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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 Giftable

TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Spiced Almonds

The roasted almonds are sweetened with sugar, brown sugar and honey, and spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and pumpkin powder (dried, ground pumpkin—look for it at natural food stores or online). The 19.75-ounce can

    It’s easy to make spiced nuts—almonds, pecans, walnuts or other favorite—to enjoy:

  • With cocktails
  • As snacks
  • As garnish for cakes, cupcakes, puddings, ice cream and other treats
  • In green salads with goat cheese or blue cheese
  • As sides with coffee, tea and hot chocolate
  • As gifts, in a small tin, plastic container or cellophane bag tied with ribbon

 
RECIPE: PUMPKIN SPICED NUTS

We adapted this recipe from one by Spice Islands. The nuts can be made up to three days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. If you’re making a lot, it’s best to make them in small batches to ensure that the nuts are thoroughly coated.

   

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Limited Edition Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds. Nuts are better-for-you for snacking; these Planters nuts have 5 grams of protein in every serving.

 

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Seasonal snacking: Planter’s Pumpkin Spiced
Almonds. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE
NIBBLE.

 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely-ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove or nutmeg
  • 2 cups almonds

 
Varying The Spices

Instead of a pepper-allspice blend, you can use cayenne and other favorites. There is no right or wrong combination: just what you like. For an herbal edge, we often add rosemary or sage. Consider adding:

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

    2. COMBINE corn syrup, sugar, salt, black pepper, allspice and white pepper in a bowl. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

    3. BAKE almonds for 5 minutes; stir. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes more, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer pecans to a sheet of wax paper. Separate nuts with a fork. Cool.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Candy Corn Macarons

    Dana’s Bakery makes delicious macarons; they’ve been a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, and a favorite gift we send to macaron lovers (the Macaron Of The Month Club is a luxurious gift for the connoisseur).

    The cookies are both tender and tantalizing, thanks to Dana’s eye for color and palate for flavor. We haven’t found more creative offerings anywhere.

    The “Flavor of the Month” for October is Candy Corn, is a vanilla macaron in candy corn colors—orange, white and yellow. And surprise: There’s a piece of candy con embedded in the filling.

    Candy Corn macarons are available until October 31st at DanasBakery.com or by calling 1.800.477.1816 ($30 for twelve).

    Bonus: All macarons are made with gluten-free almond flour.

     

    candy-corn-macarons-danasbakery3-230

    A sophisticated macaron interpretation of candy corn. We love it! Photo courtesy Dana’s Bakery.

     

    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS & MACARONS

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: barkTHINS Chocolate Bark

    bark-thins-stacked-230

    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 (FairTradeUSA.org) 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.”

     

    barkTHINS FLAVORS

    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
     

    bark-thins-pkgs-230

    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 Amazon.com.
     
    WHAT IS FAIR TRADE CHOCOLATE?

    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 FairTradeUSA.org.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Marich Sugar Free Candy

    What’s Halloween like for people who can’t have sugar?

    While there’s no sugar-free candy corn (because candy corn is essentially sugar, corn syrup, color and flavoring), there are other sugar-free treats, from Gummies, hard candies including Cinnamon Buttons, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Jolly Ranchers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and much more (for a great selection head to BlairCandy.com).

    Or, you could go gourmet at Marich.

    Marich Confectionery makes a lot of the all-American candies sold in bulk in better candy stories: bridge mix; caramels and toffees; chocolate-covered coffee beans, fruits and nuts; Holland mints, licorice; and our favorite malted milk balls.

    Some of the most popular items are available in sugar-free versions: Sugar Free Chocolate Bridge Mix, Sugar Free Chocolate Espresso Beans, Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Almonds and No Sugar Added Chocolate Cherries (the cherries themselves have natural sugar).

    Whether for Halloween gifts or for the holidays, in eight-ounce, ribbon-tied bags ($10.50, $11 for the cherries), we love these for gifting.

       

    caramels-cherries-SF-230

    Sugar-free treats Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    bags-230s

    Easy sugar-free gifting. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    LOOKING FOR SOME SUGAR?

    From the regular line, two items great for stocking stuffers or party favors are two-ounce boxes of:

    • Christmas Holland Mints (red, white and green, $2.50)
    • Cinnamon Spice Apple Caramels ($3.00)
    • Pumpkin Spice Caramels ($3.00)

    The line is certified kosher by by KOF-K.

    Dig in at Marich.com.

     

      

    Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Trick Or Treat With Pumpkin Brownies

    It will be a ghoulishly delightful change this Halloween when you serve Fairytale Brownies’ new Halloween brownies in Pumpkin Spice, with a Halloween label that features jack-o-lanterns and bats.

