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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Chocolate

RECIPE: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

Make these Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies as a Valentine gift or for Super Bowl viewing. The recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable.

Personally, we prefer omitting the bacon bits and using only the bacon fat. The result will be a smoky, salty flavor that foodies can’t get enough of.

If you want to soften the bacon flavor, simply Try it both ways and see which you prefer.


Ingredients For 20 Cookies

  • 1–1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoon bacon fat, reserved when cooking the bacon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips


    Chocolate chocolate chip cookies with a hidden surprise: bacon! Photo courtesy QVC.

  • 12 thick-cut bacon strips, chopped and cooked until fat is rendered, lightly crisped and browned


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

    3. BEAT the butter, bacon fat and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, until light and creamy. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches and mix well after each addition.

    4. ADD in the milk chocolate chips and chopped cooked bacon and mix until evenly distributed.

    5. SPOON heaping tablespoons of the cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10–12 minutes. Let cool before eating.



    STOCKING STUFFER: Wine-Infused Chocolates


    Delicious wine-infused chocolates. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Virginia-based Gearharts chocolates Fine chocolates has some irresistible treats for stocking stuffers, party favors or anytime indulgence.

    For wine lovers, an excellent stocking stuffer is Pod and Vine, a box of four bonbons. The pod refers to the cacao; the vine is the wine that infuses the ganache.

    It’s not just any wine: It’s Cabernet Franc from Virginia’s highly regarded Barboursville Vineyards.

    Four boxed bonbons are $8.00 at; nine pieces are $20.00.

    We’re also fond of the Pistachio Toffee, eight pieces of buttery toffee with roasted pistachios, enrobed in bittersweet chocolate ($8.00).

    For a full-size gift, another great gift is a Top Pick From Last Year, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pups. That’s pups, not cups: The pieces are decorated to look like dog heads.

    The milk chocolate bonbons are filled with silky chocolate ganache, which is lightly infused with handmade peanut butter.


    And they’re guilt-free: Five percent of sales of Peanut Butter Pups is donated to Companions for Heroes, a not-for-profit organization that matches rescue pets as companion animals to our nation’s wounded veterans.

    A box of nine pieces is $22.00 at Gearharts’ online store.



    GIFT: John & Kira’s Artisan Chocolates


    Splendid chocolate-dipped calabacita figs
    with whiskey-infused ganache. Photo
    courtesy John & Kira’s.


    Still need some special holiday gifts?

    Go no further than John & Kira’s. The dynamic duo of artisan chocolate can always b relied upon to handcraft memorable confections that are guaranteed to please.

    For Chocolate Sophisticates: Chocolate-Dipped Figs

    One of our favorite treats anywhere, the chocolate covered, ganache-filled figs are as good as it gets The figs are grown on a small family farm in Spain, then filled by John & Kira with a silky smooth, whiskey-infused Valrhona dark chocolate ganache. They are then enrobed in 62% dark chocolate: perfection!

    A 12-piece box is $34.95; a 6-piece box is $24.50.

    Get yours at JohnAnd

    Don’t want figs? Check out the Happiest Of Holidays gift box with ten different infused ganache fillings.


    For Kids & The Young At Heart

    Almost too cute to eat, hand-painted ladybug chocolates in red and green are filled with flavored ganache: raspberry in the red ladybugs and garden mint in the green.

    A nine-piece box is $29.95, a five-piece box is $14.95 and a three-piece box is $10.00.

    Another gift ideas is Holiday Marshmallow Heaven, chocolate-enrobed marshmallows with mint ganache, raspberry ganache, caramel and plain.

    The handsome gift boxes are lovely “keepers,” and the letter-pressed card is another expression of John & Kira’s artisan approach.

    Anyone who gets a taste will become a fan!



    Who can resist chocolate ladybugs? Photo courtesy John & Kira’s.




    PRODUCT: Moonstruck Chocolate Gifts


    Hand-decorated Bark Bars are works of art. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Moonstruck Chocolates has been pleasing Oregonians since 1995; and thanks to the rise of e-commerce, all of us can get their handcrafted chocolates.

    Whether for stocking stuffers or a principal gift, Moonstruck has distinctly different offerings, from the beautiful chocolate bars shown here, the beautiful bonbons below, and everything in-between.


