Rated: Jalebi in London.

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Sweet (toothed) dreams are made of this

What? A glistening, vaguely intestinal-looking concoction, which just happens to be MY ALL-TIME FAVOURITE INDIAN SWEET (see Pud-Hog posts passim).

Made from a Flour and Cornstarch-based batter which is deep-fried and then dunked in tangy, sweet Syrup, it could well be the naughtiest snack to come out of the East (though is possibly still not a match for the unholy Deep-Fried Cheesecake).

Texturally, it’s a Pud-Hog’s dream, and best to be eaten straight out of the pan when its hot crunchy outsides give way to a warm mess of oozing and sugary innards – like a squiggly, thin-shelled cough sweet (without the bitter medicinal tinge).

As for the taste, these things pack some serious sweetness – just what you need to keep going in the midst of a scorching summer.

In India, of course, you’ll find Jalebi sellers all over the place, with a decent-sized bag of the good stuff sold for 10 or 20 pence.

Outside of India, however, fresh Jalebi can be pretty hard to come by (though given the rate I can chomp my way through them, it’s probably for the best).

The one you can see in the picture above was my first sighting in months, and was made on the premises of a Middle Eastern-style bakery in London. It certainly looked the part, and tasted almost as good as the ones I first fell in love with.

Almost, I say, but not quite.

Allowed to cool down on the shelf of the shop, they weren’t exactly the riot of heat and goo that I was hankering after. For that, I guess I’ll just have to go back to India.

What a shame: for this Pud-Hog, at least, West London’s so much easier to reach…

Where? My Jalebi was bought from Tavazo, Ealing Broadway – who even allowed me a sample before I committed.

How Much? £8.50 per kilo – or 90 pence for about 6 pieces

Rating?

7/10

It’s good, but it’s not quite right

Rated: Goat’s Milk Fudge.

Goat's Milk Fudge

Goat’s Milk Fudge: I kid you not

What? A pale and soft – almost shapeless – Fudge, made using Goat’s Milk and Goat’s Butter.

Unlike the usual Goat-infused Cheeses (and special Goat-flavoured Cheesecakes), this particular Fudge is almost entirely devoid of that goaty tang, with only the tiniest hints here and there – and then only if you focus very hard.

Mainly, you just get the sugar.

While I’m generally glad it’s not pungent, without the unusual flavour it kind of lacks a USP, tasting mainly like every other Fudge (albeit a great deal squidgier than the norm).

That said, if you happen to be someone who just cannot tolerate cow’s milk, this might well be the confectionery of your dreams…

Where? From the Wobbly Bottom Farm market stall (as seen in Islington Farmers’ Market)

How Much? £2

Rating?

7/10

Solid effort – liquid Fudge; probably won’t get your goat

Recipe: Salted Honey Caramel.

Dive in - you know you want to

Dive in – the water’s lovely…

Lex Leafy came round to the Hog House last weekend, ready for another Bakeroo.

With her came a rather exciting recipe for Salt Caramel flavoured with Honey, and I thought that some of you Ogglers might want to try it…

You’ll need a sugar thermometer to recreate things accurately, but the results are both unusual and splendid (particularly for those of you who love that Honey tang).

When set, the Caramel’s firm, and yet still soft enough to scrape up with a spoon.

If you’re feeling especially generous, you can top up a sterilised jar and hand it over to a friend.

Alernatively, if – like me – you find yourself strangely unable to give away your supplies, you can check out my page of dribblesome Salt Caramel suggestions, and get stuck into some tasty kitchen experiments.

