Tag: Theo

2015 Holiday Gift Guide

Well gang, tis the season, as they say. Portland is currently flooding, but onwards with the holiday preparations! Hanukkah has officially begun and Christmas is creeping closer. The time is now to pick out some great gifts for the food lovers on your list.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Someone in my family may or may not have a birthday dangerously close to Christmas, so of course their gifts get rolled into one bigger, better gift. After a little waffle fiasco at Thanksgiving (that had us texting the neighbors asking if anyone else had a waffle iron we could borrow), I figured it was the perfect gift. I’m a Belgian waffle fan myself (the little pockets are a little deeper and wider, meaning that they can hold more delicious toppings AND the waffles get a little crispier), and I know this family member is as well. It’s hard to know which one to buy, but I’m looking at this, this, this, and this.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Ok, are some of these products a little hokey? You bet. But are they also kind of silly and fun? Yep. I’ve got a friend who loves her garlic press, and I bet the Garject would go over quite well with her.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I used to work with the woman who owns Caravan Pacific, and I love pretty much everything that comes out of her studio. The beautiful spice jars and cutting boards can be bought over on Food52, and I think they’re really simple and lovely, and would look great on any kitchen counter.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

If you’re looking for something actually edible, I say find a local chocolate shop and go crazy. In Portland, it’s hard to say no to anything from Alma Chocolate, and if I was up in Seattle, I’d pick up some treats from Theo Chocolate (after a tour of course).

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

If your friends have more of a… booze tooth, shall we say, than a sweet tooth, might I suggest a gift certificate for a night out on the town? I love getting people gift certificates – it gets them out and about, maybe for a date night or catching up with a friend, and maybe even encourages them to try a new spot. Some of my favorite cocktails in town can be found at Rum Club, Free House, and Expatriate.

What are you getting your food-loving loved ones for the holidays?

Chai Truffles

Chai Truffles | Serious Crust by Annie FasslerChai Truffles | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Let’s talk about chocolate. Everyone likes it. Everyone. If you don’t like chocolate, I think you might not be a human with feelings. And there is nothing quite like biting into a piece of chocolate that is fudgy, a little melty, and dark enough that it’s got that hint of sharpness to it.

Some of my favorite chocolate to eat is Theo Chocolate, based in Seattle. Jonah and I went on a factory tour a couple summers ago, and man was it a) interesting thanks to our awesome guide and b) delicious thanks to lots of samples. They have a chai flavored bar that is crazy good (so are all of their flavors, really), which I think is subconsciously why I chose to try these chai truffles. Well, that and I had been really wanting to make some easy truffles, and of course I can’t just have a plain chocolate flavor, can I? So with the advice of baker friend Caitlyn and a little research I got to work.

Chai Truffles


1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 Tbl chai blend tea (I used Highland Chai from Tea Chai Te here in Portland)
9 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate, ~70% (I used Scharffen Berger)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
~1/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder


In a small pan on the stove, bring the cream and chai blend to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 10-15 minutes.  While tea is steeping, roughly chop chocolate and put it in a heat proof bowl. After 10-15 minutes, uncover the cream and put it over low heat again, bringing it to a simmer.

Strain the cream into the bowl with chocolate, discarding steeped tea. Let sit for about 3 minutes, allowing the hot cream to start melting the chocolate. Add spices and a pinch of salt, and whisk together until chocolate is melted and thoroughly combined with the cream. Taste, and add a touch more spice or salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight, until the ganache is firm.

When ganache is firm, prepare to get covered in chocolate. Gloves are not a bad idea. Line a plate or baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Put the cocoa powder into a shallow bowl. Scoop rough 1/2 tablespoons of the ganache and roll into balls, then roll the ball in the cocoa powder, and set on lined plate. Repeat until the ganache is all rolled into beautiful little truffles, and refrigerate again for at least an hour. Enjoy.