    Bark Bars

    The Bark Chocolate Bars are beauties, at $9.00 apiece:

  • Dark Chocolate, Candied Orange & Hibiscus Bark Bar
  • Dark Chocolate, Strawberry & Basil Bark Bar
  • Dark Chocolate, Raspberry & Fennel Bark Bar
  • Dark Chocolate, Praline Pecan & Ginger Bark Bar
    Tumbled Chocolates

    Tumbling is the way the centers are enrobed in chocolate. For $5.00 per package, these bites are wonderful stocking stuffers, each more delicious than the next:

  • Milk Chocolate Tumbled Caramelized Hazelnuts
  • Milk Chocolate Tumbled Sea Salt Caramels
  • Dark Chocolate Tumbled Blueberries
  • Dark Chocolate Tumbled Beerberries


    We love whiskey-infused chocolates, and Moonstruck has two wonderful collections, exquisitely painted by hand:

    New American Whiskey Flight Bonbons

    The New American Whiskey Flight is a six-piece collection of bonbons: pairs of three whiskey-infused truffles.

  • The Knob Creek Whiskey Truffle features ivory ganache infused with Knob Creek Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Dads will appreciate bold notes of oak, caramel and fruit.
  • The Makers Mark Whiskey Truffle features creamy milk chocolate ganache infused with Makers Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Vanilla, oak and smoke nuances play along the palate.
  • The Woodford Reserve Whiskey Truffle marries Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey with rich dark chocolate ganache. Deep, spicy notes end with a clean finish.
    Nestled into a custom-designed box with a royal crown motif, the collection is $15.



    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

    Oregon Distillers Collection

    Oregon is home to numerous craft distillers, which inspired Moonstruck’s Oregon Distillers Collection. This exciting box of bonbons includes:

  • Bendistillery Crater Lake Pepper Vodka Truffle
  • Bull Run Temperance Trader Bourbon Whiskey Truffle
  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Apple Brandy Truffle
  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Pear Brandy Truffle
  • House Spirits Distillery Aviation Gin Truffle
  • House Spirits Distillery Coffee Liqueur Truffle
  • House Spirits Distillery Krogstad Aquavit Truffle
  • New Deal Distillery Ginger Liqueur Truffle
  • Oregon Spirit Distillers Wild Card Absinthe Truffle
  • Rogue Ale Dead Guy Whiskey Truffle
    A 12-piece box is $25.00. The bonbons are approximately 5% alcohol content by weight.

    Both boxes are memorable chocolate experiences.

    There are seasonal treats like Santas and penguins, and many other beauties to discover at



    GIFT: Boxes Made Of Chocolate, Filled With More Chocolate


    One of our favorites: Orange Twigs. Photo
    courtesy Charles Chocolates.


    We have two favorite products from San Francisco’s Charles Chocolates.

    The first, Orange Twigs, delicate milk chocolate butter truffles that melt in your mouth.

    They have a hint of fresh orange, a divine combination. The ganache is coated in a thin layer of 65% bittersweet chocolate and finished with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.

    A 6.3-ounce box is $ 16.00.

    How about a gift box made from chocolate, filled with more chocolate?

    Second on our menu are the company’s signature chocolate boxes. The square gift boxes made entirely of chocolate are filled with assorted bonbons (details below). After the chocolates are consumed, you eat the box!



    Three seasonal designs include:

  • Christmas Collection Edible Chocolate Box (shown in photo): a bittersweet box bottom and a white chocolate top
  • Hanukkah Collection Edible Chocolate Box, a bittersweet chocolate box
  • Winter Collection Edible Chocolate Box (snowflake design), a milk chocolate box

    What’s in the boxes?

    Cinnamon Spice Truffles, Orange Zest Truffles, Pecan Fleur de Sel Caramels, Peppermint Cremes, Bittersweet Peanut Butterflies, Poire William Caramels, Maple Truffles, Fleur de Sel Caramels and Bourbon Truffles.

    Each box is 17 ounces, $65.00.



    An edible chocolate box filled with holiday bonbons. Photo courtesy Charles Chocolates/

    Get yours at There’s free shipping on all orders over $75.00 shipped before Christmas.



    GIFT: Chocolate Tray


    Something special: a chocolate tray to serve chocolate truffles. Photo courtesy Fika NYC.


    Need a unique gift for a chocolate lover?

    How about a chocolate tray, that can be topped with chocolate truffles or other bonbons.

    The handcrafted tray is in the shape of a wine bottle in roughly the same (although two-dimensional) size, 13 x 4.5 inches.

    It’s sure to elicit oohs and ahhs, not to mention a discussion of when the tray itself will be eaten.

    The chocolate tray is $38.00 at




    GIFT: Madécasse Artisan Chocolate Bars


    Madécasse chocolate bars can be gifted individually or in boxed sets. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    If you’re looking for something special for a chocolate lover, check the chocolate section of Whole Foods Markets. In addition to other fine brands, they carry Madécasse chocolate bars, made in Madagascar from locally-grown cacao and vanilla beans.

