Our pick of the best cookbooks and some exclusive recipes too. Well, it is Christmas and all

We've really been very good, Santa ...

1. Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect 

Best for: the perfectionist

They say: "Imagine Mary is in your kitchen with you, sharing her tips and tricks – the secret of crisp pork crackling, how to make featherlight fruit muffins, and the key to a super-crunchy crumble topping." 

We say: Anything homemade is pretty special in our book, but if trying isn't good enough for you, get Queen Bezza's new bible. It ain't just baking – there's starters, mains, soups, salads – all with heaps of step-by-step pics so you really can't go wrong. *crosses fingers*

Price: £25

Fave recipe: steak and Guinness pie

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Mary Berry's steak and Guinness pie

Photo: William Reavell/ Stuart West


2. Jamie's Comfort Food 

Best for: The world and his wife

They say: "The ultimate weekend cookbook, this is about good-mood food that’ll put a massive smile on your face ..."

We say: Another victual bible from foodie-warrior Jamie (just how many of these can he bash out?), Comfort Food is indeed full of lip-smacking recipes to cheer you up and get you through winter. With the likes of peanut butter & jelly brownies steer clear if you're on a January purge ...

Price: £30

Our fave recipe: next level steak & onion sandwich

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Image: Next-level steak and onion sandwich

Photo: David Loftus


3. Chocolate at home: Will Torrent

Best for: Committed chocoholics who actually like making their own truffles

They say: "Will has written a book to demystify the art of cooking with chocolate, from simple bakes to sophisticated desserts. Torrent has icing sugar in his veins!"

We say: Whatever they say, most of these recipes aren't all that easy. What they are though is worth the effort. You might have to get hold of ingredients you've never heard of (turbinado sugar, anyone?), or order online (that's you, pistachio paste), but with lush photography and inspiring recipes, it's a book to treasure for sure.

Price: £19.99

Fave recipe: Hard to pick. Chocolate and chestnut roulade, gingerbread hot chocolate, banoffee mud pies ... OK, if we have to – how's about this chocolate pizza?


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Image: Roasted fig, walnut & chocolate pizza

Photo: Jonathan Gregson


4. Montezuma's chocolate cookbook: Simon & Helen Pattinson

Best for: Chocoholics with less patience

They say: "Marvellous, messy, melt-in-the-mouth recipes!"

We say: A magical mix of both straightforward and slightly-more-tricky recipes, all utterly scrummy. They'll be fighting over this one.

Price: £16.99 

Fave recipe: Dark chocolate risotto (heaven in a bowl)

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Dark chocolate risotto recipe

Photo: Clare Winfield


5. Gluten-free Christmas: Hannah Miles

Best for: Gluten-free feasters – d'oh!

They say: "Delicious cookies, cakes, pies, stuffings and sauces for the perfect festive table. Indulge in all those previously forbidden treats."

We say: If you've been gluten-free for a while, you've probably got a repertoire of Christmas recipes set to go. If you've recently become intolerant (or know someone who has) this book's a cracker. 

Price: £9.99

Fave recipe: dill and mustard blinis with smoked salmon (it's not a party without a pancake)

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Dill and mustard blinis with smoked salmon

Photo: William Reavell


6. Party-perfect bites: Milli Taylor

Best for: The hostess with the mostest

They say: More than 100 ideas for delicious bite-size morsels that add style and taste to any party

We say: If you think you're not the type to swan around making your own canapés, this book might just change your mind. Ranging from the easy-peasy (beetroot hummus) to downright difficult (pickled mackerel sushi), super-indulgent (frangelico truffles) to recklessly ambitious (squid ink crackers), most of these nibbles can be supersized so your culinary endeavours reap greater rewards.

