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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Great Gifts

GIFT: The Best Peppermint Bark

The best peppermint bark we’ve ever had.
Don’t miss it! Photo courtesy Enstrom.

 

We’ve tried every peppermint bark we’ve come across. And the winner:

Peppermint Bark from Enstrom Candies of Grand Junction, Colorado.

It’s a perfect blend of top-quality dark and white chocolate with crushed peppermint candy and chocolate cookie pieces. We admit to total addiction.

And we have to stock up on it, because it’s only made during the holiday season.

We promise you: Anyone you give a box to will tell you it’s the best peppermint bark they’ve ever had.

And they’ll pine for December 2012, when another box might come their way.

Enstrom Candies are certified kosher.

Get yours at The Nibble Gourmet Market—home to our very favorite treats.

 

  

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GIFTS: Cake Pops Book & Cake Pops To Buy

We are, unabashedly, crazy for cake pops.

Ever since we first discovered them in 2007 and made them a Top Pick Of The Week, cake pops have been our favorite party cake.

That they’re delightful food-on-a-stick is one reason. That they’re very festive is another. They can be glamorous or adorable, depending on the occasion.

But our personal favorite reason for loving cake pops—aside from deliciousness—is portion control. We love cake, and cake pops take the portion size down several notches.

Cake Pops For Everyone

Cake pop blogger Molly Bakes (her nom de plume) has put 50 irresistable cake pop designs into a recipe book, Crazy For Cake Pops.

At about $10 a copy, think of it as a holiday gift for everyone who loves to bake. Hopefully, they’ll fall in love with making cake pops, and you’ll be the lucky recipient of some of them.

 


The most delightful book of the season: Crazy For Cake Pops. Photo courtesy Ulysses Press.

 

For a sure thing, check out our favorite cake pops, ready to buy and eat.

You’re not the only one who deserves a treat of cake pops: Every sweets-lover on your gift list deserves them, too.

  

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Fancy Sugar From Chambre De Sucre

If you like to set a beautiful table, you need Chambre de Sucre. The company, whose name translates to “The Sugar Room,” makes the most beautiful artisan-crafted sugars we’ve seen.

From orbs in white, pastels and brown demerara sugar, to rainbow and amber crystals, to flower-decorated rounds and squares, these sugars bring the wow factor to coffee and tea service.

There are affordable sugars for everyone on your list: memorable gifts that make any special occasion more special.

Anyone who entertains—or who likes beautiful things—will be enchanted by Chambre de Sucre. Read the full review.

See all the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.
 
 

 

One of the 20 beautiful expressions of sugar
from Chambre de Sucre. Photo courtesy
Chambre de Sucre.

 

  

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PRODUCT: Gourmet Marshmallows From America’s Youngest Confectioner

Ethereal, melt-in-your-mouth marshmallows from The Marshmallows Company. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

What do you say to an eight-year-old CEO? How about, “Congratulations!”

When Canaan Smith was just three years old, he was scrambling his own eggs for breakfast and watching the Food Network instead of morning cartoons.

One day at age 4, Canaan commented on how clouds looked like marshmallows. He then began thinking about different flavors of marshmallows. He and his mom, Megan, made a batch of peach marshmallows that were a big hit.

At age 5, Canaan sold his first marshmallows to family friends. He decided to launch his own marshmallow company, and within a few months he was selling to a local coffee house. By the following year, 2009, he was selling both retail and wholesale.

Canaan was featured in the local newspaper, the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald Leader. It led to an appearance on The Suze Orman Show earlier this year. He’ll be back in December as one of Suze’s favorite guests of the year.

 

The marshmallows are absolutely terrific: among the most tender marshmallows we’ve ever had, with excellent vanilla flavor.

These all-natural pillows of paradise truly melt in your mouth. As marshmallow connoisseurs who have tasted the wares of some of America’s finest marshmallow artisans, we urge you to try them. They’re as gourmet as it gets.

The marshmallows are a wonderful light snack or a topper for hot chocolate. For a special dessert, dip the tops into melted chocolate and decorate them (with mini chips, coconut or graham cracker crumbs, for example). Make the best s’mores with these marshmallows and the best graham crackers and chocolate bars you can find.

A good corporate citizen, the Marshmallows Company donates 10% to Heifer International and sends marshmallows overseas to our fighting troops. The CEO’s next focus is on green energy to produce environmentally friendly marshmallows.

