There’s been a strange culinary phenomenon in recent years of adding popping candy to various products. Once upon a time it was a substance only available in small, foiled packets – bought illicitly as it was rather frowned upon by my parents – and you’d have contests to see how much you could fit in your mouth without your head exploding.

I think it was the Willy Wonka brand that first thought of putting it in chocolate, but eventually Cadbury’s got in on the act, creating a truly magical combination of Dairy Milk and Popping Candy (they knew it was magical, hence naming it ‘Magical Elves’). Being only 25p and 75 calories, they became a staple of long, focus-group related train journeys. Then came Terry’s Chocolate Orange segments with added explosives, and the genius at the Hummingbird Bakery who decided to put it in frosting…

The Lemonade Cupcake – lemon sponge & lemon, popping candy frosting

…ah, the Soda Cupcake range. Absolutely inspired. I tried the popping candy trick myself earlier this year – it’s a cunning one for adding the element of surprise to your baking. (The trick is to add the candy right before you frost the cakes, otherwise it’s liable to pop too much.) Watching people take their first bite unwarned is utterly priceless.

But this week, the world of popping candy [incidentally, do you know how many times I’ve accidentally typed ‘pooping candy’ in this post?!] reached a new high (or low, depending upon your opinion). In the condiments section of Sainsbury’s, I made a surprising discovery:

Yup, that’s chocolate spread with popping candy. (It was on a shelf that also contained chocolate orange, chocolate mint, chocolate caramel and chocolate coconut spreads – Sainsbury’s have cornered the cocoa based toast accompaniment market.) I was intrigued and it was only £1.69, so I bought it. 
This morning, I finally (well, it had been all of three days) got to try it – other than the initial spoonful I consumed on getting it home. Turns out, when spreading onto a hot base, the substance is liable to begin popping before you’ve got it into your mouth, which makes for an interesting food preparation process. It’s also an interesting – but not unpleasant – consumption process. In fact, anyone who fancies trying it is more than welcome to pop round for breakfast in the next few weeks. Be quick though, I don’t imagine it’s going to stick around for long… 


It’s not often that I blog twice in one day, but this needed immediate attention.

Easter is just around the corner and thus a veritable smorgasbord of chocolate chicks, eggs and bunnies have appeared on shop shelves. There are a few new products around this year, but to be honest, what with the whole eating healthily thing, I tend to avoid those aisles. However, one particular item caught my attention and became me & C’s Monday afternoon pick me up today:

The MaltEaster Bunny [Do you see what they did there?? Genius.]

I love Maltesers, I love bunnies – so what’s not to like about this concept? It’s not simply one large, rabbit shaped malteser, it’s in fact a ‘milk chocolate bunny with a crunchy and creamy Maltesers centre’ and quite honestly, the yummiest piece of Easter tie-in to pass my lips in a long while!

Long ago, I decided Cadbury’s creme eggs were no good thing (incidentally, they are also not something I need to see in the supermarket whilst buying alcohol on New Year’s Eve….wrong, very wrong), but these bunnies can quite happily take their place as the ubiquitous Easter chocolate.

The Chocolate Asparagus

This is a morality tale, the moral of which is:
Don’t buy chocolate just because it’s an amusing shape.

On the avenue of loveliness (and expensiveness) that is Marylebone High Street, there’s a specialist chocolate shop whose door I had never dared to darken – until last Friday when C persuaded me that it was the perfect place to buy a Friday afternoon pick me up.

Rococo Chocolates is amazing. If you like chocolate and nicely packaged things it’s the perfect place to buy presents (for yourself, obviously), though a little pricey.

I’m not really eating chocolate (or anything particularly nice) at the moment, so careful consideration needed to be given to my purchases. A small bar of dark chilli chocolate would be perfect, if not a little dull for such an impressive shop; other nice things were in too great a quantity.

Then C spotted the Chocolate Asparagus.

White chocolate, dipped in milk chocolate (as you would dip an actual asparagus tip in butter), containing a praline centre, they looked glorious and oh so slightly amusing (depending upon how dirty your mind is). How could I not resist?

Back at the office, I decided to share the chilli chocolate. (It’s great – you need water with it though.) After that I didn’t feel like a Chocolate Asparagus, so intended to take it home for consumption over the weekend.

