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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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Archive for Giftable

GIFT: Sriracha Candy Canes

When Santa comes down your chimney, leave him something more interesting than cookies and milk.

Warm up his—and your—taste buds with J&D’s Sriracha Candy Canes. Sriracha, the popular Thai hot sauce has been used to create a fiery candy cane for those who like heat with their sweet.

Give a box to heat-loving friends, serve them crushed over ice cream or hot chocolate, or use them as as a spicy-sweet holiday cocktail stirrer.

Each box has 12 individually wrapped sriracha candy canes, $7.99 at

They’re made by J&D Foods, the people who brought you bacon salt and our beloved Baconaise (which you can also purchase on the website).


Sweet and hot: sriracha candy canes. Photo
courtesy J&D Foods.




TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Artisan Pickles, The Best Pickles

Many foodpreneurs are making small batch,
artisan pickles. Photo by Lindsay Landis |


There are significantly more than one hundred small companies producing pickles all across this great land of ours. They’re small batch, hand packed and much tastier than mass-produced pickles.

For most of us, pickles have been a commodity condiment: inexpensive, readily available, and something we didn’t spend a lot of time pondering. While most of us familiar with the big national brands—Vlasic, Claussen and Mt. Olive, for example—how many of us can name a small, local pickle producer?

Take a look at our review of almost 50 artisan pickle brands. You’re sure to find stocking stuffers, host and hostess gifts, teacher gifts and anything else you need.

There are sweet pickles and spicy pickles, pickle chips and spears.

And the best news: pickles are low in calories, a guilt-free gift.


Here’s the full article, including the history of pickles, how pickles are made, terms and buzzwords, and the scoop on whether or not pickles are “healthy food.”



RECIPE: Radish & Beet Chutney

This radish and beet chutney from is delicious with turkey sandwiches plus cheese, cold meats, on a baked potato or with sausages.

It’s also a nice gift for your Thanksgiving host, who in turn may send you home with some leftover turkey. The recipe makes enough for 6 gifts or more, depending on the size of the jar.


Ingredients For Approximately 4.5 Pounds Of Chutney

  • 3.3 pounds raw beets trimmed, peeled and diced
  • 20 shallots, quartered
  • 40 radishes, quartered

    Yummy beet and radish chutney. Photo courtesy

  • 2 eating apples, peeled and grated (we used Granny Smiths)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 27 ounces white wine vinegar
  • 20 ounces balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 pounds light brown sugar


    1. COMBINE all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the beets are cooked and the juices have thickened.

    2. SPOON chutney it into sterilized jars* and seal the lids while it’s still hot. Use immediately, or keep, refrigerated, for up to 6 weeks. The flavor will improve if stored for a few weeks.

    Find more beet recipes at

    *To sterilize jars, run them through the hottest cycle in your dishwasher or boil in a pan of water for 10 minutes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Butter

    Little things can make a huge difference. In the world of fine food, D’Artagnan Truffle Butter is one of the little things that can elevate and transform almost everything you eat.

    And it’s affordable—made with compared to $2,500 per pound this year (a pound buys a lot of truffles).

    The best truffle splurge for $15 is this black truffle and white truffle duo from d’Artagnan. You can also check at your local fine food retailer.

    You can use either truffle butter (you may enjoy both equally or prefer one variety over the other) to create easy yet impressive recipes:

  • Bread and butter—baguette slices with truffle butter are a splendid appetizer (serve them with Champagne or other wine)
  • Eggs cooked in truffle butter
  • Truffled pasta
  • Truffled mashed potatoes
  • Truffle Sauce
    See the different ways to use truffle butter and more about this affordable luxury in our review.


    One of our favorite foods to enjoy with wine: truffle butter on baguette slices. Photo by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.



    Buy it for yourself, give it as a gift to your
    favorite cooks. Photo courtesy iGourmet.



    It’s flavored with tiny pieces that break off from the truffle. They can’t be sold at top dollar like whole truffles, but are purchased for a fraction of the price by manufacturers, who add them to butter or infuse them in olive oil.

    Note though that most of the truffle olive oil out there is not made with real truffles. Most manufacturers use artificial truffle flavor and aroma: truffle molecules re-created in a lab.

    That doesn’t mean it isn’t good: many of the artificially-flavored products are delicious. But if you’re paying more than $20 for truffle oil, read the label to ensure that it’s infused with real truffles.




    GIFT: Walker’s Shortbread Scottie Dogs

    Man bites dog. Photo courtesy Walker’s.


