Book Review: A Year in Nature by Hazel Maskell

The changing of the seasons is something we all look forward to and dread in equal measure. I’m not wildly mad about winter, but I can’t resist a nice crisp autumn day. The seasons are something we talk about a lot with our son and I imagine we are not alone in that. On walks to school and to the park we chat about the changes in the trees, the wildlife we see and the signs of the changing seasons.

We were sent a copy of A Year in Nature by Hazel Maskell. It’s a carousel book of the seasons, I didn’t really know what that meant until I opened it up. It’s a kind of pop up book where you open it up so the front and back cover are touching each other (you can tie the covers together with the attached ribbon), and you stand the book up and it shows the four seasons in glorious pop up detail.

Book Review: A Year in Nature by Hazel Maskell

Written by Helen Maskell and illustrated by Eleanor Taylor, A Year in Nature is a truly beautiful introduction to the seasons; follow a family of foxes through the year, watching the cubs grow and thrive as the seasons change around them.

Each page is heaving with detail, with counting and spotting activities and bite-size facts “caterpillars hatch from butterfly eggs. Each makes a hard case, or chrysalis. Inside it turns into a butterfly.” A Year in Nature allows you to explore the woodland scenes, discovering animals, trees, plants and flowers as you go.

This would make a very special gift for a child, or maybe as a really great talking point for a group of children, perhaps at school. It’s the kind of book you can dip in and out of as the year goes by. Take time to examine each page, to see the changing colours and how the wildlife evolves. It’s a really beautiful book. So beautiful that it’s an actual work of art.

Book Review: A Year in Nature by Hazel Maskell

A Year in Nature by Hazel Maskell is a very special book, rich in detail and a real visual feast for children. It’s suitable for ages 6+ and is more robust than you may think. My 7 year old absolutely adores reading this book and doing the counting and spotting activities in it. It’s a real keepsake and would make a wonderful Christmas present for any nature loving child.

A Year in Nature by Hazel Maskell costs £16.99. It’s published by Laurence King and it is available from a wide range of bookshops including Amazon.

For details of more children’s books published by Laurence King, visit their website.

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of A Year in Nature for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Sensory Play: Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom

Kinetic Sand has been incredibly popular for several years now. It’s one of those things you can’t help touching and playing with if there’s an open box nearby. It’s incredibly tactile, which makes it perfect for sensory play; and if you drop it on the floor it is easily swept or vacuumed up, it’s no mess sensory fun!

Kinetic Sand is made from 98% sand and 2% silica oil. It behaves a bit like playdough but without the sticky horror if it gets walked into your carpet. You can clump the sand up together like a ball, then watch as it melts through your hands almost like a liquid. It’s strange, but in a good way.

Sensory Play: Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom

The Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom is a brilliant set for anyone who wants to bring the beach into their own home. It comes in its own beachy box, but it would work equally well in a high sided plastic box, like I used for our sensory play activities. The set comes with 3lbs of kinetic sand and 6 castle-themed moulds to create walls, bridges, towers and more. There are also 2 multi-use tools which can be used to cut, dig, rake and shovel the sand.

The beauty of the Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom coming in its own play box, is that once you’ve finished playing with it, it’s all easily packed away back in the box for next time. You build sandcastles and other structures, which stay in position for a while, then eventually melt away into a heap of sand.

Sensory Play: Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom

Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom is great for sensory play, you can use it to fuel your imagination too. I especially like the set because for me, sand is always about the beach. We’ve enjoyed playing with various Kinetic Sand sets over the years; but the simple joy of doing what you would do on the beach, but in miniature, and at the kitchen table is so much more fun.

Kinetic sand isn’t just great fun to play with, it also has a number of sensory benefits.
  • It can help to develop and hone fine motor skills, which in turn can help with writing and drawing.
  • It can encourage creativity, imaginative, creative play which in turn can help speech and language development.
  • Focusing on a task, such as creating a sandcastle can help increase attention spans. It gives something to focus on and can encourage calm play.

The Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom costs £19.99 and it’s available from a wide range of retailers and online. It’s suitable for ages 3+ and if you’re wanting to create a miniature beach at home, this is just the thing.