In no time at all, you’ll wonder how you lived without it…

Salted Honey Caramel (makes about a jar’s worth)

Honey Salt Caramel

*SWOON*

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 50ml water
  • 1 cup of double cream
  • 50g butter
  • 2 heaped tsp salt

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the cream and 10g of the butter on a medium flame, whisking as you go. When it starts to boil, remove it from the heat
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring the sugar, honey and water to the boil on a medium heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon to prevent the bottom burning
  3. When the syrup reaches 280 degrees F (it will have started to darken), remove it from the heat, add the cream, and stir (it will bubble quite ferociously for a while)
  4. Return the mixture to the heat, add the salt and the rest of the butter, and stir until it has boiled for a minute or so
  5. Pour into a shallow, greased, ovenproof dish and allow to cool
  6. As soon as it’s not too hot to burn, you’re ready to tuck in – or transfer it to your airtight container of choice
  7. Keep refrigerated, and eat within a couple of weeks

Happy Hogging!

P-H x

Sweet S.A. 4: The Koeksister.

I’m starting to think I should emigrate to Cape Town, if only for the puddings.

Within just a few days it played host to a divine plate of Chocolate Samoosas, a Tart which trumped the grand majority of its English counterparts (countertarts?), and the wonderful syrupy bonanza that is Malva Pudding.

Then, just when I thought things couldn’t get much better, there came another surprise:

Koeksister

The Twisted (Koek)Sister

Now, this may look like something a toddler would bring home from their first ever dalliance with clay, but, trust me, it was delicious.

For those of you who have never seen such a thing before, allow me to explain. This glistening knot is a Koeksister: a twisted, deep-fried Doughnut which has been dunked, post-fry, in syrup.

Sounds greasy, right?

Well, it is – but not overly so.

As it happens, the one I tried (bought at the Old Biscuit Mill Market for 5 Rand – i.e. less than 40 pence) was a real treat, with the taste of oil surprisingly muted behind the general honey-like sweetness.

Though hard to the touch, the Doughnut was soft on the inside, and yielded a rush of cool syrup when bitten.

In fact, it was quite a lot like my favourite Indian sweet, the Jalebi, with its similarly moreish texture of light crunch and juiciness.

It was probably not the healthiest option to have, I’ll grant you.

But given I’ve only tried one in my lifetime, I think I can spare room for two or three more…

High Chai with Pistachio Rose.

Nice cuppa Chai and a sit down? Don’t mind if I do…

This time last week I was looking forward to something rather tasty. On Saturday, you see, nestled in a swanky garden centre conservatory near Little Venice, was the first ever High Chai event from Pistachio Rose – and I had booked me a place.

The regular Ogglers among you might remember Pistachio Rose from previous posts: one on the tastiest Chocolate Tarts I can ever remember trying, and the other on their exciting range of homemade Chocolate Naans.

With the High Chai consisting of both these treats – and plenty more besides – I was pretty darn sure I was in for a very nice time.

I wasn’t wrong.

From 3pm onwards, we sat with our flutes of Prosecco and were wooed by delicate waves of food and luxury tea.

This certainly wasn’t the usual Pud-Hog-style slob-fest; there was no horizontal gobbling or desperate crammings-in of seconds and thirds (lovers of Za Za Bazaar take note).

Instead, I was on my best behaviour, supping civilly with the rest (or as civilly as I could, at any rate).

Having finished a smallish dish of cooked veg, we were not waiting long before platters of Indian-style goodies arrived on the long shared table.

My word, it was exciting – and hard to know where to start.

Eeny, meeny, miny, mmm…

In the end I went for the Madeleines first, of which there were two types: one containing Rose Water, Cardamom and Pistachio, the other infused with Chai.

Both were extremely flavoursome: small, slightly sticky and bursting with spice.

Better yet in this Pud-Hog’s humble opinion was the Bollywood Blondie: a Barfi-type diamond made with White Chocolate and roasted Peanuts. I love Barfi anyway (the thought of Govinda’s Lentil version always makes me smile) and this one was particularly fragrant.

Though tasting slightly more of Peanut Butter than anything else, it grew on me with every mouthful: something about that slightly doughy texture was very comforting. Talk of adding White Chocolate chunks into the mix almost made my brain short circuit…

Those Shortbread Hearts though – phwoar. Any more exciting and they’d need an age restriction.

