The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
The most wonderful time of the year also happens to be the most delicious. In Colorado, the holiday season’s bounty includes iconic peppermint candy canes; chewy, buttery tea cakes; Denver Cheddar–flavored popcorn; local cheeses; and artisan spreads—the kinds of edible gifts that are sure to wow all the food enthusiasts on your list.
Here, 10 festive and tasty made-in-Colorado treats that are perfect for gifting at holiday gatherings this season.
Kettle Head Popcorn
Skip the big ol’ popcorn tins and instead curate your own gift basket with gourmet flavors from Denver-based Kettle Head Popcorn. Denver Cheddar is the most popular, but the Green Chile popcorn is also fitting for a Colorado collection. Toasted Cinnamon, Maple Kettle Corn, and limited-edition Pumpkin Spice are some of the sweet offerings. The Cocoa Pop pairs nicely with a stout or adds a chocolatey crunch to ice cream, according to owner and master popper Dylan Forward, who’s been in the popcorn biz since age 11 when he apprenticed at the Ohio shop his dad opened. $6 a bag, buy online at kettleheadpopcorn.com
Four Directions Cuisine’s Blue Corn and Wojapi Cookies
The Blue Corn Cookies are buttery, toasty, and nutty, and the gluten-free Wojapi Cookies are like an “Indigenized thumbprint cookie,” says chef Andrea Murdoch, owner of Arvada catering company Four Directions Cuisine and an Andean Native from Venezuela. She sources her blue corn from Bow & Arrow Foods, a Ute tribe–run purveyor with sustainable corn fields in southwest Colorado. The fresh-baked Wojapi cookies feature an eponymous berry sauce common amongst the Plains tribes (they need to be refrigerated because there are no preservatives in the jam). You can order the cookies through Four Directions Cuisine or Ruby’s Market, with pick ups at Ruby’s likely available once or twice a week. Ordering ahead is suggested, and it’s a good idea to pool orders together with friends to make a large one. $10 for Blue Corn Cookie 8-packs and $10 for Wojapi Cookie 6-packs. Pick up cookie orders at Ruby’s Market, 1569 S. Pearl St.
Hammond’s Candy Canes
There are candy canes. Then there are the iconic Hammond’s candy canes, which are extra thick masterpieces formed individually into crooks and artistically striped. “Our candy canes are like snowflakes; no two are ever alike because they are handmade in small batches,” says Hammond’s CEO Andrew Schuman. As north Denver’s very own Candyland, Hammond’s crafts 10 million of these specialty candy canes each year with a couple dozen flavors on the roster at any given time. This year’s candy cane 12-pack ($60) comes with peppermint, apple pie, cranberry, and cinnamon canes. The assorted candy cane 24-pack ($100) has additional cherry and caramel apple flavors. $60 for the 12-Assorted Candy Cane Pack or $100 for the 24 Assorted Candy Cane Pack, buy online at hammondscandies.com
Merfs Condiments’ Make Your Own 4-Pack
Don’t forget the hot sauce lovers on your nice list! The “Make Your Own 4-Pack” ($24) from Merfs Condiments is a great stocking stuffer. Sauces are crafted using Colorado roasted chiles from Milberger farms in Pueblo. The locally owned shop sells 11 flavors of organic, small-batch hot sauces. “My favorite ways to use Merfs hot sauces during the holidays are Wildfire Whiskey spicy cranberry sauce, Hand Grenade Sriracha on honey baked ham, and for an appetizer, Peaches + Scream over baked brie cheese served with crackers,” says Kelly Schexnaildre, owner of Merfs Condiments. $24, buy at merfscondiments.com or find hot sauces with the store locator.
