Marks & Spencer, Christmas in July

I always love the Marks & Spencer Christmas in July event and this year was another cracker.

Sweet, masquerading as savoury, and vice versa is a ‘thing’ this Christmas and the Seafood Knickerbocker Glory is a case in point. Prawns, lobster and a Champagne mousse are layered to mimic a Summer favourite. They’ve also taken inspiration from the chef Nuno Mendes at Chiltern Firehouse and borrowed his savoury doughnut recipe, using hot and sour prawns.

The love for salted caramel doesn’t seem to be waning.  Their Belgian chocolate and salted caramel cake is encased in a hand-decorated chocolate present and topped with a gold bow.

This year the party starts at Breakfast time with mini croissants filled with smoked salmon and egg alongside mini bacon Breakfast cups and an Egg Royale, a perfect pairing for their new Bucks Fizz with Cranberry and Clementine.

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Jenny Rea is something of a gin expert for M&S, and I had a long chat with her about this year’s top tipples. She’s been working with Charles Maxwell in Clapham, and they’ve developed two new gins. No 01 Spice (£26) includes Coriander, Angelica and Ginger and No 02 (£26) Liquorice, Seville Orange and Cassia Bark.

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No Big Dill (£12) is an infused gin with dill and a spot of Elderflower. Served straight and on ice with a sprig of Dill.

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Expect to see a repeat of the Serrano Ham joint from previous years; a 2kg joint has been matured for 12 months, de-boned and comes with both a stand and a knife.

Hidden centres seem to be de rigour this Christmas, and there are quite a few products in the desserts line.  The chocolate mousse pine cones are filled with an oozing chocolate truffle centre. Given a twist, the traditional Christmas pudding has been given a chocolate makeover.  A moist chocolate sponge has been married with raspberry compote and chocolate mousse to bring you a fantastic centrepiece. An incredibly chocolatey cabin cake has a hidden tree design inside, and there’s a chocolate pudding cake which when cut, spills out sixpence chocolate coins.

These mini Santa hats were simple, and a meringue base has a raspberry jelly and fresh vanilla cream topping

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Festive red teamed with glitter will always get my attention, and I loved this Raspberry & Cranberry jelly (£5).

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Flowers through the post is really catching on, and M&S have jumped on the bandwagon. This year, and it’s a high street first, they’ve created a Christmas Tree, Wreath and Garland that can be posted through your letterbox.

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There are great stocking fillers, and these chocolate angel wings (£10) are a good example.

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For the chocolate-lover in your life, this advent calendar is an absolute must, and if £20 is a little on the steep side, there are plenty of other options easier in the pocket.

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A sparkling table needs a sparkling outfit, and they’ve got that covered too. I have to admit to not checking out David Gandy’s range for Autograph, but I did have a look at the offerings for women.

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There’s a touch of Hollywood glamour on offer this year with plenty of gold and plush fabrics. I’ve got my eye on this skirt and its matching bomber jacket.

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