Sensory Play: Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom

If you would like to read other reviews of Kinetic Sand products, you can find some here:

We were sent Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

On Tuesday we visited the Grill in the Park restaurant at Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club for dinner. We’d been there last year for breakfast, so we were keen to see what dinner would be like. They’ve just undergone a complete refurb and unveiled their new menu, we were invited along to try the new menu for size.

We were looking forward to a nice quiet date night, some good food and a chance to relax without the demands of a small child. The Grill in the Park restaurant is really cosy, with booths and quiet, intimate corners to dine in. It’s just the place for a quiet dinner for two, a business dinner or for a group of friends.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

It’s a grill, so steak is high on the agenda. You can smell the steak cooking as you walk in and that is a very good thing. I’m a vegetarian, but the smell of cooking steak is possibly the only think that could turn me.

Executive chef, Tom Gardner has been with Worsley Park since 2014 and has created the new menu giving a twist on the grill menu. The menu looks really well balanced, with more than just a token veggie dish. They’ve invested £16,000 on a new grill, so most dishes have some grilled elements.

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

To begin with I opted for the Baby Beetroot, Goats Cheese and Cress Salad (£8) and my companion had the an Seared Scallops with Celeriac Puree, roasted hazelnuts and apple and fennel salad (£14).

I can’t resist roasted beetroot and there were two different kinds on my plate. The salad was well dressed and the half log portion of goats cheese was very generous. The log had been grilled and it had a really delicious char on it, I did find the goats cheese quite hard and I was expecting a softer goats cheese, but I suspect this wouldn’t have grilled quite so well.

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

The scallops were a real hit. Three really plump and juicy scallops, well seasoned and nestled on top of some autumnal celeriac puree and alongside a small heap of sweet, crisp salad. It was a highlight.

Onward to the main course, I plumped for the vegetable fajitas (£12) with a side of sweet potato fries (£4). Whilst my better half couldn’t resist a grilled sirloin steak (£27) which comes with tomatoes, watercress, a flat mushroom and a sauce of your choice, he went for port and shallot. He also had a portion of steak cut chips (£4).

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

My vegetable fajitas arrived hot and sizzling in their dish, I’d asked for no mushrooms as I can’t eat them, so my sizzling dish was onions and peppers in a sweet sticky sauce. This came with two toasted wraps and sour cream, guacamole and salsa. This dish had all the potential to be really hearty and lovely, but I was a bit disappointed by it. The wraps were too crispy to roll into fajitas (I think the wraps should be warmed but not crispy) so I ended up using them as crispbreads and scooping the fillings on top.

I loved the onions and peppers, but I think the sauce was just a bit too sweet and after a while that began to cloy. It was so nearly there, if I order them next time I’ll ask for the wraps not to be toasted.

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

My husband’s grilled sirloin steak was a triumph. A thick, juicy steak with well cooked accompaniments. He always has his steak cooked medium-rare and it was perfectly pink with a lovely char. The sauce was rich and he cleaned his plate. The Grill in the Park do steaks very well.

We didn’t have room for pudding, but we forced ourselves. I went for Warm Pecan Pie with caramel ice cream (£5.50) and he had the Lemoncello & Raspberry Semifreddo with raspberry compote and summer berries (£5.50).

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

Pudding was most definitely a highlight. His semifreddo was creamy and light, the perfect end to a rich meal. My warm pecan pie was something I will think about often in the coming weeks. The pastry was so light, thin and crisp, it was a joy. The pecans were soft, sticky and flavoursome and it was just perfectly put together. Pecan pie is my new favourite thing.

We had a lovely meal in cosy, intimate surroundings. I found fault with a few things, but not enough for me not to return again. We tried some absolutely wonderful dishes that night; but it is worth visiting Grill in the Park for the pecan pie alone! Go on, try it.

The Grill in the Park is at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club, for more information visit their website

We were invited guests of the Grill in the Park at Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club and our meal and drinks were complimentary. All images and opinions are our own.

