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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,
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Archive for Father’s Day

RECIPE: Rocky Road Truffles

Today is National Rocky Road Day. The original Rocky Road was an ice cream flavor invented in 1929 by William Dryer. He chose the name to describe the bumpy appearance of ice cream packed with chocolate, marshmallows and walnuts. Since the Great Depression began in October of that year, it was also a tongue-and-cheek reference.

Pastry chef and cookbook author Emily Luchetti has taken Dryer’s original flavor profile and added her own twist, to make Rocky Road Truffles, developed for the California Walnut Board.

Chocolate ganache surrounds walnuts and marshmallows, with a light dusting of cocoa powder. The truffles melt in your mouth.

Make them for a family treat or for a special occasion like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day. The truffles can be made a week in advance. The better quality the chocolate, the tastier the truffles. (We used a Valrhona chocolate bar.)

Ingredients For 30 One-Inch Truffles


Here, the rocky road is welcome. Photo courtesy California Walnut Board.

  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup mini marshmallows cut in half (use scissors)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips or chocolate bar chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

    1. WARM the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until hot and bubbling around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Swirl the pan lightly so the chocolate is covered by the cream. Cover and let sit 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.

    2. WHISK occasionally until the mixture is at room temperature. Then stir in the marshmallows, walnuts and milk chocolate chips. Spread the chocolate cream in a 9-inch pan or pie plate. Refrigerate until hard, at least 1 hour.

    3. PLACE a heaping teaspoon for each truffle in a single layer on a pan. Refrigerate until hard.

    4. PUT the cocoa powder on a plate or in a small bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. One at a time, place the chocolate balls in the cocoa powder. Dust your palms with cocoa powder and lightly roll the truffles between your palms until round. (The cocoa powder keeps them from sticking to your hands.) Finally, roll the round truffles in the the cocoa powder. (If at any point the chocolate gets too warm and the truffles become difficult to roll, refrigerate the chocolate for 30 minutes until it firms up.)

    5. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve. For gifting, you can wrap the truffles up in tissue paper and tie the bundle with a ribbon.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Layer Cake


    You can make this at home, topped with Callebaut Crispearls. Photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts.


    Nothing says love like a homemade cake: for birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Day, graduation or or other special occasion. Whether you use a cake mix or measure from scratch, it’s fun to bake a cake.

    And it’s very much appreciated by the honoree. Our friend Beth’s children, ages 7 and 10, know enough to appreciate mom’s homemade birthday cakes to store-bought options.

    Over the years, many people have asked our opinion on cake mixes. Here it is:

    Essentially, a cake mix saves you the time and mess of measuring the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, etc. It also includes the flavorings—vanilla, orange, whatever. People who don’t like measuring should reach for the box.

    What we personally don’t like is using oil instead of butter. Others may not notice; but if it doesn’t taste buttery, we don’t want to spend our cake and cookie calories.

    And of course, a from-scratch recipe that’s enhanced with buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream, fresh citrus juice or zest, and so on will be better tasting.


    We totally avoid the canned frostings most people buy to go along with a cake mix. To borrow a line from Snapple, most canned frosting is not made from “the best stuff on Earth.” Here are the ingredients to Betty Crocker’s Rich & Creamy Vanilla Frosting:

    Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Water, Wheat Starch, High Maltose Corn Syrup, Contain 1% or Less of Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides, Colored with Artificial Color, Yellows 5 & 6, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Nonfat Milk, Freshness Preserved by Potassium Sorbate

    Why eat cottonseed oil and corn syrup, when in 10 minutes you can make real buttercream, which tastes great?

    All you need is a stick of butter, a cup of confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup whole milk and the flavoring of your choice: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 ounces chocolate or 1 teaspoon instant coffee. Just blend them together and ice away. The toughest part is waiting for the butter to soften!

    Here’s the full recipe.



    A special occasion deserves a festive garnish. You can turn a homemade or store-bought layer cake into something special with a simple sprinkle of edible cake decorations.

