Chocolate, Crackers, Cakes and Hampers:
My Top Three “Must Have” Essentials for the Festive Period
One of the plus sides of writing a food blog is the opportunity to review products, and although I am offered lots of items to review throughout the year, I am very picky about what I accept to try out. So, my Top Three Christmas “Must Have” items today are what I consider to be “Top Drawer” and high quality Christmas treats, and what could be better than Cake, Chocolate and a Hamper? My Festive review today is for three fabulous products by three of my all time favourite companies – Bettys, Forman and Field and Hotel Chocolat. In line with my quite strict “review policy”, regular readers will know and maybe remember that I have worked with all three of these companies in the past, and reviewed their excellent produce and products before.
So, sit back and let me talk you through my Top Three “Must Have” Essentials for the Festive Period; all three products are of the highest quality and they are listed in no particular order as regards to quality, but just in the order I received them!
My Top Three “Must Have” Essentials for the Festive Period
Topped with marzipan and classic Royal icing, this rich fruit cake features a pretty green and antique gold-coloured hand-piped festive wreath.
15 cm diameter | 1,000g
Suitable for overseas delivery
Betty’s of York is my “local” as many of my readers will know, so it was a pleasure to review this famous Yorkshire institution, plus it is the best tea room, coffee/tea blenders and bakery in England, in my humble opinion! As well as reviewing this beautiful cake, I was also asked to review their “overseas” delivery service, as the cake was sent to me whilst I was in France. The cake arrived within one week of ordering it and was EXTREMELY well packed in a large sturdy box with acres of bubble wrap protecting it. I unwrapped the cake carefully and saw that is had made it through the rigours of the European postal system unscathed in and perfect condition – not a crack in the icing or a crumb in sight.
The next task was to taste it, and so I waited until the weekend, Advent Sunday to be exact, before we tried it out with a cup of Yorkshire tea. The cake was protected with some plastic wrapping, and on opening it, I placed it on a glass serving dish; the icing was beautifully applied and piped and the pretty wreath, from which the cake takes it name, was exquisite. The icing is applied along with a thick layer of marzipan on the top of the cake, which is perfect for us, as we are not overly keen on lots of icing. The cake cut well and looked very “home-made” in the best possible sense, insofar as the colour and aroma of the cake was appealing.
The taste test: The taste of this cake was sublime – it was light and fruity and my husband said it was as good as my cake, which is high praise indeed, as he loves my recipe! It didn’t taste “commercial” in the dark, bitter senses and the colour and crumb was perfect. It cut nicely and the marzipan layer was deep, just the way we like it. I would say that this cake would serve 12 to 14 people with ease, and it was an extremely pretty cake to serve too.
Lavender and Lovage gives this Bettys “Wreath! Christmas Cake and the postal/packing services a well deserved 10 out of 10 and I would not hesitate to recommend this cake and the overseas postal service to all my readers, family and friends.
A romantic assortment of luxury foodstuffs, right down to individual Christmas puds. Ideal for a couple who share your impeccable gastronomic taste.
Mixed Gravadlax Selection 150g
Sweet Mustard and Dill Dressing 200ml
Marmalade Glazed Alderton Ham sliced 250g
Chicken Liver and Brandy Parfait 225g
Traditional Cheese Biscuits
Marinated Goats Cheese Balls 225g
Spiced Apricot Compote 225g
Forman & Field Individual Christmas Pudding x 2 113g
Brandy Butter 225ml
Artisan du Chocolat Truffles 100g
Presented in a wicker basket
I am an avid fan of Forman and Field and I have been lucky enough to receive their hampers for review in the past; but, I had never tried one of their “bespoke” Christmas hampers for two, so I was looking forward to receiving and reviewing this one. The hamper arrived on the day it was due to arrive by courier, and everything was nestled in lots of straw inside a pretty wicker hamper, with the distinctive F and F initials stamped on the top.
The contents of this hamper for two are impressive, with just about every luxury you could ask for or want over the festive period – there was ham, gravadlax salmon (in three flavours), chutney, cheese, Christmas puddings (x 2) along with brandy butter, chocolates and parfait as part of the contents, and I have to admit to having saved the non-perishable items for the big day! We tried the ham, which was sublime – fruity with a pronounced citrus kick – it was devoured with some home-made bread and mustard for tea one evening. A chocolate truffle was tested too, and of course, another one and another one…….so, no chocolate truffles for Christmas now!
The Taste and Review Results: I have not eaten all of the contents of this hamper yet, as we want to save it for Christmas, but, I have enjoyed Forman and Field Christmas Puddings and Brandy Butter before, and I can tell you that they were delicious, as was the ham and chocolate truffles we tried on this occasion. The contents of this hamper were very special and of the highest quality – and the delivery service was excellent. We both thought that £89:95 represented excellent value for what you get, and this hamper would make the perfect gift for family and friends. I know I loved receiving it!
Lavender and Lovage gives this lovely Forman and Field Hamper for Two a deserved ten out of ten for delivery, packaging, quality and selection of items in the hamper. Everything was beautifully arranged in the basket and the ribbon securing the salmon to the lid was a nice touch too.
This striking, over-sized cracker is the perfect centrepiece for your Christmas get-togethers and parties – by its sheer size it never fails to raise a smile and a gasp or two. But just wait until the 40 chocolates come tumbling out, complete with 12 party hats and jokes. Including smooth pralines and silky soft ganaches, luscious champagne truffles, dreamy caramels and more. Cracker measures a staggering 64cm across!
Weight: 460g / 16.2oz
I love Hotel Choclat for many reasons, their chocolates are superb and I admire their Engaged Ethics programme, which has been delivering sustainable benefits to cocoa communities in Saint Lucia and Ghana for 8 years now. I have reviewed lots of their products in the past and have always been very impressed with the quality of their chocolates, although there have been issues with too much packaging. However, this cracker was HUGE fun and not at all over-packaged, it looked impressive and although I want to save most of the contents for Christmas, I did peek inside and try a few choccies, in the interests of this review of course!
The cracker contains 40 individually wrapped chocolates along with 12 party hats and jokes. The chocolates are a mixture of truffles, ganache, pralines, caramels and more and I like the fact that there is an element of surprise once you open the wrapper! The cracker is rather large, but it needs to be in order to encase the 40 chocolates, hats and jokes, and it is certainly very impressive.
The chocolates that we tried were excellent and very festive, and I cannot wait to share the rest of the cracker with my family over Christmas!
Taste Test and Contents Review: A fun way to serve and share chocolates over Christmas, with a lovely selection of chocolates to suit all tastes included in the cracker. The party hats are made out of shiny metallic paper and are rather nice quality, and will certainly add some festive fun to any party or gathering.
Lavender and Lovage gives this stunning Hotel Chocolat Rather Large Christmas Cracker a BIG ten out of ten for the fun aspect, the size, the quality and choice of chocolates and for their ethical stance in cocoa producing.
Disclaimer: With thanks to Bettys, Forman and Field and Hotel Chocolat. I received all of the above products for free and for review; all views and opinions are my own and I was not paid or asked to post a review on my blog. I chose to share my findings here, as I wanted to share these reviews with all my readers, as the quality of these three products was excellent and I recommend all of them without hesitation.
Karen S Burns-Booth
I have TWO related giveaways here: