I thought that I would do a post with all of our favourite sweet holiday treats that we have bought recently. I certainly feel compelled to do some exercise after even writing about all of this, but that doesn’t make it any less tasty. Plus, it isn’t like we are just sitting around eating junk food all during the holidays. We will actually be spending our time at the Christmas markets in Warsaw, Krakow and Berlin this year. Obviously, that means we will be eating sausages , pierogi, and pork knuckles instead. Yum! I was hoping for snow but it doesn’t look like we’ll get that for our trip this year and it will just be cold and maybe rainy. So, I hope that everyone else gets the holiday weather that they want, as well as lots of yummy food and great gifts! Enjoy your holiday!
Chiostro di Saronno Panettone – I love panettone! It’s like bread and fruit cake all in one and that totally appeals to me. It’s got a light texture like a nice loaf of bread, but has the addition of chunks of dried fruits with some sweetness as well. Yum! Traditionally panettone is from Milan and served around Christmas and New Year’s time. The loaves of bread are traditionally round in shape but have a tall domed shape, like around 15 cm tall for a loaf the size that I bought. But it’s totally a favorite of mine and I love this time of year because Costco also has them for sale now. I was really sad that they didn’t have them on our previous trip in early November and thought that I would have to forego my Christmastime treat. But luckily, Costco got them in by my most recent trip. I may have even did a little skip when I saw them stacked up in the bakery area. Usually I have to eat it by myself because Dave is completely not a fan, sometimes I can coax him into a slice. It’s okay though, since it comes in the big tin it does stay fresh for quite some time so I don’t have to just eat panettone for a week or something crazy like that. It makes a great little breakfast (tasting, not nutrition wise) with a cup of hot tea or coffee, or a big glass of milk. I’ve got to admit that I love the cute tin that it comes in too; this year is a different design than what I’ve received previously. I don’t know what I’ll do with the tin once the panettone is all eaten, but it’s so cute I’ll definitely find a use for it. This is certainly one of the better examples of panettone that I’ve tried over the years. It has a really light texture and a wonderful taste that is just the perfect amount of sweetness, plus the fruit is still tender and tasty. I believe that this same company makes the little hard Amaretti cookies that you can also buy at Costco this time of year. I’m not a huge fan of the cookies, though we used to have them around all the time when I was growing up, but I’ll certainly skip buying those. However, I might have to get another panettone to hold me until next year. Wonder how long it will keep in the tin…the one I have right now says that it will be good through the end of July 2014 if you can believe it! If you’ve got a love for panettone like I do, I highly suggest getting them at Costco because they are so much cheaper than any other supermarket I’ve seen them at, but at least £10.00 for the most part and those aren’t even as large as this one, nor do they come in the nice tin. 1 kg in tin for £5.99 (US: $9.77). Item #: 0059336.
Costco Seasonal Cupcakes – I’m really happy to see than Costco hasn’t pulled anymore cupcake shenanigans and tried to get rid of these again. The current version comes just six to a pack, which is much more manageable than 12 or 9. The cupcakes are now more reasonably sized than the bigger package that they used to have as well, they are now smaller in diameter and height. You no longer feel like you are eating a small cake, but just a nice sized cupcake The taste and texture are still superb though with that delicious light flavour and moistness that we all depend on from cakes coming out of the Costco Bakery. Normally, they have ones that are made from white cake and chocolate cake frosted with white or chocolate frosting; at least that has been the most recent lineup. But right now they have the most adorable seasonal design for winter! The cake decorators clearly got all creative and whipped up these cute special cupcakes with a snowman with a blue scarf on them. How cute are these? If you’re having a holiday party, these would be a great item to pick up. Plus, they’re also really tasty, so it’s a win all around really. The Costco cupcakes are so so delicious and totally outstrip anything I’d pick up at a regular grocery store and even some (if not most) of the upscale cupcake bakeries. The other thing I like about the cupcakes now is that they come in a nice plastic clamshell type package with a little cubby for each individual cupcake so the frosting doesn’t get mangled on the trip home. With the cute snowmen I was really worried that their little “carrot” noses would still bump into the plastic lid. Luckily though, they all arrived home fully intact. 6 cupcakes for £3.99 (US: $6.50). Item #: 0004728.
