The Friday Morning Jelly Explosion, or ‘How to make edible zombie brains’

‘Tis the season…for Drama Club to do an assembly. A zombie assembly.

Let me explain: last Summer, Drama Club made a zombie film, written and directed by one of my sixth formers, and, despite me then painting their faces to look like zombies on Open Day, when we showed the film (and when parents and prospective parents also come have a look-see what we’re up to), we were asked to do an assembly on it for the new 1st years, whom hasn’t seen it.

Surprisingly enough, I’d never done an assembly before, but I made sure this one would be brilliant. No pressure. So, come the Friday, Drama Club (having practised the night before) were in early to have their makeup done, and I, as their zombie tutor/wrangler, covered myself in bubble wrap (to protect against the biting, you see) and a hard hat ( to stop them eating my brains, you see) and goggles (because I had them and they’re cool), and I brought my extendable rubber carpet broom with me from home to prod my zombies in the right direction once we got to assembly. The idea was that we entered assembly ‘late’, as a new form: 2Z (one guess what the ‘Z’ stands for there) and I mocked up a register folder like our regular ones for authenticity (also useful for letting Reception know whether they were in or not later on). I apologised for our lateness, and then prodded my zombie class up to their seats at the back of the lecture theatre, and made a point of trying to stop them eating any first year brains.

As the first year hadn’t a clue what was happening, this was very effective (although, fear not: I had briefed their form tutors beforehand in case if squeamishness) and there was lots of squealing. Once they were seated, we showed the presentation, a history of Drama Club that, we explained, had had to be hastily rewritten as an explanation of 2Z’s condition (every slide morphed into a blood-graffiti’d version of itself before going onto the next). 2Z death-rattled in approval at appropriate moments. We then showed the film, and then turned the assembly about film-making into one about raising money for Zombies in Need (which still showed film-making skills, as the ‘charity’ video the 6th form director knocked up using footage and bloopers was excellent and a perfect parody, down to the Coldplay soundtrack and image of pathos-inducing puppy-eyed zombie at the end – this kid has a great film-making future ahead of him and is available for work experience and internships, by the way).

The assembly was then ‘interrupted’ by the ‘scientists’ from the film bursting in, claiming they’d found a cure. This was all too much for the until-now well- behaved zombies, who chased the Scientists out of the lecture theatre with a cry of “Braaaainnnnns!”, leaving the 1st year with the punchline of the assembly on the board: ‘Join Drama Club: we want your brains!’

This all went excellently, and was remarked upon by several
Parents at the 1st year parents evening a week later, whom had heard all about it from their kids, still apparently discussing it at the end if the day. And why? Why did it work, and why was it so apparently memorable?

The answer is, of course, BRAINS. In bags, ready for the feeding of any hungry little zombies, and swinging from the end if my broom handle as a kind of unholy ‘carrot on a stick’ bribe to get zombies to follow you. And then, of course, brains you *just happen* to find in your pocket in your next lesson and freak out your 4th years with. 🙂

To make your own fantastically disgusting yet entirely edible brains for your next zombie ‘do, follow these instructions.

You will need:
round/oval shallow pie or baking dishes (I happened to have these)
blancmange mix * (or use the recipe here)
raspberry or strawberry jelly cubes
pink and white marshmallows
strawberry sauce
clear sandwich bags (mine were the cheap, frosted-looking ones instead of perfectly clear, which I thought actually worked better as it was harder to see exactly what was in them…)

PART 1: COOKING UP SOME BRAINS:

*NOTE: I actually found two methods of making brains. If you want more realistically-coloured ones, go with the blancmange, otherwise skip it and do steps 2) and step 4)

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Equipment

1) First thing to do is to make the blancmange according to the instructions. When it has thickened, leave it to cool a little, then pour it into the moulds you have chosen (here, my shallow pie dishes), after you have rinsed them with very cold water.

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Blancmange. It’s thick.
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Already looking a bit ‘brainy’…

2) Next, put together a bain-marie (a saucepan of boiling water with a cooking bowl suspended on top. It’s very important you don’t let the bowl slip around or you’ll end up getting water into the mix, especially when the water boils and bubbles over. That’s what happened with mine, but next time I used some spoons to create space between the pot and the bowl to let out the steam and avoid watery interference…)

In the bain-marie, put the chopped-up jelly squares and marshmallows, halved so that they melt better.

The idea is not to entirely melt these ingredients to a liquid, but to make a lumpy liquid with them that is very viscous. The jelly will melt more than the marshmallow. NB: Normally, when you make a jelly you add water to make it less concentrated and more wobbly. Here, you want a very stiff jelly, so add no water at all.

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Melting marshmallow and jelly in the bain-marie
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Melty, but not completely melty.

3) Now, take spoonfulls of the melted jelly-marshmallow-mix and fold it into the cooling blancmange before it sets. This will now create a lumpy, brainy, veiny-looking effect when the ‘brains’ have set and come out of the mould.

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The blancmange on the left has been brainified with the jelly-marshmallow-mix

4) I now found I had some melted jelly leftover, so poured what was left into another mould – this time just a round peanut dish (I have no idea how these things end up in my kitchen, seriously).

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Leftovers….mmmmmmm……

I took the rest of the marshmallows and pulled them gently apart with my fingers, shredding them a little to make a frankly unpleasant-looking tumour-like object (sorry about that imagery). These went into the jelly before it set. You can pretty much see the immediate effect of this combination in the picture below:

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Shred that marshmallow!

In the end, I was left with three brain-like moulds that then went in the fridge overnight.

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BRAIIINNNNNSSSSSS

PART 2: BRAIN PREPARATION

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Brain organisation

Popping the brains out of their moulds and onto plates, you can see the veiny, brainy substances they have become. The jelly-only mix (below) also works out disgustingly well:

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Some very hard jelly.

Next , I portioned out the brains, cutting them in half roughly or with my fingers, and dropped them into the sandwich bags, where the frosted quality of the plastic made them look shockingly realistic. To add to the authenticity, a dribble of red strawberry sauce (blood) in the package completed the horrific picture.

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Baggage.
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Not the average contents of a teacher’s handbag.

I kept the hard-jelly brains for throwing across the Lecture Theatre – tossing them to hungry zombie pupils – as they wouldn’t split and splatter everywhere.

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Jelly brains
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Aftermath. With brains, there is washing-up.
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To be honest, I couldn’t stop staring at them.

Yum.

Do let me know whether or not you try your own, and post pictures if you can!

ZOMBIES UNITE.

If you liked that, try out my new recipe for making human guts!

Brains-on-a-stick just swinging into view...
Brains-on-a-stick just swinging into view…
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