Monday, May 25, 2015

June 2015 Fun Food Holidays with Chocolate

You might think that in the summer the love for chocolate would decline as the temperatures go up in the Northern Hemisphere. Don't forget that many of your sister and brother readers are in the Southern Hemisphere, where the temps are dropping. Regardless of where you live, here are some fun food holidays that you could celebrate with Chocolate. If you know of any others, let us know in a comment, please. If you have an idea of how to celebrate a particular date on this list, let us know that in a comment, too.

June = National Dairy Month

1st Friday June = National Donut Day -- In 2015 that will fall on June 5th.

June 2 = National Rocky Road Day -- I think this applies mostly to ice cream but if you know if a non-ice cream rocky road recipe, let me know about it please.

June 7 = National Chocolate Ice Cream Day -- Luckily this is a Sunday this year so you could really celebrate if you have that day off of work or school.

June 11 = National German Chocolate Cake Day; birthday (1796) of Francois-Louis Cailler, first Swiss chocolatier -- Could you celebrate both of these at the same time? How?

June 12 = National Peanut Butter Cookie Day -- Yeah, yeah, not innately chocolate but you could dip them in chocolate or add chocolate chips, right?

June 14 = International Steampunk Day in honor of the birthday of H.G. Wells -- We do have a special review scheduled for this day!

June 15, 1790 = birthday of CHARLES-AMEDEE KOHLER, Swiss confectioner -- Second Swiss related fun food holiday this month. Who is getting Swiss chocolate to celebrate?

June 16 = National Fudge Day -- So many types of fudge are chocolate, aren't they?

June 22 = National Chocolate Éclair Day -- The chocolate here is usually just a frosting or coating but again I think we could work more chocolate into it if we just try a bit.

June 24 = National Pralines Day -- The word praline means different things depending on where you live. What does it mean where you are from?

June 26 = National Chocolate Pudding Day -- Remember this pudding cookbook review? No? Go read it NOW.



June 30, 1971 = Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory along with The Willy Wonka Candy Factory is released -- When is the last time you enjoyed Wonka candy?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Clean Up Your Kitchen with Chocolate

We cover anything related to chocolate here on The Chocolate Cult. Today we're going to look at chocolate decorative items that should or favorite treats but on functional items that you can use every day or only for special occasions. Today we're going to look at some chocolate themed kitchen towels from HollysHomeComforts, a shop on Etsy. If you are not familiar with Etsy, it is an online site for small businesses that generally operate out of an individuals home. I have friends who sell products on Etsy and I have purchased a few things from this site in the past. The owner of HollysHomeComforts gave us both towels to try out but in no other way compensated us for this review.

These kitchen towels come in two chocolate designs. First there are "Les Chocolats" with six different pieces of chocolate truffles (as we'd call them in the USA) shown. Here you can see it draped in half over my oven door so you can see the full run of chocolates. This is my favorite of the two simply because it is nothing but chocolates but then I'm a bit biased, aren't I?

The second chocolate themed design is of cherries dipped in chocolate that you see here also draped in half over my oven door. You see there are several cherry configurations shown include white, milk, and dark chocolate on them. The cherries had a pop of color so it seemed to be more eye-catching to my visitors the week I had this displayed.

You might think that the towels are white so here is a photo of them against a white tablecloth I have so show that they are actually a light cream or natural color. These are made from three pieces of fabric -- the bulk of the towel, the border fabric around the chocolate themed image, and the fabric that the image is on. The entire towel is well hemmed and cut evenly. They are well crafted and stood up to vigorous washing and drying by machine. These are called "kitchen" towels, not "dish" towels. These do not dry as quickly as terry cloth dish towels something my hubby (who is in charge of dishes) didn't like but they did work about as well as some other more decorative towels I have that my mother made me years ago. Unless you are really lazy, I think they work fine as dish towels though they simply look lovely too.

Not only are these two chocolate themes available in kitchen towels through HollysHomeComforts but she also has table runners with the same images if you want to decorate a bit more. There are also other designs as well so do check them all out when you visit her site. I really like that each product is described in terms of fabric used and how it was stitched. I think that demonstrates how much care is put into each one. If you have a chocolate lover in your life who also loves to decorate their kitchen, these are a lovely choice plus you'd be supporting a small woman-owned business.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

World Baking Day with Coconut and Almond Flours

Morning Pep Coconut & Almond Flours
The folks from Morning Pep contacted me about trying out some of their new products and they sent us the following samples: Morning Pep 100 Percent Organic Coconut Flour, 1 Pound
and Morning Pep 100 Percent All Natural Blanched Almond Meal Flour, 2 Pound. I couldn't try either flour in my own kitchen because my Hubby is allergic to tree nuts and flour can become airborne very easily.Did you know that tomorrow is "World Baking Day?" I didn't either until recently. This is a great chance to share the results of Lisa's (Coconut Acolyte) tests both of these flours.  She tried them both in one of her tried and true recipes to see if either coconut or almond flour could be directly substituted. Then she tried another recipe designed for these flours.  Let's check out her results.

