Sunday, November 29, 2015

Recalls Notice for Iowa Chocolate Cult Readers

My readers from Iowa may have already seen this but in case you haven't, here is a recall specific to those of you in Orange City, Hartley, Hawarden and Sioux Center. I have family in Iowa so this really caught my attention. For further information go here.

Casey's Bakery Inc. of Sioux Center, Iowa is voluntarily recalling all Snickers 8x8 cakes produced prior November 14, 2015, because the cakes contain undeclared peanuts. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

Snickers 8x8 cake was distributed to stores in Orange City, Hartley and Hawarden by delivery to grocery stores. The cakes were also sold out of the Casey's Bakery retail store in Sioux Center. The cakes were only distributed within the state of Iowa.

All cakes with date codes prior to 696 or purchased before Nov. 14, 2015 are being recalled. The code may be found on the back of the product package. Cakes come in individual foil trays with clear plastic lids and are sold frozen. Net weight is 23 oz.

No Illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was voluntarily initiated after a label inspection was performed and it was discovered the label did not properly claim peanuts in the toppings as an ingredient. The labeling has been updated and all current Snickers 8x8 cakes properly declare the peanuts in the toppings on the Ingredient List.

This recall does not apply to any other Casey's Bakery Products.

Consumers may return the product to Casey's Bakery Inc. for a full refund. For more information, contact Kathy De Groot at 712-722-2551 9 am to 5 pm CST Monday through Friday.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Marzipan and Nougat for Holiday Chocolate

Here in the USA, marzipan is often a holiday food most commonly associated with Christmas so I decided to look at four more bars from Chocion that use marzipan (three bars) or nougat (one bar) in them. Two of these are milk chocolate and two are dark chocolate, we'll began as we normally do with the milk and work up to the darker. Chocion sent us these bars to test and write about but no other fees in exchange for an honest review for all of you to read.

We'll start with the Nougat Waffel or Milk Chocolate with Waffle Nougat. These have hazelnuts, wheat, dairy, and soy if those are allergen concerns for you. This is 38% cacao so darker than most milk chocolate Americans will be used to. This has a light brown look to it and a buttery cocoa scent like I expect from German chocolate. It cuts into two parts fairly easily with a very sharp knife and inside is a light, nearly tan center with a light hazelnut fragrance. There is a snap when I take a bite to discover crunchy pieces of hazelnut. The first flavor my mouth registers is sweet, buttery chocolate then the hazelnut creaminess that blends together very well. This is definitely one of the best milk chocolate hazelnut bars I've tested in the past seven years and I have tested a lot of them!

The next three bars are marzipan but what is marzipan? Basically it is almond meal (yes you can make a flour or meal out of most nuts and grains) combined with sugar (in this case) or honey to make a paste that can be molded or used in various treats. It can also be flavored but the almond flavor, in my experience, is always there.

The other 38% cacao bar is called Marzipan Pistazien or Milk Chocolate filled with Marzipan Pistachios. Obviously these have tree nuts as well as dairy and soy ingredients. These have a marzipan and light pistachio as well as a light chocolate fragrance. Cutting a bar in half revealed the marzipan as well as greenish pieces of pistachio. This has a much softer center and it makes no sound when I cut it or bite into it. It has a mealy sort of texture that I is fairly common with marzipan that I've had before. The first flavor is a light chocolate but that is quickly overwhelmed by the marzipan; the pistachio is really only there when I bite into a piece. I really wanted more of the chocolate to come out in this bar and less of the marzipan. The next two darker chocolate bars are also marzipan so I'll see if it is a matter of took much marzipan or too little cacao content to really compete.

The first darker chocolate bar is a 62% Marzipan Pur or Dark Chocolate with Marzipan. This has almonds, dairy and soy ingredients You can see in our photos that the difference between 38% and 63% in terms of color is very stark. This has a very powerful chocolate scent and barely any marzipan at all before I cut it open; even then the chocolate stays strong. The inside is not as soft as the previous bar and it breaks with a soft soft but it is not crunchy. The marzipan here is less mealy feeling as well. The almond essence is there but it blends with the darker chocolate, bringing out a touch of sweetness that balances the slightly bitter chocolate. This one I really loved. I would be thrilled to get this bar as a gift.

