Blends from La Boîte à Epices
Spice artist Lior Lev Sercarz sells brilliant spice blends with ingredients you won't find anywhere else. He began selling blends to A-list restaurants, each customized to a specific dish. Now La Boîte offers its catalogue at its Manhattan storefront and online.
Pictured is the Orchidea, a blend of orchid root, Sichuan peppercorns, and lime—perfect on fish. Other blends include cocoa with orange blossom and long pepper with mace and lemon. 2-ounce jars are sold for $15 and up—and worth every penny.
[Photograph: La Boîte à Epices]
Chiles in chocolate have become something of a cliché, but that doesn't mean good chocolate and good spices can't make something really special. Eclat chocolate sells wafers of 60% chocolate infused with bright aleppo chile and fruity, tingly pink peppercorns. If your spice lover thinks he knows spiced chocolate, this will change his mind. $14.50 for 5 ounces.
[Photograph: Eclat Chocolate]
Locking spice jars
Friend or loved one's spice cupboard a mess? Give the gift of organization. These lockable, stackable spice jars offer an attractive, easy away to manage pantries of any size. The jars screw into each other to form convenient columns; just unscrew the jars you need. $.75 to $1.50 each, depending on jar size.
[Photograph: Crate & Barrel]
Nutmeg is indispensable to winter baking, and freshly ground is way better than the McCormick's pre-ground sawdust. Sure, you can grate nutmeg on a microplane or with a cheap grinder, but a beautiful spice deserves a beautiful grinder that doubles as extra nutmeg storage. $60, but the thank-you eggnog will be all the more delicious.
Specialty sea salt
Sea salts deliver serious flavor, texture, and aesthetic accents with almost no effort. Be it rich sel gris, flaky smoked salt, or mineral alea clay salt, specialty salts make great stocking stuffers or gift boxes.
Your own secret spice blend
People you've never met ask for your chili recipe? DIYer with a cinnamon stick to grind? Consider sharing your skills with a kit of your own favorite spice blend. Chili powder, baking blends, mulling spices, and meat rubs all make great handmade gifts. Plus they're easy to make in bulk to share with everyone.
Or spice something harder
If your spice-lover drinks, consider making a ridiculously easy batch of home-spiced rum. Paul Clarke shows that this holiday classic doesn't have to be a sticky-sweet vanilla bomb. Spice in large batches, then decant into smaller bottles. If you're lucky, you'll get thanked with a steaming mug of hot buttered rum.
[Photograph: Kyle May on Flickr]
Not to harp on a theme, but spices are just the thing for homespun gifts. Spiced sugar can be as simple as sticking some vanilla beans in a jar with some table sugar for a couple weeks. The result is powerfully aromatic and adds layers of flavor to tea, pancakes, and all sorts of desserts. If your recipient has a penchant for floral flavors, toasted poppy seeds, lemon zest, and lavender infuse flavor into sugar beautifully.