‘I’m happy to be choc-tasting guinea pig’

CHOCOLATE MERINGUES, from Choccywoccydoodah.
CHOCOLATE MERINGUES, from Choccywoccydoodah.

The DCI Banks star — who loves baking cupcakes with his daughter, cites caramel as his “big foible” and races his dad to the best treats in the chocolate box — has the enviable task of narrating Choccywoccydoodah: Starstruck, which returns to screens this month.

Now in its second series, it follows the Brighton-based Choccywoccydoodah team as they take on weird and wonderful cake commissions for celebrities, including Sir Richard Branson, the late Joan Rivers, and rapper Tinie Tempah.

The first time Tompkinson met “the two Christines” (shop founders Christine Taylor and Christine Garrett) in the firm’s London flagship store, he took his 13-year-old daughter, Daisy, along.

“Their meeting room, which is called the ‘Secret Room’, is like a Willy Wonka meets Alice In Wonderland-inspired room with lots of little secret doors and little spy holes to look through. They put out an amazing display of cakes and milkshakes and all sorts. Daisy’s eyes were on stalks,” the Wild At Heart star recalls.

“They gave her two canvas bags and said, ‘Just walk around the shop and help yourself to anything’. It was like a child’s dream come true.

“And at Christmas and Easter, they always send us something — a cake or some new chocolates they’re trying out. We’re very happy to be guinea pigs.”

Comedienne Joan Rivers, who died on September 4, jokingly requested a cake which was less than two calories a slice — a difficult ask, given the chocolatiers’ decadent output.

“They decided to build a cake that was 200 calories shy of a quarter of a million,” says Tompkinson. “They sculpted her two pet dogs onto it, with the idea that it would look so nice, she wouldn’t cut into it, and therefore not consume any calories whatsoever. So there’s method in their madness.”

Series two of the star-studded show will also feature an order from Wesley Snipes, who wanted an action-packed cake with explosion scenes to celebrate the release of The Expendables 3, and mind control maestro Derren Brown, who wanted the cake itself to be an illusion.

Brown’s commission was Tompkinson’s favourite of the series. “They took a lot of his favourite things — Victoriana, birds and things you would normally find under a glass globe, stuffed like a Victorian exhibit. But when you shone a light on it from a certain angle onto a back wall, there was the outline of a sort of satanic figure.”

The former Drop The Dead Donkey actor, who grew up in North Yorkshire and Lancashire, enjoys helping Daisy try her hand at baking (mainly cupcakes and gooey chocolate puddings) at home in Surrey. But “nothing on the Choccywoccydoodah scale”.

He’s never ordered a cake from the team, but might ask them to whip something up for his 50th birthday next year.

“If it pans out like the last few years, we’re always filming DCI Banks around that time, so I might be in Leeds and there’ll be a good gathering around,” he says. “I might commission them to do a cake to celebrate all the different programmes I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in — there’d be an animal or two from Wild At Heart on there, and a dead donkey, obviously.

“I would let them make the decisions, because they always dazzle and amaze.”

Want to try some Choccywoccydoodah recipes at home? Here are three simple sweet treats — chocs ahoy!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER MILKSHAKE (serves 2)

2 large scoops chocolate ice cream

2 bananas

2tbsp smooth peanut butter

250ml milk

Whizz all of the ingredients around in a blender, adding more or less milk depending on how thick you like it.

Serve in a tall glass with two big straws.

CHOCOLATE MERINGUES (makes 8-10)

2 egg whites

100g caster sugar

2tbsp cocoa

75g roasted almonds, roughly chopped

50g milk, white or dark chocolate, chopped

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Whisk the egg whites until they resemble stiff peaks. Gradually whisk in the sugar, a spoonful at a time.

Fold in the cocoa and almonds, reserving a few nuts for topping the ‘rocks’.

Put small spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a heatproof Teflon mat. Bake for about 15 minutes until set, and then leave to cool on the tray.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl, and using a piping bag or fork, drizzle the rocks with melted chocolate. Scatter with the reserved nuts.

INDULGENT CHOCCY TOAST (serves 4-6)

1 French stick, split down its length

1 x 340g jar peanut butter

1tsp cinnamon

3 bananas, sliced

250g milk or dark chocolate buttons

Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.

Spread the peanut butter over two halves of the French stick and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Cover the peanut butter with sliced bananas and generously dot with chocolate buttons.

Using a sharp knife, cut the French stick into four to six pieces, and wrap each one in foil before transferring to a baking tray.

Bake for 10-15 minutes - take care when opening each package as the chocolate topping will be hot. Serve straight away.