Win one of two ACE cleaning bundles worth £15

We have teamed up with ACE, the global stain remover, to offer two lucky winners the chance to win an ACE cleaning bundle worth £15 each. These bundles will get rid of everyday stains, add sparkle to your household surfaces and brighten up your wardrobe. Included in the prize are:

  • 1 x ACE for Colours
  • 1 x ACE for Whites
  • 1 x Stain Remover Spray
  • 1 x Power Mousse

For more information visit www.acecleanuk.co.uk or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

Win one of two ACE cleaning bundles worth £15

Win one of two ACE cleaning bundles

To be in with a chance to win one of two ACE cleaning bundles simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged 18 and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent one of two ACE cleaning bundles worth £15.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 14th October 2018.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed on to a representative of ACE Cleaning products.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

Pâté is something we eat quite a lot of at home. We  often knock up a quick weekend lunch of crusty bread, pâté and a few salady bits. It’s a satisfying lunch and beyond easy to throw together. Over the weekend the boys have been munching on some Wild and Game pâtés, but with a little leftover, I made a simple supper of Pâté stuffed Mushrooms.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

We had two tubs of Wild and Game pâté in our fridge; Grouse, Brandy and Herb pâté and Pheasant, Pistachio and Port pâté. All that was needed to enjoy these delicious game pâtés was some crusty bread. The pâtés are just £3.50 for a 120g tub. Game is considered to be a bit of a luxury, so it was nice to bring a bit of luxury to the table for such a reasonable price.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

The pâtés were beautifully made. They were mostly smooth with little soft pieces of meat and nuts, the texture was spot on for us. They were really well flavoured and not too gamey, which can be off-putting. These Wild and Game pâtés would make an excellent addition to the Boxing Day table.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

The boys enjoyed their weekend lunch of these two pâtés with crusty bread, but there was too much for two and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I’ve made these pâté stuffed mushrooms before, it’s a great way to use up leftover pâté and it makes for a delicious supper, easy lunch or an impressive dinner party starter.

pâté stuffed mushrooms

Ingredients:
4 large flat mushrooms
Pâté – approx one dessert spoon per mushroom
A drizzle of Olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
Splash of booze. I usually try to match what’s in the pâté, so add brandy if the pâté has brandy in it.
2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley

How to make your pâté stuffed mushrooms:
Pre-heat your oven to 220°. Take your mushrooms and dust any dirt off them. Carefully cut out the stem and finely chop it. Put a small drizzle of oil on a baking tray and arrange your mushrooms on the tray.

Finely chop an onion, add another drizzle of olive oil to a frying pan and gently soften the onions and the mushroom stems. When the onion is soft, add your crushed garlic cloves and cook through for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat up in your pan and add a splash of booze. I usually try to match what I slosh in with what’s in the pâté. So if your pâté has brandy in it, I’d add a splash of brandy. Cook the alcohol out for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat.

Dollop in your pâté and mix everything together. I used the delicious Pheasant, Pistachio and Port pâté. Spoon equal amounts on the top of each mushroom and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over. Put in your pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

Remove from the oven, sprinkle your fresh parsley over and serve. Two mushrooms make for a good lunch, or if you’re serving it as a dinner party starter, one if probably sufficient. It’s a really great way to use up any leftover pâté and is a simple dinner party dish you can put together beforehand.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

I was sent some Wild and Game Pâté to sample and I decided to use it in this recipe. All images and opinions are my own. I have not been compensated for this post.

8 Brilliant Ladybug Craft Ideas for Kids

If you’ve ever been on a nature hunt with children, there’s one thing guaranteed to bring them joy; it’s finding a ladybird going about its business. Ladybirds a adorable little insects who dedicate their lives to eating up all the greenfly and aphids we try so hard to keep off our rose bushes. They’re also pretty fun to make when crafting. Here are 8 brilliant ladybug craft ideas you can do with kids.

This origami Ladybug Corner Bookmark from Red Ted Art is an adorable little craft to make with kids. Littler ones might need some help with the folding but will enjoy decorating it and using it when reading their bedtime stories. The corner bookmark is a great idea and one which could be easily adapted to create any number of bookish creatures and critters.

8 Brilliant Ladybug Craft Ideas for Kids

There’s more Ladybird origami from ET Speaks From Home, who has some very simple step by step instructions to follow and the ladybird looks great tucked into a vase of flowers.

