Oh it’s certainly beginning to look a lot like Christmas as we draw closer to November end and in a blink it will be time to gather around with friends and family for Christmas gatherings either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day lunch or even earlier. When we gather together to celebrate Christmas the joy of sharing your indulgences or luxuries only amplifies your happiness. It’s even greater if you have returned or are headed to Europe for its Christmas Markets and enjoy the spirit of the holiday season in a traditional style. Back home wherever you are it’s fun to get bring home a coveted and historically significant hamper of Christmas goodies. Every year I write about Christmas hampers you can order online to be delivered at your doorstep or friends’, but this year I am sharing about the local European establishments I have visited that are known for their Christmas goodies during the holidays. I take you all the way across the pond from England to France to Germany and Austria.
Quintessential British Hampers
Over the last 3 years the blog has always mentioned the most famous wicker basket from Picadilly, London as the essential favorite hamper for the holiday season, so why change that now? Being in London during this season really gives you a perspective of what Christmas is all about in true English fashion. If quintessential British hamper is what you need don’t look further than Fortnums and Mason. Vibrant, fresh and brimming with enthusiasm just like any 310 year old would be, Fortnums team never fails to add a little surprise and delight each year into their hampers. For a true and proud like a Yorkshire Christmas hamper I would go for Cartwright and Butler as their cookies and biscuits with teas whisk you off to a Cotswold or Yorkshire cottage with a crackling fire and warm ginger cookies and biscuits to dunk in hot cocoa or tea. Either you have a handful or couple of dearest and most important friends to gift a hamper or you have one most significant group of people to gift that generous hamper. I have enlisted options for both scenarios for you to choose from should you want to gift these hampers in or from London or have them shipped to your corner of the world (some hampers don’t get shipped to Australia and New Zealand hence please read carefully about shipping).
The Swaledale Cartwright & Butler Hamper – Named after one of the Yorkshire dales and the Swaledale music festival this wooden crate is a carefully selected hamper filled with fine sweet biscuits, a box of focaccia thins and a packet of Cartwright & Butler’s blend of After Dinner Coffee. Coconut & Macadamia Nut Crumbles, Chocolate Wafer Rounds, Shortbread Selection Tin, Peanut Cookies, Acacia Honey, English Breakfast Tea, Butter Fudge, Dark Chocolate Slab with Cocoa Nibs & Sea Salt, Cherry & Almond Loaf Cake, Rhubarb & Custard Sweets, Red Onion Marmalade, Three Fruit Marmalade, Pistachio & White Chocolate Shortbread are included in this hamper.
The Winter Warmer Hamper by Fortnums and Mason – It is their most comforting hamper of all according to Fortnums, as far as warming during winter is concerned. But don’t take their word for it nor mine just take a good look at the goodies brimming over this hamper. Let’s imagine you gifting this heavily laden wicker basket to your most favorite person(s) and enjoying it with them on Christmas Eve. Start off the evening of celebration by making a pot of Mulled Wine with Fortnums Mulled Wine Spice Bag and finest red Dão Tinto. Want some more warmth on a snowy white Christmas night? Dig into the basket of Christmas Ruby Red Infusion made with cloves, cinnamon and rosehip and Assam Superb Tea with smooth, round and malty flavour. Then there’s the Ultimate Milk Hot Chocolate to enjoy with some Piccadilly Selection Biscuits and Christmas Salted Toffolossus Biscuits. To continue your celebrations into the Christmas Day indulge in Fortnum’s Christmas Pudding Madeira, Cinnamon & Apple Curd, Sparkling Spiced Rum Butter and top it up with the quintessential British dessert for the season – St James Christmas Pudding.
Now for that hamper you could gift to few close friends rather than just one. Often times you would like to divide that large budget for gifting into smaller gifting items so you can gift all your friends equally but not any less indulgent. The Merrymaker’s Hamper by Fortnums allows such gifting among multiple friends and family. From spectacular yuletide cakes, biscuits, chocolate and jars to the refreshing taste of Fortnums Christmas tea creations, there is a treat for every taste. What would Christmas be without a little indulgence? Included in this hamper are choicest treats like Christmas Shortbread Stars, Christmas Spiced Green Tea, Christmas Spiced Tea, Christmas Ruby Red Infusion, Christmas Chocolate and Orange Curd, St James Christmas Pudding, Christmas Spiced Biscuit Filled Chocolate Bar. Eat, drink and be merry! It is Christmas, after all. Image Courtesy: Cartwright and Butler, Fortnum and Mason.
Bespoke French Patisserie Hamper
Take the 2 hour Eurostar Train or a direct flight from the east coast and arrive at the gourmand heaven of all – Paris. Christmas in Paris, is there a glamorous dream than sipping hot chocolate and nibbling on some of Parisian Patisserie delicacies pour Noel across the Arc de Triomphe or Seine river? I have recently been to Paris and I thought of curating some of my favorites from local patisserie to make a bespoke French Hamper. How would you like to stroll along the city of lights during the festivity of lights and fill in your basket some goodies while you sample sugary treats from Saint Germain to Place Vendome? You could choose to gift from a single Patisserie or make your selection hamper and take back home well before christmas. What a wonderful gift it would be to bring home to your family dinner on Christmas Eve?
