I’ve been working on this post for a while, but I have kept it to myself because some of you (you know who you are) are pretty hardcore when it comes to the whole no talking about Christmas until December thing. That’s fine, and I don’t think anyone needs to shop for Halloween candy while listening to Frosty the Snowman (sorry Frosty). But, now that Thanksgiving has passed and all of our enthusiastic Black Friday shoppers have kicked of the holiday shopping season, I feel like I can finally share my list of stocking stuffer ideas for cooks with you! (Even though it’s still technically November…) What about you? What are you hoping Santa leaves in your stocking this year?
(Product/shopping information after the jump!)
Can I get right to the point? A Cook’s Illustrated subscription is what I really want to see in my stocking. Period. Cook’s Illustrated is the absolute authority when it comes to both product reviews and recipe development. Their recipes are meticulously tested, they give great advice on kitchen appliances and gadgets, and they don’t rely on advertising or product placement, so you can trust that they aren’t misleading you to make a buck. Santa, if you’re reading this, this is all I want for Christmas (although, I wouldn’t complain if any of the other 25 items on this list of stocking stuffers for cooks showed up on Christmas morning).
In addition to Cook’s Illustrated, subscriptions to Saveur and Bon Appetit are definitely on my list. Both magazines are chock full of beautiful photos and inspiring recipes. I would mention Martha, but I figure that’s kind of a given.
Have you tried Dolfin Chocolate yet? I say yet, because I still can’t believe that this chocolate has been around for decades and I only tried it for the first time last year. In my opinion, Dolfin is Belgian chocolate at its finest. I particularly enjoy the milk chocolate with apricots, but have yet to meet a flavor that I didn’t like. So, this year, instead of filling stockings with mediocre and overly sweet hershey’s kisses, give the foodie on your list something to enjoy!
This is my go to chocolate. Theo is a great bean to bar chocolate company operated out of Seattle and this Milk Chocolate with Salted Almonds is by far their best bar. Sweet and creamy with just the right amount of salt and a nice crunch from the almonds. Be warned though, this chocolate is so good that it is extremely difficult to share. Seriously, if I share this chocolate with you, you know it’s real love… All that to say, don’t be stingy, make sure everyone gets their own bar!
If sweet and salty isn’t really your thing, you might consider another (smaller) bar from Theo, like this perfectly spiced Chai Tea Milk Chocolate. They’re not the only ones to add a little spice to their chocolate lately, but they may be the only ones to have truly perfected it.
Ok, enough with the chocolate already! Another yummy treat, sure to satisfy the foodie on your list is this Le Saunier de Camargue Fluer de Sel. Fancy salts have become all the rage these days, but this one is truly a classic. It’s not very hard to see why this salt graces the tables of almost every cafe in Provence–it has beautiful crystals (not as impressive as Maldon Sea Salt, but still delightful) and a fresh scent that brings to mind the sea in that fresh air and beautiful sea mist sort of way, and not the “the tide’s gone out and I need to plug my nose” sort of way. Perfect for finishing caramels, chocolate desserts, pasta…
Ok, this is made from figs, so there really shouldn’t be any questions about why I like it! Still, this Dalmatian Fig Spread is divine. There is also a lovely Dalmatian Orange Fig Spread, which is also delightful. Serve it on water crackers with a little chèvre, or smother it on bucheron and top with marcona almonds, slather it on a bit of fresh french bread with a little brie, or spoon feed it to yourself straight from the jar. However you take it, you won’t help but enjoy this delicious figgy goodness!
Copper River Salmon. Do I really need to say more? If you need a refresher on why Copper River Salmon is the best in the world, check out my post on my recent visit to Cordova, Alaska. Or, just head straight to amazon and add this to your cart. Quick tip-if you’re thinking about Copper River Salmon for someone on your Christmas list, remember that this is really more of a “one for you, one for me” sort of deal, you won’t want to be left out!
I love using whole vanilla beans, especially in ice creams, frosting, and whipped cream. Not only for the strong, clean vanilla flavor, but also because I love the look of those little vanilla seeds! The problem is that a) I’m not made of money, and b) infusing something with a vanilla bean takes about half a century. That’s why I often turn to this Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste. It has a delightful pure vanilla flavor, and leaves you with those eye catching vanilla seeds that scream “this is real vanilla.” Perfect stocking stuffer for any home baker!
Measuring cups. Chances are that the cook in your life already has a set of measuring cups. But take a closer look. Are those measuring cups old? Made of plastic? Warped from one too many cycles in the dishwasher? It’s possible that your favorite cook might need new measuring cups and not even know it! What better a stocking stuffer than these high quality stainless steel Amco measuring cups? These measuring cups come highly recommended by Cooks Illustrated for their durability and accuracy, and they are completely affordable!
I love microplane graters. I have one in almost every size (except for this medium ribbon two-way grater, Santa) and I can’t get enough of them. They are incredibly sharp and easy to use. They are especially handy for grating fresh parmesan over pasta (I find a box grater on the dinner table a bit of an awkward addition to a dinner party.)
