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Warning: Mushy content.

This year, like every year since the boys were 5, both sons (now 9 and 10) came home with full lists of their classmates’ names – basically a command from their teachers that they write out noncommittal, non-anonymous Valentine’s Day notes, attach the compulsory Hershey’s kisses to them, and dispatch to all in their classroom – boy, girl or the disinterested (that’d be my offspring).

I was resigned to sending them to school today with at least some chocolates to distribute, but no hypocritical cards that will speedily share the fate of banana peels and other detritus in the nearest bin. But as it turned out, the boys had no interest in the former idea (what? Give away precious chocolates?!) and certainly none in the latter. So (gulp), they clambered aboard the bus with zilch to show for the saint this day is named for.

What’s your take on this forced romance in elementary schools, which parents and teachers alike will desperately try to unwind in high school?

Now, on to the really sweet stuff.

Why give your honey chocolate when you can present handcut, homemade, palest pink strawberry marshmallows?

Alright, maybe the former is a whole lot less trouble, but I enjoyed working with these squidgy things, and they’ve even starred as the icing on cake (see cupcake photos).

For motivation, check out the minimalist list of what’s needed, against what goes into storebought marshmallows.

And then, there is the taste of the homemade product. Melt-in-the-mouth dreamy.

More mushy photos in the slideshow.

The process of making them is magical, magnified by the clouds of sugar dust you’ll raise.

Enjoy. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

(Recipe adapted, tweaked and expanded from one of Rachel Allen’s, found here)

  • castor sugar, 500g (just under 2 1/2 cups)
  • egg whites, 2
  • gelatine, 3 packets
  • strawberries, 1 lb (about 16 of them)
  1. Prepare your cake tin. I used a 9 by 9 inch pan, lined with parchment and spritzed with some Pam spray, then dusted with icing sugar
  2. Open those gelatine packets and leave them in a bowl to rest, with about 1/4 cup of water
  3. Chop up strawberries and bung them in a saucepan with 2 tbsp of sugar and cook them down to a puree, mashing them occasionally with a potato masher. Squeeze the puree through a sieve and keep aside
  4. In another pan, cook the sugar with 1 cup of water, over moderate heat, till it hits 125C on a candy thermometer  (that’s well above the boiling point of water, be careful)
  5. Add your fruit puree, and softened gelatine, to this sugar mixture very, very carefully – it will sputter. Keep kids at bay
  6. In your food mixer bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks, then add sugar/fruit syrup into the mixing bowl with the peaky egg whites and continue mixing till the thermometer says the thing’s cooled to about 40C (that’s the outside temperature near the Sea of Galilee in August!)
  7. Turn over the mixture into your ready cake tin, dust with icing sugar and leave to cool, maybe overnight or for a few hours
  8. Cut them as you wish and roll in icing. Store in an airtight container.