On the left bank in Saint Germain des Pres, Paris is Pierre Herme’s patisserie and oh so instagram worthy treats. A must have are his signature macarons collection for Christmas and New Year, a box of 12 assorted macarons is composed of Ispahan, Mogador, Infiniment Vanille de Madagascar, Infiniment Caramel, Infiniment Chocolat Paineiras and some more delightful flavors. While at Pierre Herme you wouldn’t want to miss the architect of taste’s cakes, what is Christmas without a cake anyway? Cake Pain D’Epices Au Marron is a gingerbread cake with shavings of candied chestnuts, milk chocolate and chestnut ganache. Cross the river on Pont Alexander III from Invalides and head over to the right bank at Angelina Paris near Place Vendome. Angelina has been a notable cafe and patisserie in the city of dreams for decades and having their selection for Christmas is a must have. Choose from Jardin poire-praline – a light almond mousse and pear jelly on the crunchy praline biscuit or Chocolate -chestnut Twelfth Night cake but don’t leave out from your bespoke hamper the tribute to a signature pastry at Angelina – Mont-Blanc speculoos – a meringue, light-whipped cream, speculoos heart with chestnut cream vermicelli and speculoos shreds. Swipe your card, hop on a TGV from Gare d’Est to Strasbourg – undoubtedly my current favorite pretty city in France. Take my word for it Strasbourg is the place for Christmas Market and if you have to gift a hamper it should definitely have cakes, pastries from Christian. Christian was my ‘kid in a candy shop’ moment in France and for a tiny shop it packs in the best, most tempting desserts I have seen. It’s certainly a visual treat. Being an old patisserie in a historic Christmas market town it sure has enough to satiate your festive taste buds.
Traditional German Delights
It all begins with the traditions of Christmas goodies taking its roots in Deutschland aka Germany. To be in the Bavarian capital – Munich and reap the benefits of their traditions or take home some in a basket is an experience you shouldn’t steal from yourself. Rischart is the one place races to the mind for anything traditional in yuletide season. Rischart Bavarian Stollen is their freshest stollen development without marzipan and with finely grated orange peel and lemon, in finest Jamaica rum pickled Australian noble sultanas and delicious almond sticks. If assortment is what you are looking for then a selection of the best from Rischart is in order! Three tasty nut macaroons, three fruity sweet orange marzipan cookies, three juicy Marien biscuits, three beloved cinnamon stars and three delicate coconut macaroons seduce every cookie enthusiast. Stylishly packaged in a red premium box with a bow, the Rischart Cookie Selection is an ideal gift or souvenir that you will never forget. Image Courtesy: Rischart, Munich.
Austrian Christmas Hamper
This year Salzburg celebrates 200 years of the classic Christmas carol Silent Night. Austria is home to some of the desserts you wouldn’t have the pleasure of experiencing anywhere in the world barring an exceptionally made crisp apple strudel. Christmas Market is an integral part of the tradition of Christmas and decked up stalls of the market could easily slip into a few of your favorite things about Austria. Stroll along Salzburg and Vienna’s Christmas Markets sipping a warm Gluhwein or mulled wine collecting many little local knick knacks for your hamper. In Salzburg right by the Christmas Market is Cafe Konditorei Furst Salzburg by Paul Furst a master confectioner who paid tribute to Mozart in 1890 by creating the original Salzburger Mozartkugel. A Mozartkugel consists of a marzipan centre with pistachio and the finest nougat, must be perfectly round. Even today all Mozartkugels are handmade by the team at Cafe Konditorei Furst. You can choose a variety of options for your hamper or even chose to gift them as a separate box of mozartkugel. There is also a box of 12 handmade Original Salzburger Mozartkugel featuring a historic photo of the Mozartkugel’s founder in his confectionary shop. The confectionary shop has far more Christmas related items on the shelves if you choose to visit or you could order it online and have it shipped within Europe or Austria.
Moving from the Alps in Salzburg to the Vienna’s finest and only Sacher Torte cake at the Cafe Sacher. Stand in line if you wish to experience the original confectioner’s masterpiece inside the cafe or you could order the delightful dose of chocolate from their website shop.sacher.com Select from an assortment of temptations like the Original Sacher Exquisite Choice – 12 pieces or the Original Sacher Punch Dessert – 8 cubes. Having the crimson box from Sacher is sure to lift your hamper to a coveted level. Vienna is dusted with confectionaries and shops crafting Christmas goodies but if you want what the Kaiser wished for stop over by Demel – the confectioner that was commissioned by the Hapsburgs to treat them with desserts. Demel has the epitome of Austrian Christmas treats such as Christstollen placed in a wooden box, Gingerbread Cake covered with marmalade and milk chocolate, decorated with marzipan. An old tradition rediscovered: fluffy gingerbread, covered in apricot jam and fine milk chocolate, topped with festive marzipan-decoration. If you wish to get a separate gift besides what’s in your hamper the Winterly Jam Trio – set containing a jar of each Apple Champagne Jam”, “Winterly Plum” and “Winterly Apricot” will be perfect.