Tag Archives: Parma Violets

Stocking Fillers: Vegetarian and Vegan Sweets

I’ve been a vegetarian since 1989, which is quite a long time. One of the questions I get asked the most is what do I miss? I miss my Nan’s beef chilli and her corned beef hash. I also miss my Nan but that’s a subject for another day perhaps. One of the things I did miss was sweets, because back then a lot of sweets contained gelatine.

Thankfully in the last 30 years things have moved on. Sure, pop to your local sweet shop and their shelves will be heaving with cheap jelly sweets, but Swizzels Matlow have produced a range of their trademark sweets which are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Stocking Fillers: Vegetarian and Vegan Sweets

Their Drumstick Choos and lollies contain five double flavour combinations which include peaches and cream and strawberry and banana. Their Refreshers Choos (my favourite) include pineapple and apple and have that fizzy sherbet centre which I love. Both kinds of Choos are vegetarian and vegan and are available in Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.

Other vegan sweets made by Swizzels Matlow which are suitable for vegetarians and vegans include Love Hearts, Fizzers, Fruity Pops, Double Lollies, Parma Violets and Rainbow Drops.

Some of these are among my favourite sweets. I adore Parma Violets and have used them to make Parma Violet shortbread biscuits. I also really love Rainbow Drops, which is a slightly less well-known sweet, but one I really love. They’re something about them, maybe it’s because they’re like a naughty breakfast cereal, but I love them.

Stocking Fillers: Vegetarian and Vegan Sweets

My husband isn’t a fan of chewy sweets (he fears for his teeth) but he can’t resist a packet of love hearts. My son who is 8 just likes sweets. He’s very good at sharing them, so it’s better if we choose veggie or vegan sweets.

Whatever sweets are your favourite, it’s reassuring to know that vegetarians and vegans in 2018 have considerably more choice in the sweet-shop than they did 30 years ago! Thanks Swizzels.

I was sent a selection of sweets in exchange for this blog post.

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

I don’t do much drinking at home, I like to save myself for a (now rare) night out or trip to a festival. Back in the spring I went to a Gin Festival with some good friends, my first tipple of the day was some quite expensive Parma Violet Gin and it’s been on my mind ever since. Sure, I could buy a bottle, but the Willy Wonka in me fancied making some. It’s so easy, and it’s the perfect homemade gift for a Parma Violet loving gin fan this Christmas!

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

How to make Parma Violet Gin

You will need:

350mls Gin, I used the cheap stuff from Aldi
6 7g packets of Parma Violets
A large jar
Coffee filters or muslin
A funnel
A nice bottle

How to make Parma Violet Gin:

The first thing I did was measure how much gin my decorative bottle would take. My bottle would hold 350mls of gin, so allowing for a little bit of wastage during the straining process, and me having a little taste, I measured out 380mls of gin and poured it into a large sterilised jar.

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

To sterilise your jars and bottles, put your clean jars in a low oven for at least half an hour. Carefully remove your jars from the oven (they will be incredibly hot) and allow them to cool down. Pour in your gin, I suggest you use a jug and a funnel for this.

Using whatever method you think best, grind up 6 packets of Parma Violets. I did this using a pestle and mortar, but a food processor or a bag and a rolling pin would work just as well. They don’t have to be super fine, but the more they’re broken up, the quicker they will dissolve.

Tip your crushed Parma Violets into the jar with the gin. Screw the lid on as tight as you can and give it a really good shake. Put it to one side, shaking the jar daily for about two weeks. A little more or a little less time in the jar won’t hurt.

In terms of measurements, if you want to make more or less of the Parma Violet Gin then you should go for a ratio of about 2 of the 7g packets of Parma Violets per 100mls.

When the time is up, take your sterilised bottle and using a funnel with some muslin or a coffee filter in it; strain the gin into the bottle. I found that it was best if I strained it twice, replacing the muslin with a new piece after the first straining. Doing this resulted in a clearer gin but didn’t seem to change the flavour much.

Once the bottle is filled, put the lid on, label it if you want and give it to your favourite gin lover.

If you liked the look of this recipe, you might also like to try baking these Parma Violet Shortbread Biscuits.

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

Celebrate 90 years of Swizzels by inventing your own sweet!

