What better gift to give a cook than ingredients? And not just any ingredients, but special, indulgent, add-a-whole-new-dimension-to-your-food ingredients. Here are 10 that make stellar gifts all on their own, from luxurious white truffle butter to lavender extract and a tantalizing specialty oil made from cherry seeds.
5 Original Mumbo Sauce, $5 from Capital City Co: A great sweet, tangy "secret sauce" that can be used as a glaze, marinade, or dipping sauce.
6 White Truffle Butter, $9.99 - $53.99 from Dartagnan: The best way to get intense white truffle flavor while on a (moderate) budget. A little of this luxurious butter goes a long way; we love it on popcorn, in risotto, or just smeared all over roasted vegetables.
7 Lavender Extract, $12 from Hatchery: A sophisticated and savory accompaniment, surprisingly, given that lavender extract is made from delicate flowers. Its herbal notes complement chocolate, poultry, and many other things.
8 Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste, $10.50 from Amazon: A concentrated paste of vanilla beans and sugar that adds those alluring speckles to your ice cream without the hassle of opening a vanilla bean.
9 Beef or Veal Demi-Glace, $24 from Williams-Sonoma: This is a rich treat for a cook headed into a winter of soups and braises. Just a spoonful of this ultra-concentrated stock will make their sauce taste like it's been simmering all day and all night.
10 Fruit Vinegars, $11 from Mange Vinegars: Faith is obsessed with fruit vinegars, which add a tangy fruit flavor to salads, grains, and more. These delightful vinegars showcase a host of fruit flavors. Try the pear on a spinach and walnut salad, or mango with wild rice and greens.
This year, The Kitchn and Apartment Therapy aren't just sharing great ideas in our gift guides, we're giving away $1,000 to help one lucky reader purchase presents for their friends and family! Through Friday, December 13th, we'll publish new gift guides each day on both sites while collecting entries in the sweepstakes. (See Official Rules for details. One entry per reader, please.) Enter below for a chance to receive a bit of extra help from us this holiday season — we want it to be your best and brightest yet!
And we're not done. Starting on Monday, December 16, The Kitchn and Apartment Therapy editors have lined up ten absolutely unbelievable items (really, you won't believe how great they are!) for our big, blowout week-long Holiday Giveaway 2013. To be notified on when and how to enter to win these super-special gifts, sign up for our giveaway email today, and you won't miss a single one.
(Image credits: The Kitchn; La Chinata; Genki-Su; Castillo de Canena Arbequina; Stoger; Capital City; Dartagnan; Nielsen-Massey; Hatchery; Williams-Sonoma; Mange Vinegars)