Christmas

Time to feast! Food gifts, treats to sweeten up the holidays

Steph Arnaldo

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Time to feast! Food gifts, treats to sweeten up the holidays
Walang diet diet this Christmas!

MANILA, Philippines – It’s time to deck the halls (if you haven’t yet) with the best food gifts and sweet treats to make the holiday season even more special.

Whether you’re celebrating with friends, family, or just want to treat yourself, here are several holiday food gift ideas from local brands and businesses that’ll hoho-hopefully make your Christmas merrier!

Let them eat cake!

A Noche Buena spread or Christmas Eve feast is never complete without a beautiful cake centerpiece. Cakes also make a great gift! For something indulgent, chocolate-y, but not overly sweet, Sokola Cakes‘ new Moist Chocolate Cake is a good option. It’s a simple yet decadent cake made with moist chocolate cake, bittersweet chocolate syrup, and silky chocolate fudge ganache on top.

If you’re into high-quality fruitcakes, a vegan option exists from The Vegetarian Kitchen a dairy-free and egg-less Yuletide Orange Cake that’s soft, moist, rich, and packed with a refreshing citrus flavor, nuts, dried fruits, and other festive toppings. Definitely a cake that not only vegans and vegetarians will enjoy!

A special Holly Jolly Bundle from Japanese-style bakery Kumori is up for grabs! It includes the rich and nutty Pistachio Holiday Dream Cake; chewy and light Mochi Puffs in pistachio and custard flavors; and the airy, donut-like Chocolate Pistachio Rings. Everything is balanced in sweetness!

“Home of the world-famous Mille crepe” Paper Moon isn’t just all about crepe cake! The cake shop introduced a new Maple Chiffon Cake for Christmas, reminiscent of a fruitcake-spongecake hybrid. The light sponge cake has a middle layer of cream, nestled with slices of fresh papaya, mango, and kiwi for bright and fruity freshness. The cake is then topped with more cream.

Pastries

Sweet tooths, don’t hesitate to pick up a box (or two) of Krispy Kreme’s limited edition Christmas Doughnuts! They’re available in the most adorable designs – Santa Belly, Jolly the Elf, Rudolph the Reindeer, Holiday Tree (made with KitKat), and Holiday Sprinkles.

The Tasteless Group’s brands also have several sweet treats in store for the holidays! Scout’s Honor just launched its Cookie Monsters – bigger, chunkier, and more fully-loaded cookies. These palm-sized delights come in Choco Walnut Chunk, Matcha Oreo, Cookie Butter, Matcha-Oreo/Choco-Walnut Duo, and Matcha-Oreo/Cookie-Butter Duo variants.

The Grid’s Workshop by Le Petit Soufflé offers “reimagined takes” on classic Filipino kakanin favorites that are easy to like. Try the soft, fluffy, and savory-sweet Cheddar Bibingka with salted egg, Kesong Puti Bibingka, or the Ube Queso Bibingka, filled with ube halaya and melted cheese.

New home-based bakery Salted Caramel Manila offers decadent Salted Caramel Revel Bars that are just the right amount of sweet with a tinge of salt to balance it out. It features rich, soft, crumbly, and thick oatmeal dough that’s moist and chewy, with a gooey sweet-salty caramel filling in between. They also have a version with walnuts for some crunch (my personal favorite) and one with chocolate filling.

Budding bakery Wacko Waffles sells premium liege waffles that are chewy, thick, and soft, topped with crazy toppings and served in unique flavors. The latest Glazed Ham & Cheese is perfect for those looking for a savory treat, but the Original, Cheese, and Choco Wacko will easily satisfy as well. Wacko Waffles’ premium menu includes Rainbows & Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, Crunchy Biscoff, Cheesy Caramel, Super Strawberry, and Choco Strawberry, among many others!

If you’re into sweet and savory breads and pastries, Dot Coffee just released a new Dagels Line – a filling hybrid between a donut and bagel. These thick yet soft breads house a variety of fillings, with my personal favorite being the classic Everything Dagel – a simple but satisfying cream cheese-filled dagel sandwich with garlic and chives. Two other savory flavors are Ham, Egg, and Cheese and the Spicy Tuna Dagel. For the sweet tooths, Dot Coffee’s sweet dagels (that are more like a heavy sweet snack than a dessert) include the cinnamon-y Cardamom Dagel, Milk and Cheese Dagel, and the indulgent Ferrero Dagel.

From the savory side

Food gifts aren’t limited to sweet cakes and pastries; many loved ones would appreciate savory picks as well! Take Mary and Martha’s newest homemade Bangus Sardines for example – these jars of high-quality fish are served in two tasty flavors: Tausi and Afritada. They come in either original and spicy as well. For friends who don’t have time to cook, these are a god-send – they’re versatile enough for pasta, rice meals, and more! Mary and Martha is also known for its empanadas and Spanish bread.

