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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Soulfully Sweet Great Gluten-Free Cookies

If you’re looking for a great gluten-free cookie, look no further than Soulfully Sweet.

You can tell that many, many test batches were baked to find the magic mixture that makes these cookies taste so good.

With the right mix of ingredients and technique, you can’t tell that baked goods are gluten free. Soulfully Sweet has pulled this off, creating crunchy, very flavorful cookies that easily pass for conventional gourmet cookies.

The best ingredients are not inexpensive, so don’t be dismayed that a box of eight cookies (2-1/2 inches in diameter) is $10.99, and you’ll want all eight flavors. They are a find for the cookie-lover on a gluten-free diet. Once you taste them, you’ll be happy to give up something else to fit them into your budget.

We loved every one of the eight flavors:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Chocolate Chip Toasted Pecan Cookies
  • Double Chocolate Cookies For Chocoholics
  • Molasses Ginger Cookies With Spice Infusion
  • Oatmeal Cookies With Cherries & Chocolate Chips
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies With Toasted Walnuts
  • Orange Cookies With Pistachio & Cranberry Chunks & Orange Essence
  • Peanut Butter Cookies With A Peanut Avalanche
    In addition to gluten-free, the ingredients are non-GMO, mostly organic* and “virtually” soy-free. The cookies are preservative free and all natural.
    A taste is worth a thousand words, so head to and indulge your cookie passion.
    *The combination of gluten-free and organic ingredients is often hard to find and very pricey when you do find it. The cookies range from 84% to 90% organic ingredients. This brand doesn’t cut back on the absolute best-tasting gluten-free ingredients, and that, plus the small batch artisanal production, is why the cookies are so expensive.


    Gluten Free Cookies

    Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Gluten Free Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Soulfully Sweet cookies in three of the eight flavors: Molasses Ginger, Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Chip. Photos courtesy Soulfully Sweet.




    GIFTS: Last Minute Gifts

    Still in need of a holiday gift? Here are three for food lovers, in the form of electronic gift certificates (e-gift cards), quickly emailed from the companies’ websites.


    We love to give Chocomize gift certificates. They enable the recipient to customize their own chocolate bars with a choice of scores of different add-ons.

    There are also boxes of bonbons, macarons and hot-chocolate-on-a-spoon, that that makes hot chocolate when swirled into milk.

    Gift certificates are available from $10 to $500 at


    At Sur La Table, e-gift cards are available from $10 to $500. Head to E-cards are emailed five times daily. If you want to send a conventional card, it takes 5-7 days.

    You can do the same at Williams-Sonoma.

    At both stores, e-gift cards can be used for purchases online, in-store or by phone.

    Plan ahead and you can add your own custom photo to a conventional gift card at Williams-Sonoma.


    Gift Card Sur La Table

    Chocomize Gift Card

    Go online and send e-gift cards (typically, a photo of a gift card gets e-mailed). Top photo: SurLaTable. Bottom photo: Chocomize.


    For someone who loves to cook, is a new gastronomy site with recipes from more than 50 renowned French chefs. Alain Ducasse, Pierre Hermé, Paul Bocuse, Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert are just some of the top toques represented.

    The chefs share their secret recipes, tips and personal favorites.

    Subscriptions are $4.95/month; you can give a gift subscription, 1 year $59.90 or 6 months for $34.90. There’s also a 15-day free trial if you want to try it yourself.

    Head to; the gift subscription tab is at the top right.



    GIFTS: Food Books

    For hard-to-buy-for people, a book in an area of their interest is something we fall back upon. Sometimes it’s a combination gift: a book about Champagne, for example, along with a bottle of it, a book on Cognac with a set of snifters, and so on.

    Here we highlight books that would be welcome to people with specific food passions.


    A Year In Cheese, A Seasonal Cheese Cookbook applies the seasonal eating approach to cheese. It was written by Alex and Léo Guarneri, the team behind the renowned Parisian artisan cheese shop and cheese restaurant, Androuet (established in Paris in 1909 and now in the Old Spitalfields Market in London).

    What’s seasonal depends on the grazing cycle of the animal and what they graze on at which time of year. The recipes from chef Alessandro Grano are tantalizing.


    Tracy Zabar celebrates the chocolate chip cookie in Chocolate Chip Sweets: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes. Chefs such as Dominique Ansel, Lidia Bastianich, Florian Bellanger, Daniel Boulud, Maida Heatter, Thomas Keller, Pichet Ong, Jacques Torres, Sherry Yard and other top chefs share their favorite recipes. Brownies, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream sandwiches, marshmallows, pies, puddings, waffles and more get the chocolate chip treatment.