Another 62% cacao bar is the Marzipan Gehackete NĂ¼sse or Dark Chocolate with Marzipan and Chopped Nuts with almonds, hazelnuts, soy, and dairy ingredients -- yes the only other nuts are hazelnuts and since I really loved the milk chocolate bar with these same nuts I'm hoping I'll love this one as well. This bar makes the same sound as the pure marzipan bar did and no crunchy when I chewed a bit. The dark chocolate scent is stronger than the previous bar and I didn't really get a marzipan or hazelnut fragrance. I noticed the initial flavor of dark chocolate with the almond was quickly matched by the hazelnuts came out more with each bite. The marzipan and the hazelnut are two distinctive flavors and they start to dampen the dark chocolate so I liked this bar a lot but I can't say that I loved it.

These four bars that we received from Chocion are only a very small number of the wide range of nougat and marzipan filled bars that Chocion makes. Please do go check them out if you have a buttery chocolate or German chocolate lover on your holiday gift list. I highly recommend the first and the third bar that we looked at but the fourth was also good as well. They will be so happy with your gift if you get them one of these.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Get Ready for National French Toast Day

Saturday, November 28th, is National French Toast Day and in honor of that, I'm sharing a recipe for Baked Chocolate Chip French Toast. This recipe was inspired by and modelled upon the one here at Pepperidge Farms website. I've changed the steps and five ingredients so this is a new recipe. I hope you try it out and let me know what you thought in comments. Some of the ingredients I used were given to me by companies to experiment with and these are marked in the ingredients list; no other compensation was received for this post.

Baked Chocolate Chip French Toast
By: TammyJo Eckhart, PhD

1 14 oz loaf of Pepperidge Farms Chocolatey Chip Swirl Bread
1.5 oz dried goji berries (Viva Labs sent me these)
1 oz raw cacao nibs (Viva Labs sent me these)
6 servings of egg substitute
2 cups skim milk
2 tsp homemade vanilla (vanilla beans from Max Foods)


1) Let your loaf of bread dry out over a couple of days or put the loaf into a freezer for a week. Check to make sure the bread is a little dry even in the center of the loaf before you use it for this recipe.

2) Measure out your goji berries and cacao nibs using a kitchen scale then set these aside.

3) Cut up 8 slices of the bread. Each slice should be cut into 16 pieces. I found that cutting them 2 slices at a time kept the bread fluffier while saving a bit of time.

4) Toss the pieces into a greased or non-stick spray 3 quart, rectangular baking pan.

5) Sprinkle the berry and nibs over this layer attempting to spread them evenly.

6) Cut up the rest of the loaf in the same way then toss over the berry nibs layer.

7) With a whisk, beat together the eggs, skim milk, and vanilla.

8) Pour the liquids as evenly as you can over the bread, berries, and nibs. The stir gently to try and get every piece of bread coated then press the mixture down evenly.

9) Place in the refrigerator for 1-10 hours. I did for only an hour. If you intend to let it set longer in your refrigerator make sure you cover it up.

10) Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

11) Place the pan into the pre-heated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

12) Serve it as you would any French toast you'd enjoy.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Gift Box of Milk Chocolate from Cailler

I received a box of Cailler Milk Chocolate Pralines via the Amazon Vine program last month. Boxes of chocolate are fairly common gifts to consider giving during the fall and winter holidays so let's see if this box has what it takes to please milk chocolate lovers in your life. While this box does not have a holiday theme at first glance as you'll see, the inside wrapping is red so you could always dress it up. This box of Cailler Milk Chocolate was sent for me to test and write about honestly on but I wanted to share it with you all here on The Chocolate Cult as well. No other compensation was received. All links go to the Amazon page where these are sold and if you buy it through our links, you'll also be helping out The Chocolate cult with your clicks!

