Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2009 Halloween Treat Challenge

The Chocolate Cult is sponsoring its First Fall/Winter Challenge for chocolatiers, confectioners, and purveyors of cocoa related treats, and we invite you to participate.

The rules are simple.

Contact the Chocolate Priestess via thetammyjo at gmail dot com and arrange to send a sample of your Halloween treats for review on The Chocolate Cult.

Send your sample early enough, and I will devote one day in October exclusively to your product — the earlier the better, because the thousand readers we get each month will have more time to order from you.  The sample does not need to be large, but there should be enough of each treat for the Chocolate Priestess to write a five-senses review of the product, and keep in mind that a photograph of the product(s) will accompany the review.  These reviews, called “Sacraments,” will also be featured in the book we plan to put out next year.

On Halloween, October 31, 2009, I will name up to four winners of the challenge.  The categories will be Best Mass Produced Halloween Treat, Best Gourmet Halloween Treat, and Best Baked Halloween Treat, for businesses that create their own unique products, and Best Halloween Treat Source, for those places that sell the products but do not create the treats themselves.

In addition to be the featured product for the day your treats are revealed to the world, the winner of each category will be offered the opportunity to place a free ad on the blog for 30 days.  That ad must fit on the sidebar, and you would need to provide the HTML code for it.

Please contact thetammyjo at gmail dot com if your company is interested in this opportunity.  If you have previously sent items to The Chocolate Cult for review, you will be receiving a private invitation to this challenge, but anyone is free to contact us and arrange to be included.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Old Fashioned Candy in the Mall


Sisters and Brothers as I hope you have noticed, your Chocolate Priestess reveals chocolate to you that comes primarily from two general categories.  Mass produced and readily available but also gourmet chocolate products that you can find in small shops or order via the phone or online.  There are shops out there that combine these two general categories of chocolate treats in one store.  In our local mall, called "College Mall" there is a candy shop called "Inside Scoop".  Inside there are a variety of candies as these photos will show during this review.  This first one is of the Milk Chocolate Acolyte entering the store.


The store sells individual gourmet style candies, this is merely one section to the left of the entrance, as well as a lot of other products.  Honestly I wasn't interested in the stuffed animals or silly hats so when those appear in the photographs it is merely a sign of how the store is arranged.




I looked around for quite some time until I spotted a section of older candy bars that I either had not seen for some time or have never seen before.  I decided to pick up five and try them out.  The bulk of this post will look at these five treats that you may want to try yourself or steer clear of.



The five old fashioned bars in question include Necco's "Chocolate Wafers” and their “Sky Bar,” the Boyer “Mallo Cup,” a “French Chew Taffy” and a “Charleston Chew” which I think I've tried before though it has been years.  I'm going to describe each more fully though given that this is not a "Sacrament" I didn't take individually pictures of each treat.

“Necco Chocolate Wafers” are approximately one inch in diameter and very tan in color and have “Necco” impressed on them.  There is a very slight cocoa scent.  One roll, 2.02oz, equals one serving according to the nutritional information.  It contains 220 calories made up entirely of sugars and flavors including chocolate gelatin and artificial flavors and dyes.  Oddly the flavor isn’t really sugary but more starchy and dull though it has a very nice crunch because it’s like a little flat rock.


In another section of Inside Scoop you can see more bins of the individual candies along their aisles and again the Milk Chocolate Acolyte who seemed more interested in the stuff animals that day.  I resisted temptation and only got the five products I'm revealing to you so let's move on to the next one.

Necco also makes the “Sky Bar” which I have never heard of or seen before.  The wrapper, a very bright yellow, blue and red design, claims it has four flavors in one bar: caramel, vanilla, peanut, and fudge all in milk chocolate.  That sounds unique, let’s see what it looks like.  It looks like four pillows linked together, one flavor per pillow I assume.  It doesn’t break cleanly but not too badly, I do not lose or reveal any of the inner filling after I break it apart.  It has a very waxy smell that may be a results of several added oils listed on the ingredients.  This also contacts eggs, milk, peanuts and soy in case those are allergy concerns for you.  One 1.5oz bar equals one serving with 200 calories, 5g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 27g sugars, 2g protein, with 4% calcium and 2% iron that an adult needs every day.  But how does it taste?  The chocolate by itself is very waxy and cheap tasting, if it was only the chocolate, I wouldn’t take another bite but I need to reveal the fillings to you, Sisters and Brothers.   The first part is the fudge and that filling redeems the poor outer shield with it’s solid chocolate flavor.  The next section is the peanut which is soft and uniquely sweet and tangy at the same time, again overcoming the poor outer shell but honestly does not taste much like peanut butter.  The third section is the vanilla filling that tastes very little like vanilla and mostly like, well, simple gritty sugar paste.  The last section is the caramel which is a tangy variety that is smooth and soft easily overpowering the weak chocolate covering.  This was a unique bar but not one I am likely to buy again.


