That's right. This year I went in search of the most calorifically delicious treats suitable for gift giving. Because face it, when it comes to diets, December isn't a particularly virtuous time of year. And if we're going to indulge, it might as well be on the really, really good stuff.
So here is my roundup of some truly wonderful gift-worthy treats.
Dufflet Small Indulgences
This collection of intensely rich sweet treats comes from Dufflet Rosenberg, a Toronto pastry chef who has been earning accolades for more than 30 years. Her focus is on hand-crafted treats made from premium ingredients, and it shows. And now you don't need to head to Canada to find out for yourself.
Rosenberg recently launched three lines of packaged goodies - Chocolate Tumbles, Crackles and Milk Chocolate Morsels. Each is available in three flavors and all are delicious. However, for hands-down awesomeness, it's the Tumbles you want, particularly the pecan and cherry brandy variety. The hazelnut and coffee liqueur Tumbles are pretty fine, too.
For more information or to order, visit the company's website, www.duffletsweets.com . The goodies sell for $15 to $18.
Norman Love Confections
This guy is the Bono of the chocolate world. And his treats - mostly filled chocolates and truffles - are beyond delicious in a toe curling sort of way. They also are stunningly gorgeous. Artwork sort of gorgeous. So much so you might pause on the way to devouring them.
Love releases new flavors each year. These generally are sold mixed into the general population of his chocolates, but you can order a special 10-piece box that highlights the 2011 flavors - California honey, hazelnut praline truffle, hot dark chocolate, mango, peaches and cream, peanut brittle truffle, peanut butter banana, rum cake, sweet tea and tiramisu.
Some favorites were California honey and peanut butter banana. The 10-piece box of new flavors can be ordered from his website, www.normanlove confections. com. It sells for $22.
Momofuku Milk Bar
David Chang has developed a cult-like following for his momofuku eateries in New York, and with good reason. His pie and cookie haven known as milk bar serves some almost painfully good treats, such as compost cookies, which contain pretzels, potato chips, coffee grounds, oats, butterscotch, chocolate chips and graham crumbs.
Strange, of course. And that's the point. But so addictively delicious. Then there is crack pie, which fills a toasted oat crust with a gooey butter filling made from sugar, brown sugar, cream, egg yolks and vanilla.
Until recently, you needed to be in New York to get these treats. But Chang has launched an online shop - momofukustore.com - from which they can be ordered. Cookies, including the compost variety, sell for $10 for a tin of six. Pies sell for $44 per 10-inch pie.
Because nothing says happy holidays like a big old jar of mayo, right?
No, seriously. Real foodies will dig this. Just as every other food has gone artisanal, so has mayonnaise. This is a long way from those giant tubs or - dare I even say it? - squeeze bottles on the bottom shelf at the grocer. This is a condiment of the highest order.
Check out the too cute Jme offering from Jamie (get it?) Oliver. Among a new line of goodies he is launching in this country is Marvellous Mayo, a rich whipped spread made in the United Kingdom from free-range eggs, extra-virgin olive oil and grapeseed oil. It is rich and tangy without being cloying, as most commercial mayonnaise tends to be.
Jme Marvellous Mayo is available for $14.95 for a 12.2-ounce jar from www.williams-sonoma.com.
Take a brie, then make it four or five times creamier and richer and about 10 times more guilt-inducing. You've got yourself d'Affinois, a soft cow's cheese from France.
Produced by Fromagerie Guilloteau, d'Affinois has an intense and smooth creaminess with a gentle sweetness and it will rock your notion of great cheese. It can be tossed with pasta, baked onto a pizza, or simply slathered onto a baguette and drizzled with honey. It also is wonderful eaten straight accompanied by Champagne and fresh fruit.
This cheese is available at most good cheese shops, as well as grocers with cheese counters.