    Perfect for party favors, the individually wrapped, 3” x 3” dark chocolate brownies are also sold in bulk by the dozen, if you want to present them on a dessert tray or plate them individually (perhaps as the base of a brownie sundae, with pumpkin ice cream?).

    Treat your friends, treat your co-workers, and let these delicious brownies melt in your mouth. Like all Fairytale Brownies, they are made with Callebaut Belgian chocolate, alfarm fresh eggs, pure creamery butter and dark brown sugar. Then, sweet pumpkin purée is blended with cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger, and swirled into the brownie batter.

    And although religious Jews don’t celebrate Halloween, the Fairytale line is certified kosher (dairy) by the Greater Phoenix Vaad Hakashruth.

       

    trick-or-treat-brownies-fairytale-230

    Trick or treat! These Pumpkin Spice Brownies are definitely a treat. Photo courtesy Fairytale Brownies.

     

     

    pumpkin-spice-brownies-fairytale-230

    Pumpkin Spice Brownies in a gift box have a
    plain cellophane wrap. Photo courtesy
    Fairytale Brownies.

     

    HOLIDAY GIFTS: THANKSGIVING & CHRISTMAS

    For Thanksgiving treats, hostess gifts and holiday gift giving, the Pumpkin Spice Brownies are available in a plain cellophane wrap, in a gift box. You can choose all Pumpkin Spice Brownies, or a combination box with Chocolate Chip Brownies.

    The Pumpkin Spice Brownies are limited edition, available only through December 31, 2014. But if you can’t live without them, they do freeze beautifully.

    Get yours at Brownies.com.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Perfect Bacon Bowl

    If everything tastes better with bacon—as many Americans would have it—than everything tastes better in a bacon bowl.

    That’s what the manufacturers of Perfect Bacon Bowl say. While we might not want to toss fruit salad or ice cream into one, we do agree that a bowl made of 100% crisp bacon is great for:

  • Eggs and hash browns
  • Fondue
  • Grains, starches and veggies (try mashed potatoes!)
  • Low-carb burgers and cheeseburgers (the bacon bowl replaces the bun)
  • Pasta (try mac & cheese)
  • Salads (with lettuce and tomato, it’s a bread-free BLT!)
  •  
    The dishwasher-safe, bowl-shaped gadget cooks bacon to a perfect bowl shape, in the oven, toaster oven or microwave. Just wrap bacon slices around the form, cook. and you’ve got edible bowls made completely from bacon.

     

    Bacon-bowl-230

    What do you want in your bacon bowl? Photo courtesy Perfect Bacon Bowl.

     

    You can also use the device to make bread bowls for soups and stews, cornbread bowls for chili, and wherever your imagination takes you.

    See the video.

    Order on Amazon. A box of two bowls is just $5.87, with free shipping on orders over $35.

    That’s easy to reach when you choose Perfect Bacon Bowl as a stocking stuffer for your bacon-loving friends and family!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Autumn Chocolates

    While Halloween chocolate is creeping into stores—chocolate ghosts, pumpkins, candy corn and other holiday specialties—you have a few weeks to enjoy some “autumn chocolate” until Halloween week.

    Until then, how about some “autumn chocolates” that are in chocolate shops until the Christmas flavors come in? Today, we feature two of our favorite chocolatiers, with very different products.

    RECCHIUTI CONFECTIONS: AUTUMN DRAGÉE SAMPLER

    San Francisco-based chocolatier Michael Recchiuti is known for his fine chocolates, made with a custom blend of Valrhona chocolate. His popular Dragée Sampler, available year-round, includes Burnt Caramel Almonds, Burnt Caramel Hazelnuts, Peanut Butter Pearls and Cherries Two Ways.

    From now through the end of November you can enjoy the flavors of the limited-edition Autumn Dragée Sampler: Burnt Caramel Almonds, Candied Ginger enrobed in 64% cacao dark chocolate and Tart Cranberries enrobed in 70% cacao chocolate.

       

    recchiuti-autumn-dragees-230

    Autumn Dragée Sampler. Photo courtsy Recchiuti Confections.

     

    A lovely treat or gift: a 12-ounce black gift box (sturdy and reusable) tied with an orange satin ribbon is $29.00. Get yours at Recchiuti.com.

    WHAT ARE DRAGÉES?

    Dragées (drah-ZHAY) are a French word for almonds encased in a hard-shell coating. The almonds can also have a chocolate coating underneath the sugar. They are a popular wedding favor, representing good luck. Hazelnuts, which can be made in the same manner, are a more modern variation.