If you want a more traditional and modern candy you can always find M&Ms in Scoop.  In fact, they have this display where you can buy them by the color.  Frankly I have seen bigger selections in other stores though not recently so I wonder if the fad of buying specific colors of M&Ms is fading out.  Of course, the entire point of doing this was to appeal to people's desire to do something a bit special for a loved one or to honor someone by giving them the ability to choose their favorite colors, the colors of their school or team, or to do your own advertisements via M&Ms.

I have heard of the Boyer “Mallo Cup” but I’ve never had one.  I was too busy enjoying the Reeses cups that were far more popular when I was a child in Iowa.  Each is 2.25 inches across and about half an inch tall.  This one serving, 1.6oz treat cost me $1.19, which is rather outrageous compared to most Reeses two cup treats you can usually get for under 80¢ though I remember when candy bars cost a quarter.  Oh, dear, I see this has coconut in it so I pass it along to the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte to try.  Here is her opinion of the product: "Each cup measures 2 1/4" in diameter and 1/2" thick.  Two cups equal one serving which will provide you with 220 calories (90 from fat), 28 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat.   When I break apart a cup, the filling is very sticky, as one would expect from a marshmallow creme center and pulls apart rather like taffy.  The chocolate scent isn't noticeable until I get the candy closer to my nose.  Surprisingly I do detect a faint coconut smell as well.  The chocolate shell melts easily in my fingers and when I bite into it, I can feel the coconut more than taste it as it appears to be mixed in with the chocolate that makes up the top of the cup.  The candy is intensely sweet, almost overpowering any chocolate flavor and completely obliterating any taste of coconut.  After eating one cup, I experience a huge sugar rush and quickly drink a pint of water to help get the taste out of my mouth.  I look at the second cup but decide that one is clearly enough.  Time to brush my teeth and remove the sugar."

The chocolate flavored “French Chew Taffy” says to hit the bar against a table to break it into pieces but frankly it is too soft and chewy for that to work.  I literally have to work at peeling the plastic wrap off this 1.62oz, 7.25 X 1.75 inch rectangle.  It is very soft and the wrapper sticks everywhere.  Chocolate is the third ingredient but corn syrup and sugar are the first.  One bar is one serving with 160 calories, 70mg sodium and 23g sugars with less than 1g fiber; basically pure sugar with chocolate flavors.  It does smell like chocolate, a bit like chocolate fudge.  Ripping off a bite then eating it is exactly like I remember chocolate taffy tasting though a lot softer than most taffies I’ve had in the past.


Compared to the M&Ms display, the gourmet jelly bean section of Scoop is huge.  You can choose small bags of them in flavor groups such as soda pop or traditional or tropical for example or you can buy them by the flavor/color.  The next time I go back to Scoop I'll have to ask them why this display is so much larger than the other.  As the leader of The Chocolate Cult I am surprised but given how many other types of chocolate this store cares, I'm not offended in any way. 

I have heard of and probably had “Charleston Chew” before though that was a very long time ago.  This 1.875oz bar is one long piece measuring 8.25 inches long, 0.75 inches wide and 0.50 inches thick.  Immediately you can see that this bar has not been stored properly and that wasn’t me, it came from the store this way.  That, Sisters and Brothers, is what happens in Fat Bloom.  Fat Bloom happens when a product is stored in to high temperatures, which I do not do at The Chocolate Cult, or it has been through rapid and extreme temperature changes.  Frankly it can also just happen over a year or so of storage.  But this should not effect the flavor very much.  This bar has a very waxy feeling against my finger tips and light cocoa scent.  Biting into the soft bar I am shocked by the sour taste that fills my mouth.  It may have been a while since I’ve had this candy but I doubt it had this taste to it. It must be the conditions under which it was store or just a poor batch.  Very disappointing.  If you want to give this bar a try though it contains 230 calories made of 4.5g saturated fat, 30mg sodium, 1g fiber, 30g sugars, 2g protein with 4% calcium and 6% iron needed daily.

The Inside Scoop in the College Mall in Bloomington, Indiana, has a huge range of candies to choose from as well as stuffed animals and silly hats.  I’ll probably go back and sample more or perhaps they’ll contact me and ask about being part of a Saturday Sacrament.  Over all these old-fashioned candies were disappointing.  If this is what they normally taste like, I think their time has come and gone and they need to move out of the way for other brands. 

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.  Remember, our First Pilgrimage will be happening in November at the Chocolate Walk.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chocolaty Birthday

Your Chocolate Priestess had a great 40th birthday weekend full of, guess what, Sisters and Brothers, Chocolate but not necessarily in the forms you might think.


First there were these dark chocolate brownies created and then decorated by two of the Acolytes.  No recipe to share here, just Duncan Hines dark chocolate brownie mix but spread out more thinnly than normal in two pans of two different shapes.  The designs were in honor of my birth year and a great deal of planning was put into it though I wasn't allowed to see it until the day of the big Bash.


