Let’s Be Pen Pals

Hello Lovelies and Merry Christmas.

This time next week we will be buzzing around the kitchen getting a Christmas feast together, or perhaps still cleaning up the wrapping paper off the floor near the tree. I cannot wait! Our dear treasures will be home, plus new friends, so our table will be full.

Are you someone who is super chilled heading into Christmas, or has a to do list a mile long? I confess I love the hustle and bustle before the big day, especially planning the array of sweet treats I love to make each year. On the top of the list is marshmallows. My whole world changed the moment I bit into my first homemade marshmallow. I have made it my personal mission to perfect as many natural flavour combinations as I can. Trust me, this is no easy task.

This week I wanted to make strawberry marshmallows using real fruit for both flavour and colour. Well, you would think I was asking for secret files on the assassination of JFK! Seriously, is it too much to ask for a little success in the marshmallow making world? I tried everything. I won’t bore you with the details, as I know only culinary crazies like me actually want to hear about the various ways you can infuse strawberry puree or coulis into temperamental mallows.

After the fifth failed attempt when into the bin, I was starting to get discouraged. I kept hearing that nasty, evil little voice whisper in my head ‘just use strawberry essence and no one will everrrr know! Nya ha haaa’ but I refused to compromise on such an important issue. Cost me what it may, I will never never surrender! (God bless you Winston.)

Finally, I think around attempt number six, I realised my only option was to actually make a vanilla bean batch and swirl the delicious strawberry puree into it before it set. A quick sprinkle of crushed freeze dried strawberries on top and voila! Victory was mine. I will post the recipe another time, although I may have scared you off attempting them. Never fear my lovelies, I’m happy to make all the mistakes so you don’t have to.

The absolute winner of the week, however, was my Rolo caramel marshmallow. Oh my beating heart. If God was a marshmallow, He would be this. Delicious vanilla bean marshmallow with homemade dulche de leche caramel swirled through and (wait for it) a whole block of chopped Rolo caramel chocolate mixed through. Insane. Even my anti sweet loving children gave a mild groan of delight upon tasting them.

In my marshmallow making frenzy I also made cute little gingerbread men marshmallows. Using a silicone mould I piped that wickedly sticky stuff into the shapes and they (miraculously) turned out really well. I am planning on putting them in cello bags on each place setting for Christmas dinner.

And now to these cupcakes. Sadly, it was quite a big week for bake fails. I had this pastel Christmas photo shoot in my head and wanted to make vanilla cupcakes with a gorgeous candy stripe pink and white billowy marshmallow frosting. Too easy.

Nope, apparently not. The frosting recipe I used just did not work. I have made it before but each time I tried it this week it kept flopping. Humidity may have been an issue (grrr), or the temp of my eggs. Nope. I tried both cold and room temp eggses. Sugar syrup not the right temp? No, I used two thermometers to check it. By attempt number seven (yes, 7!) I was getting pretty cross, so I sent a message to the author to discuss my little problem. She was such a sweetheart.

All the way from gloriously freezing Norway, she actually sent me voice messages. How cool is that? She happily pointed me in the right direction to her new revised marshmallow frosting recipe and it worked oh so perfectly the very first time. (And the Heavens rejoiced.) Thank you Manuela. And let me tell you, it is to die for. It is everything a decadent silky smooth marshmallow frosting should be. 

Vanilla Cupcake with Rose Marshmallow Frosting

A light vanilla bean cupcake topped with delicate rose infused marshmallow frosting.
Servings 18 cupcakes
Author Anna Hogbin


  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda


  • preheat oven to 180C
  • Line two muffin trays with 18 cupcake papers
  • In a medium bowl, add eggs, oil, sour cream, vanilla bean paste and water. Mix using a hand whisk until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, sugar, bicarb soda and baking powder.
  • Carefully pour wet mix into dry mixture and whisk until well combined.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake liners until each is 3/4 full. Bake in moderate oven for 18 minutes or until brown on top and firm to touch. Cool on wire rack and frost with rose marshmallow frosting. (see note)


The delicious marshmallow frosting recipe is on the Love Manuela App, (Baking with Passion.) It is the most delicious, silky smooth, billowy frosting you could ever dream of. I added a teaspoon of Rosewater oil and a couple of drops of pink food gel. 
If you have difficulty accessing the recipe, look up LOVE MANUELA in the App Store. This is her Marshmallow Frosting.

I can’t tell you how much I loved seeing this shoot come to life. I have so many ideas in my head, stored away in my mind palace (thank you Sherlock) until I can breathe them into existence.

How cute is dear Mr Nutcracker surrounded by his beautiful ballerinas? Well let me tell you a little secret. They were more like the pesky mermaids from Neverland than innocent Christmas characters. During the set up old mate decided to fall over not once but twice onto the cupcakes behind him, totally smashing them and covering himself in marshmallow deliciousness. Then some of my not so sweet ballerinas decided to twirl themselves right off the cupcakes and start pirouetting down the sides, smooshing the frosting as they went. So obnoxious.

All this to say, there was a lot happening behind the scenes to get this post to you today. A lot of trial and error, failing and stumbling along the path of baking life. But we got there in the end. You should have seen my unbridled delight when I finally piped those glorious marshmallow frosting swirls onto the cupcakes. As I say, the small victories are really the big ones.


As we enter this last week before Christmas I confess there is quite a bit on my to do list. Making my own version of Rocky Road (with homemade marshmallows of course), sending off last minute Christmas cards to the older dear ones in my life, perhaps even with a box of strawberry and caramel marshmallows. ( I realise they might not make it before the big day, but better late than never.) I also need to tidy up the Christmas tree and start getting my table settings ready. A few last minute gifts to buy and then the fun of wrapping them all. 

Like the little Drummer Boy, I don’t have much to give my Jesus, my King, except these sweet gifts of my time, imagination and creativity. All I have I offer to Him. Precious tokens of love to my family, to create memories and tradition that will last a lifetime.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you this holiday season. 

Until next week,

with love,

Anna xx

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