This time of year, we think about finding the perfect gifts for our friends and family. I tend to think that good chocolate is a perfect gift for anyone. But with so many wonderful products and superb chocolate makers to choose from, how does one match the person to the chocolate. Here are some of my thoughts, gathered from lots of experience helping my customers tackle this very enjoyable challenge!
For the Purist:
Is your chocolate lover a purist (meaning they like simple chocolate, with nothing in it like nuts, fruit, etc.)? For the purist, a fun chocolate gift would be a sampling of origin bars, where the cocoa to make the chocolate comes from different single country. Look for chocolate bars that advertise the cocoa comes from Venezuela, Madagascar, the Philippines, Ecuador, etc. You can also find origin bars in different cocoa percentages; 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, etc. By getting a few bars with different percentages and from different origins, you can give that person a nice, fun personally curated tasting kit. They will experience different percentages as well as explore the unique flavors and undertones of cocoa bean varieties and origins. Each bean variety (chuao, trinitario, etc.)
For the the Thrill Seeker:
Is your chocolate lover is an adventurous eater? You might want to find some chocolate bars with different spices and flavors. How about a chocolate bar that is infused with Lemongrass? A bar that has spices in it like cinnamon or chili peppers? Maybe a bar with bacon. For the adventuress eater, finding chocolate with different flavor combinations will lead to a culinary journey of discovery.
For your Host:
Are you going somewhere and want to bring a gift to the host? Bring something that your the host can put on a plate and share. A perfect gift would be a box of classic truffles, a bag of chocolate covered almonds, a box of caramels coated in chocolate. If you are visiting a family, throw in a tin of hot chocolate.
Salt and Chocolate - A Classic Combination:
And how about the person that loves the salt and chocolate combination? There are so many wonderful chocolate bars and treats that combine salt with the chocolate. You can look for caramels coated in dark chocolate sprinkled with different salts, or bars that have salt blended in. Some even have cocoa nibs crumbled into the bar, so you get the creaminess of the chocolate, the crunch of the cocoa nibs and the burst of salt.
Any of the options above will show that you've put a lot of thought into your gift.....and kept your chocolate lover loving chocolate!
The other day, someone asked me, "what happens if you grind up cocoa nibs and use them in the espresso machine?" Today was the day to see what would indeed happen. I ground up a tin of Taza Cacao Nibs with my spice grinder until they were about the consistency of espresso. I put the grind into the espresso machine's filter and hit the start button. As the pressurized water passed through the nibs the kitchen was filled with a beautiful earthy and clean smell from the cacao, perfect for a crisp Spring morning. The beverage itself was fruity, earthy and very different.
Next - cacao nibs mixed with espresso coffee! I put some of the ground cocoa nibs into the filter along with some of the Italian Espresso and hit the start button again. The result was a deep, rich, dark colored liquid. I then steamed and frothed my milk, poured it in and had a sip. What a heavenly taste. The richness of the coffee with the earthiness and slight fruity undertones of the cacao nibs was just the thing! What a great way to start the morning.
We will definitely be having this often! Susan