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the sweet scoop
the sweet scoop
The best way to your Valentine’s heart may not be through fancy gifts or flowers… but through their stomach. Sharing an indulgent, edible gift with the person you love can be the most utterly romantic experience. Here, some of my favorite food finds to set hearts aflutter and make that special someone swoon.
Macaron Magnifique French Macarons
In August 2012, celebrity stylist Lauren Rae Levy and her father Marvin established their Parisian macaron company, Macaron Magnifique. Handmade and completely gluten-free, these delicate French confections come in scrumptious flavors including raspberry, chocolate, pistachio, and cheesecake. Customize a special box of the sweets (available in various sizes/prices) to make your Valentine fall in love at first bite. Ooh la la! MacaronMagnifique.com
William Greenberg Petits Fours
This darling Upper East Side bakery features a divine assortment of desserts and speciality sweets for every occasion. A Valentine’s Day exclusive from owner Carol Becker, these oh-so pretty Petits Fours feature layers of fluffy sponge cake and fresh jam enrobed in frosting and hand decorated with delicate flower adornments. Available in large ($6) or small sizes ($3.50; $42 / box of 12), these beautifully tempting treats are sure to delight your sweetheart. WMGreenbergDesserts.com
Mast Brothers Artisan Chocolate Bars
At their artisanal chocolate factory in Brooklyn, brothers Rick and Michael Mast churn out small batch bars made with cocoa beans sourced from farms around the world—including Madagascar, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. Wrapped in beautifully patterned, imported Italian paper, these handcrafted confections ($8 each) boast sophisticated, high-quality ingredients like Maine sea salt, Crown maple syrup, and Stumptown coffee. MastBrothers.com
Murray’s Cheese Gift of the Mongers
If your significant other prefers savory to sweet, then feast your eyes on the ultimate cheese and charcuterie collection ($148) curated by Murray’s mongers. Shipped in a signature Murray’s Cheese crate, this bountiful assortment of gourmet delicacies includes Vermont Butter & Cheese Coupole, Colston Bassett Stilton, La Quercia Prosciutto, Cave Aged Pyrénées Brebis, Creminelli Tartufo Salami, and Harvest Song Walnut Preserves. MurraysCheese.com
Jacques Torres Champagne Truffles
Champagne and chocolate. An indulgent culinary combination that Mr. Chocolate himself, Jacques Torres, showcases in his beloved bubbly truffles. Inside the signature orange gift box, your Valentine will discover cute, cork-shaped candies made from mouth-watering milk chocolate, fresh cream, and real Taittinger Brut La Française Champagne. Cheers to that! MrChocolate.com
KitchenAid® Artisan® Series Stand Mixer
Valentine’s Day is all about love. And no other appliance has made me fall head over heels like my red KitchenAid® stand mixer. The stylish, high-performance beauty makes whipping, kneading, and blending ingredients a breeze. In striking colors like Candy Apply Red, Raspberry Ice, and Komen Pink, this dream machine (available in various sizes/prices) is the perfect “I love you” gift for home cooks of all skill levels. KitchenAid.com
Eataly Ultimate Italy Gift Box
Manhattan’s massive Italian food emporium offers a selection of premium gift boxes packed with gourmet goodies and signature products. A serious splurge to spoil the Italian food lover in your life ($498), this exceptional collection of rare and authentic imports includes white truffle purée, extra-aged balsamic, La Valletta saffron threads, anchovy colatura, and gianduja candies from Torino. Eataly.com
Prestat Fine Artisan Truffles
One of the top chocolate shops in the world, this London import epitomizes sophistication in both flavor and presentation. The exquisite heart-shaped gift box (available in various sizes/prices) presents distinctive dark, milk, and white chocolate artisan truffles in an array of fine flavors, including classic rose and violet crème. If these decadent delights are good enough for Her Majesty (the Queen of England’s favorite chocolate!), then your princess will surely approve. Prestat.co.uk
Happy Valentine’s Day, my loves! XOXO
Images courtesy of Macaron Magnifique, Mast Brothers, Murray’s Cheese, Jacques Torres, Eataly, KitchenAid USA & Prestat
New Orleans is world-famous for its savory cuisine — a unique combination of Creole, Cajun and French flavors that produce the city’s indigenous culinary landscape.
Yet over the past several years, the Big Easy has been gaining recognition for the sweeter side of things. More and more New Orleans restaurants are employing acclaimed pastry chefs, who are elevating the level and quality of desserts across town. There’s been an emergence of local sweet shops and pastry boutiques that offer far more than pralines and pecan pie. And just last week, The Big Gateaux Show brought world-renowned pastry chefs together for a theatrical cake competition and tasting to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience.
One of the pioneers of the city’s pastry movement is Tariq Hanna, the celebrated chef-owner of Sucré. Upon visiting New Orleans several years ago, Tariq noticed that the local dessert scene was somewhat uninspired. “It was the same four desserts everywhere.” Tariq mentioned, “Bananas Foster, beignets, pralines and bread pudding.” Determined to bring something new to NoLa’s dining culture, Tariq opened Sucré in 2007 — a bright, inviting sweets haven in the Garden District that specializes in exciting, handcrafted desserts and confections that weren’t typically found in area restaurants at the time.
While in New Orleans last week, I had the pleasure of joining Tariq at the oh-so-charming Sucré to delight in some of his signature delicacies. Feast your eyes on the striking array of French macarons, fine chocolates, handmade marshmallows, decadent desserts, cupcakes, gelato & more featured in the gallery below.
After a generous sampling from Sucré and several other indulgent creations from Zak Miller (Coquette), Kelly Fields (August) and Phillip Lopez (Root), N’awlins officially put me in a sugar-filled state of bliss. Clearly, a new desserts standard has been set in this city and it was thrilling to witness so many restaurants stepping up their game. Afterall, there’s no better way to cap off all that savory cuisine than with a sweet finish. Or a few.
For more sweet inspiration, check out this clip to see what Tariq Hanna has to say about Sucré and find out which New Orleans treats chefs John Besh, Johnny Iuzzini, Ron Ben-Israel & more can’t get enough of.
Filmed during the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience at the The Big Gateaux Show event and throughout the weekend festivities. Learn more about New Orleans pastry culture in this great article on Nola.com.
Stay sweet New Orleans!
Impress guests this holiday season with flavorful, easy-to-make Bourbon Balls. These sweet and chewy, no-bake confection will have dessert lovers (and especially bourbon fans) swooning. Get creative with tasty toppings—colored sprinkles, granulated sugar, chopped nuts, melting chocolate—for a box of bourbon-flavored beauties that’s perfect for gift giving. Now, grab a bottle of your favorite Kentucky whiskey and get rollin’!
Holiday Bourbon Balls (makes about 4 dozen bourbon balls)
Recipe adapted from the Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookies E-Book