Imagine the crispiest, butteriest Shortbread you ever tasted, then flavour it with Sweet Fennel, Anise and Betel Leaf.

POW!

All the most beautiful scents of India – in delicious Biscuit form.

Genius.

This is beginning to sound a bit like an advert, isn’t it?

Well, it’s not. It’s cold, hard FACT.

And when I tell you that I would happily be stranded on a desert island with only a box of those Chocolate Tarts to sustain me, I’m afraid you’ll have to believe me. A dessert island, it’d be. And mighty blissful too.

For though everything on that platter was a fine example of excellent High Chai Cakeage, my favourite treat remains those marvellous morsels of Chocolate-stuffed Shortcrust Pastry – the ones I first encountered at Global Feast.

It’s sometimes worrying, revisiting a Cake or Pud that was super delicious the first time round, in case it ends up being a disappointment. But no: if anything, these Tarts had only improved with age.

With their perfect Pastry bases, each filling was firm and yet velvety smooth: Milk Chocolate, Salt, Chilli and Nutmeg; White Chocolate, Sweet Fennel and Anise; Dark Chocolate and Chai.

Finding it near impossible to choose my favourite, I nibbled between the three of them. And although there were boxes in which you could take things away, by the time I was finished not even the crumbs were left.

That wasn’t the end though, Ogglers. There was still the finale to come, and, after a small break to let things go down, out it came:

My kind of post-pudding nightcap

These were ‘Indianised Churros’: slivers of Pistachio Naan plus a Chai-spiced Chocolate Dipping Sauce, along with a warm cup of Chai to help wash it all down.

Just what you need on a dark November afternoon.

The Naan was lightly toasted and super soft, though not much like Churros (being baked, not fried, and not covered in sugar). The dipping sauce was almost like an Austrian Hot Chocolate: extremely sweet and thick, with the added bonus of a lovely Cardamom taste.

I’ll admit, for a while I wished it had come in a larger portion (despite my attempts at being refined, I’d emptied the lot and mopped up the dregs pretty quickly).

And, where other diners had bits and bobs leftover, my instincts were to distract them and clear their plates.

In short, I wanted more: more Blondie, more Shortbread, more Tarts.

But it’s probably good that I didn’t indulge any further. Because then it was time to stand up, and the three hours of eating and drinking finally hit: I had to get home… and I was utterly stuffed.

At £22.50 a head, it certainly wasn’t the cheapest afternoon tea I’ve ever had – but not only was it the most beautiful, it passed the golden rule and filled me up.

As for all those awesome Cakes and sweet treats, they remain up there with the tastiest things I’ve eaten.

All things considered, a very High Chai indeed.

Govinda’s Pure Vegetarian Puds.

The Holy Trinity – Krishna style

It has long been a suspicion of mine that Cake is good for the soul. In Govinda’s of Soho Street, the servers believe this so strongly that the sentiment’s nailed to the wall.

In fact, their claim that their food is ‘spiritually and materially beneficial’ is arguably not a hollow one: Govinda’s is part of a Radha Krishna Temple (home to those excellent drum-beating chanters who regularly liven up Oxford Street). As a result, anything you buy there has been offered to Lord Krishna first – and is therefore ‘blessed and karma-free.’

Now, whatever your thoughts on the concept of karma, there’s one thing I defy you to dispute: their range of Cakes and Desserts is super exciting.

There’s Cheesecake, Gulab Jamun, Indian Sweets, Sponge Cakes, Kheer (Rice Pudding) and then some – all vegetarian or vegan, and all costing £1-3 (a rarity in this part of London).

The other night, deciding to ‘take a piece of mercy’ with me (as the website intiguingly puts it), I opted to take away three different treats, in order to absorb them at the Hog House with my faithful friend Ms Q.

What a crazy assortment they were, Ogglers, with two kinds of Barfi (an Indian Sweet made with Condensed Milk  – one of my favourite Eastern nibbles) and the pinkest, jazziest Sponge Cake I have ever seen.