    How about a box of Walker’s Scottie Dog Shortbread Cookies for the canine-loving family member, friend or co-worker? There are:

  • Original Shortbread, in a box ($28.80) or tin ($10.39)
  • Chocolate Shortbread, made with chocolate dough and added chocolate chips; $4.19 per 9-cookie box
  • Assorted Animal Shapes Shortbread for young children, 12 cookies (teddy bears, cows, scottie dogs and sheep), $4.39
    In 2013, 10 cents of every purchase goes to ASPCA initiatives to end animal cruelty and homelessness.


    Check them out at



    GIFT: Moschino Disaronno

    What happens when two of Italy’s prominent brands get together? One gives the other a fashion makeover.

    Disaronno, Italy’s best selling liqueur and international fashion house Moschino have launched a special edition holiday bottle concept, “Moschino Loves Disaronno.”

    Moschino has adorned the classic Disaronno bottle with a red and black heart pattern (actually more appropriate for Valentine’s Day gifts, so buy them now while you can). A great gift for amaretto fans, it’s also a collectible for the fashionistas with whom you exchange gifts.

    The limited edition bottle is available now for $24.99 at stores nationwide, or through

    Profits from the Disaronno and Moschino project will support the charity Fashion 4 Development, an African initiative sponsored by the United Nations, with the aim of developing creative strategies for sustained economic growth and development in countries worldwide.



    Limited edition for the holidays (or buy in advance for Valentine’s Day). Photo courtesy Disaronno.


    The legend of Disaronno dates back to 1525, when Renaissance artist and Leonardo da Vinci pupil Bernardino Luini was commissioned to paint a fresco in the town of Saronno. To portray the Madonna of Miracles, he chose as his muse a beautiful local innkeeper. She repaid the honor by giving the artist a flask of the fragrant and delicate amber liquor known as amaretto di Saronno.

    There are numerous brands of amaretto. But with its distinctive square stopper, Disaronno is the world’s best-selling Italian liqueur.

    Amaretto is enjoyed neat (a popular pairing with after-dinner coffee), on the rocks, or in cocktails. To celebrate this festive collaboration, Disaronno has created a special cocktail:


    A holiday sour, garnished with currants
    (often mis-identified as “Champagne
    grapes.”) Photo courtesy Disaronno.



    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 3 parts Disaronno or other amaretto liqueur
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 7 muddled cranberries
  • Ice
  • Champagne, prosecco or other sparkling wine
  • Garnish: currants, lemon wheel, rosemary sprig or other favorite

    1. SHAKE the ingredients with ice and strain into a flute.

    2. TOP with champagne and serve.




    GIFT: Droga Salted Caramels & Gingerbread Men

    Droga Chocolates was launched in 2007 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founder Michelle Crochet grew up addicted to her mother’s homemade rocky road candy, which replaced walnuts with roasted, salted peanuts long before salt and chocolate became the rage.

    Michelle became a food buyer for Williams-Sonoma, and subsequently decided to join the ranks of Bay Area food-preneurs, ultimately pairing with a business partner, Lisa Albani. They consider themselves “the perfect ingredients for a sweet and successful business.”

    We tasted their holiday wares, and have a few requests for Santa:



    We could eat an army of these gingerbread men. Photo courtesy Droga Chocolates.


    The Jolly Gingerbread Cookie really hit the spot. As soon as we finished one, we wanted another (our gift set from Droga, while generous, included only one of the ginger guys).

    In a coat of milk or dark chocolate, the artisan gingerbread, a cookie 6 inches long and 6.5 ounces, is $12.50 in a cellophane bag and ribbon. There are also smaller “gingerbread boys” for $6.95.


    Two excellent flavored salt caramels. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE



    We taste a lot of salt caramels, and not that many turn our heads. Droga’s East vs. West Salt Caramel Set hit the spot, and made us sad that there were only four caramels in each box. We could have eaten dozens of:

  • NYC City Caramels: chocolate espresso caramels in dark chocolate and hint of black salt.
  • LA City Caramels: lemon ginger caramels in dark chocolate and hint of pink salt
    A four-piece box of each flavor, $13.95.

    Any of these would make a more-than-welcome stocking stuffer or party favor.


    Larger portions, gaily boxed, include:

  • Big Bite Brittle
  • Money On Honey Caramels, with intense, rich honey flavor

  • Peppermint Peppies, dark and white chocolate with crushed peppermint
  • Rebel Rocky Road (Mom’s recipe)
  • Nutty Puddles, a turtle-like confection of roasted almonds and honey caramel
    Get yours at



    GIFT: Divine Fair Trade Chocolate

    Most of the world’s farmers live in poverty. They’re forced to accept whatever brokers want to pay them for their crops.

