We all know Christmas is a time for surprises. But this year it’s not just the more thoughtful gifts under the tree that are set to delight us on the big day; we reckon some of the biggest and best foodie thrills can be found at Waitrose this Christmas.
Continuing to partner with Britain’s most inventive chef – the inimitable Heston Blumenthal – Waitrose is ensuring that some of the season’s most memorable moments will take place on your dinner plate. With a catalogue of over 30 show-stopping festive treats – including a tantalising Melting Chocolate ‘Sprout’ – he’ll have you wondering if the proof really is in the pudding…
This year it’s not just the thoughtful gifts under the tree that are set to delight us on the big day, but what we serve up on the dinner table thanks to Heston Blumenthal’s range at Waitrose
Blumenthal’s infamous ‘Meat Fruit’ starter – a permanent fixture on the menu at his award-winning London restaurant, Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental hotel – which comprises a ‘mandarin’ of the lightest chicken liver parfait, has excited diners since day one, proving him to be a master of food deception. And who could forget the remarkable sounding ‘Snail Porridge’ or the signature ‘Bacon and Egg Ice Cream’, both regularly featured on the three-Michelin-starred menu at The Fat Duck?
Happily, Heston’s range with Waitrose allows us all to partake in his characteristic culinary trickery, at a mere fraction of the price. And top of our shopping lists this year is his brand new Melting Chocolate ‘Sprout’. Employing every iota of the showmanship and cunning we’d expect from the man himself, Blumenthal and his team have created a dish set to turn the most divisive aspect of Christmas dinner – the humble Brussels sprout – into something incredibly tempting.
Blumenthal and his team have created a dish set to turn the most divisive aspect of Christmas dinner – the humble Brussels sprout – into something incredibly tempting
Designed to look just like a giant Brussels sprout, complete with realistically textured ‘leaves’, the Melting Chocolate ‘Sprout’ is formed from a brightly-hued green chocolate domed shell that can’t fail to get people talking. But, following the trend for ‘hidden reveal’ puddings as popularised by Channel 4’s First Dates, the ‘sprout’ is then flooded with a warm salted caramel sauce – with all the appearance of a delicious rich gravy! – causing the green chocolate exterior to melt away, exposing a hidden centre of 18 green profiterole ‘sprouts’ filled with a zesty lime crème pâtissière that perfectly offsets the rich chocolate and the sweetly salty caramel.
But beware; this indulgent creation is so realistic you might need to reassure your guests that no actual sprouts were used in the making of this dessert!
As Heston says: ‘The dishes that have caused the biggest response from our guests at The Fat Duck are those that look like something they are not. What can be more fun at Christmas than playing with your guests’ minds and tastebuds that will leave everyone talking?’
Styled simply as Christmas tree decorations, these beautiful creations are actually edible and come in a range of unexpected flavours
Continuing his reign as the Master of Disguise, the Heston from Waitrose The Edibaubles Collection is another triumph of delicious deception. Styled simply as Christmas tree decorations, these beautiful creations are actually edible, and come in a range of unexpected flavours in a celebration of curiosity. We love the boozy-yet-creamy eggnog variety, but gingerbread and candy cane both come a close second – all blended with the most luxurious Swiss truffled chocolate.
Gin lovers should pop the surprising Heston from Waitrose Citrus Sherbet Lazy Gin right at the top of their Christmas lists
And it doesn’t end there either; gin lovers should pop the surprising Heston from Waitrose Citrus Sherbet Lazy Gin right at the top of their Christmas lists – so called because the gin has been crafted with such a depth of zingy flavours (from Eureka lemons, Persian limes and basil) that your usual citrus slice is made redundant. Serve over ice with Mediterranean tonic to intensify the sherbert flavour, and you’re good to go.
Anyone who missed out on previous runaway successes like the Hidden Orange or Hidden Clementine Christmas Puddings need fear not; these beauties are both back this year, and continue to intrigue and delight with their richly spiced vine fruit flavours before the pièce de résistance of the hidden candied citrus centre is revealed to your Christmas guests.
For a taste of the exoticism and unexpected that we’ve come to expect from Heston (and a lighter take on the traditional Christmas pudding), pick up the sophisticated Heston from Waitrose Persian Spiced Christmas Pudding. Think deep, dark Damask rose, sticky honey, luxurious pistachios and all the headiness of the Spice Trail, encased in a spectacularly shimmering pudding that hides a molten honey butter centre for a spot of post-lunch theatre on the big day.
For a taste of the exoticism and unexpected that we’ve come to expect from Heston, pick up the sophisticated Heston from Waitrose Persian Spiced Christmas Pudding
Heston has given the Panettone a 70s style makeover complete with plump cherries and nostalgia-heavy Kirsch cherry liqueur on the inside, with dark chocolate and sour cherries
If you’re looking to embrace a retro Christmas this year, however, you’ll be wanting to stick a Heston from Waitrose Black Forest Panettone in your trolley instead… The past few years have seen the classic Italian Christmas dessert explode in popularity – even out-selling our homegrown much-loved Christmas puddings two to one at one point last year – but of course Heston’s offering, presented in a festive gift box, is anything but traditional.
Instead, he’s embracing all the fun of Christmas past giving it a fabulously 70s style makeover, complete with candied cherries and nostalgia-heavy Kirsch cherry liqueur on the inside with dark chocolate and sour cherries to finish, which is set to rekindle all those old Christmas party memories of Black Forest Gateaux gone by.
And what Christmas would be complete without mince pies? Served warm with a dash of cream, they’re the ultimate Yuletide treat. But trust Heston to give them an unexpected twist.
What Christmas would be complete without mince pies? Trust Heston to give them an unexpected twist.
His Spiced Shortcrust Mince Pies with Lemon combine richly fruited mincemeat, delectable lemon curd, a zesty all-butter crumble topping and spiced shortcrust pastry. We can’t see a box of these lasting very long…
And anyone who fancies themselves as a bit of a whizz in the kitchen and wishes to try a spot of culinary wizardry should take a look at the Waitrose website. Dig in to a plethora of recipes for the ultimate Christmas with a twist, like the very best roast potatoes and these Brussels sprouts Heston style: not the chocolate variety this time though!
Heston’s Brussels Sprouts
‘Many people ask me how to make Brussels sprouts taste nicer. For me, the best way to eat sprouts is to treat them like cabbage by separating the leaves and cooking them in butter with smoked bacon, but please don’t overcook them!’ Heston Blumenthal
Try Heston’s ultimate Brussels sprouts recipe this Christmas
400g Brussels sprouts
5 smoked bacon rashers
50g unsalted butter
1. Slice the bases from the Brussels sprouts and carefully separate the leaves, pulling them off the sprouts.
2. Fry the bacon in a frying pan over a medium heat until soft but not coloured. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter with the bacon fat in the frying pan over a medium low heat. When the butter is foaming, add the Brussels leaves and stir in the bacon. Add 2 tbsp water and cover the pan.
4. Allow to cook for 3–5 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
Top tip: The Brussels sprouts can be shredded with a knife if time is short.
Copyright © Heston Blumenthal 2010