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Archive for Giftable

GIFTS OF THE DAY: Rum Cake, Espresso Cake, Bundt Cake, Gift Cake

Rum Cake

Espresso Bundt Cake

Espresso Bundt Cake

[1] Divine rum cakes in 6 flavors from Rum Sisters. [2] This expresso cake from 1812 House: a coffee lover’s dream cake. [3] A duo of small espresso bundt cakes with caramel sauce.

 

GIFT #1: RUM SISTERS, RUM CAKES & MORE

We’ve tried lots of rum cake. But the Rum Sisters make the best we’ve tried in recent memory.

The business was begun by two friends who shared a love of baking, cake and alcohol.

Not to mention the skills to make truly great whiskey-infused cakes.

Not to mention the premium ingredients, including fine rum, bourbon, Irish whiskey and Kahlúa.

These rum cakes are so good, we ate the whole sampler box—6 mini bundts-in two days. When there was not a crumb left, we cried plaintively: More! More!

There’s a tempting selection:

  • Bushwacker: Named after the coastal frozen drink, this rum cake has a delicious infusion of coconut and chocolate..
  • Drunken Monkey: Touted as “the best banana bread ever,” this cake is infused with bourbon.
  • Keel Over: This version of a classic rum cake is infused with dark rum.
  • Spice It Up: Think of the carrot cake with raisin and spiced rum.
  • The Big “O”: Aged Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream distinguish combine in this special flavor.
  • Twisted Sista: This dark chocolate cake is infused with Kahlúa and finished with white chocolate rum, a “twisted” medley of flavors.
  • Gluten Free Cakes: Keel Over and Twisted Sista are both made in GF versions.
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    Cakes are $25 (small) and $50 (large). Get acquainted with all six flavors in the Sumptuous Sampler of mini bundts, $30. (Regular folks might split one with a cup of tea, or eat half at a time.)

    Head to RumSisters.com.
     
    GIFT #2: ESPRESSO CAKE FOR COFFEE LOVERS

    Matthews 1812 House is a second-generation family business. The Matthews family started in 1979 in the family farmhouse in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut (the house was built in 1812).

    From a line of two fruitcakes, “baking racks in the hallways and people sorting apricots and pecans on the dining room table,” the company now has a dedicated facility a mile away, and a full line of specialty cakes into cookies, bars, and other sweet treats.

     
    The flavor we haven’t seen before is the Espresso Bundt Cake. If a cup of espresso can be transformed into a cake, this is it.

    The moist cake has a bold coffee flavor, a hint of cinnamon, and less sugar than most bundt cakes. That’s why you can easily add caramel sauce, ice cream or whipped cream.

    A large bundt cake is $29.00; two mini-bundts, called Duo Cakes, $15.00, are packaged with espresso caramel sauce that fits nicely in the top wells.

    Order at 1812House.com.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Finally Ginger, Artisanal Ginger Cookies

    Finally Ginger Cookies

    Finally Ginger Gift Tin

    Finally Ginger Snack Pack

    [1] Finally Ginger artisan cookies are available in [2] gift tins and [3] snack packs (all photos courtesy Love From Cleveland).

     

    What a joy: delicious ginger cookies we didn’t have to bake at home.

    Cookies freshly-baked just for us, because they’re baked to order.

    Cookies with sugar and spice and everything nice. With three kinds of ginger: crystallized ginger, ginger root and ground ginger.
     
    Ginger cookies baked in five delicious flavors that will sizzle on your palate:

  • Ginger & Chocolate Chunk
  • Ginger & Lemon
  • Ginger & Oatmeal Cranberry
  • Ginger & Orange
  • Original Ginger
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    All are delicious and very special. Who’d have thought that a classic ginger cookie, popular since the Middle Ages, could be improved?
    Options include:

  • 12-Piece Cookie Gift Tins, choice of 2 flavors: $24.00
  • 24-Piece Cookie Gift Tins, choice of 4 flavors: $48.00
  • Subscriptions: 3-month subscription, $75; 6-month subscription, $150.00
  • 12 Two-Cookie Snack Packs (24 cookies, no gift tin) $36.00
  •  
    The tins are great for storing tea when the cookies are gone.

    Head to FinallyGinger.com to place your order.
     
    DIFFERENT TYPES OF GINGER COOKIES & HISTORY

    While Finally Ginger calls itself a ginger cookie, it is a hybrid—a hard cookie with a snap, with a textured surface dotted with sparkling sugar.

  • A ginger cookie is a soft, molasses-type cookie that is flavored with ginger and other spices. It is larger than, and otherwise differs from, a gingersnap Crusaders returning from the Middle East brought ginger and other spices.
  • A gingersnap is a thin, plain round cookie with a hard, smooth texture like a gingerbread cookie. It is a smaller version of the traditional German Christmas cookie known as Lebkuchen. Like a gingerbread cookie, ginger snaps break with a “snap.” Gingersnaps contain a larger amount of ginger, and thus are spicier, than the chewier ginger cookies.
  • Gingerbread is a fancier affair, often cut into special shapes (cottages, flowers, hearts, horses, people, trees, etc., along with 3-D houses and carousels) and hand-decorated with icing and candies. Monks made the first gingerbread for holidays and festivals. The tale of Hansel and Gretel, published in 1812 (as part of Grimm’s Fairy Tales), vastly increased the popularity of gingerbread cookies and other treats, such as gingerbread Christmas cards. Gingerbread men and animals became popular Christmas tree ornaments.
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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Horseshoe Brand Hot Sauce

    We receive lots of hot sauce samples. Most of them are fine, but not special.

