Sweet treats for festive foodies

It’s beginning to feel & taste a lot like Christmas. Whether you are a traditionalist or enjoy alternative twists, festive treats make perfect edible gifts. 

Homemade is great, but if you are not a dab hand in the kitchen I recommend some delectable handmade delights from Jack & Beyond, creative cake shop and café based in London SW6.

Asides from made to order bespoke and celebration cakes, they also hand bake fresh brownies every day. Made with luxurious Belgium Callebaut chocolate and using the finest ingredients, the range includes irresistible combinations such as White Chocolate and Pistachio, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter and Vegan Chocolate and Raspberry brownies.  

I was excited to try their Red Velvet brownies. I received a slab of 4 huge mouthwatering slices of luscious looking brownies, vibrant and beautifully finished with a cream cheese swirl pattern. The buttery intense chocolate aroma was hard to resist. The taste and texture were truly divine, moist gooey velvety that simply melted in the mouth. It was rich and decadent, achieving the perfect balance of sweetness paired with the intensity of dark chocolate. I loved the slight tanginess from the delectable, cream cheese swirl, which offered a lovely contrast. They really hit the flavour profile of the classic Red Velvet cake. Decadent and indulgent, a perfect gift for your favourite foodie.

Extremely moreish, I managed to exercise some self-control freezing one slice and sharing the remainder with friends (I felt a tad guilty having sent them photos to drool over). Wrapped up in protective film, the brownies freeze really well. After a week, it still tasted heavenly…even better served warm with a scoop of ice cream.  

If you are after more traditional treats but fed up with the disproportionate ratio of filling to crust in commercial mince pies than you won’t be disappointed with Jack & Beyond’s artisan hand made Mince Pies. Awarded a prestigious Two Stars in the Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Awards’, they are deep filled and packed to the brim.

Generously sized, golden brown, I loved that they looked rustic and homemade finished with a simple light dusting of powdered sugar. The pastry had a beautiful texture, baked evenly, lightly sweetened, buttery and melt in the mouth.

I’m not a huge a fan of mince pies, mainly because I find mincemeat super sweet and cloying, and I dislike the look and texture of vegetarian suet on my palette. However, I absolutely loved the handmade vegetarian mincemeat in these pies, so full of flavour and warming fragrance of autumnal spices contrasting with sweet and zesty notes. The texture was incredibly light with distinguishable pieces of apple, juicy vine fruits and orange rind peel. I found the flavours balanced well, not overly sweet leaving a pleasant aromatic aftertaste on my palette.

Mince pies herald in the festive season, but if you want a twist on the traditional try Jack & Beyond’s equally tempting, Chocolate Mince Pies and Peanut Butter & Chocolate Pies. Perfect for chocoholics.

Each item is freshly baked, simply wrapped and sealed with a J & B gold signature label, packed in natural wood wool, before being securely boxed. You can also personalise each gift with a message of seasonal cheer.

Delivered nationwide and available in boxes of 8: Brownies £28.50 | Mince Pies £12, Brownies – bite sized bag – £9.95 Order online here also available to collect in store at Jack & Beyond, 606 Fulham Road, SW6 5RP.

For pudding connoisseurs, looking for a festive classic to give their Christmas table some theatrical flair, Aldi has released their specially selected 30-month-Old Christmas pudding, allowed to mature and mellow to give depth of flavour and complexity.

Generously laced with rum, brandy, port, aged Armagnac and cider this is definitely an Adult only lavish treat. It is packed full of luxurious plump fruit and nuts: Turkish sultanas, Greek Vostizza currants, juicy plums, tart cranberries and brandy-soaked cherries.

A beautifully dark rich and aromatic pudding, the alcohol is prominent as soon as you burst the film. Infused throughout the pudding, alcohol flavours linger on the palette after each spoonful. Not at all displeasing, I could still detect the aromatic warming spices and subtle citrusy notes balance throughout the pudding.

I loved the multiple layers of flavours and texture, from the soft sweetness of the vine fruits, chewiness from glaze cherries, the slight firmness and subtle zest from the candied peel contrasting with the crunch and nuttiness of almond halves and chopped walnuts.

I particularly liked the balance of fruit to pudding, not excessively crammed with fruit so you cannot taste the actual pudding. It also has a nice consistency, not overly dense nor stodgy, the plump alcohol infused fruit keeps it moist and easy to slice through. With the sweetness from the fruit and alcohol, I found that a little goes along way.

It’s full of sugar, spice and all things nice, just the boozy pudding to get you into the ‘spirit’ of Christmas.

Commended in the Christmas Quality Food Awards 2020! £9.99 (907g, serving eight people) Available in store now or order online here

Written by Eboni Addoh