Who doesn’t need another pairing knife ? These super sharp high carbon stainless steel knifes from Kuhn Rikon even come with a convent safety sheath, so what’s not to love? Also, if you have more than one favorite cook *gasp* you could easily open these up and spread the pairing knife love around!
A basting/pastry brush might not be the sexiest of stocking stuffers, but it’s definitely one that will be put to work in the kitchen. I use mine for adding the perfect amount of olive oil to the pan before frying an egg, for lightly coating the tops of these persimmon, brie, and prosciutto crostini, for brushing the tops of these homemade croissants with egg, and for basting my roast chicken. The best thing about this particular brush is that its silicone bristles can withstand high temperatures and can easily go in the dishwasher.
We haven’t really talked much about pie, so you might still be blissfully unaware of my pie obsession. I don’t really know where it comes from. When faced with a cookie or a slice of pie, I would go for the cookie every time. But…there is something about making a pie that relaxes me and gives me a real sense of accomplishment. If you have someone in your life who likes to impress their friends with delicious homemade pies, this ravioli/pie cutter is the ultimate stocking stuffer!
Ok, while we’re on the subject of pies, I think these are just adorable. Totally not kitchy like the pie cutters with Santa’s face on them (sorry Santa) or a fat Thanksgiving turkey. These little leaf pie cutters are perfect for creating a classy and elegant crust to any pie!
You may have already heard me wax on about my love for this Kuhn Rikon Garlic Press when I gave one away a couple of weeks ago, but here I go again. I said once that this is the Cadillac of garlic presses, but I’d rather you think of it as the Tesla. Seriously, its sleek, modern, and conserves energy–especially when it comes to clean up. If you’ve ever been frustrated by ordinary garlic presses, which seem to require a toothpick, toothbrush, or a pair of tweezer to pick the garlic out of the little holes, you will be delighted by this one.
Can you guess what this is? This, my friends, is a Danish dough whisk. I was introduced to this oddly shaped but impressive stirring implement by my friend Susie, who went from baking novice to Master Bread Baker in a matter of weeks. She swears that this whisk is essential for turning out high quality with the minimum amount of effort. Also, because of its unique design, there’s a good chance that the cook in your life doesn’t already have one!
How much do you hate cleaning out wine glasses? I’ll tell you how much I hate it. A lot. You know what I hate even more? Trying to clean a decanter. Yuck. Even if my fat little hand would fit inside the neck of the decanter, I could never stop worrying that I was going to break it. And when I wash my glasses, it’s easy enough to get the wine out, not as easy to get them all spiffy and spot free. Enter these delightful wine class scrubbers (that’s the technical name…I’m sure). I’m not sure how they do it, but these sponges are perfect for cleaning glassware! Something about them just grabs all the rough bits and leaves your glasses sparkling and clean! At first, I was rolling my eyes thinking, “really, a special scrubber just for wine glasses?” but now…well, go ahead and try to pry them away from me!
Ha! you say, like you’d ever need to close a bottle of wine! I’m with you on that one, but a few years ago Santa slipped a couple of these Rabbit Wine Bottle Stoppers into my stocking and I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve used them! These are especially convenient when you have to open a wine that you don’t normally drink (like a super sweet resiling for Shrimp Mosca) or when you wind up with several bottles with just a glass or so left after a party. Gone are the days when you are wearing the wine that you meant to save because the bottle slipped out of your hand as you struggled to shove the cork back in. For just a few dollars, you can drink your wine instead of wear it!
Ok, now we’re getting serious. No more fluff. Does your beloved cook have a good pair of kitchen shears? (If you are wondering if kitchen shears come with orange handles, the answer to this question is probably no…) Kitchen shears are good for chopping herbs, cutting pizza, slicing dried fruit, all without a cutting board! The trick is, they need to be sharp shears dedicated to kitchen tasks, and they need (at least in my house) to be dishwasher safe–can’t be chopping herbs and raw chicken with out a run through the ole dishwasher! These kitchen shears come highly rated, and at under $20 they are a great value!
If the cook/baker in your life doesn’t already own a silpat mat, please let this be the year you rectify that. There is nothing that makes cleanup easer than a silpat mat. Even caramel won’t stick to this baby. It might look big, but it rolls up perfectly to fit in a Christmas stocking!
I’m pretty sure that these adorable stainless steel cheese knives would be welcome in any stocking, because, let’s face it a set of cute cheese knives immediately takes a plate with some cheese and transforms it into a “cheese plate.” Now we’re fancy.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this Rosle Hook Ladle with Pouring Rim. This ladle is a real work horse, it’s well designed rounded lip makes serving messy soups and stews effortless and the hooked handle ensures the ladle doesn’t slip into your soup!
Are you surprised to see this simple Epicurean Dough Scraper on my list of 25 awesome stocking stuffers for cooks? You shouldn’t be, this little scraper might be the most used gadgets in my kitchen. In addition to working with bread dough, I use mine for scraping vegetable from the cutting board into the pan, and most importantly, for cleaning off my counters after I’ve made a mess (which, is pretty much every time I make something).
This little stainless steel rub-away bar magically removes unpleasant odors (like fish, garlic, or onions) from your hands. It may sound hokey, but it really works! And, no matter how much you enjoy cooking, no one wants to smell like an onion!