INGREDIENTS

lOOg self-raising flour 40g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder 125g caster sugar 125g low-fat spread

2 eggs

2tbsp skimmed milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

To decorate

50g low-fat cream cheese

50g icing sugar

24 white chocolate buttons

12 red sweets (we used peanut M&Ms)

12 pretzels, carefully snapped in half

METHOD

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with paper cases. Sift together the flour, 25g of the cocoa and the baking powder in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and spread until pale and fluffy.

2 Whisk together the eggs, milk and half the vanilla extract in a jug. Beat into the spread and sugar mixture, then fold in the flour mixture. Spoon into the cases.

3 Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the tops spring back when pushed. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

4 Beat together the remaining cocoa powder and vanilla extract, cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and combined. Dot ‘pupils’ on to the buttons, then spread the rest of the frosting over the cupcakes. Make faces, using the buttons for eyes, sweets for noses and two pretzel halves for ears.

When magician Mike Sharpies wore baggy clothes on stage, it wasn’t to hide a rabbit. He was trying to disguise his 21st bulk – but that was one trick that was never going to work…

Performing as a stage magician for the past 22 years, nerves have never got the better v A of me. I’m a pretty confident guy – and have performed my act in front of hundreds of people. Hut as I stepped through the doors of one particular room one night in August 2011,

I was shaking like a leaf.

The people seemed friendly enough, hut you never know how an audience will react. What’s more, this was a vanishing trick I’d never successfully completed, so what if I failed again? But something told

me that tonight would he different. After all, this was my very first Weight Watchers meeting and I was determined to make 6st vanish into thin air.

Mv weight problem had crept up without me even noticing. I d never had any kind of food issues in my childhood and, although I wasn’t particularly sporty in my teens and 20s, I ate healthy meals, went to the gym and did judo.

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