Holiday Gift Guide: Sweet Treats, Coffee, and Tea

December 2, 2015 5:55 pm Last Updated: December 8, 2015 6:32 pm
(Courtesy of Truffle Shots)
(Courtesy of Truffle Shots)

Truffle Shots

If you know a chocolate fiend who loves eating silky smooth ganache, Truffle Shots are the ultimate gift. Created by a mother-daughter duo in Essex, Connecticut, these non-alcoholic treats are essentially the creamy filling without the chocolate shell, served instead in tall shot glasses.

The decadent, melt-in-your-mouth treats come in creative flavors, like the award-winning Caramel Beurre Noisette, made with dark chocolate ganache and a sea-salt-and-brown-butter caramel that provides an intensely nutty flavor; Tellicherry Cardamom, a magical combination of spicy, fragrant, and sweet; Cassis, with a tart, fruity black currant gelée; and Flowers of Sicily, with a vanilla and citrus-flavored white chocolate ganache reminiscent of orange creamsicles. Don’t forget the Signature Dark for a classic dark chocolate that’s just the right balance of bitter and sweet.

Because each shot is made fresh to order, they are meant to be consumed within a couple of days. Make sure to schedule your purchase accordingly.

Shots $7.50–$9.50, truffleshots.com

Raspberry Rose Truffles from Chocolopolis. (Jackie Donnelly Baisa)
Raspberry Rose Truffles from Chocolopolis. (Jackie Donnelly Baisa)

Exquisite Truffles

These beautiful handmade truffles impress with not only their exquisite designs, but also their delicate flavors, evocative of eating luscious cakes. Flavors range from the floral Raspberry Rose and Lemon Lavender truffle, to the dense, yet complex Dominican Republic truffle.

Chocolopolis’s truffles, made with single-origin chocolate, won acclaim at the International Chocolate Awards. Get the Champions Box for a taste of all the winning bonbons (set of 5, $11.99), or to really treat the chocolate lover in your life, get the Assorted Premium Truffle Box for a selection of 16 ($39.99).

Assorted boxes $11.99–$44.99, shop.chocolopolis.com

(Francesco Sapienza for Eataly)
(Francesco Sapienza for Eataly)

Panettone

Panettone is a traditional holiday cake from Italy, festively wrapped to become a perfect Christmas present. Once you open it, the fragrance of candied fruits and fluffy dough envelops you. At G. Cova & C., a Milan-based company operating since 1930, the tall cake is made with natural yeast and takes at least 30 hours to rise, allowing it to reach maximum fluff. The cake’s lovely texture will have you reaching for a cup of coffee, tea, or dessert wine.

Cova’s panettone cakes also come in flavors like cherry; almonds and glazed sugar; and dark chocolate and candied orange peels.

Cakes $12.60–$26.80, available at eataly.com

(Courtesy of Levain)
(Courtesy of Levain)

Finger-Lickin’ Good Cookies

How does Levain make its cookies so impossibly gooey and chewy while still ensuring the batter is fully baked? One may never know, but we’re glad that Levain is here to lift the American chocolate chip cookie to even greater heights. Levain sells assorted gift packages that include classic cookie flavors: chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and dark chocolate peanut butter chip.

Packages $27–$71, levainbakery.com

(Courtesy of Unna)
(Courtesy of Unna)

Swedish Treats

The Swedes are known for their considerable sweet tooth, consuming the most candy per capita in the world. Unna Bakery in Harlem bakes traditional Swedish cookies in small batches, so they’re are always fresh and never greasy.

During the holidays, gingersnaps are a must-eat. Unna’s version is crunchy, peppered with almond bits, and only slightly gingery, making it all too easy to keep munching on them. Another treat is the raspberry cave cookie, featuring buttery dough and fresh raspberry jam in the center. Unlike most jam cookies, these don’t have any of that artificial fruit taste.

