Secret Ingredient Swap Roundup

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me (and Mini-M yesterday!) happy birthday to me!

Yes, another year older and this year a number that I'm not too happy with. But outwith my control, so back in June I decided to build in some birthday distraction, figuring that otherwise I might sit and have a little mope post-Mini-M's bed time, about how old I am getting! I arranged a surprise ingredient swap, which saw bloggers and tweeters from around the UK - and indeed the other side of the world, sending their swap partners a little package of lovely ingredients, which they then had to use to bake something delicious.

Well, it has worked - Mini-M's now in bed, and instead of moping, I'm blogging about cake! That seems like a suitably celebratory activity (given that eating cake has already been accomplished earlier in the day).

So in no particular order...

The more than occasional baker was sent some popping corn, and made these "Christmassy Popcorn Rocks" which look delicious at any time of year to me. There's even a video of the popcorn popping which has reminded me of how much fun it is to make - thanks Ros!

Next up Baking in Franglais was sent some cinnamon chocolate, crystallised rose petals a miniature love heart sweets, which she combined to make these gorgeous Chocolate Cupcakes. Not only that but the ingredients went on holiday to France with Jean, and she baked them there - that's dedication to cake baking!

Lou from Please Do Not Feed The Animals was sent not one but three bottles of flavouring essence - pear, pineapple and rose to be precise. She got very busy and whipped up three different flavours of cupcakes, complete with appropriately flavoured icings. They all look fantastic, particularly the pina-colada-esque pineapple and coconut ones, which are like a little ray of sunshine against yet another rainy day!

Next it's the turn of Mr E, my other (better?!) half who has recently started his own food blog - Hell Yeah Four Ingredient Recipes. He was sent a treasure chest of goodies from Oz, some of which have been munched, some which will no doubt form the basis of future creations, and some delicious macadamia nuts which he used to make Four Ingredient Birthday Cake. It is hands down the nicest cake he's ever made me - I am a convert to four ingredient chocolate cake!

Moving on to @ClaireHitchen who was sent some delicious honey. She made this fantastic Banana and Honey Bread. Since both banana bread and honey bread are fantastic in their own right, I'm imagining great things about them being combined! It looks like it's perfect tear-apart sharing bread too - the best sort!

We're going global next, with The Teensy, Tiny, Insignificant Details, who was sent some Scottish tablet and whisky. She went on a recipe invention journey, tinkering here and there as she went and the end result was these impressive looking Scottish Tablet Cupcakes with Whisky Icing. They are even getting into the Scottish spirit and have tartan cases!

Back to the UK again, and Dom at Belleau Kitchen was sent some Chocolate Tree 64% chocolate. He combined it with a surfeit of egg-whites after a mayonnaise making spree to come up with these delicious looking Coffee and Chocolate Meringues. They look the perfect combination of crunchy outer and pillowy inner. Perhaps I'll have to venture into mayonnaise making, as I'm the opposite way around and always seem to have egg yolks left over from meringues!

The Cupcake Architect received some orange blossom water and orange white chocolate which she used to create these luscious looking Orange Blossom and Orange Ganache Cupcakes. They sound like  perfect portions of sweet sophistication, and I'm betting scraping the bowl out after making the ganache was no hardship either ;o)

And last but not least, I was sent some dark chocolate and fresh chillies (which survived their postal journey surprisingly well, not least because they spent 2 days at the delivery office before I could pick them up!). I have to confess to not having posted my challenge yet, but I have made two delicious recipes. Chocolate Chili Raspberry Brownies, the photos of which have yet to make the jump from camera to laptop, and Chili Coconut Chocolate Torte. Both will feature in a blog post in the imminent future (i.e. tomorrow!).

A HUGE thank you all for taking part in the swap. For your kind words and birthday wishes, and the evening of distraction you have provided whilst I have written this post! Who knows, if there are future events I want to distract myself from, I may even organise another one!