Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wilder vs. Depp: Who was the Best Willy Wonka?

Today was the day back in 1971 when this "children's" movie was released.



Have you seen it? How old were you when you saw it? I was 1-2 years old myself so I didn't see it until years later on television. It was both scary and fun to watch. Later I read the book and thought it was different in a some ways but I felt the Gene Wilder version did a good job with the overall feel of the story.

Years later, in 2005, Johnny Depp took on this same role in a new version of the film.



Do you remember this one? Did you see it? How did you think it compared? It was creepy in other ways and while the lyrics were Dahl's I didn't really like the story changes or the tone of this one.

If you could only save one of these movies for future generations to watch, which would it be and why?

I look forward to seeing your comments and having a good discussion about these two movies.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

South Beach Gets Smoothie Right

The South Beach Diet has been called many things but very rarely have we enjoyed their chocolatey products here on The Chocolate Cult even though we get them fairly often through various programs we participate in such as the Vine Program on Amazon that sent us this four pack of the 100 Calorie Smoothie in Chocolate Truffle flavor variety. Note: I generally have a very negative experience with such "healthy" or "diet" drinks and even most breakfast drinks so I wasn't looking forward to testing this for all of you reading this article.

There are directions for usage on the box and I followed these -- chilled it well, shook it up well, poured it into a glass so I didn't get any plastic taste. As you can see it above, this has the milk chocolate look you'd expect.  It has a cocoa and light sweet scent to it that does remind me of a truffle you could buy in a candy or chocolate shop.  It is thick and coats my mouth and tongue when I take a sip but I brace for a poor flavor based on my previous experiences with South Beach Diet products... the taste is sweet but not too sweet, definitely chocolate and certain much like an average plain chocolate truffle.  I'm really pleasantly surprised.

If there weren't so many chemicals on the ingredient list this might approach great but with these added artificials it is merely one of the best we've had from South Beach Diet.  They are rather expensive to buy online so even though if you did that you'd give some money back to The Chocolate Cult and help us bring your more chocolate reports, I can't in good conscious suggest it.  If you want to try this link to Amazon (and help us out on The Chocolate Cult) or look at your local grocery store.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Goji Berries & Chocolate

Have you ever had goji berries? I hadn't had them until the folks from Viva Labs contacted me again to see if I'd be willing to try a few more of their products. Our rule here on The Chocolate Cult is that if we can combine it with chocolate, we'll try it out so they sent us this 16oz bag of their Viva Labs #1 Premium Himalayan Organic Goji Berries, Noticeably Larger and Juicier, 1lb bag
. Given that is it summer and some of you may be looking to add more fruit to your diets, I thought this was a good time to give it a try. I used the goji berries in a few different ways to see how they worked and how the type of chocolate I used them with affected their taste and vice versa.



First let's look at them on their own, chocolate free. They look a lot like a red raisin, don't they? They taste a lot like a raisin, too, but a bit tarter and a touch drier. I liked them okay on their own but we want to get to the chocolate with them, right?






I made a modified Hermit Bar recipe that I found in the "Just One More Bite!" cookbook from Mr. Food (page 174 for inspiration) that I'll review later this year. I switched out their cranberries for the goji berries and added a bit of cocoa in place of the flour and added in a bit more moisture as well as some other substitutions and reductions so here is my

Cocoa Goji Hermit Bars Recipe

Ingredients for the Bars:'
2 sticks light butter, softened
2 C firmly packed light brown sugar
6 T egg white substitute
1 C water
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
3 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C cocoa powder (I used Equal Exchange which I had on hand)
1 C goji berries
1 C mini chocolate chips (I used Nestle which I had on hand)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F, move one rack to the middle position in the oven.

2. Coat 10X15 inch rimmed baking sheet with no-stick spray.

3. After bringing sticks of butter to room temperature, cut the sticks into small pieces and beat them together with the brown sugar until thoroughly mixed.

4. Blend in the egg whites until thoroughly mixed.

5. On lower speed, beat in water, baking soda, cinnamon, and cocoa powder.

6. Mix in flour a bit at a time until thoroughly blended and you can't see bits of any of the ingredients.

7. Stir in goji berries and chocolate chips by hand.

8. Spread mixture on baking sheet.

9. Bake 15-20 minutes or until firm.

10. Set pan on wire rack to cool before cutting into bars. I cut mine into 42 bars. Using the ingredients that I did and cutting them that many bars, made each bar hold 117 calories.


