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Archive for March 22, 2010

PASSOVER: Fine Chocolates For Passover

Dean’s Sweets, one of our chocolate gift picks for Holiday 2009, has chocolate truffles that are both dairy- and gluten- (and grain-) free. While they’re not certified kosher for Passover, they are in keeping with the dietary restrictions of Passover.

Until April 1, you can order artisanal, hand-dipped orange or coconut truffles. Dean’s Sweets truffles are made in small batches without any preservatives. There are no nuts or nut derivatives in any of Dean’s Sweets.

To get your “Passover truffles,” call 1.207.899.3664 (Eastern Time: 11 to 6 Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 to 7 Friday and Saturday, 11 to 4 Sunday, or leave a voicemail). The price is $17.50 for 8 pieces, $27.50 for 16 pieces; any combination of flavors.

See the truffles online at

If you have favorite Passover chocolates, please let us know.



Bring them to a seder or enjoy them
at home. Photo courtesy

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These cookies are like potato chips—we bet
you can’t eat just one! Photo by
Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

If you don’t get your hands on some Pepperidge Farm Tim Tam Cookies this month, you’ll have to wait six months until Target stores start stocking them again (when they can be shipped from Australia—where they are the nation’s favorite cookie—in cool comfort without hot containers melting the chocolate).

And believe us—you won’t want to wait that long. That’s why we’re giving away not just a few boxes, but five entire cases of Tim Tam Cookies in this week’s Gourmet Giveaway. Each case contains 24 packages of cookies that are the best non-artisan cookies (i.e., mass-produced) that we’ve ever tasted. And we’ve tasted a lot. (Read our review of Tim Tam Cookies.)

If you like Kit Kat and Twix bars, these cookies are bigger, plumper, more sumptuous versions. Crisp chocolate cookie layers are filled with chocolate crème or richer caramel, then enrobed in even richer chocolate. WARNING if you’re the winner: Once you start eating them, you can’t stop.

  • THE PRIZE: Five winners will receive 24 packages of Tim Tam Cookies. It may sound like a lot, but once you open one, they’ll be gone before you know it. If you limit yourself to eating just two packages a week, they’ll last for three months. But we haven’t yet come across anyone with that amount of willpower. Better yet, have a tea party and invite friends. (Read all about having a tea party.) Approximate Retail Value: $81.00.

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PRODUCT: Cherry Raisinets

Along with the cherry blossoms of spring, there are new Cherry Raisinets from Nestlé—whole dried Michigan cherries coated with dark chocolate.

If you like the combination of sweet (chocolate) and tart (cherries), this may be your new favorite version of Raisinets.

The bag sports several health claims:

  • 30% less fat than the leading chocolate brands
  • 1/2 serving of real fruit in every 1/4 cup*
  • A natural source of fruit and dark chocolate antioxidants, which help maintain good health


*One-fourth cup of dried fruit counts as 1 serving of fruit. The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 4 servings of fruit every day, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. However, they didn’t mean 4 servings of chocolate-covered fruit.

To quote Michael Pollan,† “If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food….”

In Defense Of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.



For those who like a sweet-and-tart snack.
Photo by Jerry Deutsch | THE NIBBLE.

If that’s not your concern, enjoy the cherry blossoms and the Cherry Raisinets.

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PRODUCT: Spring Rolls


Spring rolls are narrower and lighter than
egg rolls, and the wrapper is made without
egg. Photo courtesy

Celebrate spring with spring rolls, traditionally served at the beginning of the Chinese spring season. Spring rolls are lighter and typically narrower than egg rolls.

Chinese spring rolls and egg rolls are filled wrappers made from unraised dough, which is wrapped around mixtures of meat, seafood and vegetables and then deep fried.

Spring rolls are narrower with thinner dough, since the dough is made without the egg that gives egg rolls their name.

How did spring rolls get their name?

Originally, they were special snacks served to visitors with tea at the Chinese New Year, which is the beginning of lunar spring.

Both rolls date back to ancient China, and both are traditionally served with hot Chinese mustard or a dipping sauce.

Vietnamese spring rolls, or cha gio, have a different wrapper and are not fried (although some Vietnames restaurants are now serving Chinese-style spring rolls as well, since Americans have a penchant for fried food).


Rolled in soft rice flour wrappers—rice paper that becomes soft after dipping in water—Vietnamese spring rolls generally contain seafood such as cooked shrimp, accompanied by any combination of Chinese rice sticks, carrot, cucumber, daikon, shiitake mushrooms and fresh, leafy herbs: basil, cilantro and mint. Iceberg lettuce or green cabbage can be added for crunch. We also like adding toasted chopped peanuts (salty or honey-roasted) to half the batch, to vary the flavor of our rolls.

This is an easy and delicious recipe to make at home. Start by picking up some rice paper wrappers at an Asian market.

Vietnamese spring rolls are like eating a fresh salad roll, more complex in flavor (thanks to the fresh herbs) than fried Chinese rolls. They are served with a spicy dipping sauce known as nuoc cham.

Spring Roll Dipping Sauce Recipe


– 1/2 cup rice vinegar*
– 1/2 cup water
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/3 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
– 1 garlic clove minced
– 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice*
– 1 teaspoon dried crushed chilies

*Depending on your personal palate, you can reverse the quantities of rive vinegar and lime juice. One good-size lime will yield 1/2 cup of juice.


1. Heat the vinegar, water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Add fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and chilies.
3. Cool and serve or refrigerate.

Read more about fish sauce.

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EASTER: Colorful Candies

Fill your candy bowl with a colorful mix of chocolate-covered nuts, dried fruits and sunflower seeds.

The Cocoa Room sells mixtures of egg-shaped chocolate-covered almonds, dried cherries, sunflower seeds and other favorites.

In addition to making your candy bowl look seasonal, it’s a great gift for people who don’t like big bites of chocolate (yes, such people exist!).

The mixes are sold in a variety of sizes, in clear boxes that are perfect for gift-giving. The small box makes a welcome party favor. Available at

Find more of our favorite Easter gifts.


Choose from different Easter mixes. Photo

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