For ladybird crafts around Easter, what about these ladybird painted eggs? I think they look very sweet and they’re really fun for kids to paint too.

The Gingerbread House came up with a great idea to paint rocks as ladybirds and bees and use them for insect naughts and crosses. Painting the rocks is really simple and using them in a game is just so clever.

8 Brilliant Ladybug Craft Ideas for Kids

Another ladybug craft from Red Ted Art is this very cute ladybug paper weaving craft. Paper weaving was always one of my favourite crafts at primary school and I love this cute little bug. She’d be a lovely cheery little critter to make on a rainy day!

Over on Little Hearts Big Love, there are some super-cute paper plate ladybirds. This simple and sweet little craft is prefect for pre-schoolers who are just dotty about these spotty insects.

If you prefer your ladybugs to have a bit of shake, rattle and roll, Play & Learn Everyday have these up-cycled ladybug shakers which just look like so much fun.

Crafts: Make Your Own Ladybird Flower Pot

Over the summer we painted an old terracotta pot to look like a ladybird. It was a really fun way to brighten up and old pot and it looked great too. Here’s how you can make your own ladybird flower pot.

Everyone loves labybugs don’t they? What’s your favourite ladybug craft?

8 Brilliant Ladybug Craft Ideas for Kids

Check out my other craft tutorials and round ups here!

Six Children’s Books About Pirates

Ahoy there! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so shiver me timbers, I’ve picked out six scurvy-dog books about pirates to enjoy with your kids. But first, a joke. What do you call a pirate with three eyes? A piiirate! I’m not sorry.

Six Children’s Books About Pirates

The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle. When a pirate family, the Jolley-Rogers, move to a quiet seaside town, the whole neighbourhood starts gossiping about them and spreading rumours. Matilda who lives next door to the Jolley-Rogers becomes friends with the youngest pirate son. When the Jolley-Rogers leave, the town discovers they were wrong to assume the worst of this pirate crew.

Six Children's Books About Pirates

Pirates Love Underpants by Claire Freedman. If you enjoyed Monsters Love Underpants and Dinosaurs Love Underpants, then you’ll love Pirates Love Underpants. It follows the same colourful, rhyming style and every page has something to giggle about. This is a brilliant, funny picture book for pre-schoolers!

Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate by Kim Kennedy. This is the sequel to the popular Pirate Pete book. This time Pete is in search of a crew for his new ship. He needs people who behave like a pirate but also talk like a pirate. Pirate Pete interviews several candidates, but can they talk like a proper pirate? This is the perfect book for International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Winnie’s Pirate Adventure by Valerie Thomas. This piratey installment of the Winnie the Witch books tells a great pirate tale. Winnie and her black cat, Wilbur are off to a fancy-dress party. Winnie is going as a pirate and Wilbur is her parrot. At the party they find a whole crew of little pirates ready to set sail on the high seas, so off they go on a swashbuckling adventure! Ahoy there!

Jack and the FlumFlum Tree by Julia Donaldson. This is a lovely book to read aloud with your child. Jack’s Granny is sick with a bad case of the moozles! AThe only cure is the fruit of the fantastic flumflum tree which grows on the faraway Isle of Blowyernose. It’s a treacherous journey, but Jack sets sail, with his motley crew of three and a large patchwork sack that Granny has filled with things to help them along the way. Will they succeed in their mission?

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson. The original and best book about pirates – Treasure Island! With peg-legged pirates, colorful parrots, and plundered riches this seafaring adventure is bound to thrill any pirate fan! When young Jim Hawkins decides to follow a map to buried treasure, he must befriend or outsmart memorable characters such as pirate Long John Silver, captain Billy Bones, and island man Ben Gunn. Mutinous plans, mysterious deaths, and a tangle of double crosses keep Jim guessing all the way to the prize.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like our five books about dinosaurs or five books about bears.

Six Children's Books About Pirates

Days Out: The Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick

When I was a girl my Nan had a caravan in the Lake District, we used to go and stay there a lot. It was a great place to spend time and my Nan and Uncle used to make sure we had lots to entertain us. We went on lots of day trips and really explored the area. One memorable trip was to the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick. For some reason it has really stuck with me and when we visited Keswick last week, I had to take my son for a return visit.

