It’s been a while, but here’s another list of my favorite finds from the Fancy Food Show. Look for these up-and-comers at a store near you.
Askinosie’s Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
No matter how hard I try, I could never produce this spread at home (even though I have an excellent recipe for a Nutella knockoff). The hazelnuts are a rare variety from Washington, known as DuChillys (pictured). Because of their oblong shape, you might mistake them for almonds. But once you taste their sweet flesh, you won’t forget them. The hazelnut butter, cocoa powder and nibs (from the Philippines), and organic sugar are mixed in a melanger for nine days. It tastes fruity (like raspberry) and is worth every penny. $13 for 6.5 oz, available at askinosie.com.
Comptoir du Cacaco
Comptoir du Cacao, a family-run chocolate factory in France, is finally coming to the states. I first tried their products in 2007, during an otherwise bum year at the Chocolate Show. I’ve been dreaming about them ever since (they weren’t available via mail order). Their signature “flaky pralines” contain nuts and/or caramel that are finely ground with single-origin chocolate. The texture’s like a Kit Kat to the nth degree. I also love the “little crusties,” which come in dark chocolate with candied oranges, chocolate-hazelnut with salted butter caramel, and white chocolate with coconut. Visit comptoircacao.com for more info.
Zingerman’s Candy Bars
Zingerman’s, the famed specialty-foods store in Ann Arbor, Mich., has made candy bars for several years, but they started their dedicated candy business a year ago (which means wider distribution). Each bar is made when it’s ordered, and stores can only display them for 60 days. The freshness, as well as the high quality ingredients (Valrhona chocolate, for instance), is evident when you taste the bars. The Zzang Original is what a Snickers was meant to be: crunchy nuts, soft nougat, and not too sweet. About $7 each, available at specialty stores and zingermans.com.
La Tourangelle Oil
This California-based company makes some of the most intensely flavored oils I’ve tried. I wouldn’t recommend baking with them (the heat will destroy the delicate flavor), but try using it in homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread, or drizzling it on vanilla ice cream. My favorites are the pecan and sesame oils (custom made from Japan, and the seeds are roasted at a low temp so they don’t burn). From $8.99 for 8.5 oz, available at specialty stores; latourangelle.com.
Talk about a conversation killer. Just say the words “raw” and “vegan,” and people will run away from you. But wait, I promise this tastes just as good as traditional ice cream. I asked them how in the world they get it smooth instead of grainy, and they aren’t talking. All I know is that they use cashews, coconut, agave nectar, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, salt, and other ingredients based on the flavor. The company is truly eco conscious, making carbon neutral and compostable packaging. Available at specialty stores in New York; rawicecream.com.