I've had the pleasure of receiving two great foodie packages in the post recently. The first package was my June Foodie Penpals package (I usually post about these on the first of each month) and was sent to me by Fay from the blog Food Fables. I was Fay's first Foodie Penpal, and she did a great job choosing the things in my package. She sent me some pink strawberry flavoured candy melts that I'll most definitely be using for some kind of cake pop or other creation. Also included was some of my most favourite gummy candies that you can get at Asian supermarkets - the ones Fay sent me were Mango flavoured, but they come in loads of other flavours. I used to get these all the time when I lived in Canada where they were more widely available. How did Fay know I liked these??? Fay also included some other Asian foods - an instant noodle pouch - great for a last minute meal, and some chilli paste which I have to admit scares the crap out of me because it looks so potent. I'll definitely be using it in some stir frys and sauces, but I must make sure to use it sparingly! Fay also sent some Strawberry and pepper vinegar that her mum's friend made. I haven't used it yet, but I'm sure it would be delicious on salads. Not sure what else it might be good for - any suggestions?
I sent my Foodie penpal package to Emily who runs the Bristol Bites website. Emily said she preferred savoury things rather than sweet so I sent her one of my favourite finds. It's a packaged Pad Thai kit that comes with noodles, sauce and spices, and just requires you to add your meat of choice and an egg. I discovered these Pad Thai kits recently and I think they're great and can taste quite authentic with the addition of a tablespoon or two of peanut butter mixed in. I also sent Emily a mini tub of roasted garlic sea salt (I also bought one for me because it looked so good - my husband's tried it already and says it's great on steak), and some sweet chilli Ryvita mini's for snacking. Finally I felt that I had to include one sweet thing, so I sent Emily some Jules Destrooper chocolate coated cookies that looked really good. I haven't tried them, but I wish I had bought myself a package as well!
The second foodie package I received were some delightful little hand decorated cookies in the shape of cupcakes. These cookies were made for me by Rachel of the blog Blissfully Scrumptious, and were part of a bake swap organised by my friend Sarah of Maison Cupcake to celebrate the launch of her new book titled Bake Me I'm Yours, Sweet Bitesize Bakes. I love the idea of swapping baked goods centred around a common theme (mini bakes) and seeing what everyone comes up with. The cookies that Rachel baked for me were a vanilla butter cookie that were decorated with white chocolate as the cupcake icing and then fondant bases, with perfect tiny cupcakes added on top which I think were made with royal icing. The cookies are delicious, and I was so excited when I got home from work and noticed the box in the hallway that I couldn't wait to unpack it. Seriously - if you saw me trying to unwrap it you'd think I'd received a Gucci handbag or something! I was so pleased to see that all the cookies arrived perfectly in tact - not a crumb/crumble to be seen!
As for my baked item, I sent Rachel some mini cupcakes I decorated with pastel fondant and mini sugar paste flowers and pearls. It was the first time I made fondant covered cupcakes, and I was really pleased with the way they turned out. I'll be posting a tutorial on them soon, so check back for that. Never in my life have I been so worried about sending something through the post. At least with my foodie penpal packages, things are generally far less fragile, and I haven't put a whole lot of time and effort into personal making each individual item. I was dying to know if my cupcakes survived their journey to Dorset through the mail, and sent a tweet out to everyone on Twitter to see if they knew a potential food blogger by the name of Rachel who lived in Dorset - (we weren't told if our bake swap mate was also a blogger). Sure enough within a few minutes a response was tweeted to me, and Rachel and I were united via Twitter where we thanked each other for our baked treats and I was assured that my cupcakes did indeed arrive in tact. Phew! My packaging job had worked!
I really hope that the Bake Swap continues on a regular basis, as I had a great time making and receiving my mini bakes. Keep an eye out on the Maison Cupcake blog to see if there is another instalment of bake swap.