Wednesday, October 1, 2014

National Homemade Cookie Day 2014

In honor of "National Homemade Cookie Day" (October 1st) and to do a feature on this OXO Good Cookie Spatula I received from one of the Holiday cookie swaps I've done in the past, I thought I'd do a rare recipe post at the same time.  I got the spatula by taking part in a cookie swap in 2012 (my second time with that event).  Mine as you can see in this photo has an orange handle and head as well as the words "be a good cookie" on the head.

I had a cake mix and decided to try a recipe from it but the one on the box had nuts in it.  I love nuts but it isn't fair for me to make something that my entire family can't enjoy or at least try (my husband has a serious tree nut allergy).  Today I want to share how I modified that recipe into my own and review how well the spatula worked.

I used two types of chocolate in this recipe; the cake mix and a bag of peanut butter and milk chocolate chips.  You may want to change this recipe yourself but I tend to use egg substitutes and reduced fat oils and butter.

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies (44 average cookie scoop cookies)

Ingredients:

1 pk Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
¼ cup water
1 stick "I cant’ believe its not butter" (melted)
½ cup egg substitute
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp real vanilla
1 cup old fashioned oats
11oz peanut butter and milk chocolate baking chips

Instructions:
     Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease your cookies sheets.  Blend together the water, melted butter, egg substitute, and vanilla.  Add in the sugar and oats thoroughly then incorporate the cake mix a bit at a time until it is all blended well. Finally add in the baking chips and get them into every layer of your batter.

     Using an average size cookie scoop place the dough on your greased cookie sheets.  Bake for 13 minutes (1 minute less for more googy or 1 minute more for more crisp cookies).

     Remove the cookie sheet and cookies from oven but let the cookies set for two minutes before you start removing them to either a cooling rack or onto a piece of parchment paper or other surface.  I use paper shopping bags cut and laid out myself then I recycle the bag after I'm done.

The spatula did a very good job of removing each cookie carefully and simply.  Since I do not heavily grease my cookie sheets (why add more fats?) this is very important for my baking.  Lter tests with the same spatula showed that it works best on light cookies or products but not so much on harder/firmer cookies.  If you follow the recipe using the same ingredients that I did, each cookie has 109 calories and that's all.

So, Sisters and Brothers, what do you think of these? Would you make them and if so, for what occasion?


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scary Chocolates throughout October 2014

Soon, very soon, Sisters and Brothers, we will have our Annual Halloween Treat Challenge now in its 7th year.  Which brands and companies have been brave enough to submit to our testing to see who will be named the best of 2014? You'll have to come back every Saturday to see throughout October -- here's a hint: I'm doing a lot of baking with this year's challengers.


There are even more reason to celebrate with Chocolate in October as you can see below.

October = National Dessert Month, National Cookie Month

October = first full week is National Mental Health Illness Week

October 1 = National Homemade Cookie Day

October 7 = National Frappe Day

October 9, 1797 = Birthday of Philippe Suchard, founder of what was once the greatest chocolatier in Switzerland, creator of the Milka bar

October 10 = National Angel Food Cake Day; World Mental Health Day

October 14 = National Chocolate-Covered Insect Day

2nd Thursday = National Dessert Day

3rd Saturday in October = Sweetest Day

October 16 = World Food Day

October 18 = National Chocolate Cupcake Day

October 28 = National Chocolate Day

October 30 = Buy a Donut Day

October 31 = Halloween; National Candy Apple Day

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mars Chocolate Theater Box Recall

One recall to share with you all but this is from a bit big brand name: Mars. Please read the below information careful, follow the link if you think you have bought the product in question, and follow the companies directions.  This involves peanuts which are a serious allergy problem for some people so take this seriously!

Mars Chocolate North America Issues Allergy Alert Voluntary Recall On Undeclared Peanut Butter In M&M’s® Brand Milk Chocolate Theater Box

Consumer Contact: 1-800-627-7852

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 19, 2014 – Today, Mars Chocolate North America announced a voluntary recall of its M&M’S® Brand Theater Box 3.40 oz UPC #40000294764 with the following lot numbers:

417DH4JP09 417EM4JP10 417FM4JP09 418AG4JP10
418BG4JP10 418CG4JP10
418DM4JP09 418EG4JP10
419AM4JP09  417EG4JP09
417FG4JP09 417FM4JP10
418AM4JP09 418BM4JP10
418CM4JP10 418DM4JP10
418EM4JP09 419AM4JP10
417EG4JP10 417FG4JP10
418AG4JP09 418AM4JP10
418CG4JP09 418DG4JP10
418EG4JP09 418EM4JP10
419BM4JP10

This theater box item within these lot codes may contain product containing peanut butter without listing on the ingredient label on the outside cardboard box. The inside package is correctly labelled with ingredients and allergy information.

People who have allergies to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if their theater box contains an inner M&Ms Brand Peanut Butter bag and they consume the product.  No adverse reactions have been reported to date.

The issue was identified after a consumer notified us of a M&M’S® Brand Peanut Butter package containing peanut butter M&M’S® inside a M&M’S® Brand Milk Chocolate Theater Box.

These specific lot codes were shipped and distributed to our customers’ warehouses between May 8 and July 1, 2014, located in:  NC, TX, MN, IL, FL, KY, MS, AZ, GA, AI, CA NJ, PA, WA NY, CO, MO, MI, NH, CT, TN, MD, SC, OH, ME, VA, RI, WI, WV, IA, LA, OK, MA, NE, OK, AR, VT, ID and IN -- That's 39 out of 50 states! These customers then redistribute products for retail sale nationwide.

