Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

The Tin and Thyme Christmas Gift Guide for Food Lovers

Demijohn Official

Food Reviews - general | 6th December 2015 | By

Now that we are into December, I am starting to feel a little festive. I also feel it’s legitimate to talk about Christmas, although I did make a figgy almond and whisky Christmas cake back in November. In fact Christmas is advancing with frightening rapidity. If you’re feeling stuck for ideas, here are a few items I’ve received and appreciated.  You can also find some edible homemade Christmas gift ideas, just click on the link.

Personalised Tray

Bags of Love allow you to create and apply your very own customised designs onto a range of products, which of course make a perfect Christmas gift. I had a good browse around their kitchen and dining section and after much indecision chose a tray to play around with. Trays are particularly useful in our house as I end up carrying items for photography purposes all over the house and out into the garden, depending on where I can get the best light. The process of adding my photographs and designing the display online was only made difficult by my indecision. Should I go with one photograph covering the whole tray or a collage? If a collage, how many photographs? Which photographs? Should I have a plain border or a photographic one? So many choices.

Christmas Gift Tray

I have to say, I was thrilled with the result. The quality of the pictures is really high. I chose a large dinner tray measuring 33 cm x 43 cm. The material is 3.25mm thick plastic, which is light to carry and easy to wipe down in case of spillages. It comes with a three year guarantee, so you can be sure your pictures will continue to impress. Turnaround time is fast at only one to two days, so you still have plenty of time to get your orders in and have them delivered before Christmas.

Tin and Thyme Tea Tray

Prices start from £29 depending on the size of tray you’re after. The large one is £45. Bags of Love have generously offered a 15% discount code on any order for Tin and Thyme readers which is valid until 30 December. Use P4827317 in the voucher or promo code box at checkout. @BagsofloveUk

Mini Apotheker Bottle Rack

Demijohn, which has shops in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford and York as well as an online one, describes itself as a liquid deli.  I can just imagine the shelves lined with large glass demijohns full of artisan spirits, liqueurs, oils, vinegars and whiskies. Just decide which liquid you’d like to buy, after sampling of course, then choose the bottle you’d like it to go in – the ultimate in customisation. You can even get your bottle refilled when you’ve finished your liquid of choice.

Demijohn Miniatures as a Christmas Gift.

The mini apotheker bottle rack is the most delightful trio of miniatures I’ve ever seen. Three cute little 40ml bottles sit in a reusable wooden rack. The rack is made from British poplar and hand crafted in Cumbria. The contents of the bottles are up to you. I chose: 29.5% chocolate rum liqueur from Worcestershire, a 62.5% seven year old single malt scotch whisky from Speyside and the Demijohn’s finest blended 40% two year old Scotch from Scotland. The contents are printed on the bottles, and Demijohn engraved on the top of the rack, but you can choose any message you like.

I have plans for the whiskies, but I couldn’t help but try the chocolate rum liqueur. It was as delicious as it sounds. The aroma reminded CT and I of Old Jamaica – a potent mix of rum and chocolate from our misspent youths. As regards to the taste, it was a beautiful balance of rum and chocolate. It was powerfully warming stuff with just enough sweetness to take away the fire.

Prices start from £10.19 depending on what you select to go in your bottles –  @demijohnthedeli

Optimum 9200A

Froothie Optimum 9200A

Photograph courtesy of Froothie UK

If you really want to treat the smoothie lover in your life to a really good piece of kit, then the Optimum 9200A power blender is the one to get. It’s the most powerful blender currently available on the UK market and it’s been my most used bit of kitchen equipment this year. My smoothies have never been so smooth and I’ve never managed to add so many nutritious ingredients to them before: carrots, turmeric root, kale, I’ve tried all sorts and have been super impressed with the results. It pulverises raw vegetables into smooth purees in seconds. It’s not cheap, but it really does the job and comes with a five year warranty. You can see my original review and some of the recipes I’ve made with it on my Full on Froothie page.