    In addition to chocolate chips (or other flavors), homemade chocolate curls (scrape a chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler), coconut and candies, there are:

  • Bright-colored or pastel confetti
  • Callebaut Crispirls, chocolate-covered cereal balls in dark, milk and white chocolate
  • Dragées in single colors, multicolor “Harlequin,” gold and silver
  • Gold glitter stars
  • Sugar pearls, in white, pastels, multicolor and metallics
  • White pearl shimmers
    If you live near a baking supplies store, go browsing. Otherwise, browse online until you find your ideal decorations.



    Sprinkle festive decorations atop your cake. Photo courtesy Wilton.


    Here’s an article about the different types of cake decorations.



    FOOD HOLIDAY: Surf & Turf Eggs Benedict

    Eggs Benedict is a popular Mother’s Day or Father’s Day brunch entree. The classic recipe combines a poached egg and ham or Canadian bacon atop a toasted English muffin slice, topped with hollandaise sauce.

    There are many variations to the original recipe, including portabella mushrooms for vegetarians (recipe) and corned beef hash (recipe).

    Since today is National Eggs Benedict Day, here’s a festive recipe to try in advance of upcoming celebrations. You can serve it for lunch or everyday dinner as well.


    Ingredients For One Serving

  • 1 poached egg
  • 1/4 cup poached crab or lobster
  • 1/4 cup sliced, cooked filet mignon
  • Hollandaise sauce (recipe)
  • 1/2 English muffin, toasted
  • Optional: poached/steamed asparagus or other vegetable


    Surf & turf Eggs Benedict. Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

  • Optional garnish: minced fresh chives or parsley or chiffonade of tarragon

    1. PREPARE or heat the hollandaise sauce; cook the Canadian bacon or heat the ham.

    2. POACH the egg and toast the muffin half. Place the beef atop the muffin, followed by the seafood and the egg. Spoon the hollandaise sauce on top.

    3. GARNISH with fresh herbs and serve with an optional side of asparagus or other vegetable.

    Credit for this recipe is given to Chef Charles Ranhofer of Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City—which also happened to be the first restaurant opened in the U.S., starting with a small pastry café in 1827 and expanding into a restaurant two years later.

    At that time there were no public dining rooms or restaurants. Men could stop into a tavern for a beverage and what amounted to “bar food.” People ate all their meals at home or, if traveling, at the inn or hotel. Otherwise, hungry people got food from street vendors.

    In the 1860s, a regular patron of Delmonico’s, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, arrived for lunch and found nothing appealing on the menu. She discussed her tastes with the chef, who created on the spot what would become an iconic recipe. In his cookbook, The Epicurean, published in 1894, he called the recipe called Eggs à la Benedick, inadvertently misspelling her name.

    The recipe is relatively easy: toasted English muffins topped with a round of cooked ham “an eighth of an inch thick and of the same diameter as the muffins one each half.” A poached egg is placed atop each each muffin half, and the whole is covered with Hollandaise sauce.

    The dish became very popular, and April 16th was established as National Eggs Benedict Day.

    You can vary the ingredients to make your own signature Eggs Benedict recipe. Here are some substitutions.



    FATHER’S DAY: Maggie Louise Salted Caramel Heraldic Shields

    If Dad is the king on Father’s Day, how about a box of these chocolate heraldic shields, filled with salted caramel?

    Any celebrant who appreciates fine chocolate will roar when he receives a box of such luscious chocolates, embossed with kingly lions.

    The heraldic shields are crafted in extra dark chocolate by El Rey and filled with vanilla bean cream caramel and sea salt. As a finishing touch, the chocolate is brushed with edible gold.

    We’re fans of Maggie Louise, who combines design flare with terrific taste and beautiful packaging.

    A 6-piece gift box is $13.50.

    Get yours at

    And browse the website for more wonderful chocolate creations.



    Regal and delectable: salt caramel heraldic shields. Photo courtesy Maggie Louise.




    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Whiskey-Infused Chocolate Truffles

    If Dad loves chocolate and spirits, this may be the ideal Father’s Day gift!

