By Liz Gutman of Liddabit Sweets
Here are my favorite holiday sweets! All but See’s are locally made; I believe all but Robicelli’s ship countrywide.
1. Fine + Raw – It’s not for everyone, but I love the pure, clear flavors and not-too-sweetness of everything that Fine + Raw makes. I think everything they make is vegan, and it’s all raw; and while I adhere to neither of those dietary philosophies, I’ve recently become physically addicted to their Almond Chunky Bar. It’s a solid little rectangle of smooth, chocolaty, nutty bliss. I stock up every week at the Brooklyn Flea; the Almond Chunky isn’t in their online store, but their equally delightful Coconut & Cacao chunky is.
2. Robicelli’s Cupcakes – Allison and Matt Robicelli make the most interesting (and most delicious) cupcakes this side of…well, anywhere. Crème brûlée, with crunchy caramelly candy bits sprinkled on a delicate vanilla cupcake? Amazing. Rice Pudding, with little bits of chewy rice in the frosting, sprinkled with cinnamon and almond? I don’t even like rice pudding, and I like this cupcake. Chicken & Waffle, topped with a generous piece of maple-y fried chicken? Bitch, please. Hot Buttered Rum, Sweet Potato Pie, Tiramisu…the list goes on and on. Order them for a party to blow everyone away; or do what I do and buy a couple locally to squirrel away during all-night kitchen sessions.
3. See’s Candies – I’m from California, and to me, See’s is the best large-scale chocolate maker in the country. Everything they make is really fresh, and while I don’t love every single flavor they make, there are enough options (plus toffee, peppermint candy, etc) to please anybody. Take my advice: start with the Bordeaux, Scotchmallow, Raspberry Truffle, and Lemon – and go from there. You can build your own box, or buy one beautifully wrapped and ready to go; I think my favorite part of the packaging are the stickers featuring the dour visage of Mary See. That’ll keep you from downing too many at a go.
4. Roni-Sue’s Buttercrunch – I got my start in candymaking at Roni-Sue, and while Rhonda is most well-known for her truffles and Pig Candy (chocolate-covered bacon, which is indeed delectable), her Buttercrunch toffee is unbeatable. The toffee itself literally has three ingredients, but since she uses the best ingredients available and has been making it for decades, it’s unbelievably light and crunchy and rich and buttery and chocolaty and sweet and salty. Get more than you think you need. And pick up a bag for yourself.
5. Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate – I first had this in college, when my mom sent it to me in a care package. I don’t know how he does it, but this hot chocolate is so thick and creamy…it reminds me of hot chocolate they have at the Café Angelina in Paris, where they advertise that it’s thick enough to stand a spoon in. I’ve never tried the Wicked (spicy) version; though I hear good things, I’ve just never gotten past the original. I like to use a candy cane as a swizzle stick for a little minty zing.
As for our own Liddabit sweets, I love the Pecan Pie bar. It’s pie crust, homemade pecan dulce de leche, and bourbon ganache, dipped in dark chocolate. I can’t stop eating ‘em!
Liz Gutman and Jen King of Liddabit Sweets are committed to using as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible to create fresh, delectable, responsibly made sweets for you to enjoy. You can find them at Brooklyn Flea each weekend, and at lots of great shops throughout Brooklyn.