Chocolate, Last Minute Gifts, and Cookies that Don't Crumble

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Recipes and Resources from today's Good Food:

David Lebovitz is the author of The Great Book of Chocolate, published by Ten Speed Press. His website offers lists and links to his favorite web chocolate sources.

Wittamer Hot Chocolate
About 4 Mugs

This recipe is from Michael Lewis-Anderson, the chocolatier at Wittamer chocolate shop in Belgium, one of my favorite chocolate shops in the world. Michael is a true master of chocolate and sports a terrific and rather wicked sense of humor: he once created a life-sized replica of Cher out of pure dark chocolate for the window of their chocolate boutique, which stunned and amused the staid patrons of Brussels. Michael contributed this recipe for The Great Book of Chocolate.

Although Belgians like their chocolate rich, if you prefer you can use whole milk instead of the half-and-half. And to ward off any winter chills, I suspect few adults would object to sneaking in a few drops of vanilla extract or a warming shot of dark rum or cognac.

  • 1 quart half-and-half (or whole milk)
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces top-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of half-and-half (or milk) with the dark and milk chocolates. Stir until melted. Add the remaining 3 cups of half-and-half and the cinnamon and heat.
  2. Stir briskly with a whisk or use an immersion blender to make the hot chocolate completely smooth.
At Wittamer, this hot chocolate is spooned into mugs and served with a swirl of whipped cream and lacy chocolate curls. I take the all-American route (or that of a noted Miss, who is Swiss) and float a few marshmallows on top.

Lona Sandon is an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Cabaret Chocolates can now be found online at the following Whole Foods: Pasadena, Glendale, West LA (at National), Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Woodland Hills, and 3rd and Fairfax.

Shirley Corriher is a food scientist and the author of Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, published by Morrow.

For cookies that won't break up into crumbs when you send them in the mail, add 1 tablespoon of water into your flour and stir, when you're making your cookie dough. This will make little lumps but don't worry. This will produce cookies that won't crumble.

To secret to keeping moist cookies moist is to use brown sugar. All sugars absorb water out of the air. Brown sugar and honey absorb more water out of the air than white sugar. You can substitute light brown sugar equal parts for white sugar.

This is the best sugar cookie recipe, according to Shirley.

Mary's Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • Granulated sugar
  1. Mix together sugar and butter.
  2. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract; mix well.
  3. Blend in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.
  4. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Heat oven to 375F.
  6. Divide dough in half, and roll each half 3/16 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered board.
  7. Cut into desired shapes; sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  8. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.
  9. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown on edges.
Note: Source: This recipe was found in an out-of-print cookbook called Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, printed in 1963. A similar recipe is also on Betty Crocker's website.

Teri Gelber is a co-producer of Good Food. Here are her suggestions of food shops around town, perfect for last minute gifts.


  • Nicole's Gourmet Foods
    921 Meridian Ave #B (on the corner of El Centro)
    South Pasadena
    Bake-at-home frozen croissants, cheeses; puff pastry and sweet short crust and savory short crust
  • Europane
    950 E Colorado (at Mentor)
    Yule logs, Christmas cookie trays, chocolate biscotti, chocolate cherry bread, gingerbread man cookies, delicious baked goods, lemon bars and breads -- also the best egg salad sandwich in LA
  • Julienne Fine Foods
    2649 Mission St
    San Marino
    Deli/restaurant; spiced pumpkin cheesecakes, blackberry polenta bread pudding; can also pick up your entire holiday meal.
  • Say Cheese
    2800 Hyperion
    10% off gourmet cheeses with your KCRW Fringe Benefits card
  • Picholine
    3360 W 1st Street
    Los Angeles
    Chocolates, baked goods. Baskets available with tea and chocolates and pastas.
  • Silverlake Wine Shop
    2395 Glendale Blvd
    Los Angeles
  • Cheese Store of Silverlake
    3926-28 W Sunset Blvd
    10% off with your KCRW Fringe Benefits card
  • La Brea Bakery
    624 S La Brea
    Los Angeles
    Individually wrapped tea breads, spiced pig-shaped cookies (mom and runt tied together with twine); holiday flavored ice creams.
  • Joan's on Third
    8350 W 3rd St
    Los Angeles
    Gourmet deli in the style of Dean & Deluca; homemade fudge (maple walnut, peanut butter and traditional chocolate); handmade caramels, small cupcakes
    10% off gourmet prepared foods, specialty food products & cafe fare; excludes catering with your KCRW Fringe Benefits card
  • Larchmont Wines & Spirits
    223 N Larchmont
    Los Angeles
  • Du Vin Wine & Spirits
    540 N San Vicente (at Melrose)
    West Hollywood
    Wood crates ready for filling with selections of wines; go for dessert wines or liqueurs
    10% off purchases over $40 with your KCRW Fringe Benefits card
  • Susina
    7122 Beverly Blvd. (near La Brea)
    Los Angeles
    Mandlebrot, almond tarts, Hannukah cookies; lots of minature sweets
  • Little John's Candy Kitchen
    Farmers' Market
    6333 W 3rd St
    Los Angeles
  • Sweetcake
    323-660-6025 Beautifully crafted small desserts that are delicious and look beautiful.
  • Boule (hopefully opening December 20th)
    420 N La Cienega (near Melrose)
    Los Angeles
    French patisserie including ice creams and confections plus baked goods.
  • Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
    419 N. Beverly Drive
    10% off with your KCRW Fringe Benefits card
  • Palais des The
    401 N Canon Drive
    Beverly Hills
    Lots of gift packages with teas and tea cups
  • Graffeo Coffee Roasting Co
    315 N Beverly Drive
    Also1260 Bison Ave
    Newport Beach
  • Sorrento Market 5518 Sepulveda Blvd
    Culver City
    Italian deli, gourmet items. Pastas, olives, oils, deli items
    10% off many items with your KCRW Fringe Benefits card
  • Surfas
    8825 National Blvd
    Culver City
    All kinds of gourmet food products and cooking supplies; cheeses, butters, fine chocolates, knives, etc
    KCRW Fringe Benefits provider. Check for discounts
  • Clementine
    1751 Ensley Ave
    West Los Angeles
    Shaker boxes to fill with their cookies and baked goods plus old-fashioned candies. Breakfast pastry baskets available.
  • Jin Patisserie
    1202 Abbot Kinney
    Beautiful chocolates, artisinal. Look like little gems.
  • Little Flower Candy Co
    Handcrafted caramels, sea salt, lemon and nut; handmade marshmallows -- great $6 gifts
  • Malcolm's Munchies
    310-382-4692 Venice
    Delicious and giant cookies, brownies, bars, all made with organic ingredients
    5% off gourmet organic cookies, brownies, cakes & pastries with your KCRW Fringe Benefits card
  • Market Gourmet
    1800 Abbot Kinney #A
    Baked goods, etc
Long Beach:
  • Olive's
    3510 E Broadway
    Long Beach
    Gourmet food shop with cheeses and, of course, olives

Jonathan Gold is the food critic for the LA Weekly and restaurant writer for Gourmet magazine. He spoke about Dai Ho Kitchen at 9148 Las Tunas Drive in Temple City, (626) 291-2295. The restaurant is open only for lunch Tuesdays through Sundays. Closed Monday. The specialty of the house is spicy beef noodle soup. (It's always served spicy. If you ask for it to not be spicy Mr. Ku will pay you a visit and give a very stern look.)