    The Oregon Distiller’s Collection from Moonstruck Chocolate is nine-piece collection of truffles infused with spirits from five of Oregon’s finest craft distillers.

    The spirits are infused into chocolate ganache and hand-piped into hand-painted chocolate shells. The collection is a parade of deliciousness:

  • Bendistillery Crater Lake Pepper Vodka Truffle: A ganache of ivory and dark chocolate is infused with the spirit. A blend of five different sweet and hot chiles creates a balance of flavor and spice; in an ivory chocolate shell.
  • Bull Run Distillery Pacific Rum and Cola Truffle: A blend of dark and milk chocolate ganache is infused with the rum and cola-flavored spirit to mimic the classic cocktail; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • Bull Run Temperance Trader Bourbon Whiskey Truffle: A dark and milk chocolate ganache is infused with this popular whiskey, creating sweet and smoky notes with a hint of fruit and butterscotch; in a dark chocolate shell.


    A gift box of spirits-infused truffles. Photo courtesy Moonstruck Chocolate.


  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Apple Brandy Truffle: The spirit is blended into a ganache of ivory and dark chocolate, featuring notes of grass, apple and spice; in dark chocolate shell.
  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Pear Brandy Truffle: A blended milk and dark chocolate ganache is infused with the pear brandy; in an ivory chocolate shell.


    Each individual flavor can be purchased
    separately, too. Photo courtesy

  • House Spirits Distillery Krogstad Aquavit Truffle: The aquavit is blended into an ivory and dark chocolate ganache, creating a warm blend of chocolate, star anise and caraway flavors; in a milk chocolate shell.
  • House Spirits Distillery Coffee Liqueur Truffle: The strong, freshly-brewed coffee flavor of the liqueur infuses a blend of milk and dark chocolate ganache; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • House Spirits Distillery Aviation Gin Truffle: This milk and dark chocolate ganache is infused with the gin, delivering a bouquet of botanical flavors, with top notes of citrus, anise, cardamom and lavender; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • Rogue Ale Dead Guy Whiskey Truffle: A blended ivory and dark chocolate is infused with the whiskey, creating delicately sweet notes, a rich malt complexity and a warm peppery finish; in a milk chocolate shell.
    Who could resist? The nine-piece sampler is $20.00. The flavors can be purchased individually in boxes of 20 pieces for $50.00.



    Check out the different types of whiskey in our Whiskey Glossary.


    PRODUCT: Limited Edition Garrett’s Smoky Cheese Popcorn

    In advance of Father’s Day, Chicago popcorn palace Garrett’s has introduced limited-edition Smoky CheeseCorn, for gifting or party fare.

    The popcorn is handmade daily from the highest quality ingredients and a signature blend of kernels. It is hot-air popped and stirred into freshly melted sharp cheddar cheese, infused with a wisp of hickory smoke.

    Purchase at Garrett popcorn shops in Chicago, Las Vegas and New York (plus international—see the store locator), or online at

    You can send Dad a one-gallon tin for Father’s Day, or the ginormous 6.5-gallon tin to feed a whole party. The flavor will be available through the summer barbecue season.



    Cheesy and smoky: new Smoky CheeseCorn. Photo courtesy Garrett’s.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Beer Glasses ~ Stout Glasses


    Stout has never tasted better. Photo courtesy Spielgau.


    For decades, connoisseurs of fine wines and spirits have been able to enjoy them in glasses engineered by Riedel, to bring out every last nuance of flavor and aroma. If you’ve ever compared drinking a wine from the correct varietal-specific Riedel glass (Bordeaux, Brandy, Chardonnay, Tequila, etc.) and a generic wine glass, you know the results are amazing.

    Last year right before Father’s Day, we featured the first variety-specific beer glass, an IPA glass from Spielgau, specially contoured to enhance the flavors and aromas of IPA beer.

    This year, Spielgau—a 500 year-old company that was purchased by Riedel in 2004—adds the world’s first stout-specific glass. The company hopes to do for beer what its parent company has done for wine.