    “Dragée” is also used to describe tiny, round balls of sugar, often coated with edible silver or gold, and used to decorate baked goods; and to refer to sweet, medicated lozenges. The commonality is the sugar coating. In French, dragée also refers to nonpareils; dragée à la gelée de sucre is a jelly bean. And finally, dragée is French slang for bullets (small shot).
     
    Panned Products

    Dragées are part of a confection category known as panned products. Panning is one of the basic methods of coating chocolate onto a center (mostly hard centers such as nuts and crystallized ginger; the other methods are enrobing and molding or shell molding).

    In panning, chocolate is sprayed onto the centers as they rotate in revolving pans; cool air is then blown into the pan to harden the chocolates. On a small scale (and before the industrial revolution), nuts are coated on a pan on the stove top; they can be rolled in cocoa powder or other coating before they harden.

    Discover more about chocolate in our Chocolate Glossary.

     

    apple-cider-caramels-lakechamplain-230

    Apple Cider Caramels. Photo courtesy Lake
    Champlain Chocolate.

     

    LAKE CHAMPLAIN CHOCOLATES: CHOICES GALORE

    On the other side of the country in Vermont, Lake Champlain Chocolates is our go-to source for delicious American-style chocolates. We love thechocolate-dipped dried apricots and orange peel, buttercrunch, nut clusters and many other treats. The couverture chocolate is Callebaut from Belgium, and line is certified kosher by Star-K.

    For fall, there are:

  • Assorted Milk and Dark Chocolate Truffles give you a taste of the season via Spiced Pumpkin, which joins French Roast, Hazelnut, Legendary Dark and Raspberry, $16.
  • Autumn Chocolate Coins, a mix of milk and coins, foil-wrapped in festive foliage colors.
  • Autumn Chocolates of Vermont, an autumn-themed gift box of chocolates, $25.50
  • Caramel Chocolate Leaves, $13.00.
  • Milk Chocolate Apple Cider Caramels, $35.00.
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Leaf Bag beckons to lovers of peanut butter cups, $13.00.
  •  

    Find them at LakeChamplainChocolates.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Fischer & Wieser Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

    fisher-wieser-raspberry-chipotle-sauce-230

    Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
    is an award winning condiment. Photo
    courtesy Fischer & Wieser.

     

    Perhaps we’re in a raspberry state of mind. Yesterday we recommended the delicious jam from Chad’s Raspberry Kitchen. Today it’s the Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce from Fischer & Wieser.

    The motto of the Fischer & Wieser specialty foods company is “inspiring your culinary adventure.” The company manufactures more than a hundred items, but the one that lingers in our memory is smoky Raspberry Chipotle Sauce.

    A blend of raspberries and chipotle peppers, it is a smokey, sweet and spicy condiment for meat, fish or poultry. We mix it with a bit of mayo for a sandwich spread, and also enjoy it with scrambled eggs or an omelet. It is delectable!

    You can’t run out of ways to use it. For example:

  • Bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeños
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Baked beans
  • Brie en croute
  • Chicken dippers
  • Cowboy coleslaw
  • Easy appetizer with cream cheese and crackers
  • Grilled beef or pork tenderloin or roast
  • Grilled salmon
  • Kebabs
  • Ribs
  • Shrimp tacos
  • Salsa
  • Sandwiches (great with ham and cheese)
  • Spinach salad and other salad dressings
  • Steak
  • Stuffed chicken breasts
  • Tomato and feta salad
  • Turkey
  • Wings
  • Don’t forget dessert:

  • Bread Pudding
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Sherry Sauce
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Melon Salad
  • Peach sorbet
  •  
    All of the recipes can be found on the company website. There’s even one for a spicy Margarita.

     

    WHERE TO FIND IT

    Raspberry Chipotle Sauce is sold online, at specialty food stores, club stores and grocery stores in the U.S., and internationally in Canada, Mexico and the U.K. We really like it as a small house gift, party favor or stocking stuffer.

    A 15.75-ounce bottle is $8.74 on Amazon.com; a 40-ounce bottle is $17.95.

    From its origins as a road-side peach stand, Fischer & Wieser now produces more than one hundred products in the same tradition as their first jar of peach preserves. Nestled in the fruitful farmland of the Texas Hill Country, Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods, Inc. is still family owned and operated. But it’s now a bustling international company that has become the number one specialty food company in Texas.

    The company’s URL reflects its origins: Jelly.com.

    Fischer & Wieser recommends “sauce pooling,” serving a grilled, roasted or poached protein (in the photo, roasted turkey) with an assortment of sauces and other condiments. It’s our friend Andy’s favorite way of eating!

