The smell of cinnamon, the oven in overdrive, the zest of thirst-quenching lemons perfuming my hands… The baking season is on, and so is its delightful sweetness. As the days get shorter around the winter solstice (December 21), the time spent in close proximity to the oven expands to sizeable proportions, and for good reason. Now is the time to make memories with the family, to bake old and new favorites, to laugh, to smile, to celebrate the scintillating moments.
This year I was lucky to come across a variety of brands whose high quality products are perfect in sweet snacks and desserts, and I thought I should write a post highlighting my findings. Do you have favorite products you use in sweet treats regularly? Feel free to check out my recommendations, and let me know your faves in the comments 🙂
Brands of Britain
Brands of Britain was founded in 2000 “with the mission to import high quality innovative food and beverage brands from the United Kingdom to the United States market. Our family business was built through long term partnerships with premium British brands that value high quality and heritage.” Throughout the years, as their business grew, Brands of Britain became known for focusing on upscale brands, whose products contain all-natural ingredients.
I have fond memories of the years I spent in the UK. So, when Brands of Britain contacted me earlier this year and offered to send me a package of British teas and preserves, I said yes, please! Pictured below you have a selection of Taylors of Harrogate specialty black tea, green tea, and fruit & herbal infusions, and Tiptree preserves, lemon curd and honey.
Taylors of Harrogate is a third generation Yorkshire family business, whose story began in 1886, when Charles Taylor and his sons set up a tea and coffee company. Fast forward to today, and Taylors of Harrogate is one of the most popular British brands worldwide, founding members of the Ethical Tea Partnership, and Rainforest Alliance Certified.
Meanwhile, the story of Tiptree goes back in time to 1757, when the Wilkin family started farming in Tiptree, Essex. In 1885, the Wilkins started making preserves using produce mostly grown on their farm, such as the now famous Little Scarlet strawberry variety. To this day, the company continues to be the largest employer in Tiptree, and to be a strong supporter of the community through various projects such as the annual Strawberry Race, the funds raised being donated to charity.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing of the years I spent in the UK, through using these exceptional quality products, which were familiar to me. Indeed, the possibilities are endless when it comes to using these British teas and preserves throughout the year, not just during the holiday season.
For starters, you can add Tiptree’s premium preserves to a charcuterie or cheese board, like I did with the board below, which also featured the last strawberry I picked from our garden 🙂
On this board I decided to include Bartlett, Red D’Anjou, Comice and Bosc pears, as well as *lots* of cheese – for the cheeseaholic in me, of course, lol I can’t resist a good Caputo or Dinner Bell Creamery Colby, or a slice of imported Ammerlander smoked Swiss, or a scoop of Montrachet garlic & herbs or blueberry & vanilla goat cheese, or some BelGioioso mascarpone or burrata, or… 🤤 Add some Tiptree preserves and lots of nuts, and the sweet&savory combo of deliciousness is complete:
I also used Tiptree in the pecan Linzer cookies below (recipe inspired by Martha Stewart):
Meanwhile, Taylors of Harrogate teas are always a great self-care treat and/or gift idea, and around the holidays in particular. This Christmas week I’m sipping on Taylors of Harrogate Spiced Christmas loose tea blend and I’m baking a lot. The vanilla & apricot Bundt cake pictured below was my sweet treat earlier today, in-between baking sessions. A slice of this with plenty of condensed milk poured on top, and a cup of Taylors of Harrogate aromatic, superbly comforting tea – now that’s my idea of afternoon bliss:
In the US, these Taylors of Harrogate teas and Tiptree preserves are available at select Whole Foods nationwide. Feel free to check out the Brands of Britain website and these companies’ websites for more information on their products and sustainability initiatives.
New Zealand Honey Co. Manuka honey
Have your heard of Manuka honey before? New Zealand Manuka honey is so rare, it is only harvested for two to eight weeks each year, and the Manuka Honey UMF™ 26 is considered one of the rarest superfoods in the world. Manuka honey has a reputation as a great natural sugar alternative, with significant health benefits (gastrointestinal, immune support, skincare, haircare, first-aid, wound care, and oral health)
New Zealand Honey Co. sells a complete line of Manuka high-strength raw honey from the native New Zealand Manuka tree. Their range of Manuka Honey is fully UMF™ Certified (Unique Manuka Factor), an important accreditation denoting authenticity and the highest testing standards for any honey in the world.
I was excited to try out New Zealand Honey Co. Manuka Honey UMF™10+ for my blog earlier this year. Simplicity is best when it comes to experiencing the pure taste of Manuka honey – and that’s exactly what I did below. I had Manuka honey as a snack on homemade bread lightly toasted, covered with cream cheese, seasonal berries, and bee pollen. As a big supporter of unprocessed honey – a nutritional powerhouse with remarkable healing power – I am super excited to undertake further research on Manuka honey, and to use this rather elusive honey on top of my snacks.
*Honey should not be given to children 1 year of age or younger. Furthermore, on their website New Zealand Honey Co. advises against feeding Manuka honey to children 18 months old or younger.
Mary’s Gone Kookies
Mary’s Gone Crackers – the well-known brand of organic crispy, crunchy snacks – has recently welcomed a new member to their family of products: Mary’s Gone Kookies. These graham-style snacks are organic (and thus non-GMO) and gluten-free, and they come in three flavors: chocolate, cinnamon, and honey. According to the info I was sent earlier this year along with the kookies, these can be enjoyed straight out of the box, dipped in coffee or tea, or in desserts.
To begin with, Mary’s Gone Kookies make a wonderful lunchbox addition. When it comes to putting together meals to eat outside of home I’ve always been a “sandwich and snack” kind of gal, lol Below you have my typical lunchbox, consisting of a cream cheese sandwich made with homemade bread, popcorn, Mary’s Gone Kookies for sweets, and fruits and veggies.
As stated above, Mary’s Gone Kookies can also be used in desserts. Below you have my latest use of pitted cherries, back in the summer, stewed gently as a compote and served in a parfait, with yogurt, crushed Mary’s Gone Kookies chocolate snacks, raw peanuts, and bee pollen.
I love Mary’s Gone Kookies because they are made of quality ingredients and are not overly sweet, and are thus perfect to enjoy in a variety of applications. Last but not least, the texture is crispy and sturdy (happy to report I’ve seen very few crumbs in the bag)
I am thinking of using Mary’s Gone Kookies as a cheesecake base next. What do you all think? Let me know in the comments, and happy cooking and baking, everyone 🙂
*Disclaimer: While I received complimentary products to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed here are my own.