Vegan chocolates are not usually our go-to items for a sweet fix, mainly due to their texture and mouthfeel. However, the goodies from Obsession Confection Disorder, a one-woman East Bay outfit run by Melodi Brooke Donahue, are as smooth and pleasing as their non-vegan counterparts -- so much so that our butter and cream loving mom was cooing and asking for seconds. For stocking stuffers, there are shareable items like the Ruthless Mama ($12), which blends crunchy peanuts and vanilla bean caramel or an order of PB&G ($6), a nice peanut butter and ganache update on those other peanut butter cups.
For the baker who wants more in a collectible format, there's the new Tartine Book No. 3, by local baking star Chad Robertson. It includes smart and tasty whole grain recipes for bread, crackers, and sweets that have roots in Scandinavia and Germany. At a recent food event, we heard some excited analysis from blogger Annelies Zijderveld, who works in food marketing and is often tinkering with baked goods (and more) in the kitchen; her blog has been featured as a favorite food blog by Alimentum Food Literary Journal. She's particularly excited to immediately try Robertson's take on porridge breads, which involves fermenting porridge and incorporating it into dough. The results seem to promise a texture that Zijderveld says is "custardy and full of flavor," and she's fired up to be able to make "ridiculously good" oat porridge or rye porridge bread at home. Sweet freaks may be drawn to recipes with a whole-grain update via the éclairs, pithiviers, and sables found therein.
Is your sweetie pining to try sous-vide for the home kitchen, all the better to vacuum-seal in the juicy flavor? A Kickstarter-funded start-up in the Mission can help. Nomiku's immersion circulator ($300) is the size of a hand blender, for easy storage (a major hurdle with many tools of this ilk). With this the future-is-now tool, perfect onsen eggs and juicy steaks are a breeze--and make for a killer holiday breakfast while you're at it. Bacon basket weave maple pork loin, brined roasted chicken, miso salmon and shredded wheat ice cream can also be had via the helpful primer, and the company has a fair number of recipes online for further inspiration.