Thursday, September 13, 2012

5th Birthday Goodie Bags {and My Go-To Meringue Recipe}

I thought I'd revisit my meringue post from the archives, since I made a batch for Nelle's post-birthday-party 'goodie bags' yesterday. Do American kids these days do party bags? I can't remember them from my own childhood ... but that's not saying much. My memory ain't what it used to be. {Thanks, child ... }


Australian birthday parties usually involve goodie bags. Take-aways for the kids involving craft stuff, stickers, pencils, candy, and more candy. Things they love.

And, in Nelle's case, things I usually rush her past at the supermarket. Please don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against candy-and-plastic-filled party bags. I don't mean to be offensive, or unappreciative. She adores that stuff. But I don't typically buy refined sugars for home ... so I didn't want to do so just for my kid's party.

Maybe I put together the lamest goodie bag ever. That's ok. I'm already mentally prepared to be 'lame mamma' in my child's social circles. The paranoid, label-deconstructing mother running around with handmade hand santizer and stuff. I blame it on cancer

{And, in fact, please blame all my crazinesses on cancer. Ha! Don't you wish you could?}

What was in Nelle's goodie bags?
- a homemade meringue with organic rose petals {recipe below}
- an organic fruit lollypop
- 4 paper airplane templates from a 2010 paper airplane calendar*
- a Foodie ABC magnet and postcard**
- plus I printed a colourable design on the front of the bag

* I told you it was lame. But we love these airplanes! So there.

** And yes. I used some of my own products for the bags. But hey, I designed them for kids. These bags were for kids. And 1+1 = 2. Right?

And {because of? despite? my attempt at eco-happy goodie bags}, Nelle-Belle had a super-great 5th birthday! 

Thanks to everyone who shared it with us!
Amanda xx

Basic Meringue
makes 12

There's something about meringues that gets me. Maybe it's how they come together like that chemistry experiment I wish I'd learned in high school. {We made soap instead. Ick.} Or how their flavour perfectly suits tangy passionfruit and creamy Greek yogurt. Or how you bite into them like air ... only to find a satisfying chewiness in the centre.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm ....

The time
20 min prep + 45 min baking + 30 min cooling

The ingredients
4 organic eggwhites*, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp red or white wine vinegar
a sprinkling of organic rose petals {optional}

the pulp of 3 passionfruits, to serve
a large tub of Greek or honey yogurt, to serve

*Save your egg yolks for cookies or ice cream or omelettes or fried rice!

**Try to use organic ingredients when you can - especially for the eggs. The vanilla and vinegar you can actually make yourself!

The process
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (360F). Line a baking tray with paper.

2. Making meringues is all about the process. A lot of people get stressed out by meringues or pavlovas - and you don't have to. Honestly, I'm not the most precise of cooks ... and I've only ever had one meringue not turn out. And that one just wasn't pretty. I crumpled it up and made it into a parfait and it tasted great. So have no fear ... this is simpler than you imagine! (Delia Smith has lovely photos of some of the key steps here)

3. Place your eggwhites into a large bowl, making sure there's no yolk. Use a hand mixer to start whisking them - then, when they become shiny and form stiff little peaks, begin adding the sugar. Slowly! Just a couple Tbs at a time ... you don't have to measure, just pour in and keep whisking little by little. When you've mixed in all the sugar, keep whisking for another couple of minutes until the meringue mix is thick and makes nice sturdy peaks.

4. Now, use a spoon to gently mix the vanilla and vinegar into your meringue.

5. Dollop the meringue onto your baking sheet in little mounds. Try to make ~12 mounds of about the same size (or you can make one big one, if you prefer). Sprinkle with rose petals, if using. Put your tray into the oven, and immediately turn the heat down to 120C (240F) and cook for ~45-50 minutes, or until they're golden and the outsides are crispy. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside to cool. (If you're patient enough ... I've taken them out and they've been fine)

6. When they're cool, serve with your favourite fruit - like passionfruit or raspberries - and your favourite cream or yogurt. If they aren't pretty? Crumble them up and serve them parfait-style.

The cost
My organic meringues cost me only about $0.50 each, fully dressed. I made my own vanilla extract and vinegar, and the passionfruits {from the original recipe} came from a friend's garden. I bought the rosepetals online.

Go on. Get yourself some eggwhites and whisk.


Zara said... [Reply to comment]

I would have loved receiving one of these goodie bags.
You have put some thought into them and I'm sure the other parents will appreciate that they weren't just filled with sugar.
Good job.

Erika said... [Reply to comment]

I think you put together an awesome goodie bag! I would have loved all those things when I was five - still would, actually, and I'm 35 :)
Happy Belated Birthday to Nelle!

p.s. Her birthday cake looks lovely too.

Renee Treml said... [Reply to comment]

You are kidding me, right?!? The little princess is five already? (Her prince sends love and hugs and great regret for missing "Happy Birthday Cake.")

Your goodie bags are gorgeous -- I say 'yes please' to setting a new trend in birthday goodness.

Homeschool said... [Reply to comment]

I give you A+ for effort. I am from Perth originally but live in Connecticut. We didn't do goodie bags growing up but then again actual birthday parties were a rare event. Goodie bags are big here in CT but in my group of friends we usually buy something useful like swimming goggles or a lego set as the take home present. The kids don't need more sugar... I haven't made meringues in a while so I think I am going to try your recipe! Yum!

Amanda @ Easy Peasy Organic said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you all, lovelies!
@Renee - we missed Prince Calvin ... but he's not allowed to make his move for another 14 years anyway ...

@Homeschool - love the goggles/lego idea! I also toyed with doing adult goodie bags ... ;)

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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx

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