Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cocoa Cravings Giveaway

Today we're going to look at the 71% 50g chocolate bar from Cocoa Cravings, an Illinois company whose products are made in the country of origin, in this case Ecuador.  They claim that these are "Seed to Table Rainforest Beans" and also that these are a "Healthy Way to Indulge" so we'll check those claims out as well in today's Saturday Sacrament.  We are also hosting a giveaway of all three of their bars to one lucky reader.  You have to read through the entire article and then enter at the end of this post.  Read carefully because one of the entries will be a question about this feature article.

The bar itself is 50g and made up of 16 etched out squares so you can eat as much or as little as you want. It has a nice dark color and the top of each square has a s sort of starburst or sunburst on the top of it.  It comes in a paper box but also a silver foil wrapper that takes a bit of effort to open but not that much.  It has a very dark cocoa scent with an undercurrent of sugar cane and double checking the ingredients list I see cocoa powder, cocoa butter, evaporated cane juice, lecithin, and vanilla -- so this is vegan for our readers who need or want this.  The columns and then the individual squares of chocolate snap off easily and with a loud sound.  Each chew makes a snapping sound and the first burst is a light cocoa with increasing intensity with a light floral edge; there is none of the sweetness that I've encountered with other sugar cane dark chocolates that I find distracting.  I let the second square melt in my mouth and as expected it melts very slowly, coating my mouth, and allowing the chocolate's intensity to increase and start a cocoa buzz that has the world seeming brighter to my eyes within seconds.  This is wonderful 71% chocolate, nothing hampering the experience of the rich single-origin chocolate.

The box this bar came in says "Pure Made in Ecuador for Cocoa Cravings" yet the website proclaims that their chocolate is made in Chicago... This is confusing and something the brand should clarify. This bar is made from single-origin Criollo beans, which are a fairly raw species of cocoa bean so you may not have encountered much chocolate out there made from them though we have tested a few brands that use them.  The website lists several organic and fairtrade organizations that this family owned business is a member of in case you want to check that out.

Now for the information you've been waiting for -- how to enter the GIVEAWAY and win 3 Cocoa Cravings chocolate bars.  First, you Must have an address in the lower 48 states to win this giveaway; sorry international readers. Make sure you have a real email address linked to your comment so I can contact you if you win.  Follow the directions from Rafflecopter below.  I will manually check that you have left a comment on this post here so do that before you click the Rafflecopter information saying you have left a comment.  The comment needs to answer a question so be careful when you answer.  You may send a twitter message every day for an extra entry to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If this 71% bar from Cocoa Cravings sound good to you, go check them out. This is a wonderful chocolate bar that you should savor and enjoy.  Made from Criollo beans and definitely dark this is not for folks of common tastes or for most children.  It heartily deserves the label of Sacrament Worthy!  I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Twix Recall for September 14, 2014

I'm betting a lot of our readers in the USA are familiar with Twix so please read the information below if you bought Twix candies recently.  Please click on the links for each product and double check the information and your homes for these products.

Mars Chocolate North America Issues Allergy Alert Voluntary Recall on Undeclared Peanuts and Eggs in TWIX® Bites 7oz Stand Up Pouch

Consumer Contact: 1-800-551-0907

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 5, 2014 - Today, Mars Chocolate North America announced a voluntary recall of its TWIX® Brand Unwrapped Bites 7 oz. Stand Up Pouch with the code date: 421BA4GA60.

Fewer than 25 cases of the stand-up pouches in this single lot code may contain product containing peanuts and eggs without listing them on the ingredient label. People who have allergies to peanuts and egg run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. No adverse reactions have been reported to date.

The issue was identified after a consumer notified us of peanuts in their TWIX® Unwrapped Bites product.

This specific code date was shipped and distributed to our customers’ warehouses in Indiana, Texas, Oregon, Tennessee and Connecticut. These customers then redistribute products for retail sale nationwide.

The TWIX® Brand Unwrapped Bites product comes in a 7 ounce, metallized-golden package marked with lot # 421BA4GA60 and with an expiration date of 03/2015 stamped on the back.

Mars Chocolate will work with retail customers to ensure that the recalled product is not on store shelves. In the event that consumers believe they have purchased this item and have allergy concerns, they should return this product to the store where they purchased it for a full refund. Consumers with questions or concerns may call our toll-free number, 7 days a week, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (est): 1-800-551-0907.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Chocolate Goddess for the Fall Equinox

The fall equinox comes on September 23, a Tuesday this year, so I wanted to reveal this wonderful work of art that we were sent -- the Venus of Willendorf in dark chocolate from Sucré Bleu.  I tested this with my women's group because many people have seen this figurine as an empowering symbol plus we all like dark chocolate and everyone is very opinionated so I know they'd be honest with me. Because your Chocolate Priestess was a history student and professor for a while, let her geek out a bit about this.

Here's a photo of the 1908 find of the figurine (now often called the Woman of Willendorf by some scholars).  The mold that Sucré Bleu made resulted in a very realistic chocolate version of her, don't you think? The original statue isn't large only 4.25 inches or 10.8 cm tall.  It was discovered in Austria on the banks of the Danube River and is dated back at least 22,000 years ago during an ice age.  While archaeologists and scholars originally ascribe religious meaning to the figure the truth is that we may never know why she was made or what she was used since we do not know for certain which prehistoric people made her.  That they did when they would have been struggling to survive suggests that she was very important however.

