The countdown to Christmas is on, and I have taken on the much complicated task of tasting and trying out gorgeous products that will adorn your table this holiday season. I fib, it was not complicated, I mean who does not want cake for breakfast or ice cream for dinner? And why not end the day with a lush Panettone and chocolate on the side? During Christmas I feel like all rules regarding what to eat and when goes out the window and we are allowed to start wherever we want. So I am going to start out with all the delicious sweet stuff!
And as mentioned above, cake for breakfast is totally OK! Sponge have cakes to share between 8 people but I live alone so more for me. I tried three different cakes; Spiced orange and Cranberry, juicy and perfectly sweet with such a lovely mix of flavours with yummy cranberry pieces scattered throughout. Then a bite from the Vegan Chocolate Mint Crisp, inside there’s a vegan peppermint buttercream, great for those who might feel mint can be too strong at times. The little snowflake sprinkles are also perfect for this time of year, it will look so nice on the table. But my favourite one was the Red Velvet Snowball Piñata, stunningly decorated as all their cakes are but in true Piñata fashion I cut a slice of cake and once I remove it these super cute chocolate beans fall out, in festive colours nonetheless! If you want to surprise someone and a whole cake might feel too much then they have a sweet service where you can send a Cake Card, choose the design of the card, write your message, choose which cake slices you want to send and off it goes, and it fits perfectly though the mail slot! Who doesn’t prefer cake to a card?!?
Panettone is the sign of Christmas right? And just for you and without any complaints by me, I have tried a few different ones. Starting with small yet perfectly sized for one person we have Seggiano Vin De Santo. Don’t be fooled they pack a boozy punch. Soft and rich dipped in Vinsanto dessert wine. I had the Classic and their Chocolate kind, I have to say the chocolate one stole my heart. All kinds of tastiness. Small but mighty.
Need a slightly larger Panettone? Then the Classic Crosta & Mollica Panettone is for you. Big enough to share but small enough to finish all on your own, I promise. Like a soft artwork it’s filled with pieces of citrus fruit and sultanas. It really allows your pallet to travel through the flavours. Baked in a traditional tunnel oven after having been slow-proved for 40hrs really makes it airy and soft.
For that larger gathering I have two very lush Panettone from Sal De Riso from Sacla to recommend, they are great as a dessert teamed with a nice coffee or Prosecco, why not? Their Limoncello Panettone was a fresh surprise for the senses, I’ve of course heard of Limoncello but not in this form. Inside you’ll find limoncello cream and it doesn’t end there, it’s doused liberally in Limoncello as well. Such a fresh take on a traditional panettone, basically half pudding half cake. If you’re having a coffee and want something that goes together with it like a hand in glove then the Tiramisu Panettone is perfect. Creamy and filled with flavour, the coffee and chocolate is mixed in with Mascarpone cream so becoming perfectly balanced. Super rich but just right! This would make a great dessert on say Christmas Eve.
I have never until now tried a Pandoro Cake, Zabaudo from Sacla had me covered. Inside the package there’s a small sachet with cocoa powder which you empty into the bag and shake, covering the Pandoro for added flavour. And as if that wasn’t a treat enough inside there was also a jar of Zaba, this is meant to be poured over the slice of Pandoro adding such an interesting flavour to this treat with it’s ingredients of egg, sugar and Marsala. A great twist on an Italian classic Christmas cake.
Have you ever had ice cream cake delivered to your door? I haven’t until now. A knock on the door and I am handed a bag from Badiani 1932. They have a shop in Notting Hill. Inside this bag I see a white round box, and inside that is the Tronchetto. Tronchetto translates to Christmas Tree trunk, and if you look at it it’s very fitting. Hazelnut and smooth chocolate outer layer covering swirls of sponge cake smooth mascarpone semifreddo and rich dark chocolate. So very lush and rich. And as if they weren’t spoiling me enough I also received their Dark Chocolate Panettone. Think classic Panettone but with rich pieces of chocolate all throughout. I was in chocolate heaven!
