Sweet and Mallow

So, marshmallows. Great for toasting over a campfire, dropping in hot chocolate and…….. and, ermmmm *scratches head*, not much else really. Step forward then, local company, ‘Pommallows‘ who have decided to give the humble marshmallow a bit of a facelift, by which I mean they cover them in chocolate and other yummy things – works for me!

With treats starting from 50p, for the surprisingly satisfying ‘Pomstick’, going up to £4 for a bag of 22 Poms, there’s something for everyone’s taste and pocket. The discerning buyer also gets to choose the chocolate and topping or, if like me, decision-making isn’t your strong point, you can opt for a lucky dip.

Admittedly, when my Pomstick arrived it had clearly suffered at the hands of (my long time nemesis) Royal Mail being, as it was, a smidgen squashed. Not to matter because it tasted great – the mini bonbons with the chocolate and the light fluffy centre made for a totally different type of sweet and kept me munching for a while and smiling for a great deal longer.

I’ll can definitely see me turning to this company again when I’m on the look out for a sweet pick-me-up or a kooky confectionary gift for a friend. If you fancy giving them a go, keep an eye out for them at local markets, check out the online store or have a chat with chef Kate on Twitter – they run regular competitions, so you may even be lucky enough to win a free sample!

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Easter cupcakes

Cupcakes seem to be the ‘in’ thing at the moment and, while I’ve never been a particularly avid follower of fashion, I don’t need much encouragement to make cakes. Last month I bought a load of cake decorating bits – food colouring, marzipan, coloured sprinkles, plain and coloured fondant icing – with the intention of expanding my decorating repertoire (which has never really got beyond basic buttercream) but inspiration had forsaken me until this week.

As it’s the Easter holidays, I’ve got a sweet-toothed, hollow-legged, fridge-bothering fiance at home as well as lots of friends and family dropping by, so it’s always handy to have something yummy to keep them all happy (Nigella, eat your heart out!).

I made a big batch of vanilla cupcakes and split them into three. The first batch I decided would be birds’ nests – a swirly topping of chocolate buttercream, a few Mini Eggs, the odd chocolate birdie and some chocolate sprinkles, et voila.

Next I thought I’d give the coloured fondant icing a bash. This stuff is a bit fiddly but practise makes perfect – lots of icing sugar on the work surface and rolling-pin, and a bit of patience is all that’s needed. I’d intended to make them all into Easter eggs, using Dr Oetker Writing Icing (who knew he lived in Leeds?!) but I got bored after three and decided to showcase my ‘artistic talent’. I’ll let you be the judge of if I managed to pull it off! Please note – I did drop the rabbit on the cooling rack so that’s why he’s a bit mangled (honest!).

Accepting that fondant icing maybe wasn’t where my talents lay, I went back to buttercream but decided to have another go at bunnies. Using green food colouring and a thin piping nozzle I made grass (that does look like grass, doesn’t it?). Colouring a small piece of marzipan orange (with red and yellow food colouring – like being back at primary school) I fashioned four carrots (with a tiny piece coloured green for the top). Then I used fondant icing sugar to make the rabbit tails and feet (they’re disappearing down a hole – can you not tell?), a bit of fondant icing coloured pink for the foot pads and a bit more writing icing for claws and there you have my marzipan carrot and fondant bunny cupcakes.

Not bad for a first time effort with no cook book or previous experience to refer to, even if I do say so myself.

I have to confess though, I did make two ‘special’ cakes which had a rather secret and special Eastery ingredient, added at the baking stage. Topped with vanilla buttercream, Haribo Fried Eggs and some green sprinkles, they look pretty normal from the outside.

But anything Heston Blumenthal can do, I can do better (well, not really, but you get the idea). Want to see what’s inside?

Yep, it’s a Cadbury’s Creme Egg. Well, if my Scottish brethren can fry the little beauties, I don’t see why I can’t put ’em in cakes. Actually, it worked quite well, they didn’t explode or leak and if you ignore the fact that they may actually be illegal due to OBSCENE calorie content, they’re pretty nice. I’m glad I only made two though. Sickly isn’t the word.