Available online via the UK distributors Froothie at £429 – @FroothieUK

Festive Wreath

One of three large 450g chocolate wreaths from Hotel Chocolat, I chose the cookie caramel. One of the reasons I adore Hotel Chocolat, is that they take their milk chocolate seriously. As I have stated on numerous occasions, milk chocolate is my favourite; I like the dairy content, but I’m not too keen on lots of sugar. Hotel Chocolat’s house milk chocolate is 40%, way higher than your average high street chocolate. They also do a 50% and even a 60% milk chocolate – heaven both of them. This wreath is primarily 50% milk chocolate, but studded with bits of shortbread, cocoa cookies and pieces of caramelised florentines for added interest, texture and bursts of sweetness. It states, it’s perfect for slicing and sharing – I’m not so sure about that.

Hotel Chocolat Chirstmas Gift Wreat

Available both in the High Street and online from Hotel Chocolat – £20 – @HotelChocolat 

Elevate Baking Set

Joseph Joseph is a kitchenware brand which produces lots of cleverly designed every day kitchen gadgets and utensils. I have a small Joseph Joseph elevate spatula which I use all the time. It’s so useful to be able to put it down on the counter and not make a mess. Like most Joseph Joseph products, the design is neat but practical. The elevate tools have a weighted steel handle and an integral tool rest which means the heads are raised off the work surface. Not only less messy, but also more hygienic. This elevate baking set is all you’re likely to need in the way of baking utensils and would make a great Christmas gift for any aspiring or seasoned baker. The set consists of a spoon, spatula and cookie turner and are all made out of durable silicone which is heat resistant up to 270℃. The handles are comfortable to use and the heads are flexible.

Elevate Baking Set

Available at most good cook shops and online at Joseph Joseph – £25 – @JosephJoseph

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey

You may have noticed that I’ve got a bit of theme going on here with whiskies. I’m a recent convert to this spirit  and as such I can’t get enough of it. Not, I hasten to add, that I am knocking it back neat every night, no, I use it for baking. It works incredibly well as a flavour for cakes and it makes a mean icing too. I have been known to add the odd slug to a hot chocolate and it warms you up no end. I may also have some whiskey truffles in mind before the festive season is out. The better the quality of the whiskey, the better your cake, truffle or hot chocolate will taste.

The Dubliner

The Dubliner is a new Irish whiskey from First Ireland Spirits, launched earlier this year. Inspired by Dublin, it aims to capture the spirit and craic of this vibrant city. It’s a blend of single malt and grain whiskies and is aged in individually selected Bourbon oak casks. I’m no whiskey expert, but it’s said to be a good introduction, being smooth and mellow with a slight honeyed sweetness. It works well on the rocks as well as in Irish coffee, cocktails or, as I have discovered, in hot chocolate.

A 70 cl bottle (40%) is available through 31Dover.com – £24.95 – @dublinerwhiskey

Blue Tit Recipe Tin

Blue tits are an iconic bird in the British garden and one of my favourites. We’ve even had them nesting in our tiny patch, though not every year. DotComGiftShop have a whole swathe of lovely items featuring the blue tit, one of which is this  blue tit recipe tin. It’s a deep rectangular shaped tin, 14cm x 11cm x 12.5cm which is not only attractive, but of a good sturdy design. As the name suggests, it comes with a pack of recipe cards and dividers which are of the same blue tit design. This would make a good Christmas gift for anyone who likes to note down recipes and cut them out of magazines. It can, of course, be used for storing any number of other items – did anyone mention biscuits? 

Blue Tit Tin

Available online from DotComGiftShop – £9.95 – @Dotcomgiftshop

Parmigiano Reggiano with Knife

This 500g block of Extra Special Parmigiano Reggiano is a cheese lovers dream – or is that just me? Parmesan, sadly, is not a vegetarian cheese; to be called Parmesan it has to contain animal rennet. However, I’m prepared to make an exception in this case. It’s not only hard to avoid, but it’s one of the most delicious cheeses out there, full of umami and nutty notes. This cheese comes from the DOP region of Central Northern Italy and has been matured for over 30 months which gives a particularly rich and full flavour. It even comes with its very own cute little knife – molto bene.

Parmesan

Available at Asda stores or online – £5 – @asda

Louis Bernard Champagne

Now then, you can’t let Christmas go without a glass or two of fizz. This Extra Special Louis Bernard Champagne is a silver award-winning premier cru. It is fresh, clean, crisp and dry with biscuity notes and would go down a treat for breakfast on Christmas morning as well as being a fitting companion to some festive canapés.