Both Barfis were quite unusual, but for rather different reasons. The first was Mango flavoured – not bizarre in itself, I’ll grant you. In fact, the strangeness was all in the texture: being soft and moist, yet firm and grainy, it was like eating a square of Sorbet that had refused to melt at room temperature.

A very stubborn Sorbet indeed

Were it not for the inclusion of some desiccated Coconut I might have been quite taken with it. But, as per my usual issues with Coconut, I found myself wishing for less of the soapy flakiness and more of the juicy Fruit.

The second Barfi was much more up my alley, with a flavour I have never seen elsewhere: Lentil.

That’s right, Ogglers, LENTIL!

Oh, it was nice. With a far more solid texture than the other one (like a dense block of Fudge, in fact), I thought it was seriously tasty. To my surprise, the Lentil created a lovely mellow flavour, with a smell not unlike White Chocolate.

Slivers of what I think was Nut also added a scrummy dimension, and overall it was slightly like Peanut Butter, only smoother and sort of chalky.

I’ll admit Ms Q wasn’t quite as enthused (she’s not the biggest Barfi fan, in fairness).

Instead, perhaps understandably, her attention was more on the pink layered Cake – a vegan Sponge which was expertly iced with melty Buttercream roses.

No wonder it caught her eye

Though less unusual by UK standards (i.e. rather more normal than sweet Lentil treats), this too was a pretty big hit.

The sponge – vaguely tasting like something that might have been Strawberry or Raspberry flavoured – was amazingly light and moreish, and held together with generous layers of icing (a little too much icing for Ms Q’s tastes – but don’t worry: I mopped up the leftovers for her).

As for the look of the thing: superb. Like a Barbie-style Wedding Cake, or something a Care Bear might make for its Home Ec finals.

My photographs barely do the thing justice, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say it was great: a feast for the eyes and the stomach.

Not to mention my pud-loving spirit, of course…

Review: Za Za Bazaar and the Pudding Bowl Blowout.

Food as far as the eye can see…

There are some concepts I just can’t resist, however much I might want to.

Za Za Bazaar is a prime example: an all-you-can-eat buffet, with 1,000 covers – apparently making it Britain’s largest restaurant.

Before I go on, you should know that I hate crowds. I also hate feeling like I am competing for food – there’s nothing worse than having your eye on a certain Cake or Pastry, only to see it snatched up by the person in front of you.

Nevertheless I was drawn to the place, namely because of the choice: most of the world’s cuisines in just one room – from Sushi to Sausage and Mash – with a dessert list longer than anywhere outside my dreams.

Since we were in Bristol – i.e. home to this particular Bazaar – it seemed like we really should give it a go. The website alone made my eyes spin, but when else would we get the chance?

From the outset it was clear that this wasn’t your usual dining experience. You can’t just book any time you want, but have to go on the hour.

The price also varies depending on when you go (as does the range they offer). Our visiting time being peak (i.e. Saturday night), we supposedly had the whole range of their dishes, for a fairly meaty £15.99 per head.

When we got there almost the first thing they told us was what time we had to leave: it was 8.45 at the latest; little more than ninety minutes after we’d arrived.

Which brings me to another thing I hate: time-limits.

With one-and-a-half hours to sample various cusines, the main temptation was to pile up our plates and start scoffing. But no: the Man and I had been working on a plan.

It ran as follows: do the rounds first to scope out the joint; try tiny samples of everything we fancied; minimise the carbs (too filling and cheap – not easy to get your money’s worth); drink plenty of water; and – most importantly – try to avoid being sick.

I have to say, our main meals went surprisingly well. The food quality wasn’t generally great, but the spectacle was amazing: our first recon took about ten minutes, so vast was the range on offer. Each station was themed by place, and was manned by at least two chefs; some of whom could make things on request.

Enough about savouries, though – this blog post is hardly the place. As I learnt that night, it’s vital to save space for pudding.

