Chocolate anise and chocolates

If licorice conjures memories of movie theaters and popcorn, then turn your thoughts to the dark side. The distinctive flavor of black licorice is usually associated with chewy candy, but there’s so much more to it. Salted licorice offers a satisfying chew that’s part savory, part sweet. Anise seeds have an earthy, almost spicy character. Fennel gives two more options: Raw, it has a crisp, bright taste and cooking brings out its syrupy sweetness. Star anise makes for a pretty garnish, but it also has a delicate sweetness. And tarragon’s subtle licorice flavor is tempered with herbaceous notes.

Given the versatility of licorice flavors, it’s a prime candidate for combining with chocolate. It can be tricky to pair the right type of licorice flavor with the right type of chocolate, but in the hands of these three chocolate companies, the results are something to savor. MORE

Chocolate TM_CH_PEANT_FI_001

Peanuts get a bad rap these days, from outright bans at schools to bags of Halloween candy proudly declaring their peanut deficiency. But when I was a kid, the more peanuts, the better. I present for your deliberation: Mars versus Snickers. Mars bar? Cloyingly sweet with an oddly slick texture. Snickers bar? Caramelly, chewy, and delicious—and stuffed with peanuts. I rest my case.

If peanuts are good, then peanuts and chocolate is better. There’s a reason that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have endured since 1928, and it isn’t because my college roommate used to—and probably still does—eat them compulsively. MORE

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A Feast of Gift Ideas

Something for all the food (and drink) lovers on your list

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With Thanksgiving now firmly behind us, the season of frenetic holiday shopping now begins. Between co-workers, neighbors, teachers, and family members, it seems like the list grows longer every year. I am happy to help!

No matter what stripe of eater or drinker for whom you’re shopping, I think I’ve found something they just might enjoy. Here are some of my favorite food-related giftables for the 2012 holiday season.
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Move Over, Pumpkin

A buffet of chai-spiced flavors to get you in the mood for fall

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This time of year, the world goes mad for pumpkin. It’s everywhere you look, from your local coffee shops and bakeries, to every supermarket, gas station and drug store. (Pumpkin scented hand lotion, anyone?)

While some of us welcome the barrage, not everyone is so excited by edible orange-fleshed gourds. For those of you who like all those warm winter spices but can do without the side of cucurbit, here’s an idea. Avoid the pumpkin and opt for chai-infused things instead. You get all those lovely notes of cinnamon, ginger and clove, without even a hint of that orange puree. Here are five products that hit the chai nail on the head. MORE