The Derwent Pencil Museum is located in Keswick town centre. There’s lots of parking on site and it’s easily accessible by public transport. The Derwent Pencil Museum itself is located in the shadow of the former pencil factory which has now relocated to nearby Workington in Cumbria.

Days Out: The Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick

When I told the boys I wanted to visit a pencil museum, they both looked at me like I was mad. But by the time we left, they’d both fallen for the quirky charms of this interesting attraction.

When you enter The Derwent Pencil Museum, you are directed through a replica graphite mine which has some model miners working in it. This display shows what conditions underground would be like. There are also samples of the graphite that was mined in the area.

Days Out: The Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick

The cave space opens up into a light, airy room filled with pencil based exhibits. There’s the World’s Largest Pencil, a large collection of novelty pencil sharpeners; The Queen’s diamond Jubilee pencil and some amazing miniature pencil sculptures. There are also some audio-visual exhibits and the fascinating story of how the Derwent Pencil Factory developed the technology to hide tiny maps and a compass inside a pencil for our agents to use in WW2.

Once we’d had a good look around, we retired to what I will call the Drawing Room, though I’ve no idea what it’s really called. There’s a space at the back of the Pencil Museum where you can sit and draw. I think it’s mostly meant for children, but I sat drawing all kinds of things with my son for a good half hour and we could have probably stayed there longer if we wanted.

There are step-by-step drawing books, good drawing paper and as you would imagine, the best selection of pencils you could wish to put together. We sat companionably drawing jellyfish, dinosaurs, otters, all kinds of wonderful creatures and he loved it. We loved it.

Days Out: The Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick

There’s a good shop and a cafe we didn’t have time to try out. But it was just as good as I remembered it; when I asked him what he liked afterwards he said the cave, the giant pencil and doing all the drawing. If that’s not a good way to spend a few hours, I don’t know what it.

Admission is £4.95 per adult and £3.95 per child. They also run a number of adult and children’s art sessions throughout the year. For more information about visiting The Derwent Pencil Museum, visit their website.

The Derwent Pencil Museum is at Southey Works, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5NG.

Days Out: The Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick

We paid for our visit to The Derwent Pencil Museum in full.

Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

In August, M&S opened a branch of Marks and Spencer Opticians in their Manchester store. It’s been two years since my last eye test, so I went along to try out their new service. I booked my appointment at M&S Opticians online, which was quick and easy to do, my appointment was confirmed and all I needed to do was turn up on the day.

Since my good friend Claire at She Eats discovered she had a brain tumour during an eye test, it’s been in the back of my mind that I must get mine tested. Thankfully finding a brain tumour is pretty rare, but your eye health is a good indicator of your general health and can flag up conditions you might not have been aware of. Regular eye tests are a good thing, so don’t put them off.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

I went along to Marks and Spencer Opticians in Manchester. It’s located on the first floor next to the cafe. Feeling a bit nervous, I made my way upstairs and booked myself in. I was early so I spent a few minutes checking out the frames and trying a few pairs on.

I was ushered into a room where they did a few tests on me. Danielle was really reassuring and talked me through everything. For the most part all I had to do was sit and look while they blew air onto my eyeballs, took photographs of my retinas and did a test where I had to press a button each time I saw a flashing light in my periphery. It was very thorough.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

After the testing I was taken through to see the optician, Mohammed. He spent some time checking what my prescription was, I don’t think it’s changed much in two years, which is reassuring. He also had another look at my eyes and discovered that there was something a little bit amiss with one of my optic nerves. We had a chat about that and about how much sleep I don’t get. He suggested I use an eye wash a few times a week and he sent me back to the testing room to do a more thorough version of the peripheral vision test.