So here it is (brace yourself):

Four kinds of cake on this side…

…a Chocolate Fountain with Fruit, Marshmallows and Cake Chunks…

…Gulab Jamun, Sweets, and two cabinets of Jellied Desserts…

…a Mr Whippy-style Ice Cream Dispenser…

…PLUS Ice Cream for scooping, Crème Brûlée (in the background), AND Kheer, Apple Crumble and Custard (just out of shot). WHEW.

In short, there was quite a lot – and my aim, as the Pud-Hog, was to try a little snuffling of each thing.

Alas, however, my ambitions were unfulfilled. Not, I might add, because my stomach was overwhelmed (I’d been sparing with my savouries in preparation for this challenge), but because a great deal of what was on offer was apparently not vegetarian.

In fact, the issue of what was and wasn’t veggie caused myself (and the Chefs) no small amount of headaches, mainly because the labelling was so ambiguous: on the few occasions that it was visible, it was hard to tell exactly what it meant.

Take this label for the Indian-style Rice Pudding, for example:

Vegetarian: X

Where most of the labels wrote ‘Y’ or ‘N’ beside the word ‘Vegetarian’, this one plumped for an ‘X’.

But was that an ‘X’ as in a tick box? Or an ‘X’ as in I’m-crossing-this-bad-boy-off-my-list-and-so-should-you?

Nobody seemed to know. One Chef said it wasn’t veggie, another disagreed. Back at the table, our waiter told us it was gelatin-free…

Who to believe?

Elsewhere, as well as the usual no-nos (the Marshmallows and Jellies) a whole cabinet of cakes was apparently off-limits too. Not that this seemed rational either.

Perhaps someone had made up their mind to bake gelatin into everything like some hog-hungry maniac. Or perhaps the labelling department was being incredibly lax.

As for the contradictory Chefs, I’m not sure what the problem was. A language barrier? Undertrained members of staff? A ruse to prevent the Pud-Hog from gobbling up all the stock?

I have my suspicions…

But, again, let’s bring ourselves back to dessert.

What, after all this confusion, did I eventually choose to eat?

Well, this was my first plate:

And so it begins

Sadly, some of it didn’t get eaten (the Chocolate Square, the Swiss Roll and the Pie), but purely because of my aforementioned bewilderment. As for the rest, I’m surprised to reveal that it wasn’t half bad.

Indeed, as products for what is basically a mega (and generally indiscriminate) feeding frenzy, they could have been a whole lot worse.

The Crème Brûlée tasted nice and fresh, with a thin but crunchy caramel top.

The Chocolate Tart was pleasantly rich and dark (if a little too thick and soft in the Pastry department).

The Carrot Cake was something I’d be happy to pay full price for in a bakery, while the Gulab Jamun wasn’t perfect, but just as syrupy as you’d hope to get.

My next stop was the Chocolate Fountain, where I dosed up on Tinned Peaches and a square of Sponge. Alas, you couldn’t just spoon the Chocolate in (instead you had to spear and dip), but I managed to get a fairly decent covering, topping the lot with a scattering of generic chocolate-filled shells.

Like so

Again, it was OK. No Purbeck Chococo wizardry, obviously, but fine as long as you had average expectations. The Chocolate was slightly too thin and oily, but the Peaches were juicy and moreish.

My third bowl quite surpassed them though, with both Kheer and Apple Crumble being pretty gosh darn tasty.

Trust me, it was better than it looked

The former (which I’d decided just had to be veggie) was nice and creamy, with a lovely flavour of Cardamom. The latter was very comforting: a stodgy (though only part-baked) Crumble, with plenty of warm, cooked apple.

It was so comforting, in fact, that I went for seconds – this time with some custard.

My thirds came with Melon and Pineapple.

My fourths with another Gulab Jamun and a sliver of Chocolate Fudge Cake (like one of those Betty Crocker ones; sludgy, but not too bad).

