Friday, 5 July 2013

Heston Blumenthal unveils the irresistible chocolate delight due to hit Waitrose shelves this Christmas


I had the joy this week of talking Christmas puddings with Heston Blumenthal  as he unveiled his culinary offerings for the festive season.

I know, there’s a heatwave raging outside and the last thing anyone wants to be thinking about is mince pies and roast turkey.

But it is the time of year that supermarkets start showing off their festive selection and this week was the turn of Waitrose and M & S.

It’s quite strange browsing tinsel-strewn aisles of mince pies, wrapping paper and Santa toys when temperatures outside are knocking 80F (Heston pics: Fiona Hanson).

And I am a confirmed Christmas-phobe, even when it is snowing outside and sparkling Christmas trees are visible through every living room window.

However, the one benefit of the season is the excuse to let your hair down (and belt out a couple of notches) and give in to a few guilt-free extra calories.

At the Waitrose extravaganza Heston was giving his tips on the perfect Christmas dinner and showing off his range of tantalising goodies.

Now, I try to kerb my sweet tooth but I have two main weaknesses - Christmas pudding and chocolate.

So what could be better than something that combines the two into one squidgy, fruity, cocoa-oozing mound.

Yes, stepping up from his famous Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding, Blumenthal plans to delight chocoholics this year with a hidden chocolate version.

I wonder whether they will fly of the shelves with such frenzy as the orange ones did two years ago when they first hit the shelves.

Heston told me the idea for combining chocolate with dried fruit and suet came during a trip to Italy.

Apparently he gave an Italian chef a Christmas pudding to sample who then served it coated with chocolate sauce. Viola, the chocolate Christmas pudding was born.

Waitrose has a whole array of sugary delights on offer this year, many with Heston Blumethal’s signature dash of Christmas magic.

You know - hidden popping candy, hints of spice and passion fruit or the occasional giant Rolo sprinkled with gold dust.

Sweet tooths will also will also get a thrill from his Chocolate and Ginger Caramel Gateau, while the more traditional will love his Shortcrust Mince Pies.

The more savoury palate need not feel left out as Waitrose has an impressive array of pies, pates and parfaits to delight this Christmas.

Heston’s Chicken, Ham and Leek Pies come with an ‘H’ on the top just to remind you who has put his hand to this crusty creation.

Christmas dinner tables around the country are also likely to feature his Prawn Mousse Shots, Party Fish Pies and Chilli with Corn Muffins.

M & S isn’t looking too bad either with a decadent selection of Christmas cakes complete with snowmen and Father Christmases.

My particular favourite from M & S was their Christmas tree-shaped chocolate slices (spot a theme?) complete with golden nuggets.

I couldn’t leave the Waitrose do without getting at least one cooking tip from the great Heston Blumenthal.

So , what is the secret of a really good roast potato?

“The secret is to use good potatoes as it is the quality of the ingredients which is the most important factor in cooking,” he said.

“Always cut the potatoes with sharp edges as that makes them crispy rather than peeling them and leaving them round.

“And for the best crunch and flavour use beef dripping to cook them in, any hard fat will make roast potatoes crunchy and tasty.”



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