Locally made confections sugarcoat the season
Chef Amy Jo Pedone’s two passions, Italian cooking and chocolate, led her to trade in her corporate day job for an apron as master chocolatier. Pedone, who is half Sicilian, traveled to Italy in 2013 to complete her École Chocolat Master Chocolatier certification. Now just a couple of years later, her award-winning chocolate and nut confections have catapulted her into the big leagues: She recently won a statewide competition and flew to the European finals where she competed against other cocoa masters. Anyone who merely likes chocolate can appreciate her bonbons and Cucidati seasonal truffles, but the true cacao connoisseur will be over the moon for a il Cioccolato Club three-month membership, $145. The monthly delivery comes with a sugary four-week supply of confections curated by Pedone.
Need last-minute stocking stuffers? Stop by the two-day holiday pop-up shop at the Hood Kitchen Space in Costa Mesa on December 18, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and December 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Valenza Chocolatier at the Hood Kitchen Space, 350 Clinton St., Suite A, Costa Mesa :: valenzachocolatier.com
During the holidays, B. Toffee is a stocking stuffer staple. The old-timey traditional flavors meld buttery toffee with a blend of rich Guittard and Callebaut chocolate covered in crushed pecans. Think of each signature canister as a sweet token created by an OC-based sugar plum fairy, confectioner Betsy Thagard.
B.Toffee, 844.328.2863 :: btoffee.com
Bean to Bar
Similar to artisanal coffee and fine wine, single-origin chocolate implies that the flavor profile of a piece of chocolate is based on where it’s harvested. So if you’re seeking something for a cacao lover, we found the ideal package: the Best of CHOCXO gift set – a sleek black box stuffed with an assortment of organic chocolate bars and nut barks created in Irvine. But if you want to go beyond the bar, combine the set with another present for the ultimate chocolate nerd, a tour of the CHOCXO factory and tasting lab. Gift a behind-the-scenes peek at the only OC spot that demonstrates the magic behind how chocolate transforms from bean to bar.
Best of CHOCXO gift set, $89; Chocolate tasting tour, $17, CHOCXO chocolate factory and tasting lab, 9461 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine :: chocxo.com