Miss Peabody’s Southern Tea Cakes
For a special holiday treat, seek out Miss Peabody’s Southern Tea Cakes. Chewy, buttery, and scrumptious, the cookielike treats perfected by Denver baker Pamela Richard are made from scratch and inspired by the teacakes her grandmother once made for her and her siblings and cousins. When she’s baking, Richard says it’s as though she can feel her grandmother hugging her. Richard’s teacake varieties include traditional, gluten-free, lemon, candied yam, banana foster, and hazelnut chocolate. While Miss Peabody’s Southern Tea Cakes won’t directly fulfill orders for the remainder of 2021, TeaLee’s Tea Co. and Meow Wolf’s Hellofood Cafe and Bar both sell the tea cakes. Buy tea cakes (2 tea cakes for $3) at TeaLee’s Tea Co., 611 22nd St. or ($4 each) at Meow Wolf, 1338 1st St.
Cheese Importers’ Cheese Lover Sampler
In-the-know fromage fans consider Cheese Importers in Longmont to be the gold standard of cheese shops. The marketplace is home to an enormous walk-in refrigerator stocked with cheeses and cured meats, and the shop’s inventory surpasses 350 cheeses sourced from around the world. For the cheese enthusiast on your gift list, you can create a custom gift basket. Or, go with the Cheese Lovers Sampler ($45) which comes with a trio of cheeses, including gouda, creamy havarti with dill, and muenster as well as crackers and a chocolate bar. Gift baskets can be picked up at Cheese Importers, 103 Main St., Longmont, or can be delivered.
The Inventing Room Dessert Shop’s Holiday Gobblebox
The candy connoisseurs at the Inventing Room, a Wonka-inspired sugar shop, are working their magic to assemble Holiday Gobbleboxes ($49 a piece) filled with fanciful treats. Each box will include a pumpkin spice–flavored ugly sweater lollipop, hot chocolate cotton candy, pine-needle-flavored Colorado flag, a chocolate and honeycomb marshmallow, pumpkin seed and date chocolate truffle, a peppermint snowflake lollipop, and a bag of freeze-dried candies. The Holiday Gobblebox will go on sale at the online candy shop beginning November 17, with orders shipping December 15 (Only 200 Holiday Gobbleboxes will be available, so act fast). $49, buy online.
My Make Studio’s Cupcake Kits
For a tasty treat that also falls into the experience category of gifts, check out the super-festive cupcake kits from My Make Studio. The kits come with a YouTube tutorial and written instructions, so recipients can master the art of cupcake decorating. With the Christmas Tree Pull Apart Cupcake Kit ($39.95), green-frosted cupcakes can be arranged to look like a Christmas tree. Or, the Winter Cupcake Kit ($49.95) includes all the goodies needed to create a cold-weather cast of cupcake characters from snowmen to penguins. Cupcake and cake kits can be shipped, or are available for pickup at 5505 West 20th Ave., Edgewater.
Miette et Chocolat’s Spread the Love Box
From Chef Gonzo Jimenez of Netflix’s Bake Squad and partner Chef David Lewis, Miette et Chocolat in the Stanley Marketplace is stocked full with chocolate treats great for gifting, including artful bonbons and elevated candy bars. The Spread the Love box ($37) features three spreads: Dark chocolate hazelnut, milk chocolate almond, and salted butter caramel. Jimenez says he loves applying the spreads to toast, bagels, pancakes—or just eating it by the spoonful. Buy at Miette et Chocolat, 2501 Dallas St., Suite 176, Aurora.
Primo’s Sample Collection
Fine food lovers can dress up their charcuterie boards for the holidays with craft condiments from Colorado-based Primo. In time for the holiday season, Primo has launched a Sample Collection ($40) starring four of the company’s most popular preserves, including Apricot & Urfa mostarda, Whiskey Barrel-Aged Honey & Thai, Roasted Hatch Chile & Tequila signature preserves, and Strawberry Ancho signature preserves. Pro tip: The Primo website has in-depth pairing suggestions for the spreads, which will delight the fine food lover on your shopping list. $40, buy at iamprimo.com (also available at upscale specialty markets in Colorado, including Whole Foods).