    The fairly traded chocolate is made with a rare native heirloom cacao, so people who really like to taste the differences in cacao by terroir will have a field day.

    You’ll find flavors such as:

  • Espresso Bean Chocolate Bar, made with 44% dark milk chocolate that has caramel notes, and blended with a coffee crunch.
  • Salted Almond Chocolate Bar, 63% semisweet chocolate, sprinkled with roasted almond nibs and sea salt for.
  • Sea Salt & Nibs Chocolate Bar, 63% semisweet chocolate with added crushed cocoa bean nibs and a light dusting of sea salt. It was the winner of “Best In Show” at a recent Paris Salon du Chocolat.
  • Toasted Coconut Chocolate Bar, made with a 70% bittersweet chocolate with fruity notes, topped with crunchy flakes of toasted coconut.
  • Special Holiday Bars, Orange Cranberry and Hazelnut, both 63% semisweet chocolate.
    Other options include plain 70% and 80% cacao bars, Cinnamon & Chile Pepper, Citrus & Pink Pepper. There are gift sets at Each bar retails for $4.99.

    For holiday gift giving, you can replace the straw tie in the hole punched in the top of the package with a festive ribbon, tie a bar onto a larger gift box, or even hang it from the tree!


    Madécasse Chocolate is a Brooklyn-based chocolate manufacturer established in 2006 by two Peace Corps volunteers who served in Madagascar. Their mission was to improve economic opportunities for farmers and villagers in the region. The name Madécasse refers to an inhabitant of Madegascar.

    Madécasse is the only company producing bean-to-bar chocolate and vanilla products that are grown, harvested and hand-wrapped entirely in Madagascar. The chocolate is made from the world’s last remaining genetically pure cacao beans.

    All Madécasse products are Fair for Life certified, a certification similar to Fair trade, but which offers four times the economic impact.

    Learn more at



    GIFT: Sushumna Chocolate


    The chocolate is made in individually-
    wrapped tiles. Photo courtesy Sushumna.


    For the person who meditates or does yoga, consider a gift of Sushumna chocolate. This line of “chakra-choc” includes seven flavors that correlate to the seven major energy points (chakras) in the body developed.

    Hindus refer to the chakras as the intersections of energy lines. One of them, sushumna, leads to the crown chakra, and is said to be the path to self-realization.

    Will these flavored chocolates lead you there? No promises are made, but at 30 calories per tile, anyone can enjoy a tile or two daily to find out.

    What is the Chakra-Chocolate correlation?

    According to the owners, on the chakra Ladder, these energy points are represented by color, emotive and physical attributes. They found natural correlations to these attributes among various nuts, spices, herbs and essences that they then married to chocolate.


    The creators describe their chakra-based chocolates:


  • Compassionate: Sweet dried cherries provide a burst of dark, luscious fruit flavor to complement the 70% dark chocolate. An explosion of flavor reminds you to keep your heart open.
  • Connected: Transform that “fire in your belly” into positive action with this sumptuous vanilla bean and white chocolate infusion. The universal aroma and flavor of pure vanilla blended with white chocolate strengthens and soothes this fiery, action-oriented power chakra.
  • Expressive: Vibrant, refreshing peppermint and 70% dark chocolate vivify this chakra and strengthen your innate ability to know and speak your truth.
  • Grounded: The warm, earthy flavors of sweet potato pie are blended with the familiar crunch of crisped rice, and swathed in luscious, smooth milk chocolate. This medley was created to help focus and realign your connection with the earth and all that’s primal through the “root chakra.”
  • Insightful: This blend of port-soaked currants with 70% dark chocolate captures the mystery and wonder of intuition. Help strengthen and balance your “third eye” chakra for a new perspective and way of seeing the world.


    The tiles in a gift canister. Photo courtesy Sushmna.

  • Sensual: Cardamom, nutmeg and a whisper of cinnamon are blended into chai chocolate. Spices, a touch of heat and milk chocolate stimulate your second chakra—the energetic portal of the senses, and the source of creativity.
  • Transcendant: A savory blend of hemp oil, exotic mushroom extract, rich raw cashews, and silky milk chocolate which help you connect to your crown chakra: the connection to the cosmos and spirit.
    There are gift sets from $15 to $50.

  • Individually wrapped squares are $1.00; the Tea Boxed Set of 21 tiles is $28.00.
  • The Media Boxed Set, a reusable gift box with each of the 7 flavors, is $15.
    Get yours at



    HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Day


    Harvest Truffles. Photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections.


    It’s National Chocolate Day, an excuse for anyone to run to the newsstand to pick up a Hershey Bar or some M&Ms.

