For the last couple of months, I’ve been hoarding special sweets & treats underground like a duteous squirrel. (All credit for that simile of perfection is due to former Chocolate Lady Duff!) At any moment, while in the basement, trying to fit one more case on my chocolate shelves, I expect the Russian folk tune “Korobeiniki” to start playing; perhaps you know it by its more common name, “Music A” from Tetris. Hoarding is only half the fun, however. The other half – the more fun half – is sharing all that’s been hoarded.
Below you will find ten of my favorites this holiday season – but I cannot emphasize enough that this list is only a teensy percentage of everything we have to offer! Let the list whet your appetite and get those wheels in your head turning. Come on in to the Next Door to find these items, as well as others that have excited staff, instigating choral-like “oohs” and “ahhhs.” We’re eager and prepared to help you find something to delight everyone on your lists.
1. Chocolat Moderne’s Cocoa Casbah
The Deli staff has heard me murmuring about this cocoa line for a few months now and I am ecstatic to finally have it on the shelves. The entire suite features Valrhona chocolate, with cacao contents in excess of 70%, and with a bit of milk, you’ve got a silky smooth potion on your hands. For the Purists, look no further than Midnight Oasis. For the Explorers, we have Snake Charmer (my favorite! cocoa with cinnamon & anise; try it with a shot of ouzo for an “after hours” delight), as well as a flavor Joan formulated especially for Zingerman’s called Mayan Eyes (smokey chiles & warm spices with a spicy kick that will heat you up from head to toe!). Mayan Eyes will be in house very soon! Please email me (mmillerzingermanscom (mmillerzingermanscom) ) to be notified when it arrives.
2. Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory Zzang! Bars
The quintessential stocking stuffer for the candy bar muncher in your life. Charlie Frank takes us back 100 years with his made-to-order combination bars, featuring handmade caramels, nougats, and butter-toasted nuts produced from the best ingredients available. My favorite is the crunchy, salty, sweet Ca$hew Cow. Want to go big this holiday season? In addition to the individual bars and mini-Zzang! bags, we’ll have festively-packaged Giant Original Zzangs! 13 glorious inches of peanuts, peanut butter nougat, and caramel dipped in dark chocolate. A guaranteed smile generator.
3. Barbero Blowout! – Traditional Italian Nougat
This not-too-sweet treat comes to us from Asti, which sits in the Piedmont (hazelnuts, hazelnuts!) region of Northern Italy. Perfectly roasted nuts suspended in an ethereal, exquisitely crisp, egg white and honey pillow, packaged in graphically stunning metal tins. Forget visions of sugarplums, this is what dances in my head. We’re stocking large, white tins of traditional torrone, as well as miniature tins of individually wrapped pieces – in pink (traditional torrone) & green (chocolate covered torrone). Available this holiday season at “offer you can’t refuse” prices!
4. Taza Mexicano Collection (arriving very, very soon!)
In a pinch? This item makes a great “right-off-the-shelf” gift! Inside each box, you’ll find one of each of the stone-ground, direct trade Mexicanos (“hockey puck-esque” chocolate bars) we sell – cinnamon, vanilla, and guajillo chili. This chocolate’s minimal processing makes for a highly aromatic treat and fun texture full of crunchy sugar crystals. Eat ‘em as is or chop them up and melt into hot milk for a yummy cocoa.
5. Askinosie Chocolate’s Peppermint Bark
We have 25 pounds of this artisanal, “bean to (peppermint) bar(k),” handmade in Springfield, Missouri, ready to find a final resting place in someone’s tummy! We’re bagging it ourselves this year, to ensure even more people get to enjoy such a fantastic product. The slabs of single-origin dark chocolate, buttery white chocolate, and all-natural, crushed peppermint from Denver’s Hammond’s Candies* look like a fantasy winter landscape, begging to be nibbled at alongside a cup of soul-warming hot cocoa. *Double up on your peppermint kick with a Hammond’s Candy Cane!
6. Custom Truffle Boxes
The Next Door truffle case is happily bursting at its seams! Surprise a loved one with a unique box of truffles, bon bons, and caramels selected from our diverse offerings from near and far, from traditional to wild. You’ll find Next Door staff at the ready to help you craft the perfect box of treats (Psst! This is one of our favorite tasks!). Here’s the tip of the iceberg: Chocolate Covered Amarena Cherries from Chocolat Moderne; Costa Rican Peppercorn from Sweet Gem Confections; Lemon Basil from Chocolate in Chelsea; Mayan Caramels from Grocer’s Daughter. Now come in and see the rest!
7. Pralus Chocolate Covered Nuts
In Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 1, Ari writes about the problem with designing a business from the outside-in; I find that the same is often true for products where energy goes into the packaging before it goes into the actual product. That in mind, imagine my glee upon sighting cubes, sporting Pralus’ stunning signature stripes, filled with delicious chocolate covered nuts at the Summer Fancy Food Show. Perfectly crunchy nuts, dipped in chocolate & dusted with cocoa powder. This is candy for the eyes and the tummy!
8. Guido Gobino Gianduja Spread
Nutella fiend in your life? Look no further than this chocolate-hazelnut spread from Turin, Italy – a hotbed of Piedmont hazelnuts! The company, which grew out of a Bon Bon & Chocolate Production Laboratory established in the 1940s, hand-selects and roasts only the best of the best nuts, which make up a whopping 35% of the gianduja’s weight. Silky smooth on the tongue, creamy (yet not cloying) milk chocolate, and a long nutty finish.
9. Pralus Chocolate Pyramids
These stacks of chocolate from Francois Pralus in Roanne, France are a fantastic way to showcase the variety of flavors and aromas offered by the wide world of chocolate. Because each bar is a consistent 75% cacao, the collections illustrate how bean variety and origin, not just the percentage of cacao, play a huge role in our experience of chocolate. Taste your way from Ecuador (espresso! toast!) to Madagascar (red berries! jam!). The Mini Pyramids make perfect stocking stuffers, while the Organic Short Stacks are a veritable chocolate force to be reckoned with!
10. Chocolate Connoisseur Bundle
Shopping for the chocoholic on your list? Here’s a fun holiday bundle: buy any two chocolate bars and for $1, we’ll include a copy of Chloe Doutre-Roussel’s The Chocolate Connoisseur. Part memoir, part guide – this easy read is sure to charm the chocolate minded. Some of my suggested bar bundles:
- Coffee Buzz! Patric Chocolate’s Mocha OMG & Cappuccino OMG bars;
- Tex-Mex Dreams! Chocolat Moderne’s Chipotle Moderne & Lime Moderne bars;
- Milk Madness! Michel Cluizel’s 45% Lait & Pralus’ Melissa bars.
Thanks so much for reading! Stay tuned for one more Chocolate News & Notes in 2011; I’ll be highlighting a few more treats including my personal favorites as well as some exciting imports!
Also, hurry in to the Deli to take advantage of the Bonajuto Sicilian Stone-Ground Chocolate (2 for $15.99 [reg. $9.99 ea.]) & Ravera Chocolate Torrone ($15.99 [reg. $17.99 ea]) deals while they’re still available!
Yours in Chocolate,