(My sort-of manifesto for progressive confectionery and the brands we should all get behind)
Photo credit: Ben Carpenter for The Marshmallowist
From chia seeds in your ice cream to raw cakes with avocado, there's been a revolution going on in UK retailer's response to the backlash against sugar. Now, as someone who makes a living from crafting sweet treats from sugar, I will certainly be the last person to hop on that anti sugar bandwagon. But, I also don't want to eat unicorn coloured sprinkles, edible glitter or blue flavoured ANYTHING by way of an 'up yours' response. There's never been a better time to reclaim confectionery trends from those who seek to divide us along partisan lines of either raw date balls or freak shakes. So let's all be a little bit more 'late 90's politics' about this and find a third way.
For the last 5 years I have been whipping up marshmallows from fresh fruit and organic herbs- pairing traditional confectionery methods with unexpected ingredients. There is such a growing selection of food brands thoughtfully sourcing their ingredients changing how we think about sweets. They're not all claiming transformative nutritional results but they are an exciting and creative use of real ingredients over flavourings and fresh fruit and vegetables over colourings. One of the brands that is currently melting my sweet loving heart are London gelato company Snowflake. With their raspberry gelato- blended from spring water, grape sugar and 70% fresh raspberries proving to be the sweet, smooth and intensely fruity alternative to sugar and syrup based ice creams.
Similarly, it's hard not to be dazzled by Dosiy & Dam's range of chocolate bars topped with goji, pink Himalayan salt or sneaking in a cheeky little kick of maca root in with their vanilla.
Photo credit: Doisy & Dam
In the soaring rise of flavoured popcorns it's only Joe and Seph who balance boundary pushing flavours such as caramel, mirin, soya and sesame- using real spices and hand made, air popped corn. Not only is it freakin' delicious- their commitment to natural ingredients and innovation means each flavour has it's own unique texture and taste- not just the same popcorn with flavoured 'coatings' like other popcorn brands.
And proving that plant based alternatives don't always have to be wholesome are Smith & Sinclair - their sexy alcoholic pastilles combine the lip biting allure of clove spiced sugars with a slug of rum and vodkas infused with black tea or rhubarb. And they get you a bit tipsy- which is exactly the sort of filth I want from my candy.
Photo credit: Smith & Sinclair
So if you fancy whipping up some treats of your own then here's my quick fix policies to change the way you think about sweets.
1) Vegetables aren't just for savoury dishes: incorporating grated fresh red beetroot gives cake texture, nutrients and colour. Whilst adding a slug of blood orange will lend a strong citrusy flavour. Carrots, courgettes, bananas, applesauce and sweet potato will all make you reconsider how you think about your veg box.
2) Peanut butter flavoured anything is crazy popular at the mo and homemade nut butters are super easy to whip up using whole nuts and coconut oil try using almonds, cashew nuts or pecans.
3) Experiment with raw cacao nibs when you need that chocolatey hit,
4) Dehydrated fruit and crystalised flowers - edible flowers are brilliant but they have a very short shelf life, so crystalising is a fab alternative: use cornflowers, pea shoots, violas, rose petals, pansies and borage. Dehydrated fruit looks stunning and is popping up as garnishes on cocktails across the country.
5) Go wild with your flavour pairings for jams and cake fillings - pair woody herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme with hedgerow berries like blackcurrants and blackberries
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