Cranborne Chase is a beautiful area, and the home of many artisan producers of local food. On Wed 19 April we were pleased to be part of the first Cranborne AONB Food Festival held at the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens. The gardens themselves are well laid out, with lots of nooks and crannies, and quirky touches,
It was a lovely warm spring day. In the morning we met with buyers from various other small businesses, mostly community and village shops, and then later the event was open to the public. One of the village shops represented was Chettle Store, and we chatted about their award-winning pies, so at noon Gavin trundled off to get some for our lunch – they were delicious, and we could totally see why they had won an award.
We bought home some fantastic cider from The Donhead Apple Company which went very well for our tea with the Smoked Trout Terrine from Mere Fish Farm and the Sourdough Bread from Long Critchell Bakery.
Gavin was also delightLed to find some venison from Wessex Game that he plans to use in a rich stew.
I hope that the Festival happens again next year and becomes a spring highlight in the Cranborne AONB calendar.
Sometimes a mistake can lead to a surprising discovery!!!
Towards the end of 2015, a tired Gavin was making some of our Caramel Surprise Nougat and he accidentally added the egg white mixture twice. We didn’t want to waste the batch, so we decided to let it set and eat it ourselves. (I was happy about that as the Caramel Surprise is my favourite!)
After it had set, Gavin cut it and it looked OK, but it was quite soft. I volunteered to taste it – WOW! it was delicious!
We decided to pack some of it up and take it to a show, with plenty of samples, to see what the response was from our customers – we sold out within the first hour or so!
We asked people what they thought about it, and, on the basis of the very positive comments people made, we decided to add it to our range – so, new in our online shop for 2016 is Soft Salted Caramel Nougat with Nuts
We have developed a second business, as a ‘side-line’ of our confectionary business, that is fast becoming an ‘oak tree’ in its own right!!
When we first started making Marshmallows the specialist gelatine that we needed wasn’t stocked in the shops (and still isn’t) and we couldn’t get it from suppliers in the relatively small quantities that we needed, so we decided to take a risk, buy 25 kg and try to re-package what we didn’t need and sell it on e-bay.
We soon realised that we weren’t the only ones who wanted to buy ‘friendly’ quantities of that gelatine….and then that there were other forms of gelatine that people wanted in small to medium quantities. We started to look into the various requests that we’d had, and decided to broaden our range, first to varieties of gelatine, and then we added sorbitol, glycerine, egg-white powder and other products used, not only by confectionary producers, but also by special effects make-up experts, gelato makers, burger makers and body-builders.
We have also started a website: www.mmingredients.co.uk to improve the service that we can offer.
What started as an ‘acorn’ of an idea, is still growing!!!
The eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted that we changed our Marshmallow labels at the beginning of this year, and now we no longer refer to our products as ‘Marshmellows’ – but why change it, you might wonder.
When we first started, we only made marshmallows, and, when thinking of a company name, we thought we should check the spelling, as we kept referring to them as ‘marshmellows’ (maybe a combination of a Dorset accent with a hint of South African!!). Of course, the correct spelling is with an ‘a’, but then we thought that using an ‘e’ would be a great little twist – and underline the point that our marshmallows weren’t like the ones you might have had before, they were ‘mellow marshmallows’.
This led on to our company name – Miss Marshmellow and our strapline ‘Marshmallows- but mellower’.
At first we enjoyed responding to the many people who helpfully pointed out that we’d made a spelling mistake, and were pleased to be able to suggest that they try our products and see why we claimed that they were more mellow…but after 4 years it became harder to keep the smiles on our faces!!
Also, 4 years on, the digital world has changed, and we are seeing an increase in our online sales – but we realised that most people search for ‘Marshmallows’ rather than ‘Marshmellows’, so we decided to drop the idea of Marshmellows and stick with the spelling with which most people are familiar.
We will be rolling out the change across our point of sale banners etc over the year, as and when we need to replace them.
Our Company name will remain ‘Miss Marshmellow Confectionary Ltd’ reflecting our start-up venture, and embracing the addition the other confectionary item in our range – our Dorset Honey Nougat.
Back in September of 2015 we finally made the decision to have a new kitchen installed. I’m not sure if it was the door falling off my baking cupboard for the umpteenth time that precipitated our decision, or the number of burnt items that came out of our erratic oven, or the effort that it took to steam clean the textured vinyl flooring… or maybe one of the other petty irritations, whatever it was, we made the decision.
The date was set for 20 January, the month when our orders are generally at their lowest level, and to prepare we moved our microwave and a kettle into the lounge, made sure we had plenty of clean clothes and packed all the loose kitchen items into boxes and crates.
When I saw the gutted kitchen I seriously wondered if we would ever be able to use it again!!
Patchy walls and floor, pipes in funny paces that we didn’t even know were there, even some 1970’s wallpaper behind a cupboard!
The whole renovation took a little longer that we expected, but now it is AMAZING!!!
We decided to have 2 areas, one for making Marshmallows and Nougat, and one for our own use.
Our new kitchen is a joy to work in!
Its light, airy, easy to clean and has plenty of storage space.
We are really pleased with it – and with excellent job that our fitter did.
Now we can get back to making Marshmallows and Nougat – and we’re looking forward to trying out some new varieties.