A mom has told of her delight in creating bleeding, severed toes from cookies and baking revolting cakes with stubbed-out cigarettes stuck into them.
And nothing pleases Natasha Collins more than when people are too disgusted to swallow her sweet treats.
Natasha, 49, of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, said:
“I really like that twisting of expectations – of having a really delicious cookie, but no one wants to eat it, or they are revolted by it."
English breakfast made of cookies (PA Real Life and Nevie-Pie Cakes)
The skilled baker, who is married and has two children, now 16 and 13, who she does not wish to name, loves making pretty floral cakes too, but admitted:
“I also have this darker sense of humor where I enjoy making things that turn people off."
Her other speciality is confusing people's taste buds by serving up a realistic-looking full English breakfast – complete with burnt bits and fat bubbles – that turns out to be made from cookies, or Chinese takeaway noodles rustled up from cake and fondant.
Natasha's strange culinary journey began unexpectedly 12 years ago, when her children were little.
Pizza made out of cookies and fondant (PA Real Life and Nevie-Pie Cakes)
A trained illustrator and textile designer, who had first studied graphic design at the University of Northumbria, she found it hard to go back to full-time work while looking after a preschooler and toddler, so started cake-making to earn some extra cash.
“I'd always been a baker and started making cakes for birthdays when the children were young."
“They became quite adventurous, but at that point it was just a hobby and to earn a bit of pocket money, but then it just took off."
“I did a lot of traditional style cakes for birthdays, but one day I was trying to do a 'happy birthday' banner across a cake using piping and found I just couldn't do it, I kept having to start again."
“I looked into edible food coloring and found I could paint it on instead. I am not good at piping but I can use a paint brush."
From there on in, there was no limit on Natasha's arty baking skills and she now makes a living from cake and cookie-making, having set up Nevie-Pie Cakes three years ago.
Cigarette cake made for a bachelorette party (PA Real Life and Nevie-Pie Cakes)
“Some of my creations are not pretty looking at all and I find that quite funny."
“I loved making a cake with cigarettes stubbed out on it for a hen do, using ground up cookies and coconut to get the look of ash."
“It looks so disgusting that people can't even eat it because they expect to get that tangy ashy cigarette taste. Often you eat something with your eyes first, but then you eat the cookie and it tastes completely different. It's tricking people."
Natasha with one of her creations (PA Real Life and Nevie-Pie Cakes)
Explaining how the idea for her full English breakfast cookie came about, she said:
“I was trying to think of birthday cakes I could do for men. The cakes out there tended to be focused on hobbies like golf or football, which I found boring so I thought about what my dad, Alan Snape, or my husband like."
“I wanted to make cookies to match a full English. It's almost a cartoon version, I like them to look deliberately 'rough' – so with the egg I make sure the edges are a bit jagged, with burnt bits and the bubbles of fat."
“The eggs are made of vanilla cookies covered in royal icing and bits of fondant."
Severed ear cookies (PA Real Life and Nevie-Pie Cakes)
“I get a lot of orders for Father's Day or people send them as birthday cakes."
Another of her deliberately imperfect-looking, savory cookies is a pizza, which Natasha said is:
“Made with fondant and food coloring, to create texture, and give it that 'dirty' food look – where it appears slightly burned."
Revealing more of her secrets, she said:
“I don't do drawings or anything before I start. I just make them from a picture or from the objects themselves."
When she came up with her severed toes design, Natasha used her own tootsies as models as she crafted the delicacy from cookies, fondant and red food coloring for the blood splatter.
“I made the toes for an event, then shared them online and people started ordering them," said Natasha, who has written two books The Painted Cakes and Homemade Wedding.
“They are very popular for Halloween, particularly in the USA. I had one company who ordered 100 boxes to send to their clients."
Natasha (PA Real Life and Nevie-Pie Cakes)
As for the taste of her creations, for those brave enough to eat them, she said:
“Most of the cookies are made from chocolate and spices – pepper and cinnamon – so they have quite an adult taste."
Natasha admits she finds her bakes a bit too tempting, but her children are completely unfazed by what she is cooking up.
“It's very hard not to eat them when I'm working, and you do have to sample each batch to make sure it is okay!" she said.
Chinese takeaway made of cake, fondant noodles and food gel (PA Real Life and Nevie-Pie Cakes)
“My kids have grown up with it, so they are quite used to having a tray of severed toes in the kitchen. They don't really blink at it anymore."
Sharing her designs on Instagram, where she has more than 26,000 followers, Natasha said she has not had any rude requests so far.
“I haven't had any very strange requests. No one has asked me for a penis cake yet – I'm not sure if I would do that if I was asked," she laughed.
Miss Havisham cake (PA Real Life and Nevie-Pie Cakes)
“One of my strangest requests was a couple who had been together a very long time and were getting married, who asked me to make a Miss Havisham-style cake as they had been sick of people asking them all the time when they were going to tie the knot," she continued.
“Miss Havisham is a character in the Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations, who was jilted at the altar and wears her wedding dress for the rest of her life."
“I'd made it look all moldy, with moths and a couple of rats eating it. It looked really disgusting!"
Follow Natasha on Instagram: @neviepie.