Talisker whisky truffles

Sugar and spice: Mark Hix's sweet treats make perfect gifts for friends and family

We all indulge a bit over the festive period, and it's nice to have a few little sweet treats to hand for when relatives and friends drop by or to just leave on the table after Christmas lunch so that people can help themselves when they feel peckish. Home-made chocolates and sweets also make great, economical little gifts for family and friends, simply wrapped up in little cellophane packets with a ribbon.

Talisker whisky truffles

Talisker whisky truffles

Makes about 20

1. Collezione barbiere shaving cream:
£37, Aqua di Parma, 01932 233861 -
This is a pricey, old-school cream but, enriched with almond oil and lemon balm, its scent is divine.

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The average chap will shave 20,000 times in his lifetime, so keep skin soothed with one of these face-friendly buys

Patricia Michelson opened cheese shop, La Fromagerie, in Highbury Park in 1992. Ten years later she opened a second on Marylebone High Street and has written two award-winning books, Cheese and The Cheese Room

My Life In Food: Patricia Michelson

After successfully selling Beaufort Chalet d'Alpage from her garden shed in Highgate, north London, Patricia opened a cheese shop, La Fromagerie, in Highbury Park in 1992. Ten years later she opened a second on Marylebone High Street and has written two award-winning books, Cheese and The Cheese Room.

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Meringue with sweet cream and raspberries

Makes 8 medium-sized meringues

Minor British Institutions: Old trains

Officially, of course, they are so over, left behind like the coach and horse and carrier's cart, hissing, clunking, smudging antitheses to our age of supposed clean efficiency.

Chocolate panna cotta

Serves 4

The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Vaudeville Theatre, London

You don't get what it says on the tin. They don't fly, they're not Russian and they're not brothers. And their line of patter is a little less dense than Dostoevsky's: "We're working without a net tonight." "We didn't invite her." Boom-boom, as Basil Brush used to say.

Summer pudding

This quintessential English dessert is easy to make and benefits from a little time in the fridge to make it easier to take from the mould. The proportions of the fruits used are less important than the selection. You need a mix of tart and sweet – red or blackcurrants are a must, as are raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.

Kev's tart

Serves 4-6
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
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