The countdown to Christmas has been underway for some time at one Amber Valley company whose products will take a central place on millions of dining tables come December 25.
Heanor-based food manufacturer Matthew Walker has once again been tasked with supplying Marks and Spencer with a wondrous variety of traditional—and not so traditional—Christmas puddings.
Chef David Sanderson said: “We work alongside M&S all year to develop these amazing flavours to provide customers with the very best selection of Christmas puddings.”
In the run up to Christmas, M&S sells more than 1.4 million Christmas puddings across the UK, all produced by the Matthew Walker team who turn out a total 24million puddings for a variety of well known retailers.
Under a variety of different brand labels, the company’s work will appear everywhere from Aldi to Harrods.
Matthew Walker is the oldest Christmas pudding maker in the world, its first factory opening in Derby in 1899 by the son of a local farmer who used his mother’s recipes.
Their methods and ingredients have been perfected over the years, and they have been in Heanor since 1967 where each new generation of chefs and 120 employees have added new twists to keep customers happy.
David said: “They are an essential part of British Christmas time so we work really hard each year to create new and exciting flavours to complement the more classic puddings in our range.
“This year, alongside our traditional and vintage fruit puddings, we have launched two new exciting flavours: the Intensely Fruity Cranberry and Prosecco Pudding, and the Melting Belgian Chocolate and Toffee Sponge Dome.”
Christmas puddings have been an integral part of our seasonal celebrations for more than 600 years, apart from a brief moment when they were banned by Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan government.
In more recent historic moments, M&S was the first retailer to launch a ready-made Christmas pudding in 1958, and the first microwavable pudding in the 1980s - revolutionising traditions.
M&S product developer Claire Hodgson said: “Our customers love our traditional puddings with rich fruits, brandy and port but we’ve also seen a demand for puddings with a more modern twist.
“This year’s chocolate sponge dome is already proving to be a big hit at £12 and is guaranteed to create a real ‘wow’ moment at the Christmas dinner table on the big day.”
Traditionally, a silver sixpence piece was stirred into the pudding mix to bring the lucky finder wealth and good luck. Honouring the custom, many pudding makers experiment with surprise fillings and molten middles.
David said: “The cranberry and prosecco pudding is made with golden and crimson raisins, prosecco and candied orange and lemon peel. The pudding comes with a sachet of cranberry and prosecco sauce to drizzle over the top.
“The melting Belgian chocolate and toffee sponge dome is an indulgently rich, yet light Belgian chocolate sponge pudding studded with chocolate chips. The pudding is covered with a chocolate dome which slowly melts when the delicious toffee sauce is poured on top.”
Their 2017 M&S range includes ten different seasonal desserts, including unusual flavours, wheat- and dairy-free options, and more traditional fare such as a Vintage Luxury Matured Christmas Pudding, which has been aged for 12 months.
To find out more about Matthew Walker products and stockists, see www.matthewwalkerchristmaspuddings.co.uk.