This year Swizzels celebrate 90 years of making sweets and they’ve just launched an amazing competition where you can win a tour of their sweet factory. All you need to do to win is come up with an idea for a new sweet, submit it to their website and you could win a VIP tour of the factory and get to see your sweet in production.

To me, this sounds like the best prize ever. I’ve driven past the factory so many times and the thought of having a Willy Wonka style tour of it has always been exciting. The Swizzels factory was also featured in the BBC series – Inside the Factory, which was a really fascinating watch. Did you know that the factory produces over a hundred million individual sweets each day?

Celebrate 90 years of Swizzels by inventing your own sweet!

Swizzels make so many legendary sweets; Parma Violets, Drumstick Lollies, Refreshers, Double Dips, Rainbow Drops and Love Hearts. They’re sweets I ate as a little girl (I still eat them now) and now my son loves them too.

If you asked me to invent my own Swizzels sweet I’d have absolutely no hesitation in telling you what I’d like. It’s a combination of two of their greatest sweets – Parma Violets and Double Dips. Imagine this, a violet flavoured lolly you could dip into zingy violet flavoured sherbet. Sounds amazing doesn’t it? It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it.

So consider this my begging letter to Swizzels. You know a Parma Violet Double Dip is the future, please, please make it so!

Perhaps Parma Violets aren’t your thing; maybe you think you can come up with a better idea than mine. Get your thinking cap on and get entering. You do need to be aged 16+ plus to enter, but you can find all the information you need here.

Make sure you have a good think about it before you submit your idea. Do you lick it, chew it, suck it or savour it? Is it fizzy, fruity, sour or creamy; or it soft and squashy or hard and crunchy? Is it a lolly, a chew bar, a gum or a jelly? What does it look like? You can even draw a design and upload that to the website.

Good luck with your entry, I’m looking forward to seeing what the winner comes up with, though I’m certain my Parma Violet Double Dip cannot be beaten!

Disclaimer: I was sent a box of Swizzels goodies in exchange for this post.

Parma Violet Cheese – love it or hate it?

Last month I went to the International Cheese Awards and joined the ranks of over 200 cheese judges to find the best cheese in the world. It was my second year of judging and I can tell you, I’ve tried plenty of weird and wacky cheeses in pursuit of cheese perfection. Firmly in the wacky category is this Parma Violet Cheese which is the result of a collaboration between The Cheshire Cheese Company and Swizzels Matlow.

Parma Violet Cheese

The Parma Violet Cheese itself is a waxed cheese, branded in the familiar Parma Violet colours and logo you’ll remember from your childhood favourites. I love Parma Violets, they are by far my favourite sweet so I was weirdly excited to try this new cheese. 

The creamy Cheshire cheese has crushed Parma Violets blended through it and it certainly makes for a unique cheese. 

Most people will be familiar with cheese with fruit flavours, I’m thinking of cheeses like Wensleydale and Cranberry, White Stilton and Apricots. Cheese with more floral flavours is starting to find its way onto our cheeseboards. During the judging I tried cheese with lavender in it for example. I don’t think floral cheese necessarily has mass appeal, but it is a novelty and an after dinner talking point.

I visited the Cheshire Cheese Company stand at the International Cheese Awards with my friend and foodie Claire from Good Egg Foodie. We were both equally keen and nervous to try it. 

The cheese itself is nicely creamy and a good base for taking on added flavours. It is a slightly grey, very pale Parma Violet colour and it has a smooth creamy texture.

Parma Violet Cheese

At the International Cheese Awards I tried the Parma Violet cheese at room temperature and even I felt a bit challenged by it (and I’d tried lots of very unusual cheeses that day). Claire was not a fan at all, I think it might be the marmite of the cheese world, some like it, some really don’t.

I was given a 200g wax truckle to try at home and I admit it sat in my fridge for a week before I got the nerve up to try it again. I tried mine still cold from the fridge and I think that made a difference, it slightly muted the floral flavours and the texture was firmer and I ended up gobbling down a quarter of the truckle by myself.

It is a bit wacky, but if you like Parma Violets it could be just the novelty talking point your cheeseboard needs this year!

Parma Violet Cheese is available from a range of retailers priced around £6.99 for a 200g wax truckle.

Note: I was given this cheese to try by Swizzels Matlow, all images and options are my own.