    Who could resist this book?

    For people who appreciate fine chocolate, cookbooks from chocolatiers are always very interesting. No one knows chocolate more intimately, or can envision new ways to use it. This year’s chocolatier-authored cookbook is Theo Chocolate Recipes and Sweet Secrets From Seattle’s Favorite Chocolate Maker.

    The authors, Debra Music and Joe Whinney, principals of Theo, worked with leading chefs to develop the more than 75 recipes in this book. They encompass chocolate for breakfast, cookies, cakes, confections, drinking chocolate, frozen desserts and dessert sauces, savory dishes, pies, puddings and tarts. Where to begin? We started with the Chocolate Bread Pudding.


    The next book is for cooks who seek out different ingredients. For anyone who’s bought a bottle of fish sauce for a particular Asian recipe, the challenge is what else to do with it. Open condiments decline over time, so you don’t want to tuck it out of sight. There are also plenty of home cooks who have decided not to buy a bottle for the same reasons.


    A Year In Cheese Book

    Chocolate Chip Sweets Book

    Fish Sauce Cookbook

    In The Fish Sauce Cookbook, 50 Umami-Packed Recipes From Around The Globe, Veronica Meewes has consulted with prominent chefs on using fish sauce as a key seasoning with popular American ingredients. This is the first cookbook to focus on fish sauce, and you can package it with a other fish sauces: naam plaa from Thailand, nuoc mam from Vietnam and numerous others.

    Among those others is colatura di alici, a modern representation of garum, the fish sauce favored by the ancient Romans. Worcestershire sauce is is made with anchovy, a recipe brought back to England by a ship’s captain Captain and first sold commercially in 1837.


    For the aspirational home cook, Mastering Sauces: The Home Cook’s Guide to New Techniques for Fresh Flavors will be a welcome addition to the cookbook shelf.

    Taking a different approach from classic French and other sauce cookbooks, Susan Volland demonstrates how great cooks all over the world make sauces with impromptu drizzling and splashing. She provides the fundamental principles of great sauces: maximize flavor, manipulate texture and season confidently. Thus armed, you can add your own flair to any sauce.

    There are more than 150 recipes that focus on seasonal produce, international ingredients and alternative dietary choices. She goes over the how’s and why’s of making great sauces. And at the end of it all, she provides a list of remedies for those attempts that don’t come out to your expectations.

    Then there’s The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. Kenji Lopez-Alt focuses on the science behind popular American dishes, providing easy-to-understand explanations of the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. He shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using simple new techniques.

    But it’s also a cookbook, with hundreds of easy-to-make recipes and 1,000 full-color images. you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more.


    Mastering Sauces Cookbook

    The United States Of Pizza

    Complete Guide To Sushi & Sashimi


    For people who love really good French Fries, Anne de la Forest’s handsome if slender volume, Frites, spans traditional, trendy, creative and yes, sweet fries recipes. The more than 30 recipes are half potato recipes, and half “other.” The other includes fries made from asparagus, beet, black radish, butternut squash, carrot, celeriac, Comté cheese, eggplant, feta, kohlrabi, panisse (chickpea paste), parsnip, polenta, pumpkin, salsify, sweet potato, turnip, and zucchini.

    The sweet fries include apple, banana, pain perdu (French toast), pear and sweet potato. Savory or sweet, there are recommendations for dipping sauces and recipes for them, too. For those with reaching palates, this book is an inspiration.

    Award-winning Executive Chef & Pizza Connoisseur, Craig Priebe, brings us The United States of Pizza: America’s Favorite Pizzas, from Thin Crust to Deep Dish, Sourdough to Gluten-Free. Chef Craig Priebe has scoured the country to present recipes forthe tastiest pies, from classics to semi-modern (smoked ham and cheddar) to of-the-moment (roasted cauliflower and salsa verde).

    With beautiful photography, it gives the pizza lover a perspective on what’s happening nationwide, and the recipes to make those pies!

    For people who love pizza and have a barbecue grill, there’s Grilled Pizza The Right Way: The Best Technique for Cooking Incredible Tasting Pizza & Flatbread on Your Barbecue Perfectly Chewy & Crispy Every Time. It was written by John Delpha, a 10-time award winner of the Jack Daniel’s BBQ Championship Grilling and BBQing Awards. He’s been grilling pizzas for 20 years.

