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Archive for Giftable

GIFT OF THE DAY: French Macaron Kit

For those who both like to bake cookies and eat French macarons, an inspired gift is Dana’s Bakery Macaron Making Kits.

One of our favorite macaron makers, Dana’s is known for innovative flavors and seasonal specials.

The kits are available in three of the most popular flavors:

  • Chocolate Molten
  • Fruity Cereal Macarons
  • Red Velvet Macarons
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    Each kit includes ingredients for 20 two-inch macarons:

  • 2 mix packets
  • 2 piping bags
  • 1 piping tip
  • Recipe for the filling
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    A video provides step-by-step guidance (below).

    Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to buy your own almond flour and make macarons galore in your favorite flavors and colors.

    Each flavor is $24.00, three for $72.00. The baking mat is $18.00.

    You may want to add a silicone baking mat, which the professionals use for “perfect results every time.”

    Check ‘em out at DanasBakery.com.

    If you’re concerned about what it takes to make delicious macarons, watch the video below.

     

    Red Velvet Macaron Kit

    Macaron Mat

    Make your own macarons with this kit and baking mat from Dana’s Bakery.

     

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Spicy Brownies

    Sea Salt Brownie

    Sea Salt Brownie

    We [heart] spicy Mayan brownies (photos courtesy The Grommet).

     

    Salt Of The Earth Bakery is an artisanal baked goods company that re-imagines classic treats, by adding finishing salts and exotic spices.

    These extras turn the cookies and brownies into decidedly adult fare.

    We love brownies—great ones—and are always on the prowl for what’s different and delicious.

    Salt Of The Earth Bakery makes five brownie flavors. The one that called out to us was the Mayan, “the brownie that bites you back.”

    Seasoned as the original Mayan chocolate was, with cinnamon, and cayenne, it’s topped with Halen Môn (Anglesey), crunchy sea salt flakes.

    In the Mayan and later Aztec cultures, chocolate* was only available to the nobility, wealthy merchants and honored warriors.

    Unleash your inner warrior and try a few.

    Other flavors include:

  • The Brownie, a classic with Halen Môn sea salt
  • The Kona, with espresso and Hawaiian Kona sea salt
  • The OMGCB, with caramel and French sel gris
  • The Nutty One, with peanut butter, and French sel gris
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    ABOUT SALT OF THE EARTH PRODUCTS

    The line is all-natural and certified kosher by OK-D. The chocolate is 100% Fair Trade USA certified chocolate from Guittard.

    Salt Of The Earth Bakery is commited to the environment, from sustainable packaging, to recycling to maximizing eco-friendly power sources such as solar and hydro energy.
     
    GET YOUR BROWNIES

    Three boxes of 2 brownies each (1.6 ounces per brownie) are $15.00 at SaltOfTheEarthBakery.com.

    There are also gift packs of brownies and cookies.
     
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    *For the first few thousand years of its existence, chocolate was a beverage. Solid chocolate was first created in the 19th century, in Europe. Check out the Chocolate Timeline.

     
      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Baron Chocolates

    Baron Milk Chocolate Bar

    Baron Chocolate Truffles

    Baron Chocolate Gummi Bears

    Chocolate Covered Gummi Worms Baron

    [1] Baron Chocolate Bars are made in two sizes and 10 flavors. [2] Everyone’s favorite: chocolate truffles with plain or flavored chocolate centers. [3] Our favorite treat: chocolate-covered gummi bears and [4] worms (all photos courtesy Baron Chocolatier).

     

    Baron Chocolatier was created by Tomasz Kotas, the third of three generations of chocolatiers from Poznan (Posen), Poland.

    After selling chocolate in Europe for 30 years, The Millano Group decided to establish a North American subsidiary—the U.S. is the world’s single largest chocolate market.

    Selling private label* chocolates in the U.S. beginning in 2009, it more recently launched its own brand, Baron .

    The brand is probably the best quality chocolate we’ve had at such low price points. For consumers looking for the most affordable premium chocolates, take a look at Baron.

    All chocolates are made with natural ingredients, GMO-free and certified kosher by Triangle K.

    The company makes a larger variety of products than these, but for starters, here’s what most people would like to find under the tree (or on the table or anywhere else).
     