We know what the Sucré Bleu dark chocolate version of this icon is for -- eating!  Not only is this solid dark chocolate but it has peanut butter chips and pretzels pieces in it as well.  If you are allergic to any of the ingredients that would normally be used to make dark chocolate, pretzels, or peanut butter you should steer clear obviously.  However the artist behind Sucré Bleu describes her work as "an absurdly delicious conversation piece" and you'll see that we did indeed talk about it when I tested it with three other women.

Everyone loved the looked of this Venus, one said this is the most beautiful chocolate that she'd ever seen. One of my testers pointed out she is only made in the half, not the full model of the figurine.  In this case that was good because it made it much easier to cut her up (cry) and share her out.  That posed a problem when another woman said It seems sad to destroy her, should we have some sort of ritual?  So we did.  We laid her down, we thanked her and Sucré Bleu for sharing her bounty with us, and we paused in silence for a few seconds.

Inside we found pretzel pieces and peanut butter chips.  From the outside we could only smell the dark chocolate but once you have her open you can smell salt, a hint of peanut, and grain. We noticed that the flat back wasn't completely flat but had lumps for the pieces of pretzels and chips inside.  One of the testers suggested that perhaps a layer of dark chocolate coated the top and side to make them smooth and shiny compared to the back.  The initial flavor upon taking a bite from this figure was sweet chocolate blending into a grainy saltiness, and a hint of creaminess before turning to a slightly bitter chocolate; no one in the foursome got peanut yet because it blended so well we didn't mind and figured the creaminess might be from the chips.  The flavor was best described as harmonious.  This was a pleasure to each of our mouths. The pretzels were crunchy, the chips creamy, and the chocolate smooth; everyone loved the texture.  In this case letting it melt in our mouths wasn't as enjoyable since it blended the flavors a bit too much.

For beauty and thoughtfulness as well as overall sensory pleasure, the Chocolate Venus of Willendorf earns our highest honor of Sacrament status. Sucré Bleu holds great promise as a chocolate company with an artistic soul and you all need to go check this out and order one.

Pages Consulted:

Art History Resources Online
Then Again

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Meet the Artist behind Sucré Bleu

Sisters and Brothers in Chocolate I'd like to introduce you today to the lady behind Sucré Bleu, Persia Tatar.  We'll be featuring one of her creations this coming Saturday in honor of various approaching neo-pagan and earth based religious holidays that some of you may be celebrating.

Welcome, Persia to The Chocolate Cult!

Thanks TammyJo, excited to be here!

Persia do you consider yourself an artist, a chocolatier, a chocolate maker, or something else?

I am an artist. The chocolate is just the medium, albeit a delicious one!

Do you have formal training (if so, where) or is this all raw talent that we see in your creations?

If not raw, at least rare! I have a business degree and studied fashion design; I’ve spent a lot of time in advertising and social media. My husband is an artist, so we work together on many of the sculptures.

How did you get into making works of art in chocolate?

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to make a chocolate Jesus. I grew up in a very religious area and was also obsessed with candy.  One day after school I attempted to melt candy bars and form them into a sculpture and you can imagine how this turned out. Many many years later I still had this dream and have been finally able to realize it!

Your first creation for Sucré Bleu was the Chocolate Jesus and now you've turned to the Venus of Willendorf.  Why did you decide to start with these two iconic images?

The Chocolate Jesus was always something I wanted or needed to make. The Venus of Willendorf seemed like a logical counterpoint because she’s a prehistoric symbol of girl-power!

Did you get any backlash against your Chocolate Jesus?

Very minor, and on Twitter only. Chocolate Jesus is about peace and love, and for the most part I think people get that. We’ve had many orders from religious people and even several churches. I don’t believe that humor and deliciousness are outside the realm of the spiritual.

How do you turn your idea into the actual product?  Do you have a partner who helps you?  Do you craft a mold for these?  Please do explain a bit for our readers.

We begin by making the sculpture by hand (currently we use sculpting clay). When we have the perfect shape and size, I make a silicon mould and create a casting in plaster.  The castings are then sent to a mould making company, I use TOMRIC and they’ve been very helpful.  I also work with an amazing chocolatier, Jean-Francois Bonnet of Tumbador and he makes sure that the mould works well with the chocolate. Once we have perfected the test mould, TOMRIC creates production polycarbonate moulds and Jean-Francois and his team perform their magic. I also use Tap Packaging Solutions for my custom boxes – I actually connected with them through the Chocolatiers & Confectioners Linkedin group and have really enjoyed working with them on packaging for both chocolate sculptures.

The Chocolate Jesus was solid dark chocolate with sea salt on the back but the Venus of Wilendorf is dark chocolate with salted pretzels and peanut butter chips.  How did you decide what to put in each creation?

To some extent the shape of each piece dictates what will work in terms of inclusions or fillings. The intensity of dark chocolate sparked by fleur de sel seemed fitting for Chocolate Jesus. With the Venus, her primitive power called for more substantive inclusions. Working with Jean-Francois on multiple flavor combinations, we went with pretzels and peanut butter chips for the salt and also the textures.

Are your creations only available online or do you have a brick and mortar storefront?

We sell online and will also be available at Smorgasburg this fall in Brooklyn.

Have you begun to think about your next creation?  If it happens to be for Halloween we have our Annual Halloween Treat Challenge here on The Chocolate Cult.

We love Halloween and challenges – so we will have to brainstorm for victory!

Is there anything else you'd like our world-wide readers to know about Sucré Bleu?

We’re all about having fun. We strive to share our joie de vivre through absurdly delicious conversation pieces!

Thank you, Persia, for your time today.

Thank you! Thrilled to be a part of The Chocolate Cult!

Sisters and Brothers, please leave a few comments for Persia and perhaps she'll answer back.   Let us know what you think about the idea of chocolate as art.