Raspberry cave box $8, ginger snaps box $10

unnabakery.com

(Courtesy of Valrhona)
(Courtesy of Valrhona)

Learn From the Masters

Valrhona is loved by pastry chefs who use the company’s high-quality, bean-to-bar chocolate to make their confections. In April, the company opened its first U.S. patisserie school in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where it is now offering pastry-making classes to the public.

Consider gifting a spot in one of Valrhona’s half-day workshops to your sweet treat-loving friend. Classes are taught by top pastry chefs and limited to 12 people or less. Choose from sessions on making holiday yule log cakes, American bakery classics (brownies, chocolate layer cakes), macarons and petits fours, and Valentine’s Day treats.

Classes $159 per person, valrhona-chocolate.com

(Courtesy of Nobletree)
(Courtesy of Nobletree)

From Seed to Sip

Coffee connoisseurs know that great coffee is best enjoyed unadulterated; without added milk or sugar, the flavors of the beans sing with the natural qualities of its terroir. Nobletree Coffee, a Brooklyn-based company, grows and harvests beans from their own farm in Ouro Fino, Brazil, allowing them to control every step of the production process. The resulting coffee is clean and complex, with intriguing notes of fruits and nuts, never registering as bitter.

Nobletree CEO John Moore explained that the company’s goal is to capture the entire landscape in the coffee’s flavors. “One of the really fun, exciting things about coffee is that it gives you a unique way to taste a place, a people, a foreign—and oftentimes exotic—environment,” he said. Nobletree’s staff selects the seeds, then plants, harvests, roasts, and packages them.

“If we could, we would literally grab you, throw you on a plane, take you down to Brazil with us, take you on a car down the dirt roads, through the farm gates, and have you picking and processing the coffee personally. Short of that experience, this is about as close as you can get,” he added.

For the first time, Nobletree is selling exclusive gift sets at Williams-Sonoma’s online store. Get the Cup of Excellence Gift Box, with Nobletree’s Cup of Excellence award-winning beans, for the coffee lover who only wants the best of the best. For those who are adventurous, get the Pour-over Collection, with three different types of single-origin coffee beans to try. And those who want variations on a beautiful roast will be happily satisfied with the Farm Collection, with roasted, decaf, and espresso beans grown from Nobletree’s farm.

Gift boxes & collections $59.95–$99.95, nobletreecoffee.com, available at williams-sonoma.com

(Courtesy of Palais des Thes)
(Courtesy of Palais des Thes)

Holiday in a Cup

With its Thé No. 25 collection, Palais des Thés offers a holiday cup that is all comfort. Cozy up with loved ones as you sip a blend perfumed with orange peel, red rose petals, almonds, cloves, vanilla, and other spices. It’s available with a base of black tea, green tea, white tea, or rooibos, or in a caffeine-free infusion—we recommend the black tea. It’s fragrant and citrusy with a hint of spices, but delicate at the same time. The fruit or spices never overwhelm as holiday teas sometimes can ($21 for a 3.5-ounce tin). For something caffeine-free, try the Festive Garden tea. The color is a beautiful light rose, and the fragrance of cocoa is enticing; as you sip, the flavors finish on lightly citrusy and floral notes, from the hibiscus and citrus peels ($27 for a 3.5-ounce tin).

palaisdesthes.com

(Pierre Monetta)
(Benoit’s Buche de Noel. Pierre Monetta)

Bûche de Noël

If you’re in charge of bringing dessert to a holiday meal, impress the guests with a Bûche de Noël (or yule log), the traditional holiday dessert in France. Yes, it is basically a chocolate roll, but with all manner of embellishments.

Many patisseries have their own version of the classic treat. Benoit’s pastry chef Jean-Loup Teterel makes his bûche with a four-spice biscuit, praline feuilletine, chocolate mousse, nibs, orange marmalade, praline glaze, and chocolate shavings—something of a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. Available through Dec. 25.

Cakes $40, benoitny.com