The Sweet Swap: Mix-Ups, Moustaches, and Mail

I’ve always wanted to make confectionary. There’s just something about sweets; childhood boiled up in sugar and wrapped in plastic. I remember I was always trying to make fudge. It just never worked. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory made me fall in love with old lolly shops and I still get excited when I pass one. Sweets have so many colours, flavours, textures, and sizes. Ultimately it all boils down to one thing: sugar. Nutritionally we get nothing from refined sugar but I don’t think another food product can cause so much joy.

On to the Sweet Swap. I knew I wanted aboard as soon as it was announced. A chance to make sweets and get packages in the mail? Sounds like a dream come true. I was almost as eager waiting for my matches as I was waiting for my packages.

Like I true food studies student, I got started in the library. Tim Richardson’s ‘Sweets’ seduced me with his descriptions like this: “The aftertaste of liquorice is stronger, if anything, than that first taste–a scirocco of sweet flavour that whirls into being as if from nowhere and hotly lingers in the mouth.Swoon.

Then I moved to the kitchen and made fudge, honeycomb, and chocolate freckles. I even tried my hand (slightly unsuccessfully) and recreating the lollipops we saw when we were in Chengdu.

In the end I decided I’d go with something I knew all too well: chocolate moustaches.

trio of chocolate moustaches

Of course, things weren’t that easy.

I first made chocolate moustaches for a Movember party about 3 or 4 years ago. They weren’t quite a success. Adelaide was going through a heatwave at the time so after about an hour my sad looking moustaches dripped and dropped off of their wooden spikes.

When I started selling cupcakes at markets the chocolate moustaches were an accompaniment to my choc Guinness cupcakes. Moustaches & beer were an obvious pair. Of course I only sold during the Summer, so there were still the days where they drooped off their sticks regardless of how high we had the air conditioner in the car. That first market was when I decided that I could make food a real part of my life. Now I’m part way through becoming a pastry chef and I’m at university studying my Master of Food Studies. These chocolate mo’s helped make it happen.

They join the long tradition of sweets that masquerade as something they’re not. Like boxes of the dubious fads (once called fags), hard candy dummies, and lollipops that double as whistles; sweets are the one time you’re supposed to play with your food. So as I packaged off my chocolate moustaches I hoped their recipients would have a bit of fun too. 

photo boxes with moustaches

Unfortunately my moustache moulds were missing and I’d run out of time to order any online. So I was inspired by a chair I passed while walking to the beach. This chair had lemons for $2 a bag. Inspired by my good friend Albus Dumbledore, I decided to make sherbet lemons. Why stop at one flavour when you can have two? I popped up to our local fruit and veg shop and bought some apples too. After some juicing it was time to start boiling sugar and juice.

I boiled and scraped, and pulled, and rolled. Then I packaged the first lot of apple lollies into their little jars. An hour later two things occurred.

  1. I managed to find my moustache moulds.
  2. My apple lollies had squished themselves down to half their size to make  a solid lump at the bottom of the jars.

sweet swap apple lollies

On to round two.

I decided to fill the chocolate moustaches. One with the peanut butter mix I use for my homemade peanut butter cups, one with a raspberry ganache, and one with regular chocolate ganache. I scrapped the chocolate ganache idea in favour of dark chocolate freckles. University can do that to you.

What You’ll Need:
1 bag Nestle milk chocolate melts
1 bag Nestle dark chocolate melts
1 bag Nestle white chocolate melts
Chocolate Moustache Moulds

Raspberry Ganache
Handful of frozen raspberries
1 part cream
2 parts white chocolate

Peanut Butter Filling
Smooth peanut butter
Icing sugar

Start by preparing your fillings. For the ganache heat cream and raspberries on the stove, stirring. Add in more raspberries to suit your tastes. Once the cream begins to bubble, remove it from the stove and strain the mixture. Add the white chocolate to the hot mixture and stir until combined. Place the white chocolate in the fridge to cool.

To make the peanut butter filling scoop peanut butter filling into a bowl. Add enough icing sugar so that the mix is a little bit crumbly but can be rolled into small balls. Adjust with icing sugar or peanut butter to suit your tastes.