    Although a paperback, all the recipient will notice are the beautiful photos of grilled pizza. Each recipe includes the technique required to master it. Every type of pizza is represented: brunch, classic, cross-border, dessert, fish and seafood, flatbreads, meat, veggie and “the masqueraders,” favorite sandwiches converted to pizza.

    We want to eat every one of them.

    We’ve eaten sushi and sashimi all of our life, at least twice a week. We’ve taken classes, hoping to make our own at home. If only we’d had The Complete Guide To Sushi & Sashimi, a compendium with step-by-step color photographs. It imparts hundreds of tips and techniques, that, in all of our sushi years, is still new information (and now we can finally cut squid properly!!).

    This user-friendly book, for both novice and experienced sushi makers, has concealed wiro-bound hardcover binding, 500 photos and a whopping 625 recipes, this book is sure now our go-to guide.


    There are more, of course. So many food books, so little time to try recipes from each!

    We just may get around to writing Food Books, Part 2.



    GIFTS: New For Coffee Lovers

    We were recently asked about what gift to give a college student who lives in a dorm. Our thoughts immediately went to the new Keurig 2.0 K200/K250 Brewing System.


    Designed with a smaller, more compact footprint, the K200/K250 (the difference is extra accessories) is sized right for small kitchens, dorm rooms, small office spaces (we have one on our desk).

    The best small footprint single-serve machine we’ve tried, it takes up half the space of our Keurig 2.0 K450. The Keurig 2.0 series brews a single-serve cup or 4-cup carafe (the carafe is an extra purchase and uses a larger pod).

    It’s also good for homes that don’t brew a lot of single-serve coffee. If you just brew one or two cups in the morning and/or evening, why take up the space with a 70-ounce water reservoir?

    The SRP is $109.99. Learn more at



    Keurig K200 Single Serve

    Small footprint, big convenience: the Keurig 2.0 K200 series. Photo courtesy Keurig.

    Keurig offers an astounding 500 K-Cup varieties from more than 75 brands. For the holidays, you can give some of these to anyone who has a compatible brewer:

  • Green Mountain Coffee Holiday Blend
  • Green Mountain Coffee Gingerbread
  • Green Mountain Coffee Wicked Winter Blend
  • The Original Donut Shop Holiday Buzz
  • The Original Donut Shop Peppermint Bark
  • The Original Donut Shop Sweet & Creamy Maple Crème

    Kyocera Slim Adjustable Coffee Mill

    The ceramic grinder is better than a metal
    blade. Photo courtesy Kyocera.



    Coffee purists won’t use K-cups. They want their beans freshly ground.

    There have long been single-cup coffee makers, but this is the first grinder we’ve personally that’s great for small brews. It’s sized to grind the beans for one or two cups, instead of an entire pot.

    It’s the right gift for the coffee lover who wants to brew freshly ground beans.

    The grinder has a highly durable ceramic grinding mechanism; the adjustable dial enables fine to coarse grinds. A nice addition is the non-slip silicon base that provides stability when grinding.

    It’s $44.95 at




    GIFTS: Wine & Spirits

    Liquor stores are filled with gift sets and specials for holiday gifting. Champagnes packaged with flutes, Cognacs with snifters, tasting kits (a box of smaller bottles of different expressions), “keeper” bottles with holiday designs and limited editions (Absolut Electrik, anyone?) all vie for your attention.

    We received scores of pitches, but here’s what caught our eye (in alphabetical order).


    You may or may not know that Sean “Diddy” Combs is the co-owner of the DeLeón tequila brand, which he acquired along with Diageo, his partner in Ciroc vodka.

    His part is to give DeLeón a similar sheen, making it the luxury vodka (he drinks it on the rocks). The packaging is gorgeous, the empty bottles demand to be repurposed. But that’s not all:

    Bottles of DeLeón Platinum ($55) and DeLeón Reposado ($65) can be custom-engraved with your personal message. It is engraved on the back of the bottle facing the front, so it can be seen whenever the giftee looks at the bottle. You have 10-25 characters on two lines in 14 point type, or 10-30 characters on 3 lines in 10 point type.

    Each bottle comes beautifully wrapped and accompanied with custom drink stirrers and a personal note from Mr. Combs. Start composing those messages, then head to


    DeLeon Tequila Bottles

    DIY Gin Kit

    TOP PHOTO: Engrave a message on the back of the DeLeón tequila bottle. BOTTOM PHOTO: Make homemade gin with this kit from DIY. And homemade tonic water, too.


    How much fun is this? The Homemade Gin Kit (photo above) lets you transform a generic bottle of vodka into your very own home-blend of gin in 36 hours. The kit contains everything you need—except the vodka—to make a like craft distillery-like gin in just 36 hours.