    Stout is a heavier style of beer characterized dark color, malty flavor, and thick, foamy head. The wide mouth of the 21-ounce Spiegelau Stout glass is conducive to pouring a strong head, while the flared base helps focus the beer’s aromas, which can then emanate from the glass’s wide opening. (See the different types of beers.)


    The stout glass was developed and tested with two American craft brewers of stout: Left Hand Brewing Company of Colorado and Rogue Ales of Oregon. A set of two glasses is $25 at Branded versions of the glass with brewery logos are available through and, respectively.



    Hundreds of glasses pulled from Spiegelau’s glassware archive were tested against a variety of the brewers’ own stouts to find the glass shape that had the most profound effect on the aromas and flavor profiles of each stout beer. After narrowing the options to a handful of shapes, Spiegelau’s German factory created six final prototypes for testing all stouts, varying by several millimeters in height, bowl width, angle and capacity.

    After many deliberations, Left Hand Brewing Company and Rogue Ales separately and unanimously determined that the Prototype “C” stout glass delivered the optimal taste, aroma and mouth feel to enhance stout beers. The winning shape has:

  • A voluminous, open bottom glass base that drives beer and aromatic foam upward into the main bowl.
  • A wider, conical bowl that significantly amplifies aromas and also provides superior flow to mid palate, improving the taste, mouth feel and finish of complex stout beers.
  • A stark, angular shape and open base that create dramatic visual cascading effect into the glass as the beer is poured.
  • Ultra-pure quartz material, that makes for unsurpassed clarity and flawless, true color presentation of stout beer.
    So the next great gift for a beer lover: Spielgau stout glasses with a selection of artisan stouts.



    The two “developer” breweries offer branded versions of the stout glass. Photo courtesy Proof Brewing Co.



    The darkest and heartiest of beers, a stout is top fermented and differentiated from a regular ale by its brown-black color, chocolate-coffee flavors and fuller body. This is achieved by brewing with barley that has been dark-roasted to the point of charring (think of espresso beans, compared to a medium-roast coffee). Stout is thus both darker and maltier than porter, has a more pronounced hop aroma, and may reach an alcoholic content of 6% to 7%.

    Stout originated in Ireland, where most traditional stouts are very rich, yet sharp and slightly bitter. Stout is well-paired with strong cheese and a spicy sausage such as andouille. There are different types of stout:

  • Chocolate stout is a sub-category that uses different malts for an even more pronounced chocolate flavor. These days, some brewers add actual chocolate into the brew, or brew over cacao beans, or both.
  • Coffee stout uses dark roasted malts to add a bitter coffee flavor. With the tandem growth of interest in microbrews and fine coffee, craft brewers have added specific ground beans to create, for example, “Breakfast Coffee Stout,” “Espresso Stout” and “Guatemalan Coffee Stout.”
  • Cream stout or milk stout is a style made sweeter with unfermentable lactose (milk sugar).
  • Dry stout or Irish stout is very dark and toasty or coffee-note style, exemplified by the world-famous Guinness.
  • Imperial stout, Russian stout or Russian imperial stout has more of a rich, roasted quality and a higher level of alcohol. These are potent beers that can be almost as thickly textured as liqueur. Examples include Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout at 7% alcohol and Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout, at 8.7% alcohol. The alcohol content of imperial stouts can go to 9% and 10%.
  • Oatmeal stout adds oatmeal to the mash, which gives a smoothness and creaminess to the stout. It has more restrained flavors and less alcohol than Imperial stout. Samuel Smith makes a benchmark oatmeal stout, with notes of fruit, licorice, chocolate and toffee.


    BOOK: Kitchen Survival Guide For Men


    Save the males: Teach them to cook for
    themselves. Photo courtesy Save The Males


    Chef Gordon Smith has cooked for royalty, celebrities, executives, and Olympic athletes. Now, in his mission to “save the males,” he tells men what they need to know to survive on their own—by cooking good food at home instead of resorting to less-good-for-you fast food and take-out.

