Christmas hampers were a big feature of my childhood. They came from the milkman and my parents paid a few pounds every week into a sort of savings scheme, which meant they could choose from a selection of hampers just in time for Christmas. It was delivered by the milkman and it was like Christmas had come early, it was so exciting seeing what goodies the basket contained! I have hazy memories of Fray Bentos pies and tinned ham – so it wasn’t just a hamper of chocolates and biscuits, but some staples and things you might want to eat on Boxing Day after having cooked a huge Christmas dinner the day before.
I definitely prefer luxury hampers that are full of treats, be it chocolate or posh tea, biscuits and savouries. So I am pleased to be able to review this Christmas hamper from HamperGifts.co.uk. OK, it's quite a while until Christmas - nearly three months - but I'm sure I'm not the only person who is already looking forward to it and trying to sort out with various family members and in-laws where we are going to spend Christmas day!
If you are the type of person who likes to do their Christmas shopping early as well, why not head over to www.hampergifts.co.uk and see if there's anything you like - as well as Christmas hampers they offer new baby hampers, bath & beauty, cheese, chocolate, beer, wine, and some lovely themed hampers like 'breakfast for two' or 'romantic surprise' - great for newlyweds or people who have just moved into a new house (not that I'm hinting!).
The hamper I was sent to review was beautifully packaged, in a reusable wicker basket, covered in cellophane with a big bow on the front. I couldn't wait to unwrap it!
I think I was sent a selection of products as the contents don't tally exactly with any of the hamper gifts on their website, but that means I can let you know which products I think are particularly good, and there is probably a hamper to suit everyone. Prices for the hampers range from £19.99 for the smallest, to £275 for 'the majestic', though there are lots within the £30-£50 range which I think is quite reasonable for this type of hamper.
My hamper contained:
- Edinburgh Preserves honey mustard with whisky - I love mustard and particularly those with honey as the sweetness and sharpness of the mustard go wonderfully together. I'm looking forward to trying this mustard with beef.
- Walkers Chocolates of London milk chocolate praline seashells - 160g box. Nicely packaged so I gave these to a friend as a gift (I couldn't eat everything myself, or you'd be waiting another month for this review) and she was really pleased.
- Apple and apricot meli melo in violet flavoured syrup - 200ml glass bottle. I've seen this sort of thing (bottled fruit in syrups) before but never tried them. See below to find out what I did with them.
- Luxury fruit cake, made by Pittas Foods- this looked lovely, with caramelized brown sugar on top and packed with fruit. Again it's nicely packaged with a bow round it; I gave this to my parents to try. My mum said it was "packed with large chunks of fruit, nice and spicy, and very moist." Definitely went down well!
- Alice Mcpherson's luxury butter shortbread - this was one large round piece in a cardboard box, so wouldn't exactly go far, but a nice addition to the basket
- Diane cinnamon crunch truffles - 150g box. None of these are brands I recognise but they all seemed to be good quality and in many cases small local producers, which I like. These truffles were described as 'speculoos flavour' - speculoos is a spiced biscuit popular in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. I gave these to my sister though I think my boyfriend would have preferred us to keep them!
- Pearl's Flapjack - There were two large flapjacks, one apricot flavour and one cherry and coconut. They were absolutely delicious - very sweet but really moist and hit the spot when I was ravenous after getting home from work perfectly.
- Mini nutmeg grater and nutmegs - this was so cute, with the mini grater and nuts in a little box with a red ribbon round it - would make a great gift and I'm looking forward to using it in my Christmas baking.
- Baronie Belgian chocolate classic chocolate sticks orange made with all natural ingredients 75g - a lot like Matchmakers but smooth - if I recall, orange Matchmakers have a slight crunch inside them which I never really like. These are solid chocolate sticks but with orange flavour and tasted heavenly - my boyfriend never even got to see them!
- Pearls luxury brandy Christmas pudding - only 100g so not family sizes but a little extra festive treat that you heat up in the microwave.
- Olives et al sunshine rosemary and garlic olives from the Greek Island of Evia - 150g jar. I don't like olives but my sister does so she pounced on these!
- Edinburgh tea and coffee company breakfast fresh ground coffee 56g pouch - I'm not much of a coffee drinker so I gave this to my mum, she said the coffee was "smooth, rich and full of flavour".
- Cairnsmhor fine foods Parmesan and pepper oatcakes 150g - it's not Christmas without cheese and biscuits and these were lovely.
- Individual wrapped caramels that were strewn throughout the basket - they didn't even make it as far as being photographed! They tasted very good though they were not quite as runny inside as I like.
- A small hessian bag of traditional hand baked biscuits - white chocolate and strawberry flavour. The biscuits melted in the mouth and the chocolate pieces gave a satisfying crunch.
- Big 200g bag of chocolate buttons - my boyfriend demolished most of these. Not the best quality chocolate - it didn't taste quite as good as Cadbury's - but he wasn't complaining!
Here's a quick recipe for the apples and apricots in syrup, which is really easy to make.
Roll out a square of puff pastry and place the fruit on it in a diagonal. I used two pieces of apple (the large pieces in the photo) and alternated them with two apricots, which used up about half the jar.
Fold the corners of the pastry which don't have fruit on them to the middle and seal to make a parcel.
Bake in the oven for about half an hour until the pastry is golden brown.
Thanks to Hampergifts.co.uk for sending me the Christmas hamper to review.