Are you over cupcakes? Sick of cake pops? Then it's likely the fabulous Meringue Girls have been on your radar for some time. It's only a couple of years since Alex Hoffler and Stacey O'Gorman quit their nine-to-five jobs to make their super bright, delicious meringues - and since then they've racked up a host of A-list fans, make more than 8,000 sweet treats each week for Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Harvey Nichols, and have featured in Vogue, the Guardian and Wallpaper.
Well - and we're not quite sure how they've found the time - now the duo have just released their new cookbook, Everything Sweet, which shows you how to make unusual edible gifts and cool confectionary in all colours of the rainbow. Whether you're looking for unusual (and delicious) favours, or the ultimate wedding cake, this cookbook has it covered. Check out the girls' recipes below - and get baking!
Everything Sweet by Meringue Girls is out now, published in hardback, by Square peg at £18.99; www.meringuegirls.co.uk
FAIRY FLOSS CAKE
WHAT YOU NEED (Serves 12)
For the cake:
· 400g unsalted butter, slightly softened
· 400g caster sugar
· 8 eggs
· 400g self-raising flour
· 75ml whole milk
· zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
· 180g raspberries (frozen work well, but fresh are delish)
For the buttercream base:
· 280 unsalted butter
· 560 icing sugar
· 3-4 tbsp milk
For the yellow buttercream:
· 2 tbsp good-quality lemon curd (we like Waitrose Seriously Zesty)
· yellow food colouring (we used Sugarflair colour paste in Melon)
For the pink buttercream:
· a handful of fresh raspberries, squished
· pink food colouring (we used Sugarflair colour paste in Hollyberry/Pink)
This lemon and raspberry cake is citrusy, sour and sweet. We've decorated it with Pashmak Persian fairy floss, which is made from sesame and sugar, and is a revelation for us - it comes in loads of lovely flavours like pistachio, orange blossom, rose and saffron. It's a wonderful thing to decorate with. Trifles, Eton mess and cakes will always have room for a little fairy floss.
The ombré buttercream smears give a stunning finish to your cake. It's a rough and ready sort of look - just using a palette knife to paste on pink and yellow streaks that merge into each other naturally.
To make the lemon and raspberry sponges:
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 6 and line the base of two 18cm cake tins with baking paper, greasing the sides with butter.
Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well mixed. Sift in the flour, then fold in the milk, lemon zest and raspberries. Be careful not to over-mix the batter - you want to keep it as light, fluffy and airy as possible.
Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden-brown and springy, then leave to cool for about 15 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the buttercream:
Using a hand-held whisk, electric whisk or stand mixer, whip the butter and icing sugar together until they are light and fluffy, adding milk to loosen. You want your buttercream to be spreadable but firm.
Divide the buttercream between two bowls. To one bowl, add the lemon curd and yellow colouring to give a lovely lemony pastel yellow shade. To the other bowl add a handful of squished raspberries and pink colouring to give a bright pink. Don't mix completely - that way it has a nice marbled effect.
· Pashmak Persian fairy floss (can be bought from Harvey Nichols), or regular fairground candy floss (from Ocado)
· yellow and pink ombré
chocolate disks (see below)
· indoor sparklers
Layer the sponges using your lemon and raspberry buttercream alternately, plus any extra lemon curd.
To ice, use a palette knife to spread thick smears of pink and yellow icing randomly all over the outside of the cake. Make sure you clean your palette knife in between scooping the buttercream. Decorate with fairy floss in the centre and surround with pink and yellow ombré chocolate disks.
Dim the lights and bring out the sparklers!
OMBRÉ CHOCOLATE DISKS (Makes 24)
· 200g high-quality white chocolate, chopped into very small pieces, or use tempered white chocolate drops
· oil-based food colouring (Wilton works well)
· a 24-hole silicone mini
· muffin tin
First you need to temper your white chocolate. Working very quickly, add touches of colour to the mix. Fill a few moulds about 0.5cm thick with this paler chocolate, then gradually add more colouring to the bowl of chocolate and fill a few more moulds to build up the ombré effect. Leave to set at room temperature, then pop the chocolates out of the bases.
Package up in an ombré fade in cellophane sweetie bags, or line them up on top of a cake.