Beyond the same old cheesecake

Tucked in the cheese cases at Claudio's is a lightly bronzed, Bundt-shaped wonder of a "cake" called baked ricotta di bufala. No eggs. No flour. Just a fine-textured ricotta from cow's milk and water buffalo milk, baked with sugar and a hint of lemon. If you've sworn off cheesecake, this elegant dessert will win you back.

Baked ricotta di bufala, $6.50 a hefty half-pound, Claudio King of Cheese, 924 S. Ninth St., 215-627-1873,

- Rick Nichols

Kitchen friends

For little hands eager to help in the kitchen, these colorful silicone kitchen tools are perfect stocking stuffers for budding chefs. Not only can they whisk, stir, and brush in the kitchen, they can also bend and stretch like Gumby.

Head Chefs tools, $10 each at Sur La Table, in 500 Route 73, Marlton, 856-797-0098;

- Maureen Fitzgerald

A nutritional punch

These cookies from South Africa pack protein and fiber in a tiny, tasty package of interesting ingredients. We especially liked the Granola Fruit Crunchi cookies, made with apricots, dates, oats and flaxseeds, and the grapeseed shortbread, made with wheat flour, grapeseed powder, and rooibos extract.

Khaya Cookies, $5.75 per 4.6 ounces, Bacchus, 2300 Spruce St., 215-545-6656,

- M.F.