French pastry chef Nicolas Poelaert is well-known for his exquisite eclair creations but, for the festive season, his attention turns to a Christmas classic: the panettone.
He first introduced the panettone last Christmas, which quickly sold out, so this time around he has ensured that he can keep up with demand. Although it originated in Italy, Poelaert has put his own show-stopping spin on the bread-style cake.
"We are not trying to change the panettone but we are personalising it," he explains. "The way [my wife] Tara and I like to eat a panettone, we make them very gourmand and moorish, but light. We keep hearing the same story from our costumers every time that as soon as they put the panettone on the table, everyone goes 'Oh my God, where did you get this?'."
Choux Patisserie has two flavours of panettone available: classic fruit with white chocolate, or English toffee with peanuts and milk chocolate. If stored in the right manner, the panettone will keep for a few weeks. Poelaert says sharing panettone at Christmas time has become a tradition among his own family.
"We have some with a glass of champagne while putting up the Christmas tree, we have some for breakfast with hot chocolate or coffee, and after lunch or dinner in the middle of the table to share with family. A thick slice of panettone makes an amazing alternative for French toast too."
In addition to the panettone (available in gift size for $9 or $30 for family size), Choux Patisserie's eclair range will be available in the lead up to Christmas, along with their jars of golden chocolate coated fruit and nut mix. Order online at chouxpatisserie.com and pick up from their kitchen at Broadmeadow or keep an eye out for Choux Patisserie at market events and their new shop in Charlestown Square, which is set to open in mid-December near the Apple Store. Here's five more places to get festive food this season:
Baked Uprising, 21-25 Downie Street, Maryville (also at Harris Farm Markets, Cooks Hill) From December 1, Uprising's Christmas range is ready to go. "Our mince pies made with traditional lard pastry are our number one-selling Christmas product," owner Alice Lees says. As well as mince pies, the Maryville bakery's Christmas menu includes Uprising Boozy Christmas cake, pavlova bases, stollen, biscuits (coco clunk, ginger linger, and maraschino cherry), and lemon and barberry stuffing. A Christmas order sheet is available from December 1, with items available for pick up until Christmas Eve. "Our bake-at-home croissants are a popular item as well, so people can have the smell of freshly baked croissants filling their homes on Christmas morning," Lees adds.
Newy Distillery (newydistillery.com.au) Established last year, Newy Distillery has created a limited run of candy cane vodka for the festive season. Luke Storey, who operates the distillery with wife Kimberly, tells Weekender: "Candy cane reminds me of Christmas and the happiness the season brings, so we thought 'Why not combine the two to make an amazing Christmas drink?" Drink it as a nip, or mix it with lemonade or sparkling water." The candy cane vodka also works in desserts. "It tastes great in a peppermint slice, mixed in with brownies, or with trifle," Storey says. The distillery has also produced gift packs with gin and vodka-filled Christmas baubles. Newy Distillery's candy cane vodka has a run of 500 bottles for $35 online at newydistillery.com.au or in-store at Bottle-O Lambton and Cellarbrations Cameron Park. The bottles will also be available at Five Senses Market at Lambton Park on December 1 and Stockton Foreshore Feast on December 14.
Monella, 149 Darby Street, Cooks Hill Monella kicked things off a little earlier this year, bringing their popular gingerbread-inspired gelato back to the cabinet last week. Taking inspiration from Christmas gingerbread men and gingerbread houses, the gelato (which they have named Kiss Me, I'm Ginger) combines caramel and ginger gelato with salted caramel sauce, Italian meringue and house-made gingerbread chunks. "We cycle it around every Christmas and it even makes a mid-year appearance as it is so popular," Monella owner Adriana Daley says. Drop in for a scoop or take some home to stick in the freezer to serve at Christmas lunch (500ml tub for $14 or 1-litre tub for $24). Monella also has Kiss Me, I'm Ginger choc tops available to order in packs of six for $30 or 12 for $50.
The Pudding Lady, 81 Mitchell Road, Cardiff What's Christmas dinner without a pudding? Cardiff's Pudding Lady has been making puddings for more than 40 years. The traditional pudding is the top-seller, but they also make a variety of decadent flavoured log puddings and a range of sauces to pair with them: brandy custard sauce, brandy vanilla liqueur, brandy custard extra thick, dulce de leche chocolate sauce and caramel sauce, and brandy butter, which has a similar consistency to a curd. "Our puddings each have a shelf life of two years from production and don't need to be stored in the fridge. They can be stored in the pantry or similar space, which means they can be ordered year round and still be ready for Christmas," The Pudding Lady's Vianni Crennan says. Puddings start at $24 and can be ordered online or purchased in-store at the shop attached to the factory in Cardiff.
Oma's Kitchen, 16 Watt Street, Newcastle The Fren Family has returned from filming Travel Guides and are straight back into the kitchen to produce their popular German shortbreads and biscuits for Christmas, including the almond and hazelnut shortbreads, nut-free iced Kinder biscuits, ginger biscuits, spekulatius and lebkuchen (traditional gingerbread). Mark Fren says the almond and hazelnut shortbreads remain the most popular, but his personal favourite is the gingerbread. The biscuits and shortbreads are available in single boxes, gift wrapped or with extras such as steins and even Fren Family merchandise (yep, they're that popular) online at thefrenfamily.com. Oma's Kitchen will also have a pop-up stall operating at Charlestown Square from November 30 until Christmas Eve, and are regulars at the Newcastle Farmers Market.