First thing to know about Goji Berries and baking -- the berries turn orange, they do not stay red so keep that in mind if you have an idea of what you want your finished product to look like.

I also tried the goji berries in a few other chocolate goods and I'll share those results and recipes with you later on in the year. But for now here's an extra photo to tease you.


What recipes have you made with Goji Berries, cocoa, and/or chocolate? Let me know in a comment please. If you haven't tried Goji Berries but like raisins and cranberries, I strongly suggest you give it a try. If you use the links we've proved it will take you to Amazon.com to buy these, helping out Viva Labs as well as The Chocolate Cult with every purchase.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pure Allergen Free Chocolate Bars from Pascha

I know, I know, it is June where is the ice cream and frozen treats on The Chocolate Cult. We'll get there, we'll get there, I promise. Do you remember that just two weeks ago we shared five flavored chocolate bars from Pascha Chocolate with you all? The photo to the right should trigger your memory, that is the 55% with cacao nibs, our favorite of the set of five. If do not remember, go back and check that article out before you continue reading about these three pure chocolate bars from Pascha.  Go ahead, we shared the link above. (We received those five bars and the three we are sharing with you today in exchange for testing and review.)

Now that you are back, let's check out the 55%, 70%, and 85% 3.5 ounce PASCHA chocolate bars. At 3.5 ounces these are bars you can use to bake or make candy with or you can eat them as is. We're going to do a bit of both with these bars but let's start with a direct comparison of the bars themselves in terms of their cacao content and how it affect flavor and color. I hope you can see the differences in colors in this photo but if it doesn't show there is a radical difference between the 55% and the 85% in terms of the darkness of their brown color.

We'll start with the 55% bar and work out way to the darkest then I'll show you how else I used these big bars. The bar has fairly easily break apart sections, 10 sections = one serving of 240 calories. This has a nice slightly golden brown color and a slightly fruity scent when I take a whiff of it. It makes a snap when I take a bite and immediately I get sweet chocolate flavor that grows in sweetness and a butteriness with each chew. There is no bitterness here, only sweet chocolate. Letting a bite melt in my mouth smoothed out the chocolate and sweet flavors and lets out a bit of a roasted edge as well.

The 70% bar may seem a bit intense for some of you. This was a bit more difficult to break into sections but again 10 sections = one serving of 250 calories this time. This is a solid brown color and has a stronger cocoa fragrance to it. The snap it makes when I take a bite is louder than the previous bar. The chocolate here is not as sweet, it does have a slight bitterness to it after a few chews. If you let it melt in your mouth the bitterness is really toned down quite a bit but the cocoa buzz I got increased.

I know that most of you reading now are going to cringe when I say it is time for the 85% bar because for most of you, this will be too bitter, you start thinking of chocolate as baking ingredient but I personally love the 80-90% range most of the time. Here 10 sections = 260 calories and each section was hard to break apart but you can do it. The color of this bar is much darker in color but interestingly it has a slightly sweet fragrance to it. Also it makes a softer snap when I take a bite and at first there is a sweetness that changes to a darker flavor with each chew but the sweetness never disappears. The slower approach of letting it melt in the mouth decreases the sweetness but did not increase the bitterness to me until right at the end. For some folks this might start to dry out your mouth but I didn't find that to be the case for this particular bar.

Back when it was cold, February 2015, our local Kroger had a grand reopening and as part of it they had a sale on strawberries and coupons for these -- I got two pounds of strawberries for $1 using these two discounts so I also turned them into a sort of strawberry 85% chocolate treat that you in the photo to the left. Yes, I used the 85% barf from Pascha. Why the darkest? Strawberries tend to be very sweet or tart so they need a good counter. Plus they have a lot of water and fiber so I think they only increases the healthiest aspects of darker chocolate. I made 7 servings of 142 calories each.

I melted some caramels (also on sale and with a coupon) with the leftover 70% bar, again the darker chocolate balanced well with the sweet caramel. I molded these in my larger molds with a result of 21 chocolate caramels with 55 calories each.

Finally I used the rest of the 55% bar to just make into molded chocolates. 55% is something all of our friends can enjoy while darker or milk chocolates tend to be more limited in their appeal. The result was 12 smaller molded shapes of 48 calories each.

Amazing 3.5 oz bars from Pascha that you can use in several different ways. These definitely earn our Sacramental Status!