You may remember these "marshrooms" from Miss S's birthday party last year. They really were an afterthought - a sort of last minute brainwave that ended up being one of the most popular (and simple) foods at the party.
2012's version features some extras in the presentation department...
I've been meaning to do a little something about them on the blog, and so when a little friend of Miss S's was having an Alice in Wonderland themed party, I offered to bring some as I had a couple of little ideas I wanted to try out.
So here's how to make them and a few ideas for how to present them, ranging from simple to something more special. That's what I like about these - they can be thrown together quickly or more time can be taken to present them creatively. Either way, they'll be sure to be a hit with young kids.
So, to make basic marshrooms, you will need:
* Large marsh mallows
* Red apples
* Lemon juice
* Sharp knife
Wash your apples and leave to dry, or dry off with paper towels. If you have time you can polish the apples at this point so the finished product will be nice and shiny.
Cut slices of apple off for the marshroom tops. I used quite large apples and was able to get three marshroom tops from each apple.
Brush with a little lemon juice on the cut edge to prevent it going brown. If you don't have a pastry brush, just use your finger.
Spike a marsh mallow onto a toothpick.
Push the apple top on.
For spots, cut up mini marsh mallows into thin slices using some kitchen scissors. They will stick to the apple on their cut edges.
Now for presentation. Last year's marshrooms were poked into an upturned disposable plate that was made of banana palm. This year I decided to try using a chocolate cake base. So I made my favourite chocolate cake (recipe at the bottom of this post) and iced it with chocolate ganache. I topped this with grated dark chocolate (for dirt).
I made leaves by piping green royal icing using a leaf tip onto parchment paper and letting them dry hard. They stuck to the ganache easily. You could also make the leaves out of fondant.
I had a punnet of red currants quite by accident as when my groceries arrived from my online shop, I had bought them thinking they were cherries. A happy accident, indeed! You could also use coconut thread dyed with a little green food colouring, for "grass" or pipe grass or leaves directly onto the cake with royal icing or buttercream.
You could also poke these into a loaf of brown bread, or a piece of foam covered in clingfilm (you don't want the marsh mallows to touch foam if you can avoid it). As an alternative to chocolate cake, you could use brownie. They would also look good just lying on a plate if you don't have the time or inclination to do anything else.
I finished my marshrooms off with a spray of edible shellac, to give them some shine, but that is totally optional, as not many of us have that lying around!
Happy birthday, Jasmina!
Rich, Dark Chocolate Cake
Serves 12 + people
140g good quality cocoa (Dutch process, if possible)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsps baking soda
2 & 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla essence (extract)
Double shot espresso or 1/3 cup of very strong black coffee (instant is OK if you can't make espresso easily at home)
1 & 1/2 tbs white vinegar
2 cups (500ml) water
Line and grease a 26cm spring-form cake pan. Make sure that the lining comes up about an inch above the lip of the tin - this cake can be quite a riser! If you want to make this cake in a novelty tin or a tin of a different shape, grease the tin generously with butter and then dust with cocoa.
Make your espresso/coffee and set aside to cool.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Beat together the eggs and sugar, then add the oil, vanilla, espresso, vinegar and water and mix thoroughly. Using an electric mixer, beat the dry mixture into the wet mixture until smooth. Mixture will be very dark and quite runny.
Bake for 1 & 1/2 hours at 180 degrees c. Check at 1 hour. Cake is cooked when skewer inserted into it's centre comes out clean.
Ice with ganache, buttercream, fresh cream, or cream-cheese frosting - all are fantastic accompaniments to this cake. Enjoy!