This festive season is well and truly in full swing and “what would the Christmas holiday season be without a chocolate and candy,” said John Downs, National Confectioners Association of America’s CEO and president.
It’s a time of giving and indulging your loved ones, while also treating yourself - and we start our Christmas round-up with Pierre Marcolini, who takes us through an imaginary Lapland village with 'snowy landscapes and forests of marvellous pine trees'.
The luxury chocolatier also invites sweet lovers to check out a tree pyramid covered in either homemade milk or white chocolate, embellished with six praline chocolate bells.
His collection box includes the Maison’s signature sphere pralines in jingle bell form, featuring six flavours including signature chocolate from Ecuador and Cameroon, hazelnuts from Piedmont, and vanilla from Madagascar and Tahiti to create a very flavourful Christmas.
Hotel Chocolat’s 50% Small Festive Chocolate Wreath in dark milk in a chunky format with cookies and nuts bits, is also proving popular this year. The UK's leading High Street brand is also branching out and discovering new depths of the cocoa bean, including distilling the shell in alcohol to reveal distinctive new flavour notes to make Christmas Liqueurs such as melting its chocolate into vodka and cream. Hotel Chocolat's portfolio also includes an apothecary range of beauty products based on the health-giving extracts of the cocoa pod, along with signature hot chocolate, available online or from one of its worldwide stores.
New for this year is Fairtrade-owned brand Divine’s Mint thins. The cocoa in Divine chocolate is grown in Ghana by Kuapa Kokoo, a co-operative of cocoa farmers who own the largest share of the Divine company. It means the cocoa farmers receive 44% of the profits. The chocolate is sweetened with sugar from Kasinthula, a Fairtrade co-operative in Malawi and flavoured with creamy vanilla from Fairtrade farmers in Madagascar. It's also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Bazooka Candy Brands
Looking for the ultimate way to bring in the holiday season? Look no further as Bazooka Candy Brands has also got it covered this year with the release of its new Baby Bottle Pop and Juicy Drop Candy Canes. Meanwhile, its Juicy Drop Candy Canes combine a perfect mix of sweet and sour flavour and come with their own sour gel.
Paul A. Young
London chocolatier Paul A Young’s Christmas Collection conjures the magic of Christmas and ‘the memories we make’ beginning with Trimming the Tree - a ganache of Guittard 38% Milk Chocolate blended with the essential oils of orange and delicate clove, and a shell blended with pine and cedar.
For the main event - Christmas dinner - Young has worked with his Kitchen Development manager Hayley Parker to create a truffle with beef dripping infused caramel with Cornish Sea Salt and rosemary, sage and thyme inside a shell of FireTree 75% Makira Solomon Islands, topped with a crunchy beef dripping roast potato crumble.
Other festive moments captured in the collection include: Stir Up Sunday, The Nutcracker Suite, Baking Gingerbread, The Office Christmas Party, Carol Service, Treat for Santa and After Dinner Coffee.
Staying in London, Firetree, the super-premium vegan-friendly chocolate brand, announced the launch of its new gift boxes. As with all things Firetree, the design and finish of the packaging are visually stunning and have been created to emphasize the brand's taste, quality and super-premium credentials.
Arriving just in time for Christmas, the launch comprises two boxes - The Firetree Collection, seven bar; and The Firetree Collection, five bar. The first contains all bars, including the 100% cocoa bar, which is priced at £45 ($59), and the second is a variety of selected bars ranging between 72%-84%, costing £35 ($46).
Continuing the vegan trend in confectionery, Copperhouse Chocolate, which is also London-based, has announced a new range of products in the lead up to Christmas and new dishes on its menu in its Chapel Market cafe in the heart of Islington.
Founder Juliet Sampson has developed a range of moreish vegan nut butter chocolate cups that will make the perfect stocking fillers and petit fours. They come in seven flavours including peanut butter & sea salt, almond butter & cherry jam and coconut salted caramel - and are available to purchase at its cafe, online through its website and also available for wholesale.
We also heard a lot from Love Cocoa, the luxury organic chocolate brand created by James Cadbury, in 2019.
James - Mr Cadbury’s great-great-great grandson - has also launched a 2019 Christmas collection. The company's packaged festive treats include handmade Gingerbread Chocolate, Vegan Truffles and Hot Chocolate Buttons, with the brand continuing to make a name for itself with experimental, innovative creations.