     

    turkey-sauce-plate-fisherwieser-230

    Fischer & Wieser recommends “sauce pooling,” serving a plain protein with an assortment of sauces and other condiments. Photo courtesy Fischer & Wieser.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Chad’s, The Best Raspberry Jam?

    Utah’s Bear Lake is a beauty: a natural freshwater lake on the Utah-Idaho called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its turquoise-blue color.

    Although the lake lies relatively near the Oregon Trail, which was traveled by many pioneers between 1836 and the 1850s, it seems that none of traveled south enough to find the lake. It wasn’t until 1863 that Mormons settled in the Bear Lake Valley, home to some Shoshone tribes.

    Fast forward 150 years or so: The area has become famous for its delicious red raspberries. A Raspberry Days festival is held in Garden City to celebrate the harvest of raspberries, generally during the first week of August. The raspberries are sweet and plentiful.

    So we almost kicked ourselves when we found a box of Chad’s Raspberry Kitchen products tucked away, forgotten in a storage area. Boy, are they delicious!

    First up was the Raspberry Jam, the company’s best seller. It’s one of the best raspberry jams we can remember: solid fruit that falls apart into jam during cooking. Chad’s cooks the whole berries with natural fruit pectin and sugar, “the way your grandmother would make it” (or at this point, Chad, our great-grandmother).

     

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    Great rapsberry jam at a great price. Photo courtesy Chad’s Raspberry Kitchen.

     

    Sustainably farmed located in Laketown, Utah (population 248 at the 2010 census), all natural and preservative free, Chad’s other products include:

  • Raspberry Jalapeño Jam, the classic raspberry spiced up with jalapeño chiles.
  • Seedless Raspberry Jelly.
  • Raspberry Honey, made by bees from the nectar of the raspberry blossoms.
  • Raspberry Syrup, for pancakes, ice cream and other desserts and to make raspberry iced tea or lemonade.
  • Raspberry Salsa, raspberries mixed with a tomato based salsa to create a sweet salsa for dipping or garnishing grilled meats and seafood.
  • Gift box assortments.
  •  

    Everything is very well priced at $4.99 (the honey is $5.99), and they’re more delicious than products selling at twice the price. Chad’s is a great idea for holiday gifting.

    Get yours at ChadsRaspberryKitchen.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Outer Spice No Salt & Low Salt Spice Blends

    Outer Spice aims to be the gourmet’s version of Mrs. Dash.

    Low Salt and No Salt seasoning blends are made from the finest, quality ingredients. The blends are made from whole, freshly ground herbs and spices.

    The line debuts with two no-salt blends, original and spicy, and two low-salt blends, ditto. The blends are all-natural, gluten-free, free of MSG and rich in antioxidants.

    These well-balanced spice mixes can transform and improve the taste of any dish, without adding any—or much—sodium.

    LOW SALT SPICE BLENDS

    Both low salt versions use pink Himalayan sea salt. They contain 95mg of sodium per serving, 4% Daily Value of sodium.

  • Outer Spice Original Low-Salt is a blend of Himala pink sea salt, garlic, black pepper, onion, allspice, nutmeg, thyme, scallions, red pepper, onion powder, peppers, cinnamon, dill, caraway and spices.
  • Outer Spice Spicy Low-Salt, for those who like a bit of heat, is a blend of Himala pink sea salt, garlic, black pepper, onion, allspice, nutmeg, thyme, scallions, red pepper, onion powder, peppers, cinnamon, dill, caraway, cayenne pepper and spices.
  •  

    outer-spice-no-salt-outerspice-230

    Season your foods with a choice of two blends, regular and spicy, with no salt or low salt. Photo courtesy Outer Spice.

     
    NO SALT SPICE BLENDS

  • Outer Spice Original No Salt is a blend of garlic, black pepper, onion, allspice, thyme, lemon thyme, basil, scallions, red pepper, peppers, dill, caraway, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and other spices.
  • Outer Spice Spicy No Salt kicks it up a notch with chile. It combines garlic, black pepper, onion, allspice, thyme, lemon thyme, basil, scallions, red pepper, peppers, dill, caraway, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and other spices.
  •  
    WAYS TO ENJOY OUTER SPICE

  • Sprinkle on eggs, grains, pastas, salads and vegetables.
  • Rub on beef, chicken, fish and pork.
  • Mix into dips, dressings and marinades.
  • Pick up instead of the salt shaker.
  •  
    A 3.75-ounce jar is $6.99. Gift a bottle to anyone who should be cutting back on salt.
     
    Get yours at OuterSpiceIt.com.

      

    Comments

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