Kirkland Signature Chocolate Covered Almonds – At Dave’s former company they used to always give these chocolate covered almonds to clients, as well as to each of the employees. And they were delicious! I think they were from the World’s Finest candy company and anyone in the US that has ever sold candy bars for a school thing, is probably very familiar with the yumminess of the World’s Finest chocolate. So, I was expecting these chocolate covered almonds from Costco to be just as good, and I wouldn’t mind if they were even better, though it is a very high bar. Turns out, that just as with most Kirkland Signature items, Costco doesn’t make something unless it can come up with a really excellent version. And these almonds are no different. They have just the right mix of nut to chocolate and the nuts are soft enough so that you don’t feel like there’s a nasty hard surprise lurking behind a robe of chocolate. Yes, I really have had chocolate covered almonds that seemed more like they should be used as a weapon against dentistry than a sweet nutty treat. The milk chocolate used is a nice quality too that looks pretty and shiny on the nuts but doesn’t have even a hint of that waxiness that bad milk chocolate items sometimes exhibit. Dave and I both think that these are up to World’s Finest standards. Phew! These are great for having out for any holiday parties or get togethers you might be having this holiday season. The good news is that these delicious chocolate covered almonds are 20% off until the end of the year here in the UK. Since I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it back to Costco before the end of the year, I decided that I would just buy them anyway. With the coupon they would be £2.00 off, so just £9.58 with VAT. Considering how big the container is at Costco, I think that is a terrific deal. These come in the same type of plastic container as the KS nuts, so it isn’t very decorative but will seal tightly and keep your almonds nicely for long enough for you to actually finish the whole container. 1.36 kg for £9.99 (US: $16.29). Item #: 0376052.
Kirkland Signature Almond Toffee – Okay, these are totally not a part of anyone’s healthy eating plan, but they are one of my favourite sweet treats. For some reason, I always feel like I need to have some almond rocca at Christmastime; I think this is because my mom always got this for me for Christmas when I was growing up (and still does if I’m at home). So, naturally, I had to pick these up when I saw them. It’s a weakness that I rarely give in to, during the rest of the year, but I always want some at Christmas. Normally, I get the Brown & Haley Almond Rocca, from Costco, because they are the ones that made it originally and still make it best. Of course, now Costco has got their own Kirkland Signature version. I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the high standards of the Brown & Haley version, but I think they do a commendable job. The centers are a butter toffee with bits of almond in it, and then the toffee is enrobed in milk chocolate and has little bits of almonds embedded in the chocolate. When you put that all together it’s got a buttery crunch with the best of all in the melty creaminess of the chocolate and then the crunchy toffee and almond too. Seriously, it is delicious! The KS version is made in little squares instead of the little log shapes of the original but that doesn’t seem to affect the taste negatively. I do believe that there is a thicker layer of milk chocolate around the toffee on the KS version but it still works beautifully to keep all of the flavours well balanced. The other big difference is that the little almond chunks on the outside aren’t quite as finely diced as the ones from Brown & Haley, but it’s okay and the difference is hardly noticeable. While I think overall the Brown & Haley version is the gold standard, Costco’s version is no slouch and certainly is an excellent alternative. Plus, the difference in price is pretty considerable at around half of the price I would guess. This would make a great holiday gift for any sweet lover, or it would be nice in your candy dish where you could snack on it. I chose that second option; it’s my present to myself this year. If I were going to give this as a gift I would feel compelled to get a cute tin or something to put it in since it comes in the normal Costco plastic tub such as the cashews and other nuts are sold in; great for storage but not so cute. 32 ounces for £4.97 (US: $8.10). Item #: 0999951.
Devon Ceramics Snowman or Reindeer Duck Money Box/Bank – Okay, I didn’t buy one of these because I’ve no idea what I would do with it for the majority of the year. However, aren’t they just totally adorable? The bank itself is a big ceramic duck and then he’s dressed up in either a reindeer or snowman costume. The costumes do come off, with a zipper like they are wearing a little hoodie, and then you have the naked ceramic duck. Aside from the duck you also get a 300 gram bag of chocolate coins. This is so cute, I really wish I knew someone that I could give it to for the holidays. I will admit that I was tempted to buy it but I know we have no more space for a big duck like this, so alas I had to just settle for taking a picture. But if you’re looking for a cute gift, this might be a winner. Money Box and 300 g of chocolate coins for £12.49 (US: $20.37). Item #: 146910.