Let's start with the chocolate you'll find inside the packaging (we'll get to that at the end of this article). This is Cailler's "small box" of milk chocolate that they have on sale through  It has 16 pieces, as you can see. we'll go through each type of chocolate here, you'll note there are some types of pralines that are represented a couple of times but in total there are 8 varieties we'll examine in depth, starting with the upper left hand side and working our way across before moving to the next row of chocolates. If Cailler sounds familiar to you, it should. Fancois-Louis Cailler created the oldest currently existing Swiss chocolate brands and his son-in-law, Daniel Peter, invited milk chocolate. Ready to learn more about this specific chocolate box? Keep reading.

The 1st variety is Creamy Caramel praline, this is just one of several caramel varieties in this milk chocolate Cailler box. This looks a lot like a later piece but completely milk chocolate and covered in chocolate jimmies. This has a light cocoa scent with a tangy sweet edge to it even before I take a bite. The bottom of this measures about 7/8th of an inch across while the top is 1.25 inches across; it is 13/16th inch tall. I bite it and it makes a soft pop as the bottom caves in. Slightly salty but very buttery caramel floods over my tongue and into my mouth. The chocolate is very creamy and melts rapidly, coating my tongue so that the flavors all blend together. The jimmies provide a little bit of texture that makes it an interesting treat to just focus my sense of touch onto.

Avelotte Caramel is the 2nd type of praline in this box and the only one wrapped in silver foil. This is the lightest colored of the entire box and I wonder why it is wrapped up since it seems solid in my fingers. This is 15/16th of an inch across and a good 3/4th inch high. This is the first of many pralines with hazelnut in this box; tree nut allergy sufferers should NOT be given this box as a gift. I could smell the hazelnut and taste it when I took a bite into the semi-soft praline. There is a hint of sweetness that may indeed be caramel but it is mixed into the entire chocolate making it a creamy blended affair. Letting it melt in your mouth brings out the caramel tones and a roasted hazelnut essence but decreases the chocolate flavor.

The 3rd variety comes in the form of a cocoa pod called Velvet Bliss and it, too, has hazelnut. These are 1.5 inches long, 7/8th inches wide and 0.5 inches thick so a nice big praline. I take a bite and it makes a very soft crunch. Inside the milk chocolate shell is a more hazelnut butter like center that has a very roasted flavor that adds to the milk chocolate's intensity without curbing the creaminess. So far this is my favorite because the chocolate is strongest but I think I'd really like to try out darker Cailler creations to see if they can do those as well.

The fan shaped Triangle Crisps, are the 4th variety; they have crispy wafer and almonds in them but no hazelnuts, finally! There have an art deco feel to them from the etching on the top, don't you think? The top of the fan is 1.5 inches across and the praline is about 0.5 inches thick. These have a good milk chocolate fragrance to them. They make a crunch when I take a bite and continue to crunch with each chew. Inside pieces of almond and pieces of wafer can be seen though I can't take a clear photo of it. The almonds taste slightly roasted but the primarily flavor is the creamy milk chocolate displacing the previous praline from the top spot in my mouth. At this point, along with four pralines I've also drank 12 ounces of water to help clean my palate between pieces and take a break, continuing the testing another day. MODERATION, remember?

The 5th variety, Gianduja is shaped a bit like a steepled building to me; what do you think? It is 1.25 inches long, 5/8th inch wide, and 0.75 inches tall. This has a spicy hazelnut scent to it which is interesting because Gianduja generally means a chocolate spread made of 30% hazelnut. No sound is heard when I take a bite yet this is not as soft as some of the previous pieces. There is a harder outside milk chocolate shell and a semi-soft center. No spice in the flavor at all but it does does have a stronger hazelnut flavor that isn't roasted, it just blends into the milk chocolate. Letting half the praline melt in my mouth makes this chocolate even creamier and the hazelnut less noticeable. Again this is what I personally look for any chocolate -- more chocolate -- so I really liked these.