    It’s $54.95 at (online only). You can combine it with a DIY Tonic Water Kit, $24.95.


    Chandon 2015 Limited Edition Bottle

    Jose Cuervo Rolling Stones Bottles


    TOP PHOTO: Pop the cork of limited edition
    Chandon Champagne. MIDDLE PHOTO:
    Rolling Stones fans will want these
    commemorative tequila bottles from Jose
    Cuervo. BOTTOM PHOTO: Samuel Adams
    Utopias, beer aged to a cognac-like state.



    Celebrating its third year of limited-edition holiday bottles, the 2015 bottle is white with gold script phrases like “Nonstop Fun” and Bestie Wishes.” It’s available at retailers nationwide, or online from

    The suggested retail price is $24 for a 750-ml. bottle, $288 for a case.

    Not grand enough? For $449 you can give a Dom Pérignon 3-Pack: three bottles of the The King of Champagne’s 2005 vintage, with an engraved glass ice bucket.

    Jose Cuervo has released two limited edition tequila bottlings of Especial and Reserva de la Familia. They commemorate “the pivotal role that Jose Cuervo played in fueling The Rolling Stones notorious 1972 North American tour” (dubbed the “Tequila Sunrise Tour”).

    For those who don’t know their Stones legends, the tour kicked off with a party at The Trident bar in San Francisco. According to an article in National Geographic, Mick came up to the bar and asked Bobby Lozoff, inventor of the Tequila Sunrise,for a Margarita. Bobby suggested a Tequila Sunrise instead and the rest, as they say, is history.

    Both bottles feature the iconic Stones “lapping tongue” logo and a limited-edition label. The Special Edition Rolling Stones Jose Cuervo Especial has a suggested retail price of $16.99.

    The Ultra Premium Rolling Stones Reserva de la Familia Collectors Edition—the private Extra Añejo tequila reserve of the Cuervo Family—has a suggested retail price of $149.99.

    What’s a $200 Samuel Adams like?

    It’s a rich, uncarbonated beer aged in wood barrels, known for its extraordinary flavor profile.

    Like cognac, it’s is a blend of previous vintages. The complex aroma has notes of wood, toffee, cocoa, raisin and maple; on the palate there’s molasses, earthy wood, dates, and toffee.

    Utopias a limited edition, limited release brew. Only 15,000 bottles are made each year. It’s packaged in a ceramic brew-kettle-style decanter.

    This year’s batch is 28% ABV, and is best enjoyed at room temperature, as a two ounce pour in a snifter.

    At a suggested retail price of $199, you probably can’t give it as a gift to all your beer-loving friends; but connoisseurs of craft beer will really appreciate a taste. Buy a bottle and invite them for a sip.

    Here’s where you can find it.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Christmas Tree Ornaments From Dehydrated Citrus


    Ruby Red Grapefruit

    Dehydrate lemons, limes oranges and grapefruit to make tree ornaments. TOP PHOTO: An orange slice ornament. Photo courtesy Specialty Produce. BOTTOM PHOTO: Red or pink grapefruit make pretty slices. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.


    You—or your kids—can make these dehydrated citrus ornaments in your oven. You don’t need an electric dehydrator, but if you have one, great.

    The fruit slices become translucent after drying, adding color and textural interest to any display.

    A convection oven is better than a conventional oven, but the latter works, too.

    In addition to tree ornaments:

  • Use the dehydrated citrus in garlands or wreaths.
  • Add them to potpourri.
  • Give them as stocking stuffers.
  • Use them for party favors.


  • Your choice of citrus (we especially like blood oranges and red grapefruits)
  • Optional: cloves for the citrus rims
  • Metallic gift wrap string or other decorative tie
  • Optional: gift tags (for stocking stuffers)

    1. PREHEAT Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting, usually 140°F. (To use a food dehydrator, set the temperature to between 125°F and 135°F and dry for 2-12 hours. Remember to rotate your dehydrator trays for even drying.)

    2. CLEAN the skins of the citrus with a damp towel.

    3. CUT the citrus into slices from 1/4″ to 3/8″ thick. If using the cloves, use an ice pick to punch holes for them in the surface skin (not in the white pith). TIP: Pressing in cloves can create a sore spot on your finger. Use a thimble.
    *If you need a lot of cloves, it’s best to buy them in bulk (e.g., a one-pound bag).


    4. PLACE a wire rack atop a baking sheet(s), and arrange the slices on the rack. Place the sheet(s) in the oven, but leave the door open 2 to 4 inches. This enables the air to circulate and the moisture to escape, dehydrating the fruit. If you are preparing more than one tray, rotate the trays halfway through for even drying.

