Christmas Tried and Tested
SIMPLY THE BEST
We’ve challenged our waistlines to taste and test what will be available in stores and online to order near you, so you can buy with confidence, knowing what you’re serving delivers on taste – and value for money too!
Winner: Morrisons The Best Poinsettia Christmas Cake, £12
This is a fruity and moist with a balanced flavour that works as well on its own as it does with a cup of tea, or something stronger. It is simply decorated with just right amount of marzipan and icing. It cut well without crumbling and retained good texture over a couple of days.
Winner: Tesco Finest 12 Month Matured Christmas Pudding, £10
This pudding is packed with fruit and nuts and infused with cider, sherry and ruby port. It is firm and easy to cook, it held its shape well and had a lovely glossy colour. It has a well-rounded pudding flavour that worked as well with custard, cream and brandy butters.
Although less nutty than some puddings tested it suited some testers better. The taste and texture was excellent.
BEST ‘WOW’ PUDDING
This is a stunning full-flavoured chocolate pudding with an amazing edible metallic copper coating. With a rich caramel centre, this is one for chocolate fans of all ages.
This is a light and fluffy chocolate bundt that is simply melt-in-the-mouth perfect. It’s not too rich, and the crunchy topping contrasts with the soft, light cake. It also looks lovely when decorated – which makes it a good one for the children to help with.
BEST MINCE PIES
Lovely melt in the mouth golden pastry with brandy infused fruity filling. The clementine and cranberries added a lovely Christmassy touch.
These buttery mince pies have just the right balance of filling-to-pastry ratio. Testers liked their delicious taste and that they held their shape well when both hot and cold.
Light, moist and fruity this was a quality panettone with a buttery yet airy texture. We loved that it came in a beautiful luxury box, so you can make a stylish gift of it.
These tasty treats had the correct heavy texture and a good almond flavour. They’re not too sweet and we liked the bite-sized pieces, as one or two were just enough.
THE MAIN EVENT
A beautifully tender free-range turkey with a real depth of flavour and succulence. Breast meat stayed tender and the skin crisped well. The shape was even and it was easy to carve We found the 4-4.5kg bird served six to eight generously.
BEST TURKEY CROWN
This was a good looking and different turkey offering. The tied crown had a flower shape and was incredibly simple to cook. The meat was succulent and had very nice stuffing. The packet says serves six to eight, but we’d say it comfortably serves three to four. making it a cost-effective main if there are fewer people, or if you’re having more than one meat course.
A beautifully tender gammon joint that will look spectacular in the centre of the table. It cooked well and the crackling crisped nicely, Carving was easy and the sticky sweet glaze was liked by many – though it was easy to choose bits without it for those that weren’t keen on glazes. A good 2.8kg joint will feed around six people generously.
BEST VEGETARIAN MAIN
Vegetarian main courses were in abundance this year, which is wonderful news for veggies, who have long been left out on Christmas Day. These impressive tart won hands down for their taste combinations – the squash added texture, the caramelised onion offered a lovely sweetness and the goat’s cheese provided a very pleasing creaminess, while the puff pastry case held all the ingredients together very well for an impressive serving.
These have a very sophisticated and delicate flavour and contain plenty of white crab meat. They’re extremely pretty and can be served in their containers. The light lemony mayo layer was quite rich and we would recommend serving with Melba toast and a green leaf side salad.
Not only does this stuffing have the wow factor, it really wins on flavour with its layers of texture and tasty fruity additions.
BEST PIGS IN BLANKETS
These saw off all competitors for quality of sausage meat and bacon. They were not too greasy and there was no gristle. They also held together well when cooked. Delicious!
Unbeatable value with a taste that matches far more expensive brands. Lovely light puff pastry and there’s no need to add a milk or egg wash. No excess grease and they’re extremely easy to cook – 20 minutes from frozen.
This is an impressive-looking platter containing a good variety of quality deli favourites, two types of cheese, mini dried sausages, some chorizo and salami as well as a fine selection of olive and antipasti mixes.
Very cute little pots with a layer of tomato and vodka salsa, topped with Marie Rose sauce and finished with a decent helping of crayfish. We loved the no-prep party food and the little glitter spoons, which add a fun touch.
Said to be a favourite of Henry VIII, this extremely posh pork pie makes a stunning centrepiece. We loved the pork and turkey combo with cranberries, chestnuts and stuffing. We thought the pastry was perfectly crisp and the port jelly added succulence. It would serve six to eight and is very filling. This pie is well worth the money!
This is a beautifully dry, affordable Champagne with classic light fruit flavours from the blend of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir and elegant bubbles that last well. Delicious!
Dry yet sweet and quite fruity, this light Prosecco worked well both on its own and when mixed with fresh orange juice for the perfect glass of Buck’s Fizz.
A well-rounded selection of cheese that includes a Tuxford & Tebbutt Blue Stilton, a West Country Farmhouse Extra Mature Cheddar, Shropshire red cheese, Cornish Brie and a French goat’s cheese. There are plenty of tastes and textures to suit a family gathering and the tasty treats on offer would be equally welcome at the end of a meal or as late-night nibbles.
IT’S A TIE BETWEEN… Co-op Irresistible Plum & Apple Chutney, £2.29 This chutney has an absolutely lovely fruity flavour with a nice balance of sweet and sharp. The texture was perfect and held well on cheese as well as crackers.
… AND M&S Chestnut Chutney, £3 Tangy and rich, this festive chutney had a lovely spreadable texture and a flavour that worked well with a wide variety of cheeses, from goat’s cheese to a sharper Cheddar.