OK we have had cakes, Panettone, Pandoro and ice cream, so let’s move onto the chocolates! We still have room right?!?
Starting out with the classics, I had the Lindt Gold Teddy in a smooth White Chocolate, not only cute but so tasty. If not a treat for yourself it is a perfect stocking filler. And as a gift on top when you buy a 100g Teddy you automatically donate £1 to NSPCC helping a child in need this Christmas. For that perfect bowl filler we have the Lindor selections. For that mix to suit anyone in the family you have the Assorted bow treating you to a mix of classic milk chocolate, Salted Caramel, double chocolate and dark 45% cocoa chocolate. No matter which one you grab it will be smooth lush chocolate. So many choices and something for everyone, my favourite you wonder? Double chocolate of course. At first bite there’s the chocolate shell followed by a smooth rich filling.
I drink a lot of coffee, too much some might say, I disagree. Chocolate with coffee is a known indulgence and especially when the chocolate and coffee just melt together. In the gift box from Baratti & Milano Gianduiotti there’s enough for many coffees. High quality and only the best ingredients make up this golden wrapped smooth piece of perfectly balanced milk chocolate and hazelnut. I have to admit it is hard to stop once you start so be strong.
Lakrids By Bülow have not forgotten me, and how happy that makes me. For this time of year when sharing is caring they have a winter selection box, either a great gift or a nice centerpiece in front of the TV watching those Christmas classics. There are 8 compartments with assorted flavours, from classics to new surprises. And if you haven’t tried yet, chocolate with liquorice is a perfect marriage. Wait until you try their Christmas – Butter Cookie flavour!
If you are after Vegan and dairy free chocolate, then Moo Free have you sorted. They have a lovely Choccy Advent Calendar ensuring a new exciting treat each day all the way to Christmas. Or for those treats on the go maybe you have the Selection box, with individually wrapped treats either in Christmas shapes or classic bars. But for that extra fun treat why not go for Olivia the Bear? Cute and tasty and enough to share. Moo Free is free from Dairy, Gluten, Soya and palm oil and is also vegetarian and vegan.
Whole Foods is a place of amazing products from floor to ceiling, and their Cappuccino Truffles are no exception, perfectly bite sized naturally flavoured truffles that melt in your mouth. Made with Organic Cocoa complemented with Cappuccino flavour all from an old family recipe. Perfect for either a treat on the side of that coffee or as a dessert on its own.
I normally don’t go for chocolate covered fruit but I was wonderfully surprised when tasting the Seggiano Chocolate Clementines. They are vegan and gluten free, simple yet luxurious. Calabrian candied clementines dipped in dark chocolate makes the perfect mix between sweet and bitter. Even looking at them you can tell this is luxury in a box, perfect as a gift or keep them to yourself for a sweet treat.
So if you are struggling to find a gift for under the tree or maybe it’s a gift for your colleagues at the office Raphia Flavours of Morocco have you covered. I was blown away from the start. When I was handed this velvet box at the door it just felt amazing. This box is one that I will keep for as long as I can. A lovely green smooth velvet with a golden embroidery on the lid wrapped in a golden ribbon. Convinced yet? Well opening it up I am then faced with 4 small boxes of luxurious chocolates, all carefully wrapped and presented. Like a gift that keeps giving. These boxes will look perfect on the table and there’s something for everyone. The True Spirit Selection is one of their bestsellers and I see why, inside there’s a nice selection of 10 different chocolates. If ten feels like too many, although it isn’t, you have The Four Treats, as you might see in the name it is a box with four different individually wrapped chocolates. But one of the biggest surprises to me was the Strawberry Coated Almonds. I wasn’t sure what to expect but they are amazing. I like almonds and strawberry and the harmony together is just beautiful. Light, subtle sweetness from the almond with freshness of strawberry. There are so many different packages and selections perfect for gifting and in boxes that will be treasured through the years.
So now full to the brim with cake, ice cream and chocolates it’s time to sink into the sofa and collapse in front of Love Actually or White Christmas. And if all this sugar isn’t your cup of tea keep an eye out for my Savoury Christmas Food Guide coming soon!