Fruitcakes get a bad rap but they are the most ubiquitous of edible Christmas presents. That doesn’t say much for something that everyone gets and few appreciate. So if you’ve gotten a fruitcake and yet remain full of holiday cheer and optimism, here’s an eclectic list of last-minute palate-pleasers that family and friends will categorically enjoy.
EDIBLE HISTORY - History buffs’ and chocolate lovers’ interests converge in these White House, National Cathedral and Supreme Court replicas. Historical Chocolate of Fairfax, Virginia specializes in creating historic sites in chocolate. Their Capital Collection features the Washington Monument, The Capitol, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the White House and the Supreme Court in dark, milk and white chocolate. $12.95.
Owners Barbara and Todd Post also offer edible history from Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina, and the Armed Services Collection has chocolate medallions for all branches of the military and a Pentagon. All are made in a nut-free facility, so those with peanut or tree nut allergies can indulge. historicalchocolate.com. 703 573 8260.
SINGLE MALT SCOTCH CANDIES - BonBonBar’s potent, hand-made blend of dark chocolate and barrel-aged scotch is not for kiddies. Chocolate ganache laced with Talisker Distiller's Edition single-malt scotch and caramel are enrobed in dark chocolate and sprinkled with Maldon Sea Salt. $15 for three bars, $30 for six. Pair them with Single Malt Scotch Caramels made with Balvenie Doublewood. $44 for six bars and eight oz. of caramels. bonbonbar.foodzie.com.
GREAT NUTS - If you want something entirely different nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a bag of My Husband’s Nuts. Things were getting tough on the family farm when Jennifer Rogers Etcheverry of Bakersfield, California, wife of a cotton, alfalfa hay, and almond farmer, decided to help fill the family coffers by doing something original with the almond crop.
She created candied Butter Toffee almonds, Natural Smoke, Onion Garlic, and Chili con Lemon semi-hot crunchy nuts, which are great with cocktails. Box of four 5 oz. bags. $25. myhusbandsnuts.foodzie.com.
SQUID BREAD - Not shaped like a squid or made with a squid, but jet black bread colored with squid ink. Artisanal Los Angeles bakery BreadBar also offers Black-Gold bread topped with edible gold leaf. The squid ink gives the dough a faint briny taste that is ideal with seafood.
The bread has no preservatives and can’t be shipped, but it can be baked to order for Los Angeles foodies through December 31. Order 24 hours in advance and pick up at Breadbar in Century City or Beverly Hills. $9.00. breadbar.net.
CANDY CRITTERS - For high-end elegant chocolates without affectation, and with lots of fun, Moonstruck Chocolate Company of Portland, Oregon makes artisanal chocolates shaped like our favorite Arctic pals.
Penguin Truffles are hand-dipped and hand-decorated with tuxedo accessories for $25, while the Holiday Collection has an Eggnog Snowman, a Milk Chocolate Gift Box, a white chocolate peppermint Candy Cane and a Bittersweet Christmas Tree for $10.00 and a Rocky Road Christmas Tree is studded with marshmallows and freshly roasted pecans priced at $8.00. Moonstruckchocolate.com.
SALT ZEN CUBE - For salt aficionados, a one-pound crystalline cube of Himalayan sea salt that comes with a stainless steel Inox Italian grater is perfect for grating over seafood, pasta, edamame, vegetables, salads, popcorn, chocolate, or whatever you’d like. $15.99. thefreshmarket.com.
The Holiday Freedom Cake is a blend of peppermint and chocolate brownie covered with thick, creamy fudge frosting surrounded by bittersweet chocolate shavings and red and green candy sprinkles. For each cake sent in the states, BakeMeAWish.com will send an identical cake to a soldier serving overseas. A “Season’s Greetings” card with the American flag lets the recipient know that a cake has been donated in his or her name. $75.00. Bakemeawish.com.
HOLIDAY LEFTOVER SOLUTION - Narine Nicogosian suggests a novel way of dealing with leftovers. Apply them to your face. Author of “Return to Beauty: Old-World Recipes for Great Radiant Skin,” Nicogosian shows you how to turn cranberries, egg yolks and butter into moisturizer and how to blend sweet potatoes and beer into a cleansing mask. Soothe away holiday stress by whipping up a cognac, sour cream and cornstarch mask that promises to relax you in only twenty minutes. That way you can leap back, refreshed, into the holiday fray. ($25.00, Atria)