    Enter the special: Horseshoe Brand hot sauce, developed by two entrepreneurs in New York State’s food mecca, the Hudson Valley.

    All natural, made in small batches, you can’t help but say, “This is good stuff!”

    Why? The hot sauces are made from scratch using fresh chiles. Many hot sauces use extracts that provide heat, but not flavor. Macerating fresh chiles provides a lively, fresh-tasting hot sauce that is a delight.

    The current line-up includes:

  • Cajun Hot Sauce
  • Chipotle Hot Sauce
  • Habanero Hot Sauce
  • Kiwi Jalapeño Hot Sauce
  • Mango Fatali Hot Sauce
  • Peach Hot Sauce
  • Roasted Garlic Hot Sauce
  • XXXTra Hot Hot Sauce
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    Horseshoe Garlic Hot Sauce

    One of six delicious flavors; horseshoe not included (photo courtesy Horsehoe Brands).

     
    At $5.99 a bottle, they’re affordable stocking stuffers, party favors.

    Head to HorsehoeBrand.com and load up!

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Bacon Sea Salt

    Bacon Sea Salt

    Sprinkle bacon sea salt on everything (photo courtesy Food Shed Exchange).

     

    Bacon, bacon, everywhere: That’s what you’ll have with a container of bacon sea salt. Crumbled bacon is blended with crunchy sea salt and a hint of spices.

    There are countless ways to use it. For starters:

  • Eggs
  • Hors d’oeuvre
  • Mac & Cheese and other pasta dishes
  • Popcorn
  • Potatoes
  • Rice and other grains
  • Sandwich spread (add to mayonnaise)
  • Vegetables (corn, tomatoes, everything)
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    A four-ounce container is $9.73. Larger sizes are available.

    Get yours at FoodShedExchange.com.

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Thanksgiving Chocolate Bars Or Bark

    Dark Chocolate Bar

    Thanksgiving Chocolate Bark

    Thanksgiving Chocolate Bar

    Thanksgiving Chocolate Bark

    [1] Turn a plain 3.5-ounce chocolate bar into a Thanksgiving bar (photo courtesy Livestrong). [2] You can present the bars whole, or break them up into bark (photo courtesy The Nutrition Adventure). [3] You can use your favorite chocolate, whether dark, milk or [4] white chocolate (photo #3 courtesy Chocolate Inspirations, photo #4 courtesy My Catholic Kitchen.

     

    We love to make chocolate bark, especially since we discovered this easy technique from Australian blogger Erika Rax. You can make bark almost instantly: for family, friends or gifting.

    In the conventional technique, the chocolate is chopped and melted, the inclusions mixed in, the mixture spread on a baking sheet to set and then broken up.

    Here, whole chocolate bars are topped with the inclusions, then placed in the oven so the bar melts and the inclusions set in.

    The result: chocolate bars with your favorite toppings, that can be broken into bark if you wish. Personally, we give them whole as gifts, and break them up when serving them with coffee.
     
    RECIPE: THANKSGIVING CHOCOLATE BARS OR BARK

    Use the chocolate of your choice—dark, milk, white—or make one of each. Just ensure that the toppings contrast with the color of the chocolate.
    You can use raw or roasted pumpkin seeds, as long as they’re hulled and unsalted.

    You can use as much topping as you like, from elegantly spare to voluptuously overloaded.

    You can place the toppings in an artistic pattern, or just toss them on.
     
    Ingredients For 2 Chocolate Bars

  • 2 3.5-ounce chocolate bars (Cailler, Green & Black’s, Guittard, Lindt, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Optional: 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped or golden raisins (sultanas)
  • Optional: 1/8 cup pecans halves or pistachio nuts
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Optional: coarse/flaky sea salt or kosher salt (a great use for beautiful Maldon salt or alea red volcanic salt, actually a dark “harvest orange” color), to taste
  • Optional spice: 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 170°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and line with parchment, leaving an overhang on ends.

    2. SPACE the bars on the baking sheet bottom side up, with ample space between them (the pattern normally on top of the bar is on the bottom so the toppings have a level base). Arrange the toppings on top of the bars.

    3. PLACE the baking sheet in the oven for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate just begins to soften. Don’t overheat or the bars will lose their shape.

    4. REMOVE from the oven, lift the parchment from the hot baking sheet and place onto the counter to cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. While bark will last longer, for gifting make it no more than 3 days in advance, and wrap it in plastic or foil before gifting.

    You can also make your own paper chocolate bar label on the computer.
     
    GET READY, GET SET, MAKE YOUR THANKSGIVING CHOCOLATE.

      

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