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Whose food will be a Christmas cracker?

We check out the supermarkets' seasonal offerings Christmas pudding Christmas cake Mince pies Champagne NThe Collection Intensely Fruity Christmas Pudding, PS7.50 PACKED with fruit, this rich, dark pudding has a lovely, spicy smell. Really boozy as it has brandy, cognac, port and stout in it. It also has a generous sprinkling of big nuts throughout.

STAR BUY A Christmas Day crowdpleaser.

Hand Decorated Holly Cake, PS10 THIS stylish-looking offering from M&S is a rich cake made to a luxury recipe. A good layer of marzipan and soft icing, but a little more alcohol would make it absolutely perfect. The lovely layer of white icing is not too thick and it makes a pretty looking centre piece with its glistening top.

NSTAR BUY Christmas Star Mince Pies, six for PS2.50 or two packs for PS4 IT IS hard to beat these mince pies if you are looking for the perfect festive treat. Melt in the mouth all butter shortcrust pasty deep-filled with a recipe of vine fruits, brandy and port. Attractively presented, the filling is generous.

Champagne Abel Charlot, PS32 THIS offering from M&S is a firm festive favourite. It is not too dry or sweet, but has a creamy aftertaste that will please most palates. Each glass comes with lots of bubbles which adds to the party feeling.

? SPECIALLY Selected Golden Topped Christmas Pudding, PS8.99 (Serves 8) WITH edible gold glitter, this looks spectacular with glistening slices of orange on the outside and a festive topping of black and red glace cherries. With vine fruits, almonds and pecans, steeped in orange liqueur, brandy and port, this is a solid Christmas pudding, and not too boozy.

NSTAR BUY Specially Selected Luxury Iced Fruit Cake, PS6.49 THIS looks very pretty with icing all over and a golden reindeer in the centre. You can really taste and smell the cognac in the fruitcake, it was deliciously moist too. The icing was lovely and had a good balance with the marzipan.

BEST VALUE ? Specially Selected Mince Pies, six pack PS1.15 THESE crumbly all-butter mince pies with brandy-laced mincemeat melt in your mouth. The excellent pastry is soft and tasty but not so weak it disintegrates when you pick it up. Great value for money. The filling is very fruity, with just a hint of booze.

Veuve Monsigny Champagne, PS10.99 THIS multi-award winning offering delivers a sharp, crisp apple flavour with plenty of fizz. This is a solid but unspectacular offering that didn't really get the party started. Not bad for the money, but you might want something a bit more special.

BEST VALUE Snowy Lodge Luxury Hidden Cherry Centre Six-month Matured Christmas Pudding, PS2.99 Serves 4) THIS has a good taste and is very moist if a little too wet. Nice amount of spice and Christmas pudding flavour with the cherries and dates giving a strong fruity flavour.

Snowy Lodge Luxury Christmas Cake, PS6.49 IT claims the cake serves 14, but that's not very realistic unless you just serve up a slither. This is a juicy, clean-tasting cake full of raisins and sultanas which nicely offsets the the marzipan. There is a pleasing hint of booze - it just could have done with a glug more.

Snowy Lodge Luxury Mince Pies, pack of six, PS1.15 THESE have mincemeat laced with Courvoisier, but it could have done with a touch more. But overall, a good pie with a reasonable balance of fruit, festive spice and sweetness. A good amount of pastry but a little on the dry side.

BEST VALUE Comte de Senneval Champagne, PS9.97 WITH notes of gooseberry leaves and tannic cherry bark, a creamy texture and a sharp finish, this would be a decent bet. It wasn't quite dry enough to push the rating up to four stars, but it is Taste the Difference 18-month Matured Christmas Pudding, PS6.50 (Serves 4) THERE is a nice sharpness to this pudding but not a lot of spice, meaning that overall there isn't a huge amount of flavour. On the plus side there is a good amount of fruit in it.

Holly Iced Rich Fruit Cake, PS10 MORE like a ginger cake or bara brith, this would provide plenty of servings. The challenge was trying to cut it. One knife buckled under the strain. Marzipan lovers were disappointed by the thin layer compared to the large amount of icing and the fruit cake was quite anaemic tasting and a bit dry.

Taste the Difference All Butter Mince Pies, pack of 6 PS2.50 THESE large pies have a nice looking pastry which is slightly buttery but does lack flavour. There is a decent amount of filling which includes a hint of spices and an orange flavour. There is no wow factor and overall, they are quite bland.

