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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

STOCKING STUFFER: Chocolate Covered Pretzel Crisps

We love Pretzel Crisps year-round. The flat, bite-size pretzels are terrific for snacking from the bag, dipping into hummus or other dip favorite, topping with peanut butter and a slice of apple, or turning them into canapés, topped with cheese, ham, smoked salmon and so forth.

Throughout the year, Pretzel Crisps are available in Original plus Chipotle Cheddar, Everything, Jalapeño Jack and Sesame.

But for the holidays, the special goods come out: chocolate-coated pretzels with a garnish of crushed candy canes.

They’re available in two versions:

  • Dark Chocolate & Peppermint
  • White Chocolate & Peppermint
  •  

    These delicious combinations of sweet indulgence and salty crunch are affordable stocking stuffers or party favors.

    We enjoy them plain, with a sweet dip, as a garnish for ice cream, or with a cup of something hot (cocoa, coffee, milk, tea).

     

    pretzel-crisps-bags-kaminsky-230

    Delicious in both dark and white chocolate. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Pretzel Crisps are available at retailers nationwide. Here’s a store locator. You can also find them online.

    Discover more at PretzelCrisps.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Cupcakes To Buy Or Bake

    Many people have a favorite Christmas cake recipe. But how about Christmas cupcakes?

    You can purchase a sampler of lovely cupcakes like the ones in the photo (from Williams-Sonoma).

    Or, you can do it yourself: Turn plain cupcakes into holiday celebrations with green, red and white icing and some purchased adornments such as:

  • Crushed candy canes, mini candy canes candy cane confetti or an entire round red-and-white peppermint candy.
  • Christmas tree confetti or holly confetti.
  • Candy snowflakes.
  • Gold or silver dragées.
  • Christmas sprinkles.
  •  
    Hanukkah cupcakes are even easier: just blue and white icing, topped with:

  • Blue and white sanding sugar.
  • Blue and white sprinkles.
  • A gold-foil coin.
  • Sugar dreidels.
  •    

    christmas-cupcakes-ws-230

    Inspiration to bake your own! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    holiday-cupcake-decorating-kit-ws-230

    Decorate plain cupcakes with flair. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    The absolute easiest way to make Christmas cupcakes is to purchase paper decorations attached to picks—or make your own. Just stick them in the top of the cupcake.

    Different companies make a variety of designs. The set in the photo is from Williams-Sonoma, and includes festive holiday cupcake papers.

    Holiday cupcake decorations can be found online, at craft and baking stores, and maybe even the baking department of your supermarket.

    Make Christmas/Hanukkah/holiday cupcakes an annual tradition!

     

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Boxes Made Of Chocolate, Filled With More Chocolate

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    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.

     

    christmas-chocolate-box-charles-230

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

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

      

    Comments

    GIFT: 5 Sparrows Hot Chocolate With Stevia

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    White hot chocolate with stevia sweetener. Photo courtesy 5 Sparrows.

     

    Five Sparrows is a line developed by coffee shop owners, who wanted commercial products created specifically for handcrafted beverages. They are now available to consumers as well.

    The company makes hot chocolate, chai and frappe mixes, which are available in versions sweetened with sugar or a combination of stevia and xylitol.

    Today’s recommendation is for the stevia products. It isn’t difficult to find a quality hot chocolate mix made with sugar, but good sugar-free versions are hard to come by. These taste very natural—no “artificial sweetener” aftertaste. They dissolve easily into milk.

    (And note that neither stevia nor xylitol are artificial ingredients. Here are the different types of zero-calorie, a.k.a. non-caloric, sweeteners.)

    For friends and family who prefer a beverage with zero-calorie sweeteners, here are:

  • Zero Sugar House Chocolate
  • Zero Sugar House White Chocolate
  • Zero Sugar Monumental Spiced Chai
  •  

    A 10-ounce package is $11.00. Buy them online at 5SparrowsBrand.com.

     
      

    Comments

    GIFT: Chocolate Tray

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    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 FikaNYC.com.

     

     
      

    Comments

    GIFT: Brownie Points’ Posh Popcorn

    candy-cane-crunch-230

    Christmas popcorn. Photo courtesy Brownie
    Points.

     

    Brownie Points makes popcorn and brownies in numerous flavors, but at this time of year, the Candy Cane Crunch Popcorn calls out to us.

    Delicious as a stand-alone snack, accompaniment to a hot beverage or a dessert garnish.

    The popcorn is packaged in a clear 20-ounce canister tied with a polka dot ribbon, $20.00.

    There’s also a holiday Brownie and Popcorn Sampler.

    Year-round flavors include:

  • Black Raspberry Caramel Dark Chocolate
  • Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt
  • Nutty Caramel
  • Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch
  • Trendy Trash (vanilla butter gourmet popcorn blended with chunks of caramelized Bavarian pretzels, pretzel sticks, graham crackers and kettle potato chips drizzled with white chocolate, dark chocolate and caramel)
  •  

    Happy munching!
     