Get yours at TheMarshmallowsCompany.com.

MORE MARVELOUS MARSHMALLOWS

  • The history of marshmallows, including recipes.
  • Reviews of our favorite artisan marshmallows.
  •  
    Want flavored marshmallows? We’ve got them at The Nibble Gourmet Market.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Halloween Brownie Gifts

    Harvest Pumpkin is like a pumpkin pie
    crossed with a blondie. Photo courtesy
    Sugardaddy’s.

     

    Last week we presented our favorite Halloween candy.

    This week, it’s Halloween brownies.

    They’re not decorated with ghosts or tombstones, and only one brownie—Pumpkin Harvest Blondie—has a related Halloween theme.

    But all 15 flavors of these delectable round brownies and blondies—called Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties—are a welcome addition to any celebration, party or gift fest.

  • More sophisticated than most candy and neater than cupcakes, each brownie is encased in a round, hard plastic gift box. (You can put a Halloween sticker on the box.)
  • It’s easy to exercise portion control: You can have one-third or half a brownie and store the rest in the airtight box for another time.
  •  

    Rich, Moist Brownies In Luscious Flavors

    You may have come across some of these delicious brownie flavors before: caramel, double chocolate, espresso, mint, peanut butter and raspberry. If not, hasten to try these moist, fudgy flavor expressions.

    Blondie lovers can be tempted with exciting flavors we haven’t found elsewhere: cinnamon streusel (with a coffee cake topping), coconut pineapple cashew (coconut lovers will adore it), drunken chunky (with bourbon), PB&J and a “sweet-and-salty” three-nut blondie with sea salt.

    Read the full review to learn why these special brownies and blondies are at the top of our list.

    Place your order now for a 10% discount. Use code BOO at checkout, through October 31, 2011.

    Keep them in mind for teacher gifts, stocking stuffers and anytime you need an impressive gift for less than $5.00.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Spooktacular Halloween Gifts

    Halloween cake pops: a spooktacular treat. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    For weeks we tasted treat after treat to come up with our Halloween favorites.

    It’s tough work!

    Hand-decorated to look spooky, these Halloween chocolates, cake pops, brownies and other sweets taste simply spooktacular.

    Take a look at this festive Halloween assortment, which includes—among other delights—cake pop eyeballs and ghosts, caramel-filled chocolate eyeballs and great-tasting white chocolate ghosts.

    Whether you’re looking for a gift or a well-deserved treat for yourself, we highly recommend each “boo-tiful” bite.

    Read our review.

    Go directly to the goodies.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat & Drink, Or Give A Gift, For The Cure

    October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    Some food and drink companies are doing their part to generate research dollars for the cure, making a contribution from sales of special editions of their products.

    The packaging—or sometimes the food itself, like the chocolates in the photo—bears the the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s pink ribbon.

    For treats or gifts, consider these for-the-cure products from some of our favorite producers:

  • Chocolate Céleste offers ganache-filled bonbons (see photo) that are also an emotional cure for whatever ails you. To order, call 1.877.644.3823. Read our review.
  •  

    Delicious chocolates for the cure. Photo courtesy Chocolat Céleste.

  • Food Should Taste Good makes flavored corn chips that were a Nibble Top Pick Of The Week. The company thinks that “food should do good,” too. They have earmarked $100,000 for various breast cancer organizations supported by the company and its retailers. Through the end of October, the special-edition bags are available at stores nationwide in Multigrain and Sweet Potato flavors. Here’s a store locator.
  • Republic Of Tea enables you to sip for the cure, with six different teas in giftable canisters. The special-edition teas comprise green, herbal and white teas with fruit flavors, including apple, cherry, grapefruit, lemon, pomegranate vanilla and strawberry hibiscus. Here they are. Read our review.
  • Sweet Sally’s Bakeshop changes up classic black-and-white cookies with delicious pink-and-white cookies. Take a look.
  •  
    When the cause is this important, all of the above qualify as guilt-free eating.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: Send Sweets To Celebrate Sweetest Day, October 15th

    Some people are snarky and call them “Hallmark Holidays,” but occasions such as Administrative Professionals Day (the Wednesday of the last full week of April), Grandparents Day (the first Sunday after Labor Day) and National Nurses Day (May 6th) do more than sell cards. They provide an opportunity to thank someone. If the thanks comes with a card and a small gift, it supports the economy and makes someone happy.

