Chocolate Lace. At Camalier and Buckley, Chevy

Chase Gifts of Watergate, Cherie's Touch, Design Associates Ltd., Georgetown Temptations, and Lisa Holland for Friends. About $6 for a fourteen-ounce box.

When you want a little chocolate, it is nice not to have to commit yourself to a whole bar or bon bon. Chocolate Lace you can nibble, a few calories at a time. That is one pleasant thing about it. Another is that it is delicious, a fragile crunch to spun caramel, coated with an equally fragile layer of dark chocolate. It was invented in this country by an eighty-six-year-old Russian woman, who probably couldn't break the lace-tatting habit once all her chairs had been covered with antimacassars. The confection starts simply enough, with sugar, corn syrup, chocolate and lecithin - no preservatives. How it evolves into edible lace is the Magic Chocolate Corporation's secret, but it takes a seventy-foot-long machine. With such a fragile product there is bound to be a lot of crumbling, so they are expanding into chocolate lace ice cream and ice cream topping, and eventually cookies. You can serve your own crumbles over ice cream, or even better with a touch of coffee liqueur. Chocolate lace might have been invented just to illustrate the word delicacy.