    TIP: You can set a fan just outside of the oven to supply further air circulation, and to help speed drying.

    5. DRY the orange slices in the oven for 6 to 12 hours, or until the peel is hard and the fruit is brittle. Allow the slices to cool completely; then store in an airtight container until ready to create the hanging loops or otherwise use them.

    6. USE an ice pick or other sharp implement to puncture a hole for hanging through the flesh of each piece. Use string (the metallic wrapping string is great here) to create a loop for hanging on tree branches. If you’re using a gift card, place it on the string before tying the knot.



    GIFTS: Gourmet Food

    We taste thousands of products a year, and a few always stand out as “great for the holiday gift list.” Here’s the first of this year’s gourmet food gift lists. We also have a chocolate gift list, a stocking stuffer gift list, and others to come (spirits, food books and more).


    For foodies or meat lovers, Carnivore Club finds the most exceptional cured meats and packages them a gift box with an introduction to the artisan and ways to serve the items. The club delivery can be monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or just once.

    Each box has 4-6 selections of handcrafted meat, a total weight of approximately 18 to 28 ounces. Past selections have included meats as varied as biltong, duck breast prosciutto, Iberico ham, ‘nduja, water buffalo braesola and wild boar sausage.

    Products are curated by a team of meat lovers dedicated to “finding the greatest artisans on the planet, and sharing their best creations with our members.”

    Satisfy someone’s inner carnivore at (yes, it’s co, not com).

    Dean Bingham gets credit for the most creative chocolate Christmas trees this year: hand-stacked blocks of 70% cacao dark chocolate or 32% cacao milk chocolate that create the tree. The nonpareils add a Christmas lights effect.

    The artisan chocolates are all natural and are made in a nut-free facility. The large tree is 5.5” tall x 5.5” wide at the base (1 pound, 7 ounces of chocolate) is $29.50; small tree is 3.5” tall x 3.5” wide (7.5 ounces of chocolate, $17.50).

    Get your tree(s) at

    eCreamery sells top quality artisan ice cream; but the real differentiator is the ability to create custom labels for each individual pints. Sure, you can leave the flavor as the title on the pint, e.g. Banana Toffee Praline Crunch or Chipotle Maple Bacon Ice Cream.

    But you can also personalize it: Peace & Joy From The Hofstadter Family, Amy & Sheldon’s Holiday Cheer, and so on. There are:

  • Nine holiday flavors, including the two previously mentioned plus Candy Cane Swirl, Gingerbread Cookie Swirl and others.
  • Twenty year-round flavors—the basics plus Chocolate Cake & Brownie Bites, Chocolate Malt Ball and Sea Salt Caramel.
  • There are five sorbets that are dairy free and vegan.
    Including overnight shipping in ice, four pints are $84.99, eight pints are $139.99 at BUT WAIT: There’s a savings of $15 off plus free shipping with code SweetNY15, through January 31, 2016 (shipped to one address).

    It still may be the most expensive ice cream you’ve ever bought, but it also will be among the most memorable.

    There are many recipes that call for wrapping a sausage with a strip of bacon. 4505 Meats of San Francisco saves you the trouble: Bacon is embedded in its hot dogs.

    These creative sausage makers have loaded uncured hot dogs with uncured bacon, a recipe guaranteed to wow. A 3-pound package of 16 dogs is $33.00 plus shipping at


    Carnivore Club

    Chocolate Christmas Tree

    eCreamery Holiday Pints

    Bacon Hot Dogs  at 4505 Meats

    TOP PHOTO: A past box from Carnivore Club, featuring the charcuterie from Charlito’s Cocina. SECOND PHOTO: Chocolate Christmas tree from Dean’s Sweets. THIRD PHOTO: Bacon Hot Dogs from 4505 Meats. BOTTOM PHOTO: The finest ice cream with labels customized by you, from eCreamery.



    Robert Lambert White Fruitcake

    Savannah Bee Whipped Honey With Cinnamon

    Tonnino Ventresca Tuna

    Valrhona Hot Chocolate Mix

    TOP PHOTO: A deluxe fruitcake from Robert Lambert. SECOND PHOTO: Whipped Honey With Cinnamon From Savannah Bee. THIRD PHOTO: Tonnino’s Ventresca Tuna, made from sashimi-quality tuna loins. BOTTOM PHOTO: Valrhona Hot Chocolate at Sur La Table.



