Life is looking sweet for Hope and Greenwood

Undated Handout Photo of Miss Hope and Mr Greenwood
Undated Handout Photo of Miss Hope and Mr Greenwood

Leaning over a bubbling pan of toffee, Kitty Hope is wearing a red pinny and kitten heels and recalling when her love of sweets began.

“Being a Northerner, I have a very sweet tooth,” the Sunderland native confesses, as the delicious aroma of honeycomb fills the room.

“Sweets were a very important part of Sunday morning in my childhood - going to church, Twinkle magazine and a Pink Panther bar...”

In 2004, Hope decided to turn her love of confectionery into a business venture with her husband, the “walrus-whiskered” Mark Greenwood.

They gave up their day jobs in giftware and antiques, and set up the first Hope and Greenwood shop in Dulwich, South London.

“We went home that night and opened a bottle of wine in the kitchen and went, ‘What have we done?’ because it was just overwhelming,” says Hope, who is known to her young sweet shop customers as Miss Hope.

A decade on, the business has gone from strength to strength, with a second shop opening in Covent Garden in 2007 and, now, a new BBC Two series, Sweets Made Simple.

The show, and accompanying book of the same name, features delicious, dribble-inducing recipes for rose and violet creams, raspberry marshmallows, gin and lime truffles and more.

All are explained in the pair’s quirky, tongue-in-cheek style - from the irresistible English almond butter toffee (“The George Clooney of toffees”) to peppermint crackers (“A charming alternative to toothpaste”).

And key tools for the high temperatures involved in sweet-making are a sugar thermometer and a wooden spoon (“A plastic spatula will melt like the Wicked Witch of the West”).

Hope and Greenwood - who married in 2000 - develop all their recipes at their home on the Kent coast, where their neighbours get to try out their new creations.

“They came around the other day and went home with armfuls of sugar plums,” says Hope. “The postmen love us too.”

Hope and Greenwood would love to see the TV series do for sweet-making what The Great British Bake Off has done for cakes and buns.

“We want to see people getting stuck in and actually doing it, rather than buying the book and putting it on the shelf, or watching the TV show,” says Greenwood. “Get the pages sticky.”

“There’s been such a revolution in cupcakes and baking, and this is just the same really,” Hope adds.

“There are endless possibilities - you’ve got your wedding coming up and you want something special for it, it’s your mum’s birthday, Christmas, Easter. It’s so much fun, and what you can create from what looks like a humble little pan of sugar, is amazing.”

Besides, a little bit of what you fancy does you good says Hope, who insists that she has all her own teeth despite the sugary day job.

“Confectionery is a happy, smiley thing,” she says. “It’s good for your soul.”

Tempted? Here’s a 
Sweets Made Simple recipe to try at home.