Price: £16.99

Fave recipe: dates stuffed with goats' cheese, pistachios & pomegranate

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Image: Dates stuffed with goats' cheese, pistachios and pomegranate

Photo: Helen Cathcart


7. Mug cakes: Mima Sinclair

Best for: Students

They say: "Make a cake in a mug, in a microwave, in less than 10 minutes with simple ingredients you don't even have to weigh out"

We say: A fun little book we'd gladly find at the bottom of our stocking; it's truly amazing what you can nuke up in a microwaveable mug. If cakes are this easy to make, you might find yourself eating one every day of the week. 

Price: £8.99 

Fave recipe: Christmas cake in a mug (oh yes you can!)

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Image: Christmas cake in a mug

Photo: Tara Fisher


8. Fresh spice: Arun Kapil

Best for: Adventurous foodies

They say: "Spice expert Arun Kapil sets out the building blocks of spice knowledge to help you cook creatively. 'Spices should add clarity, so that the taste sparkles on your palate. It's a kind of food alchemy'." (If you say so ... )

We say: Stuck in a food rut? Sick of staring at that cupboard of unused spices? Kapil's Ottolenghi-style approach is guaranteed to shake things up – you'd better not be scared of long ingredients lists, though.

Price: £25

Fave recipe: Caribbean Christmas cake (boozylicious)

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Caribbean Christmas cake recipe

Photo: Yuki Sugiura


9. Patisserie made simple: Edd Kimber

Best for: Thinking of entering the Bake Off?

They say: "Edd Kimber has made everyone's favourite French desserts and pastries accessible and easy-to-make," says American-born French pastry king David Lebovitz.

We say: Ever dreamed of making your own croissant, gateau opera or croquembouche? Now you can. No really, you can. There's nothing pretentious about GBBO star Edd, who happily shares his skills. How refreshing.

Price: £19.99

Fave recipe: milk chocolate and hazelnut praline bûche de Noël

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Image: Milk chocolate and hazelnut praline buche de noel

Photo: Laura Edwards


10. Baked occasions: Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Best for: People who like BIG cakes with plenty of attitude (and buttercream to boot)

They say: "Honey, don't open this book unless you are prepared to drop to your knees and beg somebody to make you every one of these recipes!" – Whoopi Goldberg

We say: Matt and Renato are without doubt Brooklyn's bad-boy bakers. These cakes are naughty. There's one to celebrate nearly every event of the year, plus quite a few 'occasions' you wouldn't have thought of: Elvis' birthday? World Nutella Day?? Ah well. Any excuse to have cake and eat it. 

Price: £21.99

Fave recipe: chocolate pop tarts with peanut butter and jam filling

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Image: Chocolate Pop Tarts with Peanut Butter and Jam Filling

Photo: Brian Kennedy


11. Nigella Christmas (republished: same book, new cover)

Best for: Anyone who wants to nail Christmas

They say: "Easy-to-follow recipes and reassuring advice with every recipe you could wish for..."

We say: If you haven’t already got Nigella’s Christmas, chances are you'll want it. There's well and truly every Christmas recipe you’ll EVER need, (we're talking hundreds here), and from pomegranate vodka to the ultimate Christmas pud, they're all pretty good – if you can cope with endless pics of Nigella nibbling pigs in blankets, gazing longingly at the turkey etc.

Price: £20   

Our fave recipe: Ultimate Christmas pudding (honestly the best we've ever tried)

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12. Gail's artisan bakery cookbook: Roy Levy and Gail Mejia 

Best for: Cutting back on an expensive bakery habit

They say: "Our cookbook isn’t about following a recipe for the perfect loaf or cake. It’s about unleashing the creativity within each of us as a home baker, in the comfort of our own homes."

We say: It's easy to spend a lot of time (and money) in Gail's, (London's much-loved posh-toff bakery), so we're pretty relieved they're sharing a few secrets. Yes, you now have the recipe for those impossibly decadent pecan brownies and their legendary carrot cake. If you've ever tried them, we need say no more.

Price: £20.00

Fave recipe: leek and goats' cheese picnic loaf. Comfort food at its best.

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Got any cookbooks you've loved to death? Dog-eared, splattered and scribbled? Tell us which ones you think are worth giving in the comments box below