I’m a child of the 80s and just like 80s star Jason Donovan, I think there are too many broken hearts in the world – far too many. Unfortunately, I am also a hopeless romantic, something I like to keep on the down low because I like to pretend I’m cool as an iced mojito for 51 weeks of the year. On February 14th you’re unlikely to find me in a restaurant packed out with couples sitting elbow-to-elbow, but you may spot me in the kitchen baking my way into my Valentine’s heart. This year I was sadly without someone to make sweet nothings for, so I was very excited when I came across this rather exciting parcel swap.
Set up by the impressively organised Anna over at gorgeous blog skin&blister the concept behind the swap was simple: to send a Valentines gift the partner you were paired with would love and, if possible, to send something heartshaped. I’ve become a bit of a surprise parcel fan since joining foodie penpals so I signed up immediately and eagerly awaited my pairing.
In a strange twist of fate I was tasked with sending a parcel to a lady I sort of know because I used to work with her. I follow her blog Ohgoshem because I’m hooked on tales about her waggly tailed puppy, Flash. I immediately knew I wanted to send something to both her and Flash and set about researching the perfect foodie treats to put in their parcel. More about this later, first, take a look at the lovely parcel I received from Sabina at Sparkly Bird Blog.
Sabina tapped into my love of food and baking and sent some incredibly useful and thoughtful gifts: some stickers for labelling foodie gifts to others, heart-shaped cutters, a cake tester topped with a heart and some heart-shaped cup measurers. The last two gifts in particular got me excited because I can finally stop jumping to Delia’s bookmarked cup conversions and there’s now a chance my cakes won’t be full of knife marks. Thanks, Sabina!
Now, back to my gifts to OhGosh. I was told that Emma was a fan of rum and with the cold weather well and truly dragging out I decided to make her a parcel that was hopefully warming and heart-warming. Into it I popped: some homemade heart-shaped lavender shortbread, peanut butter and carob heart-shaped puppy treats for Flash and all the ingredients for Nigella Lawson’s alcoholic hot chocolate – including rum and homemade marshmallows. This was quite a time-intensive parcel to make but I wanted it to be extra special because Em’s boy was away on Valentines Day, so I tried to make a parcel that her and Flash could enjoy together on a cold February evening.
I created the peanut butter and carob cookie recipe myself by mashing a few recipes together and tweaking a little and will put it up on the blog shortly as apparently my parents’ dogs, Flash and Flash’s next-door neighbour have all given it their seal of approval. For the lavender shortbread I used the GoodFood vanilla shortbread recipe, substituting lavender essence. Here’s a few snaps of the production process:
Homemade lavender shortbread
I used this recipe for marshmallows, although I did substitute half calorie sugar as it was the only granulated sugar I had in the cupboard. I am pleased to report the results were little clouds of white loveliness and didn’t suffer for the switch. The marshmallow-making process was a little slow but I felt a touch of glee when the mixture started to fold into a big bowl of fluff.
I’m planning to make the marshmallows again soon but intend to switch up the flavour using some good quality strawberry jam. Pink fluff galore.
So, what would Mr Donovan think of all this? Well, there’s no evidence to suggest any of the hearts I sent were broken in two when they arrived – though the puppy ones at least seem to have been munched into obliteration. And the #heartswap products I received promise to be gifts that keeps on giving. There are too many broken hearts, people! So, heartswap, don’t heartbreak!