Blanc De Noirs Champagne, PS20 THIS was a nice, deep golden yellow colour with a decent amount of fizz. It was not particularly dry and left a slightly bitter aftertaste. There were hints of grapefruit and melon on the palate, but the champagne had no real identity - not one to sparkle on Christmas Day.

Extra Special Melting Fig and Brandy Christmas Pudding, PS7 (Serves 8) THIS tastes more like a Christmas cake but has a good flavour with glace oranges slices on the outside. While they make it look impressive, the oranges are slightly overpowering making the pudding taste like marmalade.

Extra Special Fully Iced Christmas Sparkle Fruit Cake, PS8.98 THIS cake failed to win many fans even with the addition of edible gold icing. One taster said: "Dry with an unpleasant aftertaste - good for getting rid of unwanted guests". Very perfumey with powdery, sweet after-taste. On the plus side, the gold decoration is pretty.

Extra Special Luxury Mince Pies, 6 for PS1.25 THESE look very pretty with a good baked colour and a star/snow-flake pattern on top. The pastry is nice and buttery with a very fruity filling and a kick of the sweet port and brandy inside.

Extra Special Premier Cru Champagne Brut, PS19.75 FOR a champagne this was surprisingly sweet, we expected it to be a lot drier. It had very little depth of flavour was lacking in the bubbles department and tasted more like a cheaper perry than a bona fide champagne.

Truly Irresistible Richly Fruited Christmas Pudding, PS3 (Serves 4) MADE with brandy, glace cherries, almonds and walnuts, this pudding looks very traditional if a little plain. It is less sweet than others we tested and very nutty. Overall a bit bland.

Christmas Cake, PS5 IT certainly looks festive with a large central silver star and red patterns decorating the top. A good, moist cake with a breathy alcohol kick and the icing is supported by a good layer of marzipan.

Six Truly Irresistible Luxury All-Butter Mince Pies, PS2 THE pastry is a bit crumbly, but it is not too thick and it does not overwhelm the filling, which is generous and moist. Hard to taste any festive spices though or the brandy that is listed among the ingredients. A festive stand-by.

NSTAR BUY Les Pionniers NV Champagne, PS16.99 NAMED best non-vintage bubbly by Which? beating brands like Lanson and Veuve Clicquot, we loved the aromas of pears and ripe red apples which fizzed with a zesty zizzazz and also delivered backbone shiver.

Finest 12-month Matured Christmas Pudding, PS5 (Serves 4) DESPITE being infused with cider, Amontillado Sherry, Ruby Port and Courvoisier VS Cognac, there is not much of a boozy flavour coming through. This is much firmer to cut and a little bit drier than the other puddings, you would need a lot of sauce to counteract the dryness. No strong flavour.

BEST VALUE Top Iced Fruit Cake, PS5 THE box optimistically says it serves 16, but you might want a bigger slice of this cake. The icing layer is a bit thick, and only covers the top of the cake, but the fruit filling is decent enough and balances the sweetness of the topping and the marzipan.

Lattice Mince Pies, 6 for PS1.65 A PASTRY lattice top makes the pie look pretty, but it tends to overwhelm the taste of the filling. The first mouthful is all pastry and makes everything a bit dry. There's no strong taste of anything. Maybe it needs some brandy butter to cheer it up? Finest Premier Cru Champagne, PS18 GREAT tasting drop of bubbly that is ideal for special occasions. It's light and fruity with a nice sharp, refreshing bite. The price is also not too outrageous if you are looking for a champagne treat for the Christmas dinner table.

Signature Cherry Crowned Christmas Pudding, PS4 (Serves 4) FOR this pudding, you would have to seriously love cherries as it is jam packed with them. This has a very strong alcoholic taste and combined with the cherries, is reminiscent of cherry brandy. It doesn't taste like a Christmas pudding and is too sweet.

Signature Jewelled Fruit & Nut Christmas Cake, PS8 A WORLD away from a conventional Christmas cake, but the glazed top of fruit, almond, walnut and Brazil nuts make this a showstopping treat. It had a delicious taste and is heady with alcohol.

Luxury Deep-filled Mince Pies, Pack of 4, PS1.70 A VERY generous size which is quite deep and properly filled. There is a lot of sugar on top but the pastry is just right, with a good buttery taste and the right amount to encase the flavourful filling, which is just lacking an alcohol kick.

Signature Champagne Brut, PS19 A LOVELY bottle of fizz that will be perfect for any celebration. Very easy to drink and goes down well as it is so light and flavourful. There isn't too much fizz, and also nice lemony tones and no bitter or strong aftertaste.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 4, 2015
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