Asda Champagne

A 75cl bottle (12.5%) is available at Asda stores at £19.75, although I’ve noted it’s currently available online at £15 – @asda

Christmas Stocking Gifts

I may no longer be a child, but I have never outgrown the Christmas stocking. It’s one of my favourite parts of Christmas and my mother still rustles one up for me every year. Here are a few things I wouldn’t mind finding in mine.

Alternative Mince Pies

Well I do like a good mince pie – straight out of the oven with a good dollop of Cornish clotted cream. Bliss. I know, however, that not everyone is a fan. I defy anyone not to be a fan of these mini alternative mince pies from Hotel Chocolat. No pastry, no mincemeat, just melt in the mouth chocolate, filled with a layer of chocolate praline and one of salted caramel. Three milk chocolates and three dark make up a delightful 90g pack of six.

Hotel Chocolat Mince Pies

Available both in the High Street and online from Hotel Chocolat – £7 – @HotelChocolat 

NoteClips

Another clever design from Joseph Josepth, these handy magnetic NoteClips come in a pack of three. They can be used to re-seal bags or hold messages on fridge doors. The fronts have a dry-wipe surface for writing on contents, dates or whatever you like and then wiping off again when no longer needed. They are fridge and freezer safe and they come with a dry-wipe pen, which can be stored in any of the handles.

NoteClips

Available at most good cook shops and online at Joseph Joseph – £11 – @JosephJoseph

Madécasse

For the chocolate lover in your life, why not delight and surprise them with a bar or two of Madécasse? Madécasse is a chocolate producer with a social conscience. The cocoa is not only grown in Madagascar but unusually it’s also processed there, benefitting the local populace. For a more in depth discussion, have a look at my first review.

Madécasse Orange Cranberry

Just in time for Christmas there is a new Orange Cranberry 63% dark chocolate bar to add to the range. A fruity little number which tastes of real orange and although sweet, doesn’t obscure the fact it’s good quality chocolate. You can chew on the cranberries too for that authentic Christmas taste. As far as I’m aware, there is not yet a turkey flavoured bar. 

Madécasse Hazelnut

The hazelnut and cinnamon 63% dark chocolate bar is as good as it sounds. There is a bit of salt to bring out the flavour and an underlying note of cinnamon – leaving you with bits of hazelnut to chew on after the chocolate has vanished. It’s less sweet than the Orange Cranberry bar and leaves the palate feeling surprisingly clean. It reminded CT of lebkuchen.

These 75g bars are available via Waitrose and at various online sites – £2.99 – @madecasse

Ombar

Fancy something equally indulgent, but with even more antioxidants and flavanols than conventional chocolate? Ombar produce a range of raw chocolate bars that look and behave just like you’d expect chocolate to. They have a good snap, and a nice shine; they melt in the mouth as you’d expect and smell rich, earthy and heady. The bars are all organic and certified by the Soil Association – something that always gets extra brownie points from me. The raw cacao is sourced from Ecuador and as Ombar see this as a health food, they only add unrefined coconut sugar, real fruit and live cultures. The packaging is really smart with a brown chocolate wrapper and a colour swirl representing whatever flavour is inside.

Ombar

The eleven bars in the range include soft centres such as raspberry and coconut to solid chocolate bars that go right up to 90% cacao. I was sent the latter along with a 60% coconut, lemon + green tea, blueberry + acai and a new strawberry mylk. I was particularly intrigued by the lemon + green tea bar. CT and I both gave it a big thumbs up. It was quite lemony with faint notes of green tea, which complemented it nicely. The chocolate was quite powerful, but with layered notes and tones that made it a complete delight as it melted slowly on our tongues. One small bar between the two of us easily satisfied our chocolate cravings and left us replete for the rest of the evening. I think Ombar may have found another devoted follower.

These 35g bars are available via the Ombar online shop, Ocado and various whole food shops – £1.99 – @OmbarChocolate

The Dubliner Liqueur

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey has been mixed with caramel and honeycomb in an attempt to create a liquid crunchie. Well I’m not quite sure where the chocolate got to, but it’s really quite delicious and has distinctive honeycomb notes. I was happy sipping it just as it was, but it’s also good on the rocks or incorporated into a cocktail. I was sent a 50ml miniature which would slip very nicely into an adult’s Christmas stocking. Alternativley, a 70cl bottle would make someone a very nice Christmas gift.

