BOOK REVIEW – Sweets Made Simple
Here at Les Enfants, it is fair to say that we have a little bit of a sweet tooth. With all of our tempting sweetie table displays, and a constant supply of marshmallows and foam bananas on site, it is very hard not to.
When we came across ‘Sweets Made Simple’ by Miss Hope and Mr Greenwood we were a little dubious. Just how easy could making marshmallows and fudge actually be? Turns out, it is dangerously simple, and scarily addictive too. Loosen your belts ladies and gentleman. There is a sugar high on the horizon.
Miss Hope and Mr Greenwood were the fabulous hosts of popular TV show ‘Sweets Made Simple’, in which they introduced us to the notion of home made confectionary. This wonderful book goes along with the show, and takes you step by step through a range of great recipes.
The book begins with a range of very helpful tips. For example, when cooking toffee, fudge and nougat use a wooden spoon. “A plastic spatula will melt like the Wicked Witch of the West”. They also really advise you buy a sugar thermometer. These handy tools do not cost much at all, can be picked up on Amazon, and really are the right tool for the job.
The book is then divided into five delicious chapters – ‘Fudge, Caramel and Toffee’, ‘Chocolatey’, ‘Fruity’, ‘Nutty’ and finally ‘Chewy’. As a huge fan of fudge, Chapter One felt like a pretty perfect place to start. Let’s begin by saying I have never, ever made anything like fudge before and am by no means the next winner of Masterchef. I was ready for a sticky, messy kitchen.
I began with Peanut butter fudge. The recipe takes thirty minutes to make and involves a rather disgustingly delectable amount of caster sugar and evaporated milk. To very quickly summarize the recipe, the general vibe of things is to simply pop the sugar, milk, cream and butter into a heavy bottomed pan and VERY carefully boil until it hits a scorching 118C. See? We told you about needing a sugar thermometer.
After this you take the mixture off the heat and whisk, add the peanut butter and cool. It was, indeed remarkably easy, thus of course, paving the way for me to make Black Forest Fudge (incredible, best yet), Honey and Almond Fudge (tastes like Daim bar) and Gingerbread Latte fudge (the only one I killed by over heating).
The next chapter is ‘Chocolatey’. In my opinion good chocolate is much easier to find than great fudge. There is a co-op across the road and they are currently selling a fantastic Dairy Milk, popping candy and cola bottle bar. That will satisfy my cravings for now. But after that, I will be trying the book’s recipes for Limoncello Creams and Chill and Lime Kisses.
The following chapter is ‘Fruity’. In our household we have two camps – chocoholic and fruit dessert fan. I, fall firmly under the latter. This chapter had great promise. With recipes for goodies such as Strawberry and Cream Lollies, Pear and Ginger Coins and homemade Sherbet Dipper it was very hard to find where to start. Until I found the Raspberry Marshmallows.
These are now well known as my party piece. You really haven’t tried marshmallows until you have tried home made marshmallows. The squashy pink and white Haribo variety are one thing. These are little cushions of heaven. I know that sounds like I am exaggerating – but you haven’t eaten a whole tray of these sweets with two friends in one evening. They are magical…and very dangerous indeed.
The next chapter is ‘Nutty’. Now, although I am a vegetarian, there is something about a recipe for Maple Syrup, Pecan and Bacon Lollies which is very temptingly curious. I may have to make them for my other half.
Other gems in this chapter include a gorgeously easy recipe for Coconut Ice (one of my childhood favourites), Coffee Walnut Whips and Peanut Butter and Jelly Truffles. Through this great book, the recipes are wonderfully experimental, written with humour, and are simple to follow. And that is saying something when you are reading with one eye, and watching boiling sugar with the other.
The final chapter, ‘Chewy’ is filled with beautifully sticky recipes such as Unicorn Mallow Pops, Lemon and Blueberry Nougat and Sweet Sushi. As we speak, I am writing a shopping list for ingredients to make Rose and Pistachio Delight. Fingers crossed our local Sainsburies sells Rose Syrup. There isn’t a Waitrose for miles.
Author – Hannah Coates