      

    Comments

    GIFT: Gluten Free Bread Mixes From Breads By Anna

    classic-herb-breadsbyanna-230

    One of the delicious gluten free bread mixes.
    Photo courtesy Breads By Anna.

     

    One of the worst things about a gluten sensitivity is having to give up good bread.

    But Breads from Anna Gluten is a gluten-free line that spares no effort to create delicious bread mixes to bake at home. We couldn’t believe that they were gluten free. (Nor could we believe that there were black beans in the brownies!)

    Individual packages or gift sets.

    The mixes are:

  • Free from gluten, yeast, corn, dairy, soy, nuts, rice and
    sweeteners.
  • High in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • All Natural
  • Certified GMO Free
  • Certified kosher (pareve)
  •  
    The breads have the same excellent taste and texture that one expects from a good piece of bread. The recipes can easily be made egg free.

     

    The products are produced in the company’s dedicated, controlled, allergen free facility.

    Choices include:

  • Bread Mixes: Classic Herb Bread Mix, Original Bread Mix, Yeast Free Bread Mix, Dairy & Corn Free Bread Mix
  • Brownie Mix: Black Bean Brownie Mix
  • Fruit Bread Mixes: Banana Bread Mix and Pumpkin Bread Mix (which can be made easily into other breads, such as carrot or zucchini bread)
  • Pancake & Muffin Mixes: Apple Pancakes & Muffins Mix, Cranberry Pancake & Muffin Mix, Maple Pancake & Muffin Mix
  • Pie Crust Mix
  • Pizza Crust Mix
  •  
    The products range from $5.99 to $7.99 at BreadsFromAnna.com.

    There are also gift sets from $23.99 to $27.99, including:

     

    banana-bread-mix-breadsfromanna-230

    Banana Bread is one of several gluten-free sweet mixes. Photo courtesy Breads By Anna.

     

  • Happy Holidays Gluten-Free Gift Set with Pumpkin Bread Mix, Pie Crust Mix and Classic Herb Bread Mix.
  • I Love Bread Gluten-Free Gift Set with Classic Herb Bread Mix, Corn and Dairy Free Bread Mix and Yeast Free Bread Mix,
  • Pancake and Muffin Gluten-Free Gift Set, with Apple, Cranberry, and Maple Pancake & Muffin Mixes.
  • Sweet Bread Mix Gluten-Free Gift Set, including Banana Bread Mix, Pumpkin Bread Mix and Black Bean Brownie Mix.
  •  
    If you’re thinking of reducing your own gluten intake in the new year, get some for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Better-For-You Dried Fruit Gift

    dried-fruit-crate-zabars-230

    The better-for-you gift. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.

     

    We like to send premium dried fruit gifts to people and families who focus on healthy living.

    We like food gifts in the first place. Unless we know that someone really wants something specific, no one we know needs more stuff to fit into already jammed households.

    If it’s an office gift, well, no office needs more cake, candy and cookies lying around during the holidays.

    This 1-pound, 8-ounce tray is $24.98 at Zabars.com.

    The fruits were picked at the peak of perfection, carefully dehydrated, then packed in a reusable wooden crate. The lucky recipient(s) will munch on dried Angelino plums, apples, apricots, kiwi, pears, prunes, yellow peaches and white peaches.

     

     
      

    Comments

    GADGET: The New Egg Timer

    There’s a new egg timer on the market, one that’s purely visual.

    We’ve been enjoying the new Taylor Egg Timer.

    Simply place the timer into the water when cooking eggs on the stove top. The colors will change, indicating when you have soft, medium or hard boiled eggs.

    Internal sensors in these 21st century egg timers calculate cooking stages precisely by temperature, not loosely by time. The timers heat up in precise synchronization with the eggs, and make automatic adjustments to accommodate the number of eggs, the amount of water and the altitude.

    For people who make boiled eggs, it’s the new best thing. It takes the guesswork out of cooking eggs and you get perfect results every time.

    And it’s a great stocking stuffer. It’s also a good for New Year’s resolutions: Make protein-rich hard boiled eggs for snacking.

     

    taylor-egg-timer-230

    One of the “21st century egg timers.” The red color moves up as the eggs get cooked. Photo courtesy Taylor.

     

    Versions from three different manufacturers are available now:

  • HIC, $6.79 on Amazon.com.
  • Norpro, $7.49 on Amazon.com.
  • We couldn’t find the Taylor egg timer for sale on line, but head to Target stores. It’s $4.99.
  •   

    Comments

    GIFT: Madécasse Artisan Chocolate Bars

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    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 Madecasse.com. 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!

    ABOUT MADÉCASSE

    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 Madecasse.com.

     
      

    Comments

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