I was understandably feeling a bit on edge at this point, but everyone was really reassuring and Mohammed the optician spoke to me again afterwards, once he’d checked the results and explained that it was just a small anomaly and wasn’t affecting my eyesight. It’s probably something worth keeping an eye on though.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

It was time to choose my new glasses. I’m a bit funny about my glasses, I like a particular style and round glasses do not suit me. There were hundreds of pairs to choose from, I spent a lot of time looking for what I wanted. I couldn’t find anything which really appealed in the ladies section, so I had a look at the men’s glasses. I was in luck, there were so many of the style I liked in the men’s section.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

Glasses at M&S Opticians start at £40. I chose the “Favian” frames, which are described as “flattering, easy to wear frames – a great choice for men”. These were £80 for the frames and another £30 for the lenses, so just £110 in total. I’ve previously paid A LOT of money for glasses, so I thought £110 was a really, really good price.

Two days later I got the call to collect my new glasses. I was impressed at how quickly they’d come back. I went into town a few days later to go and pick them up and was met by Paul, who took some time to fit my glasses. With them being men’s glasses they were a little loose, so the arms needed to be adjusted to fit me properly. This was done while I waited and I left, happy with my new specs.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

I was really impressed with Marks and Spencer Opticians, they were very thorough and I felt very reassured after my tests. I also thought their prices were very competitive, I couldn’t find any fault with the service I received. I’m absolutely delighted with my new glasses. I think they look great on and they’re really comfortable to wear too.

For more information about M&S Opticians, or to book an appointment, visit their website.

I was invited to review Marks and Spencer Opticians and given a pair of glasses in exchange for this review. Nevertheless, all images and opinions are my own.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

One day during the summer holidays my son asked if we could bake a cake. I usually have a store-cupboard of ingredients to make a batch or two of basic buns or a Victoria Sponge, but the boy wanted chocolate cake. Looking into my cupboard and I had just enough cocoa powder to make a cake, but what could I fill it with? I spied a jar of marshmallow fluff, I put two and two together and made a delicious Chocolate Marshmallow Cake.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

The Chocolate Marshmallow Cake is pretty much a Victoria Sponge cake with a chocolate marshmallow twist. It was everything you’d want a chocolate marshmallow cake to be – chocolately and gooey and rich and lovely. I’m now keeping a jar of marshmallow fluff in my cupboard for chocolate marshmallow cake emergencies!

Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

Ingredients:
600 g caster sugar
600 g softened butter or margarine (I use Stork)
6 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tbsp milk
200 g self-raising flour
7550g Dark cocoa powder
1 heaped tsp of baking powder

For the icing and filling:
1 jar of Marshmallow Fluff
100g Softened unsalted butter
100g sifted icing sugar
50g dark cocoa powder
Splash of milk
Half a pack of mini marshmallows

Method:
Heat your fan oven to 190c. Grease three 20cm sandwich tins, I also lined the bottom of each tin with a circle of baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until fluffy (I used a hand mixer). Add the eggs, milk, cocoa powder and vanilla and combine, then add the flour and baking powder and mix together until you have a smooth batter.

Divide the mixture equally between the tins. You can weigh them to make sure they’re fairly equal if you’d like. Bake in your pre-heated oven for around 20 mins until cooked through. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Once the cakes are cool, place the bottom layer on a serving plate and spoon about half a jar of marshmallow fluff into the middle. It should relax and even out by itself. While it’s doing this, make your chocolate frosting.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

Using a hand mixer, work the butter until it is light and fluffy. Carefully add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and mix it in until the frosting is smooth. Add a splash or two of milk if you feel it needs it. It needs to be spreadable but not runny.

Take the middle layer of the cake and place it on top of the marshmallow. Put the rest of the marshmallow fluff on top and smooth it out a little with a knife. It will form a soft layer which will run down the sides of the cake, but I like the sticky, drippy effect.

Take  top layer of cake and put it on top of the marshmallow. Get your chocolate frosting and put it on the top of the cake, smooth it out with a knife. I like smooth ripples of frosting, but do what you feel best. Take a few handfuls of mini marshmallows and pile them up on the top of the cake.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

You can store it in a cake tin for a few days, but the gooey marshmallow layer will likely ooze out entirely. It’s best to gobble the cake up quickly, or leave assembling it until the last moment.

It’s a great cake, it’s fun, it’s frivolous and it’s just the thing to make with a small boy who wants nothing more than a chocolatey spoon to lick and a big piece of chocolate cake for pudding.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake