It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – for those working in the supermarkets at least, as retailers start revealing what they’ve got planned for the 2018 festive season.
While meat often takes centre stage, many are looking to make a name for themselves with sweet and savoury bakery NPD suitable for all occasions, from the main event to party nibbles.
Retailers have also focused on making sure there is something for everyone on the Christmas table, with a raft of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options as part of the ranges.
Here’s a sneak peek at what some of the UK’s biggest players have planned:
Asda is tapping all the key trends this year with its Christmas range – from vegan to gluten-free, melt-in-the-middle puds and using gin as a flavouring.
Kicking off the party are Chicken Laksa Roses (left)– vibrantly coloured pastry shaped like a rose and stuffed with chicken and a curry sauce, flavoured with coconut and lemongrass.
Wreaths come in both sweet and savoury with an Extra Special Raspberry & Pistachio Wreath made of chewy meringue with cream, raspberries, pistachios and a chocolate drizzle on top, offered alongside an Extra Special Pork, Turkey, Apple and Cranberry Sausage Roll Wreath (right).
Things are getting indulgent in desserts with a Free From Chocolate and Raspberry Dome. The gluten- and dairy-free dessert is filled with a raspberry compote and chocolate mousse with a brownie base. There’s also a Gingerbread Man Mousse (centre), which features a chocolate mousse on top of a biscuit and caramel base encased in a shimmery gingerbread man chocolate shell.
If that were not enough glitz, Asda has already created a melt-in-the-middle dessert with a difference in the form of an Extra Special Melt in the Middle Chocolate & Salted Caramel Pyramid Pudding.
Finishing things off are the Extra Special Rhubarb Gin Mince Pies with a gin-infused rhubarb compote inside.
Lidl has gone big on festive desserts. Focusing on putting new twists on classic Christmas sweet treats, it is doubling the size of its mince pie range for 2018 with flavoured new additions. These include: Chocolate Orange Mince Pies, Frangipane Amaretto Mince Pies and Butterscotch Mince Pies (left). Elsewhere, it has combined two puds in one with a Stollen-filled Christmas Pudding.
Surprise inside is a big theme among the discounter’s desserts, from a chocolate sponge with a shimmering cherry or clementine centre to a Chocolate Golden Crown (centre) – a chocolate shell shaped like a gugelhupf crown, which melts when a hot chocolate sauce is poured on top to reveal a chocolate mousse, salted caramel sauce and brownie base.
On the savoury side, Lidl is hoping to wow customers with its Bone Marrow Pie (right). Complete with bone sticking out of the top, an all-butter pastry is filled with British forequarter steak, smoked beechwood bacon, double cream, port and wine, which is enriched as the bone marrow melts during cooking.
Lidl has also tapped the rise of Yorkshire puddings from roast accompaniment to street food phenomenon with its giant Yorkshire Pudding Wrap, stuffed with turkey, sausages, stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Fire & Ice is the theme for Ocado’s Christmas with an array of smoky, spicy and chilled treats. While not all of these apply to bakery (notably the ice theme), there are a few items with a kick. FA Gill’s Jalapeño-topped Pork Pies (£5), for example, are hand-crimped, hand-filled and topped with either green or red jalapeños (left).
Ocado hasn’t shied away from booze either, with a range of Georgie Porgie’s Puddings gaining listings. This includes a West Country Cider & Apple Pudding, Chocolate Orange & Baileys Pudding and a Traditional Orange & Cointreau Pudding (centre).
When it comes to celebrating with cakes, Ocado’s range is exotic, with cakes from around the world. Examples include the Tortuga Rum Cake and a Caribbean Christmas Cake from artisan bakery Meg Rivers, which features dark rum, molasses, sherry and spices.
Propermaid’s products also feature, with a vegan Lime and Coconut Cake (right), a gluten-free Chocolate and Caramel Layer Cake and a gluten- and dairy-free Spiced Gingerbread & Apple Cake.
Forget pigs in blankets, Tesco has taken things one step further with Pigs in Duvets (centre). The tear and share savoury wreath features pork sausages wrapped in smoked bacon and flaky puff pastry and served with a cranberry dip (£5).
For those wanting to indulge at lunchtimes throughout December, the retailer is introducing the Three Kings Sandwiches (£3.50) – a set of three festive rolls each with a different filling: prawn cocktail with a boozy cocktail sauce; turkey and stuffing in an oat-topped roll; and a chocolate roll filled with cream cheese and a port & cherry sauce (left).
Woodland is a big theme in Tesco’s expanded desserts range this Christmas as it builds on its wider ‘Cotswold at Christmas’ theme. Examples include the Finest Chocolate & Ginger Cake (£12), complete with a tree-decorated chocolate collar and the Finest Sticky Toffee Wreath Torte (right) with chocolate pine cone in the centre.
Black Forest flavours also feature heavily with Finest Black Forest Profiteroles (£4) and a Finest Black Forest Meringue Wreath topped with chocolate cream and a cherry kirsch.
Elsewhere, there are Golden Doughnut Bites complete with a caramel dipping sauce and a Free From Panettone (£3) and Finest Orange Liqueur & Chocolate Panettone (£8).
Convenience retailer The Co-op is throwing some controversial ingredients out there this Christmas, pairing them with familiar flavours.
Kicking things off are the Irresistible Charcoal Vintage Cheddar & Caramelised Onion Mini Quiches (£4), which pair black charcoal pastry with a rich cheesy filling. This is followed by sprouts on pizza in the form of its Irresistible Pancetta & Roasted Sprout Pizza Natale (£5.25) (right). There’s also the Irresistible Apricot & Cranberry Topped Pork Pie (£5) (centre).
Less controversial is the Coronation Turkey Brioche Roll (£3.15), a twist on the classic coronation chicken sandwich, which forms part of its food-to-go offering, alongside a vegan Bubble & Squeak Sandwich (£2.65) served with a beetroot and cabbage slaw. Chocolate & Orange Croissants (95p) and an Irresistible Christmas Fruited Sourdough (£1.60) (left) are also being added to its range.
The Co-op has pimped up its mince pie portfolio with Irresistible Spiced Salted Caramel & Rum Mince Pies (£2 for four-pack).
Like many retailers, it is also rolling out a reindeer cake inspired by the unicorn craze. Ruby the Reindeer Cake (£7) comes decorated with iced eyelashes, chocolate antlers and a frosting mane.
The story of wassailing – the ancient custom of visiting orchards to recite incantations and sing to the trees to promote a good harvest – was the inspiration for much of Heston Blumenthal’s Waitrose creations this year.
That range includes the Heston from Waitrose Golden Delicious Pudding, filled with candied and fresh apple flavoured with cinnamon, cider and Calvados, and Cherry Bakewell Mince Pies. The latter sees sour cherries, sour cherry curd and a dash of Heston from Waitrose Cherry Bakewell Vodka encased in a sweet chocolate pastry.
For a showstopper, shoppers need look no further than Heston’s profiter’coals (left) – that’s charcoal profiteroles. The black choux pastry is filled with mandarin orange crème pat drizzled with a smoked orange caramel sauce and scattered with popping candy to give the illusion of crackling coals.
Elsewhere at Waitrose, there’s a heavy focus on meat-free dishes from Beet Wellington (centre) to Pulled Jackfruit Tacos and Butternut Squash’age Rolls (right). On the sweet side, it is rolling out a refreshing Waitrose 1 Orange & Cranberry Tart and a Waitrose 1 Dark Chocolate & Orange Stollen Wreath.