Whole Wheat Cupcake Cut for Comparison
For the purpose of this review, I started with a chocolate cake recipe I’ve had for a number of years and have made dozens of times.  When used with all-purpose (wheat) flour it makes a dense moist cake that doesn’t really need frosting.  I checked the company’s website to see if any adaptations need to be made when using the alternate flour.  They listed none.  I made the cake exactly as the recipe calls for, only using the alternate flour instead of AP flour.
Coconut Flour Cupcake Cut

With the coconut flour, this recipe made a thicker than normal batter when made according to directions, the coconut flour made it even thicker and more dry.  Though the texture didn’t feel exceptionally grainy, it appeared to have the texture of wet sand.  Baking it didn’t change that.  The cupcakes came out looking very much like how then went in but slightly more brown due to the baking process.  When I tried to split one open for a taste test, it crumbled in my fingers.  The taste didn’t make up for the visual.  Dry, as expected and the flavor of chocolate was almost non-existent.  
Almond Flour Cupcake Explosion

With the almond flour, the batter appeared slightly more normal in thickness but still gritty.  However, when exposed to heat, they blew up like two dozen volcanos, spreading batter all over the pans and the oven floor.  Needless to say they weren’t fit to taste. It took some effort to clean this pan as well.


Almond Flour Cupcake Cut Open

So based on my findings and backed up by a recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen, one cannot simply substitute the flour.  You have to find recipes that are specifically designed for the alternates.  This search became rather frustrating.  All the recipes I found were on or attached to Paleo Diet sites.  They called for equipment I don’t have (namely a food processor) or expensive and sometimes exotic ingredients (coconut oil, walnut oil, Grade B maple syrup, celtic sea salt, paleo chocolate, raw honey, etc.)  that I wouldn’t normally keep in my kitchen.
Coconut Flour Muffin

I chose this (Paleo-Friendly Dark Chocolate Banana Brownie Muffins) recipe for two reasons.  First, it had only two ingredients I wouldn’t normally keep on hand; coconut oil and maple syrup.  Second it said it could be used with either coconut or almond flour and made one batch each.  Neither batch rose the way I expect cupcakes to and both came out at 15 minutes like they’d only half baked.  I put them back in for an additional 15 minutes which helped solidify them but didn’t improve the overall texture much.

In both batches the chocolate was very present but I could taste the coconut oil and the flavor was even more pronounced in the batch with the coconut flour. Also the coconut oil seeped through the paper liners into my muffin tin.  Perhaps foil liners would have yielded better results. 

In short, if you absolutely must use a non-wheat flour, by all means feel free to experiment with these two.  But because of all the extra work involved, I wouldn’t recommend these for baked goods.

Morning Pep offer the Coconut Flour in two sizes -- the one pound bag linked in our first paragrph and this four pound bag: Morning Pep 100 Percent Organic Coconut Flour, 4 Pound

Morning Pep's Almond Flour also comes in two sizes -- the 2 pound bag that we linked above and this 5 pound bag: Morning Pep 100 Percent All Natural Blanched Almond Meal Flour, 5 Pound

Morning Pep sent us all the flour to test but did not otherwise pay us anything for this honest review here on The Chocolate Cult and on Amazon.com. If you clink on the clicks to their products, you will also be contributing to The Chocolate Cult via your payment to Amazon.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Poco Dolce Confections Recall

I was hoping Mother's Day 2015 might go by without a recall but sadly no. Just one though and I've never had this product so I'm very curious if any of you have. If you have, leave a comment and let me know.

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Poco Dolce Confections Announces Recall of Individually Wrapped Tile Varieties: Almond, Aztec Chile, Burnt Caramel, Almond Coconut, Ginger, and Sesame Toffee

Consumer Contact: Albert Moriguchi
Phone: 415-255-1443

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — May 1, 2015 — San Francisco, CA — Poco Dolce Confections of San Francisco, CA is recalling all Almond, Aztec Chile, Burnt Caramel, Almond Coconut, Ginger, and Sesame Toffee Individually Wrapped Tiles. These varieties of individually wrapped Tiles are being recalled because of their label’s failure to identify the food allergen (Milk) in addition to the listing for “Butter” in the label’s ingredient statement. People who have allergy or severe sensitivity to specific type of allergen (e.g., peanuts, tree nuts {chestnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, cashews}, eggs, and sulfites) run the risk of life threatening allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, that requires immediate medical care if they consume these product.

Poco Dolce Confections immediately segregated its entire Individually Wrapped Tiles inventory and is notifying consumers and customers not to consume this product.

The Individually Wrapped Tiles are individually wrapped 2” square pieces of Bittersweet Chocolate in glassine envelopes which come in 18pc trays. They are available in seven varieties though only the following six flavors are subject to this recall: Almond, Aztec Chile, Burnt Caramel, Almond Coconut, Ginger, and Sesame Toffee.

Poco Dolce Confections wants to ensure its products are safe. Consequently, in addition to its ongoing cooperation with the California Department of Public Health, Poco Dolce Confections is voluntarily recalling all Individually Wrapped Tile Varieties (Almond, Aztec Chile, Burnt Caramel, Almond Coconut, Ginger, Sesame Toffee) from all of its customers. Consumers in possession of these Chocolates should not eat the product and should return the product to the place of purchase.

Poco Dolce Confections will be sending recall notices to all of its direct customers. Please call Albert Moriguchi at 415-255-1443 (8:30-5, M-F) for further information.