Readers, proceed with caution! Here I attempt a run down, in no particular order, my favourite British sweets that are popular at Christmas.
I have struggled to write this as, for research purposes, I have had to remind myself how they taste and the subsequent overindulgence has caused a sluggish brain. So husband has locked away the sweets and instead I am sustaining myself with a G and T.
Here we go:
1.) The Quality Street or Roses Christmas Tin: (the default festive sweet treats)
This is the default position for Christmas sweet eating. It may appear in the week before, and despite many family members/colleagues indulging there are always some leftovers, generally orange or coffee flavours that no one seems to like (but will eventually force down when all other supplies have gone). There is normally a tin (or plastic tub these days) to be found in most homes and workplaces at Christmas time.
In this heading I place both Roses and Quality Street. Roses are the offering from Cadbury, whilst Quality Street are Nestlé’s. I find that people fall into either one or the other camp. I used to be a Roses gal, but since they fiddled with the flavours I am firmly in the Quality Street gang. Who can resist the crinkly paper of a toffee penny or the shiny allure of the green triangle? Incidentally the green triangle (a noisette type chocolate) and the purple one (hazelnut in soft caramel) are so popular they can be bought as a giant individual sweet (hurrah!).
2.) Turkish Delight
Not for eating surreptitiously despite it’s squidgy softness. Rose and lemon flavoured chewy jelly stuff dusted in icing sugar. Heavenly. However you tend to give away any sneaky indulgence away either by coughing on the accidentally inhaled icing sugar, or leave a trail of it down your top. The appearance of the octagonal boxes in November always gets me excited about the approach of Christmas.
3.) Terry’s Chocolate Orange
Yum. Often found lurking in a stocking. This is a delicious solid milk or dark orange flavoured chocolate that looks like an actual orange, with segments and dimply surface and all. Wrapped in orange colour foil it is surprisingly dense and weighty and could probably kill someone if you assaulted them with it. The “tap to unwrap” slogan is slightly ambitious, especially as the cold climes of the UK tend to weld the chocolate segments together. I generally find dropping the wrapped orange from at least waist height will break it apart ready for eating. It’s all part of the pleasure of eating one.
A relative newcomer to the Christmas sweet world (launched 1997), this is a selection of small chocolates, similar to the traditional large tins of Roses and Quality Street. But these are miniature versions of popular Mars’ chocolate bars. Small Bounty, Malteser, Mars, Snicker are amongst some of the delights. And because they are so small you can get around the problem of deciding which one to have by eating one of each. Interestingly they are much less prone to “leftover syndrome” like Roses and Quality Street- all the flavours seem equally popular.
This triangle bar (available year round) seems to come into its own at Christmas. This is a surprisingly difficult to eat chocolate (but as much worth the effort as the Chocolate Orange). You have to break off a triangle segment, then work out whether to bite into it (but it can be toothbreakingly hard) or put the whole thing in and not be able to speak for ages. It is studded through with little crunchy bits of honey and almond nougat and comes in dark and milk versions and a variety of sizes. A yearly stocking filler for Dad, who still manages to look surprised despite the giveaway shape when unwrapping it!
6.) York Fruits
Not always easy to find, but often a staple of the small newspaper shop. A favourite of mine, and again an all year rounder but the bright colours make them seem Christmassy. I don’t know why but to me they seem out of place in the 21st century and would seem better suited to when people still wore hats. Soft fruit jellies with a liquid centre. And they don’t seem as naughty as chocolates. What’s not to like!
7.) Chocolate coins
Plain chocolate encased in circular gold foil to look like coins. The best sort look like pounds and pence of course! They come in a little net, and are brilliant to find in the bottom of your stocking. I always feel a bit pirate with a nice stash of gold coins, even if they are only chocolate ones. A favourite of children and adults alike!
8.) Matchmakers and After Eights
I’ve lumped these two very different types of chocolate mints together as I can’t decide which I prefer. The former are minty crunchy chocolate sticks, but do also come in orange flavour. The mint ones for me are the best and are best eaten like Bugs Bunny with a carrot, fast nibbling to make the most of the crunchiness. Again they can be found all year round, but I only ever seem to eat them at Christmas.
After Eights, are chocolate mints of a very different kind- thin dark chocolate squares with a mint crème filling. They come in an oblong box and in little sleeves of dark paper. As a little girl one Christmas I was given a WHOLE BOX all to myself which I thought was marvellous (though I am sure my parents ate some when I wasn’t looking.)
I must admit I struggled with knowing which should make my list. There are a few others I haven’t mentioned- chocolate covered nuts and raisins, sugared almonds, but the ones listed above are, for me, the most Christmas-y.
Now I’m off to stock up for the festive season! Let me know which are your favourites.
Laura Lewis is a Medical Doctor who loves cooking and baking. Born and raised in Northamptonshire; her mother encouraged her home cooking (and love of tea drinking) from an early age. Laura spent many happy holidays and weekends on her Uncle’s farm on the Cornish coast. She now lives in the picturesque Tudor market town of Shrewsbury, just a few miles from the English – Welsh border. Laura is married to a mildly eccentric former British Army Officer, has a young daughter and a West Highland Terrier.