Christmas wouldn’t be the same without fine food and, for me, these wonderful French specialities truly embody the spirit of Christmas.
Pâte de Fruits and Confit de Fruits
In the Auvergne region of France, beautifully ripened fruits such as apricots, pears and blackcurrants are considered delicacies. The soft pureed fruits in pâte de fruits contrast the whole, preserved confit de fruits in texture, but in taste both specialities share a delicate balance of sweetness, achieved by adding just enough sugar to complement the natural sweetness of the fruit. Fruit is traditionally enjoyed at Christmas and pâte de fruits and confit de fruits, with their intense fruit flavours, are best served with coffee, after dinner.
In England, chestnuts are enjoyed roasted in the winter season, but in France they are traditionally a sweet delicacy. Marrons glacés are made from the finest chestnuts, glazed using time-honoured recipes dating back to the 15th century, when sugar was first introduced to the chestnut-growing regions of southern France. For me, there is no better way to end Christmas day than with one last treat in the form of marrons glacés paired with well-aged Armagnac! Available online from November. Limited availability.
A calisson is a uniquely shaped petit-four made of chopped almonds, melon confit and orange zest, blended together into a fine paste and layered with a paper-thin layer of sugar and almond icing. It’s believed to have originated in Italy, and you will find various forms of the recipe throughout Italy, Spain and Greece today. In France, the calisson is known as a speciality of Provence, and in particular the town of Aix-en-Provence. Traditionally served after dinner with coffee or tea, it’s a deliciously moreish little treat!
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