    Sweetest Day, October 15th, was founded in 1921 by a Cleveland confectioner and philanthropist in order to do something nice for the neglected. More than 20,000 boxes of candy were distributed to orphans, newsboys, the aged and the poor. The tradition expanded to the entire Great Lakes region, with the third Saturday in October as the official date.

    Over time, Sweetest Day became a celebration with loved ones, friends and colleagues: a day to make someone happy anywhere in the country.

    You’ll definitely make someone happy with one of our sweet treat recommendations: outstanding products selected by THE NIBBLE editors as the best in their category. There are delicious sugar-free sweets as well.

    Take a look at our best-tasting gift recommendations.

     

    Whether it’s for Sweetest Day or National
    Boss Day, a treat like our favorite toffee—available in regular and sugar-free, and certified kosher—will make anyone sweeter. Photo courtesy Enstrom’s.

     

    The day after Sweetest Day: NATIONAL BOSS DAY is October 16th. So when you look at the gifts, think of your boss. Whether or not or she is the sweetest, it’s an opportunity to say “thanks.”


      

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    PRODUCT: Favorite Brownie Gift, Back From Hiatus

    These moist, fudgy brownies are crowd-
    pleasers. Photo by Claire Freierman
    | THE NIBBLE.

     

    All summer long, fans of Geoff & Drew’s moist, fudgy brownies lamented that the chocolaty treats were “on hiatus.”

    The premium bakery wants its products to arrive in peak condition—not to languish in steamy-hot delivery trucks.

    Now that things cooling down a bit, you can treat yourself or your favorite friends and family to a mixed box of eight brownies. The assortment contains two each of:

  • Chocolate Chip Brownies
  • Toffee Brownies, with a subtle caramel topping
  • Chocolate Candy Brownies, topped with M&Ms
  • Mint Brownies, topped with a large chocolate peppermint patty
  •  
    Geoff & Drew’s also has some of the perkiest gift boxes we’ve seen, in your choice of blue, green, pink or yellow polka dots.

    Brownie happiness is just a click away.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spread Creme Honey On Toast

    September is National Honey Month. Why not try a new type of honey?

    If you’ve never had creme honey before, it’s a real treat. In many countries around the world, creme honey is preferred to the liquid/syrup form and is used instead of jelly or jam.

    Creme honey (also known as churned honey, cremed honey, honey fondant, sugared honey, spun honey and whipped honey) is brought to market in a finely crystallized state.

    While all honey will crystallize over time, creme honey is intentionally crystallized via a controlled process so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter.

    Honey, a natural product, is better for you than refined sugar-laden jam. And honey has a lower glycemic index than sugar.

    Use creme honey:

  • On toast, scones, biscuits and other breads.
  • On pancakes and waffles.
  •  

    Treat yourself to creme honey. Photo by
    River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

  • In your favorite cooking or grilling sauces and marinades.
  • In a vinaigrette (stir in half a teaspoon).
  • As a cheese condiment.
  • As a topping for desserts: Make a fat-free hard sauce by mixing creme honey with a splash of brandy. Serve over pound cake, toasted angel food cake slices or quick breads.
  • And of course, any type of honey can be used as a sweetener for tea and other beverages.
  •  
    Treat yourself to our favorite creme honey, from Honey Ridge Farms:

  • Honey Creme Trio In Apricot, Blackberry & Clover.
  • Honey Crème Trio In Cranberry, Cinnamon Spice & Raspberry.
  • Two flavors of your choice.
  •  
    The line is certified kosher parve by Oregon Kosher.

    More About Honey

  • History Of Honey: Where did honeybees come from, and when?
  • Types Of Honey: Can you name at least five types of honey?
  •  
    FOOD TRIVIA
    What’s the difference between creme and cream? Why is it creme honey instead of cream honey?

    Crème, pronounced KREHM, is the French word for cream. In America, French recipes were served at the tables of the wealthy, many of whom knew how to pronounce crème de légumes (mixed cream of vegetable soup).

    As these recipes entered the mainstream, people who did not know French began to pronounce crème as cream. Some people dispensed with the accent mark, and now we have a mashup of French and English. If you were to write “cream honey,” you would not be incorrect; however, the industry has adopted crème or creme.

    The word for honey in French is “miel” (pronounced mee-EL).

      

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