Christmas is not Christmas in my opinion without a stocking full of sweets and chocolate for all the good boys and girls. Themed sweeties are even better and Haribo have a great selection including packets of Jolly Santas as pictured above. There are also Sparkly Stars available which are fizzy flavoured fruit jellies.
They have a big tub of Christmas mix to share with friends and family although sharing Haribo is not a known phenomena in this house!
This is a fab Haribo Igloo friends cube containing mini bags of festive Haribo! this makes a lovely present for your children’s friends. They also contain festive animal stickers and pop out characters.
There are various gift tubes available, which make absolutely perfect stocking fillers, in size and in shape. Starmix, Tangfastics and now Chamallows are all available in 120g tubes.
Also available are the party time tubs which contain 24 mini packs of Tangfastics, Star Mix and Super Mix plus family games, invitations and stickers so are perfect for party giveaways. Enough choice to ensure something different for everyone.
Disclosure: we have been sent a selection of Haribo Christmas sweets to feast on!
The other week I had the most fun I’ve had in ages learning how to make brioche with the lovely bakers from Brioche Pasquier much to the delight of my children who feast on brioche quite frequently for breakfast.
Brioche Pasquier was started in 1936 in a small village in the west of France, they use an authentic process which takes about 5-6 hours from start to finish and also use a live yeast cultured in sour dough called ‘levain’ to give their brioche a unique flavour. There are no preservatives in Brioche Pasquier products so they have a 28 day shelf life. My children are already fans of their plain ‘au lait’ brioche, chocolate chip brioche and their pain au chocolat as well as the ‘Pitch’ chocolate filled ones. I didn’t know there were also lemon curd filled ones, the children have liked them although the chocolate ones are still their favourites. The Pitch products come individually wrapped which are handy for packed lunches or for taking out as snacks.
Anyway, it was so brilliant getting professional advice from experts when doing something you really love and I had a fabulous day. However, when left to my own devices it seems a little harder. I enjoyed making brioche so much that I have made them twice now at home and although not technically difficult the rising of the dough takes me so much longer than it did when I had help. They do rise eventually but you have to be so so patient. Be prepared to start this recipe in the morning and have brioche by teatime. I haven’t yet tried proving the brioche overnight ready to bake in the morning so they are lovely and warm for breakfast. They would be perfect on Christmas morning, failing that you could always go and buy some ready made ones.
This is the recipe that I was given to follow by the bakers from Brioche Pasquier. Be warned, you need a good mixer with a dough hook.
Add the salt and half the sugar to one side of the bowl, the yeast to the other. Don’t let them touch each other
Add the water, eggs and butter
Using a dough hook mix for 2 minutes on a slow speed.
Mix for 5 minutes on a medium speed
Add the remaining sugar and mix again on a medium/high speed for 4 minutes. At this stage you need to look at the dough and check it is very shiny, soft and very elastic. If it isn’t then mix until it is. I think this can depend on the room temperature and also the power of your mixer. Both times I have made brioche at home I have had to add on a good few minutes, the second time not quite so much, maybe two or three.
Divide the dough into 50g pieces. (When using chocolate chips I weighed them to about 60g give or take)
Shape the pieces into balls and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
Make sure there is plenty of space between each ball.
Brush lightly with water
Leave in a warm place for about an hour and a half. (This has taken me up to five hours even in a warm kitchen)
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6
Brush the brioche with the egg and milk wash, you can sprinkle some pearl sugar on if you fancy it
Bake the brioche for 10 minutes
Leave to cool, if you can, before devouring!
I used chocolate chips the first time I made these at home, then chopped up a luxury brand of high cocoa content chocolate the second time. I especially loved the chopped up chocolate version, it tasted more authentic. Remember to sieve away any powder residue if you do it that way though.
For your information, the very top photos are my first attempt at making brioche under the supervision of the experts, the middle basket of brioche are made with the chopped chocolate, I quite like the dark colour of those ones, and the last photos are my first attempt at home.
Disclosure: I was given a huge hamper of Brioche Pasquier to try at home and had an informative and educational day with their lovely bakers, so thank you to all who made it possible.
What could be better than spending uninterrupted time with your children whilst getting fresh air on the beach or on the ski slopes? Over the last few years I have had a good look at Mark Warner brochures praying that I could go on one of their holidays with my children. Sadly due to financial circumstances it has not been possible. Thanks to family and friends we did manage to go on holiday this summer for the first time in over five years and I will never ever forget M, aged 6 years, saying on the first day of our holiday that it was the best day ever and so much better than he ever imagined. That will be an extra special memory that I will treasure for ever.
I am not sure when or if I will ever be able to take my children on holiday again, but I am grateful that I did get to do that…especially as the older boys are all grown up now. There will definitely never be any family holidays with all six of us again.
Why would I love to be a Mark Warner Mum? Well, I know they offer top notch childcare, activities in great locations and family friendly accommodation (I know because I have studied the brochures time and time again willing for a lottery win). It is a tough choice though whether to wish for a skiing holiday, for anyone that hasn’t been skiing with children it is an amazing and exhilarating holiday, or a summer holiday. However I think a beach holiday would win the day for us because I don’t think my stress levels could take going on a skiing holiday as a single parent. To have the opportunity to learn to sail or just simple relaxing days building sand castles and paddling would do the children the world of good as well as their frazzled mum who could perhaps make use of the childcare facilities occasionally to take some time out for maybe a massage or even just a quiet swim. Bliss. Also having children of different ages can be tricky when going on holiday but I know that Mark Warner caters not just for little ones but teens too. Keeping teens occupied on holiday can be tricky but my teenage daughter would love all the water-sports activities. I also think as a single parent going on holiday alone can be a bit daunting, but I know that Mark Warner go out of their way to ease any awkwardness.
Without getting the violins out it’s fair to say the children and I have had a tough few years but becoming an Ambassador for Mark Warner holidays would score me many brownie points and make me the best mum in the world in the eyes of my children…you can’t beat that.
So, fingers crossed…this opportunity would be truly amazing and I would be so so grateful, thankful and thrilled to become a Family Holiday Ambassador for Mark Warner.
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