The 6th variety is the Creamy Cup praline which looks like it has white chocolate inside of a milk chocolate cup. These are the same size as the Creamy Caramel so I won't repeat that information here. Interestingly the white chocolate does not add to the creamy scent, nope, this is mostly the milk chocolate of the other pralines and I suspect there might be more hazelnut but I'll have to take a bite to find out. This makes a sound when I take a bite into a very solid chocolate make almost entirely of white chocolate with only the cup part made of milk chocolate. The white chocolate has a hint of vanilla and it creamy as I'd expect, a touch sweet as well, The milk chocolate is easily covered up by the white chocolate so consider this for your white chocolate lover.

The 7th type of praline is in the same of a nutty log called Milk Hazelnut Crush is 1.25 inches long, a touch more than 0.5 inches thick, and 5/8th inch tall. You can see that this is full of hazelnuts even on the surface and yet it barely makes a sound when I bite it in half. Inside it is smooth, semi-soft and has a strong hazelnut scent and flavor. The tiny pieces of hazelnuts make a very soft crunch as I chew but mostly this adds an interesting texture; the hazelnuts actually try to stick to my teeth a bit! The milk chocolate and the hazelnut blend very well but not as smoothly as with the Gianduja praline.

The 8th and final variety is along in the box, the Swiss Praline, with a white chocolate on top of a caramelized hazelnut body. This raises to 1 1/8th inch high and the bottom has a diameter of 1 1/8th inches. The milk chocolate part has a hazelnut scent to it but the white chocolate is merely a slightly creamier milk chocolate fragrance. I bite off the top and discover and very intensely hazelnut cream inside that the white chocolate tempers but the milk chocolate is barely present. Eating the bottom half lets more of the milk chocolate through but i also realize that the center had a nougat like texture, a touch chewy, almost like a marshmallow cream. This was not what I was expecting yet in hindsight the white chocolate topping does give a visual hint of this sort of flavor and texture. It was very interesting and I wonder why there is only praline of this time.

In terms of chocolate, if you love milk chocolate, white chocolate, and hazelnuts, this Cailler Milk Chocolate Pralines is a wonderful gift. I give it Sacramental Status for the quality of ingredients and for the Cailler traditions that embody Swiss chocolate.

Note: The external package from Cailler (not the oversized box from Amazon) says the packaging is "Certified Frustration-Free" so let's test that out. Basically cut the one seam on the external box and you can open it up. The slide the light blue fabric ribbon off (It has a strip of elastic making it easy to remove from and replace onto the box), tear the small piece of tape along the seam, use the side hole to push, and out comes another box.

Actually this is red wrapping paper over a box that does not have a lip so much as a soft black paper top like you often find just under the lid of boxes of chocolate. The paper unwraps easily and is fairly easy to rewrap around the box if you want to save chocolate.... Moderation, folks, Moderation. Under the black padded paper top the box is wrapped in clear plastic with a gold seam that you should be able to pull to open up the plastic... I had to start mine with scissors then it worked.

"Frustration Free"... certainly not as difficult as some boxes of chocolate I've opened but still if we include the Amazon packaging, it takes five steps to get to the pralines. Below are the four steps beyond the Amazon packaging.

Actually Cailler Shipping Box
Cailler Gift Box inside Shipping Box
Slip Top Box and Ribbon to Reveal Red Wrapping Paper
Push on the opening you can see on the dark cover and it pushes the red wrapped inner box out. The ribbon also has elastic if you want to slip it on. It is relatively easy to also repack the box just to help store it. The little blue label is actually a tiny booklet listing 

Unwrap Paper to Find Plastic and Soft Black Covers
I had to cut off the plastic wrap; that gold line you see, should have been a lift-and-pull opening but it wasn't started at all. Under that were the chocolates you saw in the second photo but here it is again in case you forgot.

Other than the packaging, this small, 16 piece, box of Cailler Milk Chocolate would be good for milk chocolate lovers unless they are allergic to tree nuts, coconut, milk, or wheat. Do you think this is the sort of gift someone in your life would appreciate for the holidays? Who? leave us a comment and let us know.