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Giving in all sorts of ways—Including chocolate :)

chocolategifts Giving in all sorts of ways—Including chocolate :)

It’s that time of year again when we think about how to show our love to family and friends and community, especially those in need. What shall we give? I’ve been thinking that gifts don’t necessarily come wrapped in a little box. Though they certainly can!

The gift of time

Some of the most meaningful gifts are gifts of time, which is ENORMOUSLY valuable.

  • We can volunteer, helping in any way that calls to us—visiting elder folks, cooking for people with cancer, reading to children, pitching in to clean up a river, serving meals at a soup kitchen. Good for your community, good for the soul. 

  • We can spend time with someone we love. Hang out and play cards, listen to music together, or read aloud to them if they’re not well. Or make a kitchen date! Make 3 pots of soup and split the proceeds. There’s nothing like laughter to season the soup to perfection. Or duck out to a movie together! Excellent for keeping holiday stress levels in check.

  • We can make something for someone we love. Imagine how much your dear friend would love 2 quarts of soup or a soup assortment! A box of Triple Triple Brittle (see below) all dolled up in a box with ribbon. A certificate for dinner at your house (a favorite of mine in a pinch). Be at my house at_______to be fed! A work of art, a lovingly knit cowl, or a hand-sewn sachet filled with lavender and rose petals fall into this category, too. 

And then there are chocolates.

Wendy Remer Chocolates

It’s often said that a rare combination of experiences can lead to breakthrough creations. Such is the evolution of my friend Wendy Remer and her legendary chocolate. She is a baker and chocolate maker with extraordinary attention to detail. She used to be the owner of a very well-known bakery in Berkeley, CA.  Then she got married and had kids and meandered a little bit...then she had a bit of a health crisis...oh, and on the way, she became a chocolatier!

We’ve known each other for about 18 years. She worked with me on developing desserts and sweet treats for my Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and Longevity Kitchen cookbooks. We brainstormed together and Wendy experimented. We would meet at the bottom of the hill next to a cake store in San Rafael, midway between our houses, and exchange notes and samples.  Like agents passing off secrets at an assignation spot! 

Wendy went to France, learned from the best, came back and started making little chocolate works of art for the Winter holidays and Valentine’s, BEFORE there were 50,000 chocolatiers in California. I would place orders every season. They came in a red box with a ribbon. My friends adored them. One friend hid Wendy’s chocolates from her husband in her nightstand drawer every year, to keep them all to herself. That good. :) 

She went through a health scare and stopped making chocolates for awhile. We were all devastated. Friends wrote me and said, Gosh Rebecca, it’s not that we only like you for the chocolates, but…?

The good news is...drum roll... she’s making chocolate bonbons for the season from Valrhona chocolate and her own organic bean-to-bar chocolate with a high percentage of cacao, infused with herbs and spices, and beautifully crafted, like mini-works of art. She is a chocolate alchemist!  We are talking about haute chocolate here. If you are going to have a special holiday treat—and I highly recommend doing so!—Wendy’s chocolates are a very worthy choice. 

So I am hereby sharing with you, dear reader, and I’ve NEVER shared Wendy before! I want to spread the love this year. :)

Note: Wendy’s is a small batch operation and it’s first come, first served. Order early!

Classic Sweet Treats for DIY Giving (and keeping on hand!)

Chocolate Apricot Date Nut Truffles - Rebecca Katz

For chocolate aficionados, nothing provides a better fix than a truffle. My friend Wendy, an incredible chocolatier, designed these confections from a scrumptious mélange of chocolate, dates, orange zest, and ground nuts, all rolled in coconut. I could tell you that the reason to eat these is because they’re high in protein and phytochemicals, but how ’bout we just call that a nice side benefit of yum! 

Wendy's Wunderbars

A while back, Wendy and I talked about developing a decadent energy bar about as far removed from one of those common cardboard energy bars as we could imagine. But despite its out-of-the-world flavor, this bar isn’t a nutritional nightmare. Dark chocolate, pistachios, almonds, and dates are all healthful in moderation. When you want energy without missing a beat, this bar is the way to go. Yum!

Triple Triple Brittle - Rebecca Katz

This one reminded me of how Edison must’ve felt inventing the lightbulb: it took a lot of tries, but once I hit on the right formula, shazam! I knew we had a winner when I walked into my husband’s office, brittle in hand. He was so deep in thought at his computer screen that he didn’t even see me. I just said, “Gregg . . . open mouth.” In went the brittle, his eyes still glued to the screen. “Gregg . . . close mouth. Chew.” I was halfway down the hall when I finally heard his voice echo off the walls: “This is REALLY good!” A GREAT choice for a sure-to-please DIY gift.

LET’S RETHINK GIVING AROUND WHAT MATTERS MOST: TIME, LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, AND YES, THE VERY OCCASIONAL, VERY SPECIAL SWEET TREET OR ITEM MADE BY AN ARTISAN! AND LET’S NOT FORGET OUR LOCAL FOODBANKS, SUPPORTING COMMUNITY NEIGHBORS IN NEED AND GIVING THANKS THAT WE CAN.

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