For Freckles

Heat dark chocolate in a microwave safe container. Start at 30 seconds and then repeat at 20 second intervals, stirring in between.
Add a lollipop stick to each of the moulds, and sprinkle them with 100s and 1000s.
Use a teaspoon to fill the moulds. Make sure the stick is covered. Leave to set.

For Choc Peanut Butter Moustaches

Heat the milk chocolate, following the instructions for dark chocolate. Use a paint brush to cover the entire mould with a layer of chocolate. Make sure there are no gaps.
Add lollipop sticks to the moulds.
Leave the chocolate to set completely. You can do this in the fridge or freezer to speed things up.
Roll a portion of the peanut butter mixture into two halves and then flatten them into each side of the moustache. Try and leave a small gap around the outside so that the moustache can seal.
Cover with milk chocolate and leave to set.

For White Chocolate Moustaches with Raspberry Ganache

Make sure the ganache has cooled down, it should not be completely set.
Melt the white chocolate as above, following instructions for covering the mould.
Use a spoon or pipping bag to fill the moulds with the raspberry ganache.
Cover with white chocolate and leave to set.

They’re not the most amazing sweets you’ll come across and they’re unlikely to impress a gourmand, but they’re loads fun. What more do you need? The lovely ladies who received a box of moustaches are Jen from Jenius, Cath from Confessions of a Glutton, and Prue from the Culinary Library. Hope you all enjoyed them!

Now for the mail!

My first package arrived nice and early. I was actually down at my parents place for the week–about 2 hours from my apartment thanks to the trains not running. I came back into town to grab them and was greeted by some very moist and delicious brownies from Hold the Peas.

sweet swap brownies

Next were the raw vegan truffle balls from Jenius. My favourite was the cashew, lime and coconut. It was nutty and just a little bit sour. Plus, I didn’t have to feel bad scoffing them all down because they’re healthy!

present raw vegan truffle balls

My final package was from Diamond Interiors. I got some lovely little rich mocha fudge. I couldn’t gobble these up quick enough! I’m a bit of a fudge addict, and these were a great end to the swap.

chocolate fudge

Lessons Learned

I loved being part of the Sweet Swap, and thank you so much to Sara and Amanda for organising it! It was lots of fun, but there are still a couple of lessons I learned.

  • Trust your gut. When I was making the apple candies the recipe I got my inspiration from said to boil the sugar to a hard ball. I was pretty sure that if I wanted hard candies I needed to go to a hard crack. But I blindly followed instructions and messed things up.
  • Plan ahead. This doesn’t just come to sweets, but sending them off too. I was really happy with the packages I sent, but I’ll admit that I spend a little bit too much on postage.
  • Snap, snap, snap. I wish I got some better photos of my sweets. I was in a messy kitchen and I was running out of time, so these three lonesome moustaches were all I could get.

So that’s the end of my Sweet Swap post of epic proportions. I’ve loved delving into the world of candy. I’m also heading along to a confectionary course at TAFE in November so this sweet journey is far from over.

Have you ever attempted candy in the kitchen?

13 thoughts on “The Sweet Swap: Mix-Ups, Moustaches, and Mail

    • Thanks Simon. :) I love that people can have fun with them. It’s always entertaining having them at market. People’s faces always light up when they see them. I think everyone likes being a kid from time to time. ;)

  1. Ahh looks like my fudge got a little battered and bruised :( Wish I jumped on the fun packaging band wagon! Loved your article and your photos are beautiful! I’ m very keen to try out your recipe too (may save for a day when I’m feeling particularly brave in the kitchen!) Hope you enjoyed my fudge :)

  2. YESSS these are so awesome ‘cos food should be all about having fun, right? Thank goodness for Winter lest you suffered more melting chocolate escapades. :)

    • I don’t even want to think about what would have ended up on the doorstep in Summer! ;)
      I’m actually about to post some homemade fudge to my sister who has just moved to Darwin, I’m hoping that will last the Darwin heat alright. :)

  3. Great post Natasha. I do love your mustaches and from the sounds of those who received them, they loved them too! Thanks so much for taking part in the first Sweet Swap :) Great to read your list of lessons from this year.

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