    PREMIUM CHOCOLATE BARS

    Plain or fancy, there are small bars (1.76 ounces, 50g) and large bars (3.5 ounces, 100g). In addition to plain milk and dark chocolate, there are 8 specialty flavors:

  • Milk Chocolate (1.75 or 3.5 ounces)
  • Milk Chocolate With Almonds (1.75 or 3.5 ounces)
  • Milk with Sea Salt Caramel (1.75 or 3.5 ounces)
  • Milk Chocolate With Toffee Crunch (1.75 ounces)
  • 50% Dark With Orange & Almonds (1.75 or 3.5 ounces)
  • 50% Dark Chocolate with Raspberry Pieces (1.75 or 3.5 ounces)
  • 50% Dark With Sea Salt (1.75 or 3.5 ounces)
  • 70% Dark Chocolate (1.75 or 3.5 ounces)
  • 70% Dark Chocolate With Orange and Almonds (1.75 ounces)
  • 70% Dark Chocolate With Sea Salt (1.75 ounces)
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    PREMIUM CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

    The truffles are round balls filled with ganache, plain and flavored, in 5.25-ounce boxes (148 g).
    The are made in six flavors:

  • Dark Chocolate Truffles
  • Dark Chocolate Lava Cake Truffles
  • Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles
  • Milk Caramel Brownie Truffles
  • Milk Chocolate Truffles
  • Milk Chocolate Truffles With Strawberry Cheesecake Fillings
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    There are also seasonal limited-edition flavors.

    CHOCOLATE GUMMIES

    As gummi enthusiasts, our personal greatest delight are the milk chocolate-covered gummi bears and gummi worms.

    They’re so inexpensive, we bought stocking stuffers for everyone!

    Warning: addictive!

     
    WHERE TO BUY BARON CHOCOLATES

    Baron is sold at some 80,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, and is also available online at Amazon and other e-tailers.

    Examples of pricing from Amazon:

  • 6 boxes of Milk Chocolate Truffles with Milk Chocolate Creme Filling, 5 ounces each, ($3.63/box) $21.79
  • 12 bars plain Milk Chocolate Bars, 1.76-ounces each, $27.19 ($2.27/bar)
  • 12 Dark Chocolate Bars, 3.5-ounces each, $39.12 ($3.26/bar)
  • 12 3-ounce packages Gummi Bears or Worms, $10.71 (89¢ each)
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    For chocolate gifting, these prices can’t be beat!

     
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    *Private label goods are those made by a manufacturer for a client’s brand name. For example, the foods sold under the Williams-Sonoma brand are manufactured for them by other companies.

     
      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Just Spices, Extra-Fresh Spice Blends

    Usually THE NIBBLE doesn’t review spices, salad dressings and other categories where it’s difficult to describe the differences or superiority of one brand over another.

    After all, if you tried garlic powder from three different producers, what would you say? Once the garlic is cooked in the recipe, any brand will taste good.

    But when we met up with Just Spices, and the contents were so fresh, beautiful and aromatic (see photo #1) that we couldn’t resist them, both for our own kitchen and as stocking stuffers.

    There’s something for everyone on our list—not just spices, but herbs, too:

  • BBQ Popcorn Seasoning
  • BBQ Seasoning
  • Extra Spicy Seasoning
  • Flavors Of Italy
  • Flavors Of Mexico
  • Guacamole Seasoning
  • Hickory Rub
  • Murray River Salt (beautiful apricot-hued crystals)
  • Oatmeal Spice Blend
  • Pancake Blend
  • Pizza Seasoning
  • Pork Rub
  • Savory Eggs Blend
  • Seafood Rub
  • Smoothie Boost
  • Spicy Garlic Blend
  • Spicy Popcorn Seasoning
  • Steak Rub
  • Sweet Potato Seasoning
  • Tellicherry Pepper
  • Texas BBQ Dip
  • Vegetable Broth Seasoning
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    Just Spices Savory Eggs Blend

    Just Spices BBQ Popcorn Seasoning

    Just Spices Gift Box

    [1] Savory Eggs Blend, a beautiful selection of aromas, flavors and colors. [2] There are two popcorn seasoning blends: BBQ and Spicy. [3] Give individual spices or a box of six Kitchen Essentials (all photos courtesy Just Spices).

     
    Prices range from $5.49 to $6.99.

    A Kitchen Essentials gift box of six spices is $34.49, and includes BBQ Seasoning, Flavors of Italy, Murray River Salt, Spicy Garlic Seasoning, Tellicherry Pepper and Vegetable Broth Seasoning.
     
    WHAT TO GIVE

    We’re giving Oatmeal Spice Blend to our oatmeal-eating friends, BBQ and Spicy Popcorn Seasonings to our popcorn-popping friends, Spicy Garlic Blend to our garlic-loving friends, and so on.

    Just scan the list above to pick what will be loved by your family, friends and colleagues (and don’t forget to buy your own).

    The bright, hip packaging is terrific: “a gift waiting to happen” we thought, the first time we saw them. The color and aroma of the contents are unmatched by other brands we’ve purchased.

    In fact, the brand was started by three college friends who couldn’t find what they wanted at the supermarket.

    Take advantage of their inspiration and travels around the world to buy from the best small growers. Because they buy and produce in small batches, the spices are so vibrant and fragrant, we spent quite some time inhaling each one.
     
    Order yours at JustSpices.com.

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Gingerbread Scone Mix

    November 21st is National Gingerbread Day…and also a reminder that it’s easy to make gingerbread scones with a $6.95 gourmet boxed mix from King Arthur Flour.

    We typically give small gifts to our Thanksgiving guests, and last year it was these scone mixes (this year it’s the Gingerbread Cake and Cookie Mix).

