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Waitrose & Partners has teased its Christmas range for 2020, with sumptuous products such as No.1 British Venison Wellington and the gold lustre-finished Heston from Waitrose Citrus Gin Smoked Salmon stealing the limelight. It's even launching Cheese Nougat - a bar of Wensleydale cheese studded with Madeira-soaked raisins and berries -as well as a tasty-sounding Chestnut and Pear with Rum Panettone.
But hang on a minute - why are they raving about Christmas in the middle of August?! According to Anni Ludhra-Gent of the Waitrose Christmas Brand Team, Waitrose shoppers started searching for Christmas items in August last year, with "Christmas mince pies" experiencing a 300% surge in searches between July and September. So, it turns out we're a nation of Christmas planners that like to start work months in advance.
Admittedly, I really enjoyed the Chocolate Liquorice Coal last year and I was looking forward to this moment, to discover what treats Waitrose & Partners has in store for us this year. They don't disappoint.
Heston From Waitrose Chocolate Candles
Heston Blumenthal has come up with the idea of edible candles this year. These pretty candles feature a warming mandarin Buck’s Fizz milk chocolate ganache inside and are covered in white chocolate. A splash of white chocolate creates the melting wax effect, while a golden almond represents the flame.
These are likely to wow your guests at a dinner party, and are ideal as edible table decorations.
£9 (pack of 5).
No.1 The Decadent Chocolate Truffle Collection
Waitrose & Partners' gift idea for the grown-ups this year is a box of No.1 The Decadent Chocolate Truffles.
Described as "rich and velvety" by the brand, these truffles are made with single-origin dark and milk chocolate as well as white chocolate, in eight different flavours. A trio of favourites - champagne, salted caramel, and dark chocolate truffles are borrowed from the existing range, and are paired with five new flavours of clotted cream, British raspberry, apple and brandy, spiced orange, and crunchy praline.
Hot Chocolate Spoon Stirrers
Hot chocolate spoons are on-trend at the moment, and this is Waitrose & Partners' take on it, featuring an elaborate design in dark milk chocolate. Simply stir into a mug of steaming milk for an effortless hot chocolate.
£5 (pack of 3).
Santa's Christmas Treat Box
Ideal for kids, this chocolate set is a novel twist on the tradition of leaving out milk and cookies for Santa - and carrots for Rudolph, of course.
The pack contains a couple of chocolate chip cookies, two carrots, and a carton of milk, all made out of chocolate.
Cherry and Amaretti Tiffin
Tiffin typically combines ingredients such as crushed biscuits, sugar, syrup, raisins, cherries, and cocoa powder, and is often topped with a layer of chocolate. Picture rocky road but without the marshmallows and it's broadly the the same ballpark.
Waitrose & Partners elevates this traditional traybake to the next level. Its rich chocolate is blended with amaretti biscuits, sultanas, and sweet cherries, and is formed in a snowflake mould. A beautiful glistening decoration completes the look. This is a showstopping centrepiece every Christmas table should proudly display.
Chocolate Rudolph Cake
This cutie is a chocolate sponge cake covered with smooth chocolate buttercream. Hand decorated with fondant icing, this cake depicts Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer in a very cute way.
£14 (serves 14).
Winter Alpine Cake
For something a little more grown-up, consider the Winter Alpine Cake. It too is a chocolate sponge cake but boasts a warming spiced ginger buttercream instead. A rich chocolate glaze is dusted with icing sugar, with a house and Christmas tree sculpture in gingerbread standing proud.
£15 (serves 14).
- The No.1 Chocolate Bar Library (£12) is a collection of single-origin chocolate bars, with complex and rich flavour profiles.
- The No.1 Indulgence Edition (£12) box contains a variety of hand-decorated colourful chocolate domes. Fillings include espresso Martini, praline feuilletine, black cherry and kirsch, mandarin caramel, plus ginger caramel.
Expect to start seeing products on the shelves in Waitrose & Partners stores over the coming weeks. They should also be available to order online soon too.
WAITROSE Musical Carousel TIN Mini Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies Biscuits NEW
£14.99 + £3.99 postage
When do you start planning for Christmas? Let me know in the comments below.