Then I did get other chocolates from several of my friends.  This included bars from Vosages, Valor, Dagoba, Guylian, Petit Écolier, Emily's (whose products were a Sacrament back in May), and Taza.  This gifts ranged from bars to cookies to dipped fruits and I will be reviewing them all in future posts so keep reading or voice an opinion about what you'd like me to review next.


While I'm looking forward to trying all that chocolate and sharing the experiences with you, I also got a lot of chocolate related gifts that were books or other things. The White Chocolate Acolyte gave me the movie "Chocolat" from 2000 starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, and Johnny Depp.   My in-laws sent me this huge book called "The Essence of Chocolate" that is part history, part company information and part recipe collection.  The Milk Chocolate Acolyte gave me three chocolate books: "Chocolate: the consuming passion," "The True History of Chocolate" and "Chocolate Fads, Folklore & Fantasies".  Some great friends gave me "Chocolate Smarts" which is a card quiz game.  I'll review all of these in future Revelations. 

Thank you everyone for wishing me a good birthday.  Tomorrow I'm going to reveal a pretty cool candy shop in my local mall to you all.  Remember to go back and check on the announcement about our First Official Chocolate Cult Pilgrimage in November.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.
 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

You've Got Bubbles in Your Chocolate!

Sisters and Brothers, I'm trying something a bit new with the "Saturday Sacraments" by only listing them as Sacraments in the "Labels" section and trying for a more descriptive title to the Revelation.  Earlier this week a company called "Bubble Chocolate" sent me two samples of their new product, so new that it was just released on September 15, 2009, or eleven days ago as I work on this Revelation.  Each 2.82-oz. bar is etched into rectangles that are 1/2 by 1 inch in size; one bar is 38% cocoa milk chocolate, while the other is 60% cocoa dark chocolate.  Immediately I noticed that the milk chocolate version has a higher cocoa content than you'd get from most mainstream milk chocolate products found in stores.


They came in two paper box wrappers that unfortunately got a bit damaged during shipping.  That is also the case with the chocolate itself, which you'll see in a moment.  So don't judge this product purely on my photographs; check out the Bubble Chocolate website as well for other pictures.  As you can see, these are labeled very clearly so you can't confuse the two, which is good, because inside they each have identical gold plastic paper wrappers.


The smell of very intense and oddly sweet cocoa assails my nose when I peel open the gold wrappers.  As you can also see, the bars have been smashed a bit, and the milk chocolate one has some color changes that suggest fat bloom, likely from changes in temperature when it was sent to me.  This shouldn't change the flavor too much, but I suspect this is going to affect the texture a good deal since, unlike on their website, all evidence of the bubbles now seems melted out until I break off one of the pieces.  I can't get my camera to zoom in far enough to show this, but there are indeed little holes from air infused into the candy.  Despite temperature and transport problems the pieces break off fairly smoothly, though it takes a bit of effort.

The milk chocolate variety has a sweeter scent to it, a hard to describe quality that seems a bit like what I smell in carbonated beverages.  I place the piece in my mouth to see if it will melt.  It does start to melt, but very slowly, and it tingles a bit as the air in it is released on my tongue.  The second piece I chew to confirm whether the tastes I registered are part of the chocolate or the melting.  Either way, the air tingles, there is a far sweeter flavor than I expect from 38% cocoa, Sisters and Brothers, and a consistent release of all the textures and flavors each second.  The result is something that I must describe as a pudding candy bar.  It is entirely unlike anything I've had before.  Half this bar is one serving, which has 220 calories, 9 grams saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, less than 1 g fiber, 20 g sugars (explaining the sweetness), 3 g protein, 2% of the vitamins A, C, and iron an adult needs daily, and 8% of the daily calcium requirement.

The dark bar also has 2 servings, but the nutritional value is slightly different.  Each serving has 200 calories, 9 g saturated fat, 3 g fiber, 16 g sugars, 2 g protein, and 2% of the calcium and 8% of the iron that an adult needs daily.  The bar is a much darker color, and it breaks into its pieces with more difficulty.  Inside I see the air holes again, and the scent is more cocoa and air, with very little sweetness compared to the milk chocolate version.  The dark variety melts even more slowly, but when I chew, again there is a wonderful balance of cocoa and the air with none of the distracting sweetness.  It is difficult to say what the texture of the bar would be like if it were unharmed by the temperatures it suffered during transport, but both feel a bit like there are light ridges over the external surfaces. 

Given the flavors, I have to say that I strongly prefer the dark variety, but both are indeed very unique, as the company promises.  Since they are a new company, keep an eye on their website for information about where you can buy their products, but I do know that some other online retailers are advertising that they have the bars — given the shipping issue I had, purchase these in person for a better experience.

Your Chocolate Priestess and The Chocolate Cult are honored to be entrusted as one of the first charged with revealing this new product to the world. 

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.  