Our showstopping range of Christmas desserts includes some twists on classic French treats – inspired by a visit to Paris.
Taking centre stage in this year's range of festive desserts are a 35cm-long Giant Eclair filled with chocolate mousse and caramel sauce and an Extra Special Raspberry and White Chocolate Macaron cake.
Our development chefs were looking into the trend for flavoured and coloured eclairs when they first encountered a large eclair on the dessert menu at a Parisian restaurant.
Claire Reed, product development manager for chilled bakery, said: "We're always fascinated by dessert menus and when we saw the giant eclair in Paris we thought 'wow, what a clever idea!' That gave use the idea to develop our own giant eclair for Christmas.
"Traditionally in the UK an eclair is filled with fresh cream but in France it's always creme patisserie or a mousse. We decided on a chocolate mousse filling, as who doesn't love chocolate?
"There were several tasting sessions where we tweaked the product, whether it be adding more caramel sauce to the chocolate mousse filling, or adding the gold dusting on top to make it look sparkly and festive."
The giant eclair is over a foot long, filled with caramel sauce and fluffy chocolate mousse, and is decorated with a Belgian chocolate fondant, caramel drizzle and gold dusting. It's available in stores and online for £5 from 14th December and serves ten.
Claire said: "It's all hand finished, and the choux pasty is made in a very traditional way. Water and fat are boiled, flour is added and the mixture is beaten before adding eggs. The pastry is then piped into the giant eclair shapes and baked in the oven.
"It's big, but it's actually quite light. We've seen a developing trend for large versions of products like giant sausage rolls, and now the giant eclair is available we've been discussing which other popular cream cakes we could make in a giant format.
"It's the first giant product we've launched in the chilled bakery aisle, and as far as we're aware it's the first giant eclair available in the UK. It's certainly a festive treat!"
Another striking festive dessert is our luxurious Extra Special Raspberry & White Chocolate Macaron Cake, pictured above alongside our Extra Special Semifreddo in Raspberry and Lemon.
Sarah Sharples, product manager for desserts and ice cream, said the inspiration for the cake was taken from the same trip to Paris where the team saw several beautiful macaron desserts.
She said: "Our Extra Special Macaron Selection has been a big success in previous years, so we thought it was time to launch its gateau version. We worked with a new artisan supplier in Belgium, La Lorraine, to develop it.
"The crunchiness of the macaron combines with the smooth Belgian white chocolate mousse and the freshness of raspberries. The delicacy of the big pink macaron shell and the presentation of the raspberries, one by one put in a circle around the chocolate mousse, is visually appealing too."
The macaron cake is already making headlines, being named Best supermarket dessert for Christmas by Olive Magazine.
Check out our showstopping range of Extra Special Christmas desserts here.