip

Janine said...

We've had heart murmurs and holes in hearts here too. Its quite scary when you hear the doctor tell you your child has a hole in its heart but funnily ours were never a problem. My first had no problems, my second had a heart murmur (found at 18 months) my third had a hole and a murmur (which closed slowly over a year) and my fourth had a hole and a murmur (the hole closed after 3 days) but the hole in his heart was the least of his problems.

I have to say again I love this blog, I love how you put things, you always make me smile.

This shortbread will save my sanity over Easter too, Thank you for that xxx :)

Anonymous said...

I've been making these for the past 2 plus years and even my gluten tolerant friends ask me to make another batch! they are a godsend.
you're blog has saved our family and brought oodles of pleasure. cheers!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Anonymous, You know I'm always so astounded that people take the time to leave lovely comments and it's brilliant to know that the recipes are being used.

I may even have to make a batch of these myself after that glowing recommendation!
Thanks so much,
Pig x