    But the chocolate connoisseur deserves something better, and we’ve found it in these delicious Harvest Truffles from Recchiuti Confections of San Francisco, which we received as a gift.

    Each bite of these beautifully flavored bonbons is a bite of heaven. The medley of three new flavors inspired by autumn includes:

    • Cinnamon Malt Truffle, made with cassia cinnamon and barley malt
    • Mandarin Truffle, infused with mandarin orange oil
    • Cranberry Pomegranate Strata, with layered pomegranate and cranberry gelée atop chocolate ganache (strata means layer)

    A nine-piece gift box, three of each flavor, is $26.00. It was all we could do to save some pieces for Day 2.

    Get yours at They are a lovely gift for any lover of fine chocolate.



    It’s easy to get confused when terms like bonbon, praline and truffle are used interchangeably to describe filled chocolates—and all three terms have alternative meanings as well.

    The differences, describing filled or enrobed individual chocolate pieces, are country-based:

    • Assorted Filled Chocolates, the English term.
    • Bonbons, a French word describing a variety of confections including hard candy, chocolates, chocolate-covered confections, taffy and more.
    • Pralines, a word that was originated in Belgium by Jean Neuhaus to describe his molded filled chocolates (but also refers to caramelized nuts in France).
    • Truffle, a word that originated in France to describe balls of chocolate ganache, because they resembled the mushroom cousin, truffles.

    Thus, when chocolatiers immigrated to the U.S., they might be selling pralines, truffles, bonbons or assorted chocolates, depending on their nationality. And, although the name of what they sold differed, the product might be the same.

    In the interest of clarity, it would be ideal to stick with “bonbons” or “filled chocolates” for the filled chocolates, use “pralines” for caramelized nuts and nut patties, and reserve the term “truffles” for the balls of ganache.

    But given all the imported candy, we can’t escape our chocolate Tower of Babel. If you receive a box of candy from Germany or Switzerland labeled “pralines,” for example, will it be filled chocolates or caramelized nuts? You may be surprised!

    Here’s a detailed explanation.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: barkTHINS Chocolate Bark


    barkTHINS: thin and rich. Photo courtesy
    Ripple Brands.


    There are several reasons to love barkTHINS:

  • The delicious varieties, crammed with inclusions* (see the list below).
  • The thin pieces that, unlike conventional bark, let you have half as much.
  • The Fair Trade certification ( that helps poor farmers.
  • The everyday affordability (yet it’s great for party favors and stocking stuffers.
    October is National Fair Trade Month, the perfect time to feature barkTHINS as a Top Pick Of The Week (here’s more about Fair Trade certification).

    The line debuted in 2012. Unlike traditional chocolate bark that is thick and hard to break, barkTHINS are thin slivers of chocolate that are easily snap-able—easier to eat, fewer calories in your chocolate fix, more flexibility as a dessert garnish (well, that probably wasn’t their intent but it’s a use we employ regularly, by crowning a scoop of ice cream or breaking into pieces for mix-ins).


    *The industry term for what many people call “mix-ins.”



    Each variety is as delicious as the next, depending on your flavor preferences. We were personally thrilled with Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel, a limited edition for holiday season. The packages have a shelf life of 12 months, so if you can’t live without it, you can stock up until the new batches arrive for the next holiday season).

    Feast upon:

    • Dark Chocolate Almond With Sea Salt
    • Dark Chocolate Blueberry & Quinoa (sweetened with agave)
    • Dark Chocolate Mint
    • Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel (Limited Edition)
    • Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed
    • Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut With Almonds
    • Milk Chocolate Peanut


    A great party favor, stocking stuffer, teacher gift, etc. Photo courtesy Ripple Foods.

    The bags stand upright for presentation as party favors. You can stick a place card on the front; you can tie a ribbon through the shelf-hanger opening at the top for added festiveness or to hang on the tree.
    Check the store locator for a retailer near you (including Costco, H-E-B, King’s, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, Whole Foods Market and numerous others), or head to

    A Fair Trade certification guarantees consumers that the farmers who grow the product are getting paid a fair price. In many areas of the world, middlemen buy up crops at a price that often is the same or less than what it cost the farmer to grow it, resulting in a cycle of poverty. Under Fair trade, farmers can increase their incomes and gain afford education and healthcare for their families.

    When you make a conscious decision to seek out Fair Trade products, you are helping hard-working people raise their standard of living. You can feel good about every bite and every sip (look for Fair Trade coffee, tea and hot chocolate, too).

    Fair Trade certification also means that the farmers are following good agricultural practices and are investing in their farms and communities. To learn more, visit



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