    Robert Lambert has long been a great food artisan, who uses the bounty of local California heirloom fruits and nuts to make his creations. He crafts our favorite fruitcakes, pricey but worth it, orchestrating a memorable symphony of flavors unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.

    There’s a white fruitcake and a dark fruitcake; the difference is the mix of hand-candied luxury fruits and the spirits.

  • White Artisan Fruitcake has light-colored fruits: golden raisins, candied bergamot, coconuy, Rangpur lime, Meyer lemon peel, blood orange peel, Buddha’s hand citron and candied young ginger all contribute. Nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans and walnuts. Each cake is soaked in the fine French cognac, infused with herbs and spices, topped with a California bay leaf and candied white grapefruit peel star.
  • Dark Artisan Fruitcake has dark fruits: dates, prunes and dark raisins, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts. The cake has a touch of molasses and brown sugar, the spices are cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. The cake is soaked in his favorite 10-year-old Ficklin port.
    The one pound fruitcakes are $55 each, or any two in a gift tin for $100, at

    Our favorite honey producer, Savannah Bee spins together crystallized honey and aromatic cinnamon, forming an irresistible and spreadable Whipped Honey With Cinnamon. There are two sizes: a 12-ounce jar ($16.55) and a pair of two 3-ounce jars ($6.50).

    Another favorite holiday gift is Winter White Honey. From the Idaho Rockies, it is creamy, smooth and spreadable with natural finishing notes of cinnamon. This white-hued honey with a bright red label is available in the 12-ounce jars ($12.50) and two three-ounce minis ($12).

    For the honey connoisseur—or anyone with a refined palate—Sourwood Honey Gold Reserve is the honey gift. The sourwood trees in the Appalachian Mountains blossom only in “vintage” years, when there’s plentiful sun and rain.

    The flavor of sourwood honey is big and complex with hints of maple and spice. With a large jar, there’s enough to spare for basting grilled chicken or pork tenderloin, as well as lavish in tea and on pancakes. Sizes range from 3-ounce minis to 80-ounce jumbos, $12 to $92. The popular 12-ounce size is available with an optional pump—no dripping honey.

    For an even more special gift, the Sourwood Reserve packages 20 ounces of honey in an elegant tall flute and equally elegant packaging, $120. The company owner, one of the world’s great artisan honey experts, it “calls arguably the best in the world.”


    Some people buy the best of everything. In the case of tuna, that’s Tonnino tuna, so lovely it’s packaged in a see-through jar.

    Our local gourmet stores sell it for $8 to $10 jar, but on Amazon it’s just $5.99. “Just $5.99” may still have sticker shock for those who wait for sales of supermarket brands for 99¢, but for gifting, think outside the can!

    The large fillets stand tall in jars, very different from what’s packed into cans. And the flavor must be tasted! Even our brother, who waits for the 99¢ sales, acknowledged as much. We now have solved the problem of what to get the tuna lover and the health-focused.

    Tonnino varieties include Tuna Fillets With Capers And Garlic In Olive Oil, With Garlic In Olive Oil, With Jalapeño In Olive Oil, With Lemon And Pepper In Olive Oil, With Oregano In Olive Oil, In Olive Oil (plain) and In Spring Water.

    The top of the line is Ventresca, “the royalty of our gourmet jarred tuna.” It’s hand filleted from a small section of the tuna’s underbelly (sushi eaters, think toro).

    Even the olive oil is delicious! A jar in every flavor is a special gift. See more at

    The first hot chocolate mix from master chocolatier Valrhona, one of the world’s great chocolate producers and the name for fine chocolate in France. A perfect blend of the finest cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips, it makes a rich, chocolaty, marvelous cup of hot chocolate. Exclusively at Sur La Table, a 12-ounce tin red and silver tin is $21.95.

    You can package it with Peppermint Cocoa Stirrers and Marshmallow Snowman Beverage Topper marshmallows for a more elaborate gift. Or, go whole-hog with a set of Peppermint Stripe Mugs.

    Find it at Orders over $59 ship free with code SHIPFREE.



    GIFTS: Stocking Stuffers, Part 1

    For stocking stuffers, we look for special items around $10 (or less). Here’s the first bunch of gourmet foods we’d like to find in our stocking.


    In polka dot gift bags of 20 caramels, Annie B’s caramels are sure to please. The Signature Mix includes Butter Rum, Chocolate, Sea Salt and Original (vanilla) caramels. The Holiday Mix has Chocolate Raspberry, Peppermint and Pumpkin Spice caramels. The Chocolate Lovers Mix has Chocolate, Chocolate Sea Salt and Chocolate Raspberry.

