Tasty Holiday Gifts
Still looking for the perfect something for your favorite someone? Here are a few delicious options worth considering, each of which I recently had a chance to sample.
Black Box Dessert Club
This dessert of the month club delivers artisan sweets and pastries right to your front door each month, all wrapped up in a nifty, hinged black box.
Yeah, who wouldn’t want to belong to club like that, huh?
Black Box Dessert Club, which delivers nationwide, was started by Letitia Elizabeth, a former Haute Living editor. She and her crew have scoured the country for impeccable treats made by gourmet producers in small batches with all-natural ingredients.
Subscriptions are available for two, three, six or 12 months, ranging in size and price from $45 per month for the petite box (includes four goodies such as German Chocolate Brownies by Blissful Brownies) to $85 per month for the grand box (includes six to eight items such as berry linzer tarts by EatSweetAlways). There’s also a customized box option for $95 per month.
Hearing of my fondness for ginger, Elizabeth packed my sample grand box with half a dozen goodies, including a bottle of Ginger Syrup from Morris Kitchen, Chocolate Gingersnaps from Whimsy & Spice, and a Liddabit Pecan Pie Bar.
It’s a perfect gift for moms, friends — and yourself. Best yet, if you live in the San Francisco or Los Angeles area, the company will be opening up local pick-up locations in those cities in 2012, so you can save on shipping costs.
New Recchiuti Chocolate Bars
These new bars from premier San Francisco chocolate confectionery, Recchiuti, are sure to put a smile on the face of any chocoholic.
Made with Valrhona milk and dark chocolates, these eight bars are scored into tile-like pieces and are imprinted with images from chocolatier Michael Recchiuti’s sketchbooks. Whether you enjoy your chocolate straight (such as in the “B” for “Bittersweet” bar with floral notes) or adorned (such as in the “H” for “Hazelnut” bar of milk chocolate and burnt caramel-enrobed Oregon hazelnuts), there’s a bar for you.
Of the samples I tried, I was particularly partial to the “sN” for “Sesame Nougatine” bar of dark milk chocolate and darkly toasted white sesame seeds; and the “O” for “Orchard” bar of semisweet chocolate and a cornucopia of mulberries, black currants, burnt caramel almonds and a pinch of fleur de sel.
La Boulange’s Cookies and Confitures
San Francisco’s La Boulange Cafe & Bakery has come up with a new San Francisco treat by reinterpreting the classic French macaron. Its new Macarons de San Francisco are delightfully light and chewy, and made with not only traditional ground almonds, but also hazelnuts.
A box of a dozen Macarons de San Francisco is $5.95.
There’s also a new line of confitures, with each jam and sauce prepared in small batches in copper pots. Choose from Hazelnut Jam, Soft Caramel Sauce, Strawberry, Apricot with Vanilla Bean, and Raspberry with Violet ($4.95 to $5.95).
They’re ideal for stocking stuffers or gift baskets.
Brix Chocolates to Pair with Wines
Brix is a line of chocolates specifically designed to complement various wines — and it was developed by Dr. Nick Proia, an Ohio pulmonologist. Yes, you read that correctly. An expert in respiratory ailments has, uh, breathed new life into the pairing of wine and chocolate.
Proia, who likes to imbibe with his colleagues, set out to develop chocolates to enjoy with the experience.
The result is four bars: Brix Milk Chocolate for lighter reds such as Pinot Noir and dessert wines; Brix Smooth Dark Chocolate to pair with Champagne and slightly sweet whites such as Riesling; Brix Medium Dark Chocolate to complement Merlot, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Zinfandel; and Brix Extra Dark for the fullest wines such as Barolo and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The bars are a weighty 8-ounces each. Brick-like in heft, they’re a little unwieldy to share. But Proia designed them to be fractured into disparate pieces, much like a hard cheese.
A three-bar pack is $38.95 to enjoy at your next gathering.
For Milk Chocolate Lovers
Yes, I know there are a few out there who haven’t crossed over to the dark side yet.
For them, San Francisco’s TCHO has made two fantastic organic SeriousMilk chocolate bars: “Classic” and “Cacao.”
It’s mind-blowing trying them side-by-side because they are so different. The “Classic” has a sweet, caramel-toffee-like note, while the “Cacao” tastes like an old-fashioned, creamy fudgesicle.
Even dark chocolate lovers will be tempted to switch teams temporarily to enjoy these bars made by San Francisco’s only bean-to-bar chocolatier.
A two-pack of 58g bars (one of each type of milk chocolate) is $10.95.