“I am constantly looking for new ways to excite Love Cocoa fans. Christmas is all about chocolate and we think our new luxury, ethical festive offerings will be a big hit with the British public. We’ve already had an overwhelming response to our Vegan Truffles,” Cadbury told ConfectioneryNews.
Thorntons has also been busy this year, bringing back its famous Cheeky Elf bar, with Thorntons signature milk chocolate infused with a hint of special toffee for ‘that extra wow factor’. And perfect for gifting or sharing with friends and family is its Continental Winter Markets Box, bringing together an assortment of unique chocolates that are rich and evocative in flavour, inspired by the traditional European Christmas market.
Ian Tweedale, marketing director of Thorntons, said: “Christmas is a time for sharing but it is also a time for treating yourself, so whether you want to buy chocolate for your loved ones, or you fancy your own festive delight, make sure to check out our festive collection. Complete with the famous Cheeky Elf and new Elf Self-Treat, there’s a lot of fun to be had with this year’s new and improved range. With treats to get everyone’s taste buds tingling, you’ll be sure to pass the love on with this collection.”
We finish our Christmas wrap with Theo Chocolate, who also wanted to share its holiday offerings for 2019, including favourites such as its Cranberry Orange 55% Dark Chocolate Bar and Peppermint Cocoa Cups.
Theo’s holiday offerings include:
- 3 oz. bars:
- Nutcracker Brittle
- Peppermint Crunch
- Gingerbread Spice
- Cranberry Orange
- Peppermint Cocoa Cups
- Chocolate-covered Marshmallows
- Peppermint & Chocolate-covered Marshmallows
- Vanilla Bean & Chocolate-covered Marshmallows
- Cinnamon & Chocolate-covered Marshmallows
Top 10 most disliked Christmas sweets
Christmas Day can be ruined if you give the wrong sweets as presents or buy them for guests, a UK confectionery expert has revealed.
Andy Baxendale, known throughout the industry as The Sweet Consultant, has now drawn up a top ten of the most disliked sweets people receive on the big day.
He said people liked to feel spoiled on Christmas Day and certain sweets, no matter how popular they are during the rest of the year, just don’t fulfill that need when they are enjoying the festivities.
People’s failure to consume sweets because they are disappointed in them as a gift means they miss out on serotonin, which is released when consuming sugar and which is called 'the happy chemical' because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness.
Here’s his Top 10 Most Disliked Christmas Sweets:
- Mints – probably one of the oldest flavors in UK confectionery, from the medicinal days, however, nobody wants to suck on a mint on Christmas Day, unless it’s to take away bad breath or if you don’t have time to clean your teeth. Hardly a treat.
- Floral Gums – a very traditional UK sweet with a long history – unfortunately, the taste you get is a very acquired one and the majority of people don’t like them.
- Wine Gums – The son of a London sweetshop owner, Charles Gordon Maynard wanted to create a sweet that could be savoured like a fine wine. The ‘wine gum’ plan nearly backfired because his father, Charles Riley Maynard, was a strict Methodist teetotaller who threatened to expel him from the business for introducing wine to his products. If you are old enough to drink, most people want the real thing at Christmas.
- Sugar Free barley sugars. The polyols that replace the sugar in sugar-free sweets unfortunately do not digest when eaten and cause unwanted laxative side effects. And these sweets just don’t feel like Christmas.
- Cheap supermarket chocolate – some of the cocoa butter is replaced with cheaper alternatives giving them a waxy taste and texture.
- Olde English Spangles – the worst sweet ever from the 70’s – tasted like they had been at the bottom of the dirty laundry basket. Aniseed, treacle, mint humbug, pear drop and liquorice flavours that just didn’t work when combined in a packet.
- Palma Violets - Parma Violets were created in 1946 by Derbyshire company Swizzels Matlow. They are sweets that are hard, biconcave discs, based on similar aniseed confectionery traditionally consumed in India after a spicy meal – perfumey and powdery, and tasting like a medicine.
- Salty Liquorice (salmiak) – originally a Nordic cure for coughs that became a popular confection – but a very acquired taste and, although becoming more popular in the UK, still very niche and on-trend rather than tasty.
- Chomp bar – A great snack for 20p for most of the year but only a cheapskate would put one of these in your stocking. People want to feel spoiled and indulged at Christmas so spend more if you want them to be grateful.
- Love Hearts – Great for the “ahhh” factor but typically then consigned to a drawer or a handbag in favour of chocolates and other more seasonal treats.