    Each bag is $8. There are larger gift boxes and keepsake metal tins, $24. Get them at

    These sweet Italian Christmas breads now come in 3.5-ounce mini sizes—the equivalent of a breakfast pastry or a croissant. But what a pleasure biting into the little domed yeasty raisin bread (panettone) or sponge cake (pandoro)—we prefer the panettone. They’re $2.99 each at

    If you want to give a full-size version, no one will be disappointed. It just won’t fit in the stocking. See the whole line at The line is certified kosher by Star-D.

    Chocolate bars from two prestige producers are just right for stocking stuffers.

  • Cailler (kai-YAY) from Switzerland is very smooth and creamy milk chocolate. The Swiss invented milk chocolate, so you know it’s special. Choices include plain Rich and Creamy, plus Hazelnut, Almond Hazelnut and Cranberry and Almond Hazelnut and Raisin. Each bar is packaged in charming box-like wrapper.
    There are also dark chocolate bars and boxes of bonbons. Three individual bars are $13.50 at Amazon. For more information visit
  • Chuao Chocolatier (chew-WOW) in California makes two holiday chocolate bars we love: Hope, Joy & Gingerbread in milk chocolate, and Peace, Love & Peppermint in dark chocolate. The 2.8-ounce bars are $6 at We’ve got to stock up on enough Gingerbread to get us through until next year’s Christmas chocolate is produced.

    There’s lots of hand-crafted fudge around, but The Mill Fudge Factory gets it right: just sweet enough, not cloying. It’s melt-in-your-mouth moist, hand-cut and hand-dated for freshness.

    The company makes classic and inventive flavors. Choose from Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Salted Caramel, Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Walnut, Natural Peanut Butter, Penuche and Pure New Hampshire Maple. Seasonal flavors include Cranberry Maple Nut, Eggnog, Holiday Mint and Pumpkin Pie.

    Want a hint of spirits? Scottish Whiskey fudge is made with with Johnny Walker Red. Cabin Fever Maple Whiskey Fudge is made with the whiskey declared the best flavored whiskey on the market. And Bailey’s Irish Cream Fudge is a perennial favorte.

    We loved every bite we tried of the regular fudge flavors. The sugar-free fudge was OK, but we could taste the erythriytol—we hope the company will consider re-formulating with maltitol (see the different types of non-nutritive sweeteners).


    Annie B's Caramels

    Bauli Mini Panettone

    Gingerbread Chocolate Bar

    Fudge With Whiskey

    TOP PHOTO: Annie B’s gift bag of caramels. SECOND PHOTO: A mini panettone from Bauli. THIRD PHOTO: Holiday chocolate bars from Chuao Chocolatier. BOTTOM PHOTO: The Mill Fudge Factory has conventional and “spirited” fudge.

    All confections are available in sampler gift boxes; half-pound portions are $10, one-pound is $18.00. There are more elaborate gift baskets, a four pound Fudge Sampler for $60 and a Fudge of the Month Club 3, 6 and 12 months, $14.99 or less per month. There’s free shipping on orders of $35 or more.

    Go for it at


    Quin Coffee Marshmallows

    Snowman Marshmallows

    Superseedz Pouches

    Topperfino Chocolate Mug Toppers

    TOP PHOTO: A foot of marshmallows from
    Quin Candy. SECOND PHOTO: A marsh-
    mallow snowman topper for hot chocolate or
    coffee, from Sur La Table. THIRD PHOTO:
    Three of the nine flavors of Superseedz.
    BOTTOM PHOTO: Topperfino chocolate mug



    Quin’s melt-in-your-mouth marshmallows are different from any others. They’re made in foot-long lengths, then cut into thirds to fit into a stocking-worthy packet. In Coffee, Root Beer or Vanilla, they’re delicious, fun and $4 per bag (2.9 ounces) at


    These adorable vanilla marshmallow discs with a snowman face are new and nifty. Individually wrapped in a perky square box, Frosty’s marshmallow face peers through a cut-out.

    Place one atop a cup of hot chocolate and it will melt into something even more delicious than it looks. The marshmallows work with coffee, too—especially flavored coffees like hazelnut and vanilla, or with a spritz of pumpkin spice syrup. We’ve used them to top chocolate teas, too.

    They’re $9.95 per box at

    SuperSeedz was a Top Pick Of The Week in 2007, and we’ve been superfanz ever since. Pumpkin seeds are a gift for anyone: vegan and cholesterol-free with 7g of complete, plant-based protein per serving. That means they contain the nine essential amino acids (more than peanuts, pistachios, almonds and chia seeds).