Ever forgetful, I forgot to do this and so my asparagus languished in my drawer for the weekend. I couldn’t eat it yesterday because I was singing last night & dairy – especially chocolate – is a bad thing for the vocal chords. So it wasn’t until today, after lunch, that I finally bit into the Chocolate Asparagus.

I was so disappointed! A little sickly on the outside, the praline a little dry. The amusement of the shape soon wore off. By the end I rather wished I’d simply bought a second tiny bar of fragranced chocolate instead.

Never go by looks alone. Yes, I’ve had my amusement with the asparagus. (It gave me a series of amusing facebook statuses for one thing and resulted in a debate about vegetables & chocolate.) But really, when you’re limiting your chocolate intake, go for the good things, the things you know will make you happy; like a Wispa, a bag of Reese’s Pieces or even the humble Dairy Milk – they cure all ills.

Goodbye Chocolate Asparagus.

My Advent Mission

And another thing…

Last week I mentioned that I didn’t have an Advent Calendar…that lasted a day – mysteriously Waitrose had the one I was after (Divine – fairly traded chocolate & with a religious image, thus meeting the age-old criteria of Advent calendars) on December 2nd, but not on December 1st.

It’s become a community advent calendar as I’m keeping it at the office and bestowing chocolate and biblical verses upon my colleagues. They seem to appreciate it. C was very excited when on Thursday I emailed him from my sofa to say he could open it as I was working from home that day.

But, my real advent focus is a little more highbrow…

I was challenged by reading Jo’s advent post last week, in which she said that they were giving up tv for the season. I wasn’t intending on going that far, but it did make me reflect on the fact that I’ve hardly read any books lately. Usually I have a voracious appetite for all sorts of books, but since the summer I’ve barely read anything.

So, my advent mission is to read more. Specifically, to not pick up free papers on the tube (anyway, they’re a load of tabloid junk & the ink stains your hands) and to use the time to read an improving book instead. (Incidentally, books are much easier to read when standing on the tube than newspapers – they take up less space.)

My current read is Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne, which (judging by the info sheet I was using as a bookmark) I started whilst at Conference in July. I got 4 pages into the introduction before a friend told me that the book would probably change me life – so I stopped reading it, just in case. I’ll keep you posted on what it does to me…

I work in our church bookshop once a month and the main perk is getting a discount on purchases. As a result, I usually buy at least one new Christian book a month and group them in an attractive pile on my bedside table, where they gather dust. My aim is to continue my mission past advent and into the new year so I can clear the pile before I acquire any more.

The return of the Wispa

Cadburys have bowed to pressure from Facebook and have brought back the Wispa!

It was withdrawn in 2003 when the Dairy Milk Bubble replaced it – except it didn’t because it doesn’t taste anywhere near as good – which was a total travesty. Hence my (disproportionately) massive excitement when my friend Jo mentioned that she was eating one in her facebook status. A couple of wall posts and a dash to the nearest newsagents later, so was I.

Major excitement about a chocolate bar? It’s extremely sad, isn’t it?! Still, the wispa played a very important role in my childhood. (Actually, chocolate in general did, which would explain why I then had to abstain from it for 2 years as an adult!)

Aged 5, I discovered that my Dad’s desk chair was a lot of fun, my very own roundabout in the study. One day, just after I’d yelled “this is just like being at the dentist’s!”, I found myself thrown forwards onto his desk, burying my front teeth into the wood. The tooth marks are there to this day and within the hour I was at the dentist’s. All that happened was that my front teeth got a bit of a knock and were sensitive for a while, but I wasn’t happy eating with them and wouldn’t put anything in my mouth. My grandad, after a few days of this, suggested that I be challenged to bite down on a wispa, knowing that it was the right combination of solid/air to give me my confidence back – and it worked. I knew his paramedic training had its uses!

Anyway, wispas are great and are vastly superior to Aeros. Some useful (?) facts:

– Wispas were first launched in the Newcastle area in 1981 and were so popular that they launched nationally in 1983. The Newcastle Woolworths sold over 10,000 on the first day! 9.5 million were sold in the Newcastle area in the first week.
– There are around 14,000 wispa fans across 93 facebook groups (not sure if the people at Cadburys realise you can join more than one group!)
– The original size was scaled down, as it was thought the bar was too big for a ‘lady’ to fit in her mouth.
– Apparantly, the secret of wispa’s ‘unique’ texture & taste is guarded by a “bubble guru”. Whatever!