    The one-pound box makes 8 to 16 scones, depending on size. The mix is certified kosher by CRC.

    They’re whole grain, too, made with white whole wheat flour.

    The mix is certified kosher by CRC.

    The 1-pound box of mix makes 8 to 16 scones, depending on how you portion them.

    And you can use it to make gingerbread loaf, coffeecake, muffins, pancakes and shortcake.

    Get yours at KingArthurFlour.com.

    THE HISTORY OF GINGER

    Since ancient times, the Chinese and Indians used ginger root as medicine. Ginger originated in the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia.

    By the first century, it had been introduced in the Mediterranean via India and became a popular spice in Rome. It fell from use with the fall of the Roman Empire fell, to return during medieval times as a spice for baked goods and other sweets.

    Ginger has been traded throughout history longer than most other spices. It was valued for its medicinal merits: it is a popular warming spice, a digestive aid, and sometimes used to treat flatulence and colic. Today, ginger is easily accessible in local grocery stores and throughout markets, but back in the 14th century it cost about the same amount as a live sheep or piece of livestock!

    Used as a medicine in medieval times, ginger became a popular holiday spice (it was too pricey to use year-round), most famously in gingerbread cookies.

    In 11th century northern European countries, it was used to flavor buttermilk drinks and over the next two centuries became used in cooking meats and in ginger pastes.

    During the 13th and 14th centuries, Arabs traders voyaging to Africa and Zanzibar planted the rhizomes, spreading the cultivation of the plant.

    Many ginger-flavored baked goods have evolved since then, from muffins to cakes. Today, we offer this recipe from King Arthur Flour for gingerbread scones: perfect weekend breakfast and brunch fare throughout the holiday season.

    THE HISTORY OF SCONES

    You may have heard two different pronunciations for “scone.” The word is pronounced “skahn” in Scotland and Northern England (rhymes with gone) and “skoan” in the south of England (rhymes with own), the pronunciation adopted by the U.S. and Canada.

    Which is the authentic one? They both are!

    Scones are traditionally connected with Scotland, Ireland and England, but exactly who deserves the honor of invention, no one knows for sure.

    Scones may well have originated in Scotland. The first known print reference, in 1513, is from a Scottish poet. However, in earlier eras, when communications were more limited, the creation of an actual item can have predated the first appearance of printed references by many years.

    Centuries ago, there weren’t newspapers that reported on the minutiae of life the way modern news sources do. There were no food columns in the local papers announcing that “McTavish Bakery has created a new griddle-fried oatcake called a scone—now available at 3 Sheepshead Lane.”

    In fact, there were few newspapers. Much of the population was not literate. So culinary historians rely on cookbooks and mentions in literature and other printed records. Given the perishability of paper, it is logical that many first-printed mentions of foods and other items may not have survived.

    What About The Name?

    One claim, probably not the best, says that scones are named for the Stone of Destiny at the Abbey Of Scone, a town upriver from Perth.

     

    Gingerbread Scones

    Gingerbread Scones

    Gingerbread Scone Mix

    Ginger Root

    Scone Pan

    [1] Triangle scones with icing. [2] Round scones with sparkling sugar. [3] Scones, pancakes, muffins and more come from one box of mix (all photos courtesy King Arthur Flour). [4] Ginger root (photo by Jan Schöne | SXC). [5] Long before baking pans were invented, scone dough was shaped into a round, cooked on a baking stone and cut into wedges. Modern bakers can use scone pans like this one from King Arthur Flour/

     
    It is a stone bench upon which Scottish kings once sat when they were crowned. The original was long ago removed to Westminster Abbey, and a replica stone stands in its place.

    Others say that the word derives from the Gaelic “sgonn” (rhymes with gone), a shapeless mass or large mouthful; the Dutch “schoonbrot,” fine white bread; and the closely-related German “sconbrot,” fine or beautiful bread. The Oxford English Dictionary favors the latter two.

    What About The Shape?

    Scones are related to the ancient Welsh tradition of cooking small round yeast cakes (leavened breads) on bakestones, and later on griddles. Long before the advent of baking pans, the dough—originally made with oats—was hand-shaped into a clarge round, scored into four or six wedges (triangles) and griddle-baked over an open fire.

    With the advent of stovetop and oven baking, the round of dough was cut into wedges and the scones were baked individually.

    Today’s scones are quick breads, similar to American biscuits. They are traditionally made with wheat flour, sugar, baking powder or baking soda, butter, milk and eggs, and baked in the oven—both in the traditional wedge form and in round, square and diamond shapes. This recipe produces a hard, dry texture.

    Traditional English scones may include raisins or currants, but are often plain, relying on jam, preserves, lemon curd or honey for added flavor—perhaps with a touch of clotted cream.

    Fancy scones—with dried fruit such as cranberries and dates, nuts, orange rind, chocolate morsels and other flavorings—are best enjoyed without butter and jam.

      

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