2014 Gift Guide: Hung By the Chimney With Care: Stuff For the Stockings

Christmas_Stockings_1You’ve got everyone else in the house nestled all snug in their beds, maybe with visions of sugarplums in their heads.

Or maybe theirs is a deep and dreamless sleep while silent stars roll by.

Once the house quiets down on Christmas Eve, perhaps it falls to you to make sure that wonderful little surprises make their way into the family’s stockings, hung by the chimney with such care.

The best stocking stuffers are the ones that are real surprises — unexpected treats, little luxurious somethings that are small enough to slip into a stocking.

Stuff for stockings. Here are ten novel (and delicious) ideas to fill your family’s stockings.

Organic, fair-trade cacao nibs
Organic, fair-trade cacao nibs

1.  Start the morning right. A jar or packet of organic Cafe Blend Hot Chocolate ($5.85/jar, $4.80/bag) makes a lovely surprise in a stocking, and is a treat the recipient can use right away on Christmas morning. Just blend with warm milk, and enjoy the liquid chocolatey goodness.

2.  For a grown-up alternative to the chocolate-marshmallow Santa, how about a 4oz bag of organic, fair-trade Cacao Nibs? ($9.50) Cacao nibs (perfectly roasted cocoa beans, separated from their husks and broken into small bits) taste of the essence of chocolate — dark chocolate lovers will especially like the rich flavor of cacao nibs.

3.  Have a little elf or fairy in your life who loves all things that sparkle? Silver Sanding Sugar ($3.35 and $4.75) puts the shine on everything from dessert (brownies and cookies) to breakfast oatmeal and pancakes. Way more tasty than glitter, and way less messy, too.

4 – 5 – 6.  Young chef wannabes (and full-grown loved ones with a youthful sweet tooth) will love getting to “fix” their breakfasts, teas and desserts with their own little jars of Maple Sugar Powder ($4.70 and $6.35), Granulated Honey ($2.90 and $3.75), and Cinnamon Sugar ($3.30 and $5.45).

Make a custom gift box of our range of vanillas, sourced from around the globe.
Make a custom gift box of our range of vanillas, sourced from around the globe.

7 – 8.  For the member of the household who loves to bake, we recommend little stocking stuffers of the fanciest, most prized kinds of cinnamon and vanilla:

  • Sri Lanka cinnamon ($3.55 and $6.00) has a light, delicate flavor that make it the preferred cinnamon in European and Mexican cuisine. It is not as spicy or “sharp” as cassia (Korintje) cinnamon. A staple in any pastry chef’s pantry.
  • We stock and sell (and use and love) several varieties of vanilla (in bean, extract, paste, and powder format), but Tahitian vanilla extract ($8.25 and $14.40) has a sweet, flowery essence that marries well with fruits, and is a wonderful dominant flavor in custard and creams. Produced in limited quantities, Tahitian vanilla extract is the preferred vanilla of many discerning pastry chefs.

9.  A pinch of crunchy salt brings out the best in sweet dishes, and conversely, a pinch of sweetness unlocks hidden depths of flavor in a savory dish. You’ll find the “magic key” to both sweet and savory in a jar of Vanilla Salt ($5.80 and $8.95). Use some to rim the glass of a chocolate-tini for a really special grown-up Christmas treat.

10.  Smoked Bacon Salt ($8 and $12), which we like to sprinkle on pretty much everything that we don’t sprinkle Cinnamon Sugar on.  As Chef Amy put it: “Guys, it tastes like BACON – put it on everything.”Two more quick ideas, to fill those stockings to the brim:

Olive (not the other reindeer). How about a bottle of one of our olive oils? Give a favorite single-varietal olive oil (like Arbequina EVOO), a flavored olive oil (like Blood Orange OO), or for something completely different, give a bottle of our new Roasted Almond Oil or decadent Black Truffle Oil.

It’s getting chile in here. Put some heat in your wintry Christmas day with a little jar of one of our many varieties of chile pepper. We have a broad range from which to choose, from fruity and flavorful chiles like the Maras chile or Aleppo pepper, to fiery and fierce Ghost chiles and Scorpion peppers, with more than a dozen other varieties in between.