    His book, Save the Males: A Kitchen Survival Cookbook, is a fun gift for single men as well as husbands, significant others and other men who have to fend for themselves in the kitchen, whether full-time or on occasion. It’s a practical culinary foundation for the novice and a great refresher course for any home cook.

    (If you’re buying the book on, note that there’s another book named Save The Males, about relationships. Don’t let it confuse you. The one you want is co-authored by Reparata Mazzola and Gordon Smith.)

    The underlying goal of “Save the Males” is fun, as Chef Gordon teaches readers how to switch from prepared foods to foods they prepare. An empty kitchen goes from foreboding to a place fragrant with delicious meals they cook meals for themselves, family and friends.


    Chef Gordon Smith is a regular guy who knows from experience that cooking improves one’s health and appearance (eat better!) as well as one’s sex life (a home cooked dinner is romantic!).

    Cooking for oneself is not only empowering; it could lead to a new hobby—or at least, it could get the man in your life to prepare dinner more often.

    And that’s the reason to give copies to dads, grads, brothers, sons and friends.



    MOTHER’S DAY: Chocolate Crowns From Maggie Louise


    Chocolate for a queen. Photo courtesy
    Maggie Louise Confections.


    To show Mom that she’s your queen, treat her to these white chocolate crowns from chocolatier Maggie Louise, filled with chocolate sea salt caramel.

    Called “The Sophronia,” it was inspired by Maggie’s memories of the royal pomp and circumstance of London.

    The intricate crowns are made with El Rey’s famed Icoa white chocolate, then filled with hand-crafted chocolate caramel and dotted with Maldon sea salt.

    A six-piece box, beautifully packaged, is $15.00. Get yours at




    TIP OF THE DAY: Your Signature Steak & Eggs For Father’s Day

    Treat dad to homemade steak and eggs for Father’s Day. While most often a breakfast choice, the combination is equally appealing at lunch and dinner.

    Get creative with your preparation. Although a conventional recipe combines sirloin steak with fried eggs, select from the variety of steak cuts and egg styles to create a signature dish—and name it after Dad.

    Add a green vegetable to set off the plate (and the cholesterol), and pick a “signature condiment”: anything from chimichurri sauce or chutney to curried ketchup or homemade wild mushroom and red wine sauce.


    Sirloin is a popular cut; a petite sirloin makes individual portions easy. But if your budget allows, go for a New York strip or rib eye. You can employ other favorite cuts as well.


    A Father’s Day favorite. Swith the homemade potato chips for something green. Photo courtesy Peach Valley Cafe.



    A fancy turn: poached eggs atop filet mignon
    and mushroom gravy, topped with a frisée
    salad and fresh chives. Photo courtesy Epic
    Roadhouse | San Francisco.



    Fried eggs are popular, and the yolk provides a “sauce” for the steak—as do poached egg yolks. But you can serve any style of eggs that Dad prefers: scrambled, boiled, hard-cooked and sliced, a mushroom omelet, a frittata.

    Our signature steak and eggs recipe was inspired by the clever renderings of Chef Thomas Keller (his Oysters and Pearls is a sabayon of pearl tapioca with oysters and sturgeon caviar [caviar eggs are called pearls}):

    We designed our steak and eggs as a filet mignon served with boiled potatoes. The top of the potatoes is scooped out (with a small melon baller), filled with crème fraîche and topped with caviar (i.e., the eggs) and garnished with a hard-cooked quail egg, halved and garnished with chive mayonnaise.


    Most restaurants serve steak and eggs with a side of hash browns or other potatoes. But the dish needs more of a balance than that provided by a pile of fried beige simple carbs.

    So go for something green. We like:

  • Arugula, frisée or mesclun salad lightly dressed with vinaigrette
  • Asparagus, steamed and lightly tossed with butter and lemon zest
  • Snap peas, snow peas or zucchini, sautéed with garlic

    Nothing picks up a dish better than fresh herbs. Sprinkle your creation with a favorite herb or two: a basil chiffonade, chopped chives, cilantro, parsley or rosemary.



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