    Fair Trade ensures that farmers are paid fair value for their crops. This affords a minimum standard of living, money for adult (instead of child) labor and the ability to farm with sound (sustainable) agricultural practices.

    Fair Trade is the trademarked term of nonprofit organization that audits transactions between U.S. companies offering Fair Trade Certified products and the international suppliers from whom they source. It is one of several organizations working all over the world to certify fairly traded goods. Here’s more on Fair Trade.

    In the case of the the world’s greatest chocolatiers, an elite group, Fair Trade is a moot point. The chocolatiers are already paying top dollar to secure the limited supply of the world’s ultra-finest cacao beans.

    But there’s a lot of chocolate, even in the premium category (not the mass marketed bars), that comes from farmers who sometimes have to sell their crops for less than it costs to grow it.


    Special holiday flavor bars and foil-wrapped dark and milk chocolate coins. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    If only all farmers had the ability to emulate the Kuapa Kokoo farmers’ co-op in Ghana. The name means “good cocoa farming.” Instead of exclusive ownership under a corporate board of executives or a family who has handed down the business from generation to generation, the business is actually owned partly by the 40,000 small farmers who grow, harvest and partially process the cacao.

    The cooperative works at improving the social, economic and political well-being of its members. Women cacao farmers play significant roles at all levels of the organization, and the co-op encourages environmentally sustainable production.


    Christmas tree boxes filled with chocolate
    Christmas trees. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |


    And, their cacao beans are used to make the Fair Trade Certified line, Divine Chocolate.


    This very reasonably priced line, beautifully packaged, offers a nice choice stocking stuffers, teacher gifts or office gifts. Each purchase supports these farmers and their excellent mission.

    If you like, you can use the gift to teach your family, friends and colleagues about supporting Fair Trade, and. They’ll feel good about every bite.

    There’s something for every chocolate-lover in Divine Chocolate’s collection:

  • Advent calendar, $4.55
  • Chocolate bars: holiday special 38% Milk Chocolate With Spiced Cookies and 70% dark chocolate with hazelnuts and cranberries, plus 13 year-round flavors, $3.99
  • Chocolate coins in milk or dark chocolate, 1.75 ounce mesh bag, $3.99
  • Christmas tree box filled with Christmas tree chocolates, 3.5 ounces, $8.49

  • Dark Chocolate Mint Thins and Ginger Thins, $8.49
  • There are savings with the purchase of multiple pieces of the same item, as well a gift baskets with an assortment of products.

    See all the holiday specials and the entire product line at Divine

    —Steven Gans



    GIFT: Chocolate For Sports Fans

    Pass the pigskin—we want some chocolate.

    This life-size football is available in dark, or white chocolate from fine chocolatier Li-Lac Chocolates.

    At 11 x 6″ x 6.5″ and 2.2 pounds of premium chocolate, the football is $48.00.

    If football isn’t your sport, there are:

  • Chocolate basketballs, a life-size 10″ diameter and 3.5 pounds of chocolate, $65.00.
  • Chocolate baseballs, 3″ diameter, 4.5 ounces (each, box of 2), $18.
  • Chocolate golf balls, 1.5″ diameter and 1 ounce each, box of 6 $18.

    Life-size football in premium chocolate. Photo courtesy Li-Lac Chocolates.


    There are tennis rackets, baseball gloves and more; each made to order in dark, milk or white chocolate at Li-Lac Chocolates.

    —Steven Gans



    GIFT: Silverland Sugar Free Brownies & Lemon Bars

    What can you give someone who adores cake but can’t have sugar?

    Sugar-free brownies and lemon bars from Silverland Bakery.

    The bakery’s sugar-free line was years in development, trying alternative noncaloric sweeteners and settling on the world’s finest, maltitol (see the different sugar substitutes).

    Current choices include:

  • Sugar Free Lemon Bar: Same great look and flavor as our original Lemon Bar without the sugar. Great for those with dietary restrictions who cannot consume sugar.
  • Sugar Free Double Chocolate Brownie: Flavorful, chocolaty and moist, our sugar free brownie with mini sugar free chocolate morsels.
  • You can order individual flavors or a sampler tray that includes both.

    A 12-piece gift tray is $32.95 at The bars are two-inch squares.


    Delicious and sugar-free. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Nutritional Information

    For the Sugar Free Double Chocolate Brownie/Sugar Free Lemon Bar

  • Calories: 160/120
  • Calories From Fat: 100/40
  • Total fat (g): 11/4.5
  • Sugars (g): 0/0
  • Protein (g): 2g/4g
    Complete nutritional information is on the website (scroll down to the bottom of the page; the link is at the end of the first column of information).



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