Let’s be honest, one of the things we most look forward to at Christmas is the food and drink. Especially the nibbles! So, whether you’re planning to make your own Christmas canapés for soirées and parties, or looking to food retailers to save you time, I’ve rounded up some of my favourite morsels for you to drool over. Prepare to feel hungry, thirsty and festive!
Chorizo toad in the hole
Guests always tend to squabble over yorkies on the big day. Seeing as they’re such a crowd-pleaser, why not offer them as Christmas canapés appetiser, too? While I’m sure guests would be more than happy to gobble them up straight from the oven, there are a number of tasty toppings you can fill Yorkshire puddings with. Whether it’s roast beef and horseradish or cocktail sausages on a bed of red onion chutney topped with English mustard, they are guaranteed to go down a treat. For those avoiding meat, fill with truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, or Brie and cranberry. Short on time? Try these mini beef-filled Yorkshire puddings from M&S. They’re filled with porcini mushrooms and a red wine jus: divine!
No gathering is complete without a cheeseboard – whether it’s for your fifth course, or your first! For a balanced Christmas canapés offering, I suggest a couple of cheeses from the following varieties: Cheddar, soft, blue and goat’s. Crowd-pleasers such as Brie, Roquefort and Stilton are all great contenders too. For an extra treat, why not add a generous slice of Fortnum & Mason’s Truffled Cheddar Wedge to your board? It’s wonderfully creamy, smooth and moreish. Of course, condiments also play a key part. A tomato chutney is guaranteed to go down well, as is a Piccalilli or quince jam. I’ll never refuse a generous dollop of Harvey Nichols’ Christmas Chutney either. Other accoutrements to consider include crusty bread, crackers, figs, grapes, and sliced pear. Don’t forget the wine either – deep reds and port come highly recommended.
Blinis are the star of many a Christmas canapés buffet. Traditionally, these mini pancakes are topped with soured cream, smoked salmon and if it’s to your taste, caviar. I’m all for experimenting with toppings, too. Some of my favourites include beetroot houmous and horseradish; Brie with toasted walnuts and honey and for the adventurous, smoked trout, sesame seed and wasabi. Cocktail blinis are readily available in the shops, but you can create your own with a combination of flour, milk, yeast and eggs. They freeze well too – ideal if you have surprise visitors over the period!
Bloody Mary prawn cocktails
Would it even be Christmas without a prawn cocktail? No, I didn’t think so! This 1960s favourite still reigns supreme at this wonderful time of year. And I’m certainly not complaining! To give this classic Christmas canapés treat a contemporary spin, why not opt for a Bloody Mary twist? The flavours of this tomato and vodka-based cocktail lend themselves well to prawns, and the dish can be rustled up in minutes. Simply add some finely diced tomato, a dash of vodka and a touch of chilli to your usual recipe. Serve in a small tumbler or shot glass, with a king prawn and lime wedge garnish on the side. If you’re in a rush, try Heston Blumenthal’s from Waitrose
This time of year might be synonymous with figgy pudding thanks to the popular carol, but whole figs can make for delicious Christmas canapés too! Filling them with cheese works well: think goat’s, blue or even Camembert. If you’re going for the latter, pop them in the oven for five minutes before serving so the figs are warm and the cheese is gooey. Garnish with a drizzle of honey and a sprig of rosemary.
Mini Hasselback potatoes
Crispy roasties are the best part of a roast dinner, right? Aside from these seasonal stalwarts, Hasselbacks are a great option if you’re hoping to impress amongst your Christmas canapés. They key is to thinly cut your potatoes first, leaving only a millimetre or so between slices. Pour over melted butter and season with salt and pepper before roasting in the oven for 40 minutes. Sprinkle over some Gorgonzola at the end, or fill the gaps with cream cheese. Try not to eat them all at once!
Beetroot cured smoked salmon
Smoked salmon is a must when it comes to entertaining. But have you ever tried curing your own? For a simple shortcut, sprinkle finely grated beetroot over shop-bought smoked salmon and rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Serve with crusty bread and crème fraîche mixed with a hint of lemon or mustard. For a seasonal twist, how about curing the salmon in gin, juniper or whisky? Or buy your own! H. Forman & Son’s Gin & Tonic cured Scottish smoked salmon is a delight.
Warning: these tricolore titbits, comprising of Mozzarella, tomato and basil, are irresistibly moreish! To assemble, layer mini Mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes and basil leaves onto cocktail sticks or rosemary sprigs. Finish off with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for Christmas canapés your guests won’t be able to resist. For extra styling points, you could arrange each stick into a circle to make the shape of a wreath. Finish with a dipping bowl of balsamic vinegar placed in the middle. Did I mention the reds white and green hues look wonderfully festive together too?
Asparagus in prosciutto
Asparagus is synonymous with elegance, whether it’s served with Hollandaise for an indulgent breakfast or nibbled on as a tasty canapé. These sophisticated spears also work particularly well when wrapped in high quality meat. Wrap your asparagus spears with prosciutto (or a similar dry-cured ham) and lightly cover with olive oil, before roasting for 8-10 minutes in the oven until crisp. For a vegetarian option, wrap the asparagus in a thin spiral of puff pastry then brush with beaten egg and scatter with grated Parmesan and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Who doesn’t love a brownie? Depending on your cookie cutter collection, try experimenting with all sorts of shapes and styles, from stars to snowmen to trees. Just don’t forget add a final flourish of icing sugar at the end! While a triple chocolate brownie is always a recipe for success in my eyes, seasonal variations to try include: chocolate orange, rum and raisin and brandy and cranberry – yum!