The M&M’S® Brand Milk Chocolate Theater Box comes in a 3.40 oz brown, 3 inch x 6.5 inch cardboard box  stamped on the right-hand side panel with the lot number and best before date.

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:   1-800-627-7852. This number will be operational Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (EST).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Wonderful Gift Box of German Chocolates

Your Chocolate Priestess just had a birthday a few days ago and so I thought I would share an amazing gift box of pralines that I would have been thrilled to get for it.  In Europe the word "praline" has an entirely different meaning than in the USA so let's look at this box from Chocion of pralines made with various types of alcohol.  Chocion gave us permission to rearrange the two boxes of praline they sent us for two different feature articles for you all.  All of these have alcohol so our two Alcohol Acolytes along with another Acolyte helped me test these all. I've combined the opinions below with specific quotations in italics.  Each of us took the time to look at, multiple attempts to test the fragrance, at least two bites one of which we let melt in our mouths, while we wrote out notes.  At the end of each test we discussed our experiences and drank water to cleanse our palates.  We hope you enjoy our experiences. Note: one of our testors is notoriously difficult to please when it comes to alcohol and chocolate both.

A Chiemgauer-Kirsch (Milk Cherry Cream Truffle) has a unique look, doesn't it?  A cup shaped base then this lump on top which is an Amarena cherry and 2% Kirsch (fruit brandy made from cherries).  The truffle is covered in a milk chocolate (38%) with drizzled white chocolate on top. Our testers had a lot of thoughts as they worked with this one: The shape was described in various ways during our testing -- cupcake, distorted, even bunny-like.  We all agreed that the dominant scent before and after biting was a sweet cherry Kirsch scent and not really chocolate.  The chocolate made a soft sound but really it was the squishy sound from the full cherry that made the stronger audible impression on us.  The skin on the cherry, its juiciness, and then the solid chocolate were a series of wonderful textual changes.  However the sweetness of the cheery and the Kirsch completely overpowered the milk chocolate making this great for cherry lovers who really like very sweet cherries. We were very curious as to how a darker chocolate would have been with these cherries.

The Bier Trüffel Praliné (Milk Beer Truffle) is round with a milk chocolate (38%) and white chocolate drizzle shell.  Inside is a beer cream made with 3% beer.  Here's what our test group reported: A light beer scent that was a bit stronger when you took a bite and sniffed the soft center; one tester thought it might be a stout, or some other dark beer.  There was a nice pop or snap when we took a bite but no crunch after that.  The center was a smooth and silky soft milk chocolate and cream.  Oddly while we could taste alcohol, it was more the burn of it than the flavor of any beer, and it blended thoroughly into the milk chocolate increasing the intensity of the cocoa flavor. Three out of four testers would highly recommend this truffle.

A Calvados flüssig (Milk Calvados) is next and it is made with 13% alcohol in the form of Calvados (French apple brandy) that some of you may have heard of before; three of our four testers had heard of it but none had it in the past.  This is a round truffle covered in milk chocolate (38%) with green confectionery cocoa butter lines over it.  Our testers said:  WARNING: the center is liquid and one us almost had an spill before we figured this out. The outer shell has just a milk chocolate scent but the inside which was Calvados, of course, was a wonderful brandy smell.  The alcohol made the milk chocolate a bit soft so it didn't make much of a sound.  The brandy had a definite apple flavor to it and if you were careful you could get the milk chocolate and it together though the chocolate lingered the longest.  Only one of us did not like the combination of apple brandy and milk chocolate; three of us thought it was a nice balance and would strongly recommend it.  We decided this is Chocion truffle you should probably just pop into your mouth to enjoy best instead of eating in individual bites.

The final truffle in this box is the Sahne-Trüffel Erdbear (White Strawberry Cream Truffle) which is a 28% white chocolate shell with a confectionery cocoa butter red drizzle (very eye-catching as one tester put it).  It also has 3% strawberry spirits in it.  Our testers experiences varied a great deal with this one: The scent was not what we expected, it wasn't the normal creamy white chocolate but also not fruit of any type.  It made no sound when we took bites or chewed but three of us noticed that there were tiny strawberry bits in the pinkish creamy center that gave a burst of tartness amongst the creamy strawberry flavor (that two of us likened to Strawberry Hard Candy). Every had a different opinion of the tastes even though we all liked it, just not as much as two others we tried that testing evening.  Two of us thought the creamy chocolate blends into the strawberry well but the others felt the two flavors stayed separate.  White chocolate and strawberry lovers will enjoy this best but even though I'm not a white chocolate fan I did enjoy it myself.

There you go, Sisters and Brothers, four truffles from German chocolatier Chocion.  Have you tried them before?  If you have tried these before please leave us a comment and tell us what you think -- come on German readers, we know you are out there!  Personally, I really liked to loved each of these four flavors so I strongly recommend them.   The quality of ingredients is exceedingly high and so I give them a Sacrament status with a note that individual tastes did greatly vary with these. You can find Chocion truffles under the Praline tag on their website but you don't seem to be able to choose the ones you get... try calling them or emailing them and see if they might accommodate you or, if you are Germany, you can find their shop in München.