Of course, if you think six bowls of pudding sounds rather piggish, you’d be right.

Then again, it could have been worse: I didnt have the Cupcakes or the Ice Cream – they just didn’t seem that exciting. By the end I was also feeling slightly full…

…and then we were herded out.

The verdict then? A pretty impressive experience, but not one I’d like to repeat.

One session of scoffing against the clock is more than enough for me.

In Praise of Veggie Percy.

Here he is: everyone’s favourite pig (after the Pud-Hog, of course)

What’s pink, round, vegetarian, and lurks in the confectionery aisle?

That’s right, Ogglers: me!

I’m not alone in that respect, however. In Marks and Spencer, nestled with his brethren, lives a very special fellow who shares those attributes: the green-eared Percy Pig.

Understandably, I feel a certain kinship with the guy; a love that expands as he settles beneath my molars.

Oh my! I think, as his juiciness spills down my tongue. What a very delicious sacrifice you make!

Thankfully there are lots of little Percys in a bag – nobody wants to erase a whole race, least of all myself.

Then again, they ain’t half addictive: that sweet-smelling face contains real fruit juice, and bursts with the flavour of grapes and cherries (his ear is supposed to be apple, as if the rest wasn’t fruity enough).

Veggie Percy’s texture is awesome too: very squishy and light (though he tends to get stuck on the teeth now and then – a soppy goodbye hug, perhaps? What a lovely chap).

Apparently they make him out of Pea Protein, which is A-OK with me. The alternative – containing Beef or Pork Gelatin – seems frankly rather pointless in comparison.

After all, what child would look at that smiling chewy face, and rejoice to think they were eating part of a real ex-Percy’s corpse? The kind of child who dissects live insects for fun, I expect. Not the kind of child who needs more sugar to fuel their deeds.

Ah me. What a shame to think that such children exist – and that they can choose the inferior non-veggie Percys – stocked beside him on the shelves of M&S.

Listen to me, Ogglers. This ode is getting ranty (it’s not the first time this subject has troubled me, I admit).

Still, this remains a positive post at heart. I love Veggie Percy. I just wish the other sweets followed his lead.

Gelatin sucks. Big time. And when it comes to confectionery, that should only be something I say about my mouth.

Purbeck Ice Cream Soup.

It’s been a little while since I had a Sundae – not since my Ice Cream Crawl, in fact. But last weekend I had an encounter which returned them to the forefront of my mind.

We were back in the shire of Dorset; in the vicinity of Swanage, no less. And you know what that means, Ogglers: we were back in the land of Chococo – the chocolate shop-cum-café which served us our Jubilee Chocolate Cream Tea.

As before, there were plenty of sweet treats on offer – Scones, Brownies, Cakes, Ice Cream – and, naturally, I was paralysed with indecision.

While my fellow diners settled on savoury courses, I paced between the shop and our table, overwhelmed with opportunities.

Still harbouring fond memories of those Chocolate Chip Scones, I eventually had one warm with butter. Delicious.

Meanwhile, the rest of my table had moved on to dessert: Sundaes made with Purbeck Ice Cream.

The ‘Harry Met Sally’. Orgasmic

The Scone now reduced to sparse crumbs on my plate, it didn’t take long to feel hungry again.

It was the Man’s Sundae wot dunnit: two scoops of Ice Cream (‘Stawberry Seduction’ – studded with pieces of fruit), a sprinkle of Chocolate Malt niblets, a stick of solid Milk Chocolate and a HUGE jug of warm Chocolate Sauce.

So big was this jug that he couldn’t eat more than half. So I did my Hoggy duty and bought some more Ice Cream to finish it with. Not that this was all I asked for…

If you’re going to go for a Sundae-type treat, there seems little point in being restrained. So along with a scoop of Honeycombe Hash, I ordered a drizzling of Dulce de Leche Sauce, along with a handful of bright-coloured Chocolate Beans.