    They’re allergen friendly: dairy-free, egg-free, fish-free, peanut-free, shellfish-free, soy-free, tree nut-free and made with gluten-free ingredients. And they’re shell-free! SuperSeedz are dry-roasted in small batches, using a proprietary pan-roasting technique that bakes the seasoning right into each seed.
    Superseedz are currently available in nine flavors: Cinnamon & Sugar, Coco Joe, Curious Curry, Really Naked, Maple Sugar & Sea Salt, Sea Salt, Somewhat Spicy, Super Spicy and Tomato Italiano. Find them at food retailers across the U.S., including Safeway, Sprouts and Whole Foods Markets.

    They can also be purchased online at Two 1-ounce individual serving pouches are $3.99; a 5-ounce pouch is $4.99.

    Our Top Pick Of The Week, Topperfino chocolate discs sit atop your hot chocolate or coffee, providing marvelous aroma before melting in to add Belgian chocolate to the cup.

    There are so many beautiful designs, in both dark and milk chocolate, that your biggest challenge will be deciding which design is perfect for which giftee. A box of 10 individually-wrapped discs is $13.99 at




    TIP OF THE DAY: Gobble Up Turkey Plates On Sale

    If you feel you could have done one more thing to dress your Thanksgiving table, we recommend turkey-festooned plates. They’re all on sale now for half price, maybe even less.

    The handsome tom turkey on these “Plymouth” porcelain salad plates greet guests when they come to the table. They plates can be used for desserts as well.

    They create an endearing family tradition. We always looked forward to seeing the turkey plates each year at our grandmother’s house; and when our mother or aunt hosted the dinner, Nana had to bring the turkey plates with her!

    Microwavable and dishwasher safe, a set of four salad/dessert plates is on sale for $29.98, regularly $59.95. They’re an online exclusive at

    A matching set of four dinner plates, bordered with a harvest garland of oak leaves and acorns, is $33.98, regularly $67.95.

    What are you waiting for? Gobble them up!


    Turkey Salad Plates

    Turkey plates make an elegant impression at the Thanksgiving table. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.




    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Topperfino Chocolate Coffee Toppers

    Our Top Pick Of The Week gets high points for innovation, flavor and beauty.

    The clever folks at Topperfino have hand-crafted discs from premium Belgian chocolate, with a lovely assortment of designs. When a disc is placed atop a steaming cup of coffee or cocoa, the beverage transforms into a work of coffee art.

    The thin disc then melts into the cup, releasing a captivating chocolate aroma and—oh, yes—adding chocolate flavor.

    The best Topperfino experience is on a coffee with crèma on top, such as cappuccino or latte. But we tried it on everything, including plain coffee, hot milk and rooibos and chocolate tea blends. (Numi, Republic Of Tea and Zhena sell chocolate tea blends. Our favorite is Buccaneer from Serendipitea.)

    And, per the company’s suggestion, it even works on a bowl of hot cereal (which might finally get the kids to eat their oatmeal and drink their milk).

    Topperfino is a memorable gift for anyone who drinks coffee or hot chocolate, and will delight adults and kids alike. Each disk has just 25 calories, and you can skip the sugar so the calorie switch is even.

    Gently place the Topperfino chocolate topper on top of your coffee cup and watch it melt into a creamy chocolate-y flavorful addition to your morning Joe!


    Topperfino discs are made in dark chocolate in plain chocolate plus caramel, French vanilla and hazelnut, in more than a dozen designs. Milk chocolate toppers are available in caramel, French vanilla and hazelnut.


    Topperfino Chocolate Cup Toppers

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    TOP PHOTO: Two different designs turn cups of coffee into art. BOTTOM PHOTO: Gift box. Photos courtesy Topperfino.

    And what lovely designs: animal prints, circles, coffee beans, geometrics, hearts, music, orbs, paisley and snowflakes, for starters.

    What are you waiting for? Get yours at Each box of 10 toppers is just $13.99. There’s free shipping with two boxes or more.

    TIP: We used some aerosol whipped cream that made it easier to place the disc on the hot beverage. When your toppers arrive, you’ll see what we mean.

    TRIVA: Topperfino happened ­by mistake! The inventor, an artist, loved to drink coffee with a bar of chocolate on the side (in France and Italy, a square of chocolate is oftened served with coffee). One morning, a piece of chocolate accidentally fell into his coffee and floated for a short time. The light bulb turned on. After countless tests, he created the unique blend of art and chocolate that he named Topperfino.



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