THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TIP OF THE DAY: National Cupcake Day & Cupcake Recipes

Chocolate Cupcake

A chocolate cupcake from Divvies, a line that is allergen-free.

 

Today is National Cupcake Day, so enjoy a cupcake—in fact, make some with a chocolate “surprise.”

  • Make your favorite cupcake batter.
  • Fill the cupcake liner halfway with batter, then insert a piece of chocolate from your favorite gourmet chocolate bar (the size should be equivalent to a miniature-sized chocolate bar, about 1″ x 3/4″).
  • Then top off the cup 2/3 to 3/4 of the way with batter and bake as instructed. The chocolate bar will melt during the baking process.
  • After you ice the cupcakes, you can add another piece of chocolate to decorate the top.
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    We like to make a chocolate cupcake recipe and using a spicy “Aztec” chocolate bar, like Jacques Torres’ Wicked Way Bar.

    Or, enjoy this recipe for vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

     

     
      

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    NEWS: Jamón Ibérico (Pata Negra) Arrives In The U.S.

    People who have eaten jamón Ibérico (Iberian ham) in Spain have waxed poetic about the artisan dry-cured ham of southwestern Spain that has been called the “Rolls Royce of ham.” But it has not been available in the U.S., because of a USDA concern about the processing conditions. After USDA officials inspected and approved specific facilities in Spain, Santiago Martin of Fermin USA obtained USDA approval two years ago to export the ham to the U.S. and began taking $200 deposits for 15-pound hams that cost $780.00. A wait list of 300 people—restaurants, retailers, and consumer enthusiasts—plunked down their money. Finally, after a 10-year effort to import the product, the first hams have arrived. There are three different types of Jamón Ibérico:

    1) Jamón Ibérico de Pienso, or simply, Jamón Ibérico is made from pigs that are fed only grain. The ham is dry-cured for 24 months. This is the ham that has just arrived. A 9-pound boneless ham is $800.00, or about $89.00 a pound. With bone-in, it drops to just $52.00 a pound (but weighs 15 pounds, hence the $780.00 price tag). This is the ham commonly served at tapas bars (and now you know why those slices are so thin!).

     

     

      Jamon Iberico de Bellota

    Is it worth $96 a pound? Yes—Jamón Ibérico de Bellota has amazing, complex flavor. The good news is, it’s eaten only a few fragile slices at a time, like carpaccio—maybe an ounce’s worth.

    2) Going up a level, Jamón Ibérico de Recebo is made from pigs that are pastured and fed a combination of acorns and grain.

     

    3) The ultimate ham experience—we call it the kobe beef of ham—is Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, made from free-range pigs that roam oak forests along the southern border between Spain and Portugal and eat only acorns (bellota means acorn). The result is meat with a marbling of rich, golden fat. The ham is cured for 36 months—a very long time enabled by the high fat content and the antioxidant quality of the diet. At $96.00 a pound, these $1,400 luxury hams are expected to arrive in July 2008. So if you’re looking for that ultimate holiday gift, you can give the recipient a box of acorns and a card…and you’ve got until July to come up with the cash. The hams are available through LaTienda.com.

    The hams are more popularly known as pata negra, or “black hoof,” a casual name for the Ibérico pig (which is all black). They are the last free-ranging, free-grazing pigs in Europe, roaming the dehesas, the oak forests, of southwestern Spain. For more information about jamón Ibérico, visit FerminIberico.com or get Jamón news at Jamon.com. If you don’t care for the price tag (and we certainly don’t blame you), visit our Pork, Ham & Bacon section for some less costly, yet delicious, hams.

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    RECIPE: Classic Rum Egg Nog

    Egg Nog
    For those counting their calories, Mount Gay
    Eclipse is delicious sipping rum straight up.
      It’s Saturday. If you’re entertaining this weekend and still haven’t come up with that special holiday cocktail, how about that universal favorite, classic egg nog? An American invention based on a European milk-and-wine recipe (Colonials added the rum, a New World spirit, and in the late 19th century, Bourbon), egg nog not only tastes great, it has domestic roots (although unless you live in Kentucky or the Caibbean, it doesn’t count as locavore). Check out the egg nog recipe, courtesy of Mount Gay Eclipse Barbados Rum (a splendid light amber rum you should get to know), and also drink in the egg nog history and trivia. George Washington, a big egg nog fan, added not only rum but rye whiskey (another American invention) to his nog. If you’d like to look at more holiday cocktail recipes, click over to the Cocktails & Spirits section of THE NIBBLE online magazine. If you need a Diet Egg Nog recipe, we’ve got one of those, too, in our Diet Nibbles section.
     

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    PRODUCT WATCH: Pellegrino Organic Olive Oil From Italy

    What do you do when you’re a New York opera singer and your grandparents in Calabria, Italy make beautiful, organic-certified olive oil from the ancestral olive groves? You start The New York Olive Oil Co-Op and distribute the freshly-pressed olive oil to local enthusiasts who sign up for regular deliveries. Of course, it can be purchased by the single bottle or tin as well. Made from the Leccino olive, which is used to make the popular Tuscan olive oils, in this oil from the boot of Italy, grown the strip of coastline, the oil has the perfect gentle touch of pepper—not the cough-inducing quality of many Tuscan oils. We love the green olive aroma, moderate, fruity taste and rich, buttery texture. If you’re still looking for gifts for your gourmet friends, this could be it! It’s a delicious oil for heart-healthy people to drink from the spoon: 22 grams (.78 ounce) of EVOO per day may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Read our full review, and learn all about olive oil in the Oil & Vinegar Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Extra Virgin Olive OilSo good, you can drink it from the spoon.
     

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    PRODUCT WATCH: Kettle Chips 100-Calorie Packs

    Kettle Chips Lightly Salted
    Keep your potato chip snacking under control with Kettle Chips’ 100-calorie packs.
      Starting January 1, Kettle Bakes Lightly Salted Potato Chips will be available in 100-calorie packs, at delis and supermarkets nationwide. The bags contain 18 chips with 65% less fat than regular potato chips. As part of a movement by manufacturers to provide portion-controlled, calorie-limited snacks, the chips are a solution for kids and adults alike. They’re also a top-quality product, made with real potato slices and without artificial ingredients, cholesterol, MSG or trans fats. (In fact, Kettle is the number one brand of natural potato chips). The suggested retail price is $1.09-$1.39 per bag. Kettle’s flavored chips are a favorite at THE NIBBLE (read our article, The Top 5 Flavored Gourmet Potato Chips, in THE NIBBLE online magazine). Every year, the company sponsors a People’s Choice contest to enable customers to vote for the next new flavor. HOLIDAY GIFT ALERT: You can still send someone a holiday gift of a Party Pack of all five “contestant” flavors for just $14.95. Go to BuyKettleChips.com. These are NOT the 100 calorie packs—but it’s not yet January 1st, so party on!

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