Ice Cream, meet Jug: your new best friend.

Twas a beautiful combo if ever I ate one (so texturally exciting), though on the way I learnt some things which I feel it is now my duty to share:

  1. Chocolate Beans (or any other sugar-coated candies for that matter) do not take long to become rock hard under Ice Cream. Ogglers with fillings: AVOID
  2. Good Chocolate Sauce can’t be beaten. By anything. Warm, thick, melty… It’s the best Ice Cream Sauce there is (especially at Chococo)
  3. It may not yet be socially acceptable to lick out a jug in a cafe – but some things just need to be done

There’s one more thing I’d like to pass on, but it isn’t something I learnt – more of a realisation: I love eating Ice Cream Soup. And when I say ‘Ice Cream Soup’ I don’t mean anything warm or specially made. I mean a bowl of tasty Ice Cream that has been thoroughly pulverised by a spoon.

Like so

As you can see, I did this in Chococo, much to the Man’s disgust. ‘It looked so nice before,’ he told me. ‘Now it just looks like poop.’

But did it taste like poop, Ogglers?

Hell no!

Every mouthful was Honeycombe, Sauce and hard Chocolate combined: all the components mixed together; not one of them missed out. A glorified milkshake, I suppose you could call it. Only so much thicker and more exciting.

Maybe it’s a regression back to babyhood, when everything was mashed and soft and mushy. Whatever. I’m not ashamed.

In fact, the more naysayers the better: once my pud had been souped up, you see, all pleas for a taster swiftly vanished.

My hunger did too. But not before I’d licked the bowl clean…

A Harrowing Mallowing Tale.

Promising – but what lies beneath?

Remember that day back in February when I promised to make my own Vegetarian Marshmallows? Well, it only took me 8 months to buy a sugar thermometer. So on Sunday night, I finally got down to business.

I’d been given the recipe by a knowledgeable soul after mooning over Mallows from Vanilla Black and Jaz and Juls.

All the ingredients were listed, as was a set of basic instructions – so basic it felt like one of those Bake Off challenges, where you get told to cook things, but not how long for.

Needless to say, it was my first time cooking Marshmallows. It was also my first time using Agar-Agar, the algae-based flakes which work in place of gelatin – meaning an meat-free fiesta (which, in this Hog’s eyes, can only be good).

Not a single pig trotter in sight (except mine)

I followed the recipe as closely as I could – and instantly wished I had more than two hands.

It was one of those makes where everything happens at once: sugar and glucose water brought to a particular temperature; Agar put on to the boil and – as the recipe put it – added to the syrup when bubbling. Also, in that very same window of time, egg whites were also to be mixed (Hog knows to what consistency), and the whole thing slowly poured over them, beaten until it cooled down.

Whew!

Ten minutes later, my handheld whisk was almost aflame with the effort, but I had what looked like a promising batch: white, fluffy and full of  bubbles.

Pouring it into a pre-lined mould, I popped it all into a fridge, leaving it overnight to set.

By morning, things weren’t looking so good: when I gave the mould a shake my Mallow mixture wobbled ominously. Thinking it might just be soft-set (that I’d made my own version of Fluff), I cautiously dipped in my spoon. To my surprise, the egg whites parted, concealed a murky mass of syrup.

The whole dang concoction had separated!

I gave it a taste to check what I’d made and my taste buds reeled at the high dose of sugar, not to mention the plasticky Agar flakes.

Too much gloop = Mallow poop.

This is no time to give up or panic however.

Now I’ve had a chance to think things through, I have an idea of what might have gone wrong. Namely, my recipe bent the truth; the Agar should have been boiled for longer, in order to let it dissolve and set. Thankfully, I still have a jar of flakes left – enough for a brand new batch, in fact.

As for the syrup itself, I’m determined to make good use of it – bake it into a Chocolate Cake, or whip up a goo-filled batch of Muffins.

Operation Hog Mallow will NOT be thwarted.

Ogglers, watch this space.