Simple s’mores cheesecake

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Marshmallow is one of my absolute favourite things to bake with. Not only is it a lot of fun to make, it takes so much less time, energy and skill than you might think – it’s actually really simple.

All you need is one fail-safe recipe for homemade marshmallow and all of a sudden you have a raft of options available to you – add vanilla bean, peppermint essence or freeze-dried fruit powders to the mix and you instantly have a real treat on your hands.

Need a good recipe for your recipe book? Then check out the marshmallow recipe I always use (just switch the peppermint for whatever you want) or check out this one from Warren Elwin on Bite – it’s egg-free and you only need three ingredients.

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Homemade Tunnock’s tea cakes

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There were a lot of foods I fell in love with on our adventures through the US and Europe –traditional donuts called ’kleinur’ in Iceland, buttery pain au chocolat in Paris and (of course) handmade macarons. But there was one treat I couldn’t stop myself coming back to over and over (and over) again – Tunnock’s tea cakes.

Yip, I fell in love with biscuits from a packet. We bought our first box in a little corner store in Inverary, Scotland and I proceeded to have a box on hand at all times as we journeyed to the Isle of Skye to the black Isle and back down to Ediburgh. I was a woman obsessed.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying a tea cake, they’re basically a hyper-fluffy mallowpuff. The marshmallow is the main difference – in a tea cake it’s light, puffed with air and creamy rather than set like a mallowpuff. The biscuit base is crumbly with just the right amount of crunch and, of course, they’re coated in chocolate. YUM.

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Five Favourite: Christmas Baking Recipes

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Guess what? There’s less than a month left till Christmas!

That fact will do one of two things – leave you bursting with excitement that the festive season is almost here or fill you with dread as your mind leaps to the dozens of things you need to tick off the list before then.

Whichever type of person you are, this post is here to help. I’m a firm believer that home baked treats make perfect Christmas gifts – after all, who doesn’t love unbundling a parcel to discover delicious treats? But the trick with Christmas baking is to be organised and get onto it before the madness of December really sets in – yip, that means now!

Luckily there are lots of delicious treats that not only make great gifts, but are quick to prepare and can be stored without any problems – here are five of my favourite Christmas baking ideas to get you started…

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Raspberry-crusted homemade marshmallow

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Last year I was BIG into making marshmallow – every couple of weeks I’d make another batch, carefully choosing a new flavour to experiment with each time. Because let’s be honest, there’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into a beautiful piece of fluffy homemade marshmallow – it’s an absolute dream.

Then we got married and I decided that making 1,000 (yip, that’s one thousand) pieces of marshmallow to bundle up as favours would be absolutely no problem. The week of our wedding I spent two days trapped in a stinking hot kitchen preparing, pouring, cutting and dusting hundreds and hundreds of pieces of marshmallow. And it did my head in.

Yet when I saw it all packed up into little doily-stamped bags tied with ribbon I almost forgot what a pain they’d been to make – after all, they looked beautiful and people loved them. But even still, that was the last time I made homemade marshmallow – I declared to Kevin as we munched through some on our honeymoon that it would need to be some rather special marshmallow before I did that again.

Now almost ten months’ on, I’ve found that special marshmallow… berry-crusted vanilla bean marshmallow. And it’s delicious. Think light, fluffy vanilla marshmallow that puffs away to the bite coated on one side with crushed freeze-dried raspberries. Yum, huh?

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S’mores Slice

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I don’t if it’s a Kiwi thing or just a family thing, but growing up S’mores didn’t feature in the list of treats to make – in fact it wasn’t until reading The Babysitters Club (quality 90s reading there!) that I even heard that they existed.

But despite this I definitely have an appreciation for the classic S’more. It’s not surprising really – anything that teams together marshmallow and chocolate is a winner in my books! But without a fireplace or regular camping trips S’more still don’t make much of an appearance in my life.

Then last week I spotted this pin while trawling Pinterest and knew I just had to give it a go – it just looked incredible! Why make S’mores one by one when you can make S’mores slice?

The trouble with the original recipe is that – as you would expect – it’s very American. While I could have popped out to the American store and bought the ingredients I (a) didn’t feel like making the trek and (b) couldn’t bear the thought of paying through the nose for the required graham crackers and corn syrup. So I decided to take a Kiwi twist on the recipe and adapt it to be made from classic Kiwi ingredients.

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Vanilla marshmallow with chocolate pieces

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If you follow my blog regularly you’ll already know this – I adore marshmallow. Now, I’m not talking about the kind you buy in bags at the supermarket; I mean real melt-in-your mouth, puffy, homemade marshmallows.

If you haven’t tried them, you absolutely must – they’re so dissimilar to the store bought variety you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re something different altogether. While you can buy marshmallow with these beautiful homemade qualities at specialty stores, you should definitely try making your own – they’re so much easier than you’d think!

For some reason the idea of making marshmallow seems to intimidate a lot of people – maybe it’s the boiling sugar? Anyway, the great news is marshmallow making can be as simple or as complex as you like – it all depends on what you want. So today I thought I’d share the perfect marshmallow for beginners – fluffy vanilla marshmallow with chocolate flecks.

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Marshmallow balls

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Children’s birthdays always seem a bit more exciting than grown-up birthdays – I think it has something to do with the way we celebrate. When you’re little you have all your friends over for a party, play some games and are treated to fairy bread and other delicious treats. But when you get older, birthdays seem to ‘creep up’ on people and rather than celebrating, they worry about the extra number added to their age and have much less of a fuss.

I don’t subscribe to that – I think birthdays are absolutely wonderful, regardless of how old you are. Kevin and I usually celebrate our birthdays by having a few friends over for dinner or to one of our favourite cheap and cheerful restaurants for dinner.  While it may not be acceptable to whip out a round of pin the tail on the donkey partway through these more grown up celebrations, you can easily add a bit of childlike excitement to the party by having some childhood treats on hand.

Each year without fail my Mum would make marshmallow balls for my brother and my birthday parties. They’re a treat I vividly remember from every one of my birthday parties – I loved the marshmallow surprise hidden inside the biscuity exterior, and always tried to guess which colour marshmallow would be waiting inside (I was always hoping for pink).

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Marshmallow slice

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Marshmallow is one of my very favourite things – real marshmallow, not the kind you buy in a bag in the lolly aisle of the supermarket. There’s something about the softness, texture and melt-in-your-mouth nature of it that takes me straight to my happy place.

But while Kevin likes homemade marshmallow, he’s not such a big fan – he’d much rather I made something ‘more substantial’ like biscuits, cupcakes or a slice… basically something that will fill the gap in the gaping hole he calls a stomach.

Marshmallow slice is the perfect compromise for us – he gets a stomach filling slice, while I get a thick layer of spongy marshmallow; win-win! In my mind marshmallow slice isn’t marshmallow slice unless it’s a pretty shade of pink – there’s something about it that screams happiness and fills me with nostalgia for weekend visits to the bakery for a treat. Finish the slice with a layer of hundreds and thousands and you’ve got something pretty magical on your hands.

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