Dubliner Liqueur

A 70 cl bottle (30%) is available through 31Dover.com or The Whisky Exchange – £19.95 – @dublinerwhiskey 

For more Christmas gift ideas

Disclosure: I chose these products to try. I was not asked to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own. All but the Asda and Demijohn pictures are my own. I use the Froothie Optimum 9200A for smoothies, spreads, sauces and even chocolate making. The post contains a Froothie affiliate link. Buying through a link will not cost you any more, but I will get a small commission. This helps keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Kavey
    6th December 2015

    Lovely selection, I particularly adore the photo tray, I may have to look into that!!!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th December 2015

      Thanks Kavey. I’m thrilled with my photo tray, but was tempted by all the other products on offer you can add photos to.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Diana
    6th December 2015

    I think that everybody should get the Optimum blender as a gift for Christmas! The Dubliner liqueur sounds so good!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th December 2015

      Haha Diana, that’s a splendid idea. Every kitchen should have one 😉

      The Dubliner liqueur is delicious.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Nadia's Healthy Kitchen
    6th December 2015

    There’s so many great gift ideas here Choclette! I’m not the biggest fan of minced pies, but a chocolate version sounds wonderful 😀 love the idea!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th December 2015

      Thanks Nadia. Have you tried making hour own mincemeat? It’s quite a different thing from shop bought. But these little chocolate ones are scrumptious 🙂

  4. Leave a Reply

    Claire @foodiequine
    6th December 2015

    Oh I love the tray. This is such a good idea. Would be perfect for Grandparents with photos of the Grandchildren on it.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th December 2015

      Oh wouldn’t it just Claire? My grandparents would have loved something like this.

  5. Leave a Reply

    Elizabeth
    7th December 2015

    A super collection of items – I’d be delighted if any one of these appeared under my tree!

  6. Leave a Reply

    Alida
    7th December 2015

    Great tips Choclette. Love the Parmigiano and the chocolate wreath particularly!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th December 2015

      Thanks Alida. Yes me too. I’m being good and keeping them both for Christmas.

  7. Leave a Reply

    Melissa
    7th December 2015

    What a comprehensive guide! I already have plans for the bottle rack I’m now ordering 🙂

  8. Leave a Reply

    Heidi Roberts
    7th December 2015

    Great collection of Christmas presents – want them all! Really like the photo tray!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th December 2015

      Thanks Heidi. I really love the tray idea. They have lots of other photo objects too.

  9. Leave a Reply

    Carolyn
    8th December 2015

    The note clips are such a genius idea! I know it’s not exciting but I’d love to find some of those in my stocking, along with some chocolate coins and a satsuma or two of course.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th December 2015

      Ah Carolyn, you are a woman after my own heart. I love practical presents. My mother always knits me a dishcloth and puts it in my stocking – it’s one of my favourite things.

  10. Leave a Reply

    LydiaF
    8th December 2015

    The little recipe tin is so sweet. I’d never seen that particular type of bird until we moved to this side of the Atlantic.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th December 2015

      Yes Lydia, it’s an iconic British bird and one of the most loved 🙂

  11. Leave a Reply

    Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
    8th December 2015

    What wonderful gifts. I love the tray — it would make a great gift. But if I were on the receiving end of any of the other gifts I’d be very happy.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th December 2015

      Ah thank you Marisa, I’m glad you liked them all. I hope you get something you really want.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th December 2015

      Haha, well my name’s not for nothing Fiona 😉 Those trays are proving to be very popular.

  12. Leave a Reply

    Donna
    9th December 2015

    I am loving the chocolate theme you have going on here – very much what I hop to find in my stocking this year 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      9th December 2015

      Thanks Donna. It’s all good chocolate and I’d like to find some of it in my stocking too 😉

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      9th December 2015

      It’s lovely isn’t it Claudia. I’m trying to be really good and not tuck into it until Christmas.

  13. Leave a Reply

    Janie
    10th December 2015

    Great round up Choclette, I need to get some of those freezer clips, they are a great idea 🙂
    Janie x

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      10th December 2015

      Yes, I was rather taken with them Janie. Think I might need a few more than three though 😉

  14. Leave a Reply

    Richa
    11th December 2015

    I want everything from that list, like this year!! My favorite are those chocolate bars 🙂

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