Homegrown Filipino restaurant Guevarra’s by Chef Laudico in San Juan is ready for your potluck gatherings! They have a wide variety of Christmas party trays to fill up a hungry bunch – from appetizers, salads, to main courses. The Cheesy Kaldereta is not to be missed out on – tender chunks of beef are simmered in a rich tomato sauce and topped with salty cheese. The Bacon and Spinach Pork Embutido and Chicken Galantina are good underrated options too – the embutido is moist and creamy, and the chicken galantina is flavorful (and even more so with the gravy provided).

Craving for some sweet holiday ham? China Mommy’s got you covered! An authentic Filipino-Chinese recipe passed down from generations, this slab of Cured Christmas Ham is sweet, savory, soft, and perfect on its own, with cheese, or even with rice. Of course, it’s best seared in a pan until charred and slightly crispy with the ham sauce drippings provided; and then sandwiched with slices of kesong puti in between warm pandesal!

How about some non-alcoholic drinks that your low-tolerant, allergic-to-alcohol loved ones will definitely appreciate? Local beverage brand Stanford Shaw creates unique, spritz-y drinks in small, curated batches that taste homemade and not at all artificial with preservatives. The locally-brewed bottles come in a refreshing Fresh Ginger Ale flavor, a bubbly and home-brewed soda with a balanced kick of ginger and a fresh hint of citrus. The Butterbeer is also nice, which is an old-fashioned tangy soda with subtle warm spices and a smooth, frothy caramel-like sweetness to it. The packaging is beautiful, too!

Candies, sweets, drinks, chocolates, ice cream, atbp!

Who can say no to ice cream? Check out the revamped Carmen’s Best packaging and its three new holiday flavors: Jolly Ol’ Eggnog, Merry Mint Chocolate, and S’mores The Merrier! The first is a creamy cinnamon custard ice cream with chocolate swirls; the Merry Mint Chocolate is a tribute to choco-peppermint desserts; and the S’mores is a marshmallow-based ice cream with chocolate and graham bits. Everything is thick and creamy, made with 100% fresh cow’s milk.

Papa Diddi’s is also a great local ice cream brand to support – they make their hand-churned sorbetes using fresh carabao’s milk. The three new holiday flavors are Peppermint Choco, Merry Ensaymada, and Banoffee Pie Ice Cream, each one adorably designed with a holiday-themed decoration. Papa Diddi’s pints all taste lovingly made, using the best and freshest local ingredients from regions around the Philippines.

For chocoholics, Chew Chocolate has nama chocolate dupes and chocolate-covered potato chips that can satiate that bittersweet craving. The rich and smooth nama chocolate comes in milk and dark flavors, while the sweet-savory, crispy potato chips come in new Cookies and Cream and White Chocolate flavors.

If you like coffee with your chocolate, Morse Coffee has a powerfully potent Coffee Bar that’ll get you buzzed up and ready to go! The taste of coffee is really strong with this one – it is made purely from coffee grounds (no cocoa mass), but processed like chocolate with the help of 1919 Chocolate for a smooth and refined dessert or snack. It’s literally “a cup in a bar” – each toasty bar contains caffeine equivalent to one espresso shot, fruity and bright notes, and tastes just as bittersweet as 80% dark chocolate.

What about some Japanese sweet and savory treats, and maybe even some sake beverages? Visit JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization)’s Okurimono Holiday Food Fair, bringing guests a “taste of Japan” to various Metro Manila malls. You can expect imported and rare sweet treats, cookies, nuts, savory Japanese delicacies, sake-based alcohol in cans, spirits, and more! It’s at SM Makati until December 31, and at Mitsukoshi BGC Basement 1 until January 3, 2024.

A lavish celebration can be made even more luxurious by Bizu‘s yearly magical Christmas feast! The 2023 Christmas Collection includes a Christmas hamper of Bizu’s best goodies, both savory and sweet. They’re perfect for gifting or as your contribution to potluck parties! Aside from the Christmas Yule Log Cake, each collection includes an exquisite Chocolate Box, Christmas Truffles, Macaron de Paris Holiday Box, Almond Tuille, Pistachio Lemon Lengua De Gato, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Croissant Loaf, Tomato and Pesto Foccacia, Carrot Walnut Loaf Cake, Tomato Chorizo Spread, Crostini, and more!

The savory star of the show is your choice – either a chef-crafted roast of Beef Wellington, Salmon Wellington, Leg of Lamb Bone-in Ham, Whole Leg Bone-in Ham, Lamb Rack, or 10-Hour Roast Beef. Don’t sleep on Bizu’s pasta, rice, and veggie dishes too!

Nono’s is always a yes! The bakery and confectionery offers various cookies, pastries, and confections for the holiday season, like the Oreo Chocolate Tart, Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies, Almond Crunch, Crispy Chocolate-Covered Cornflakes, Russian Tea Cookies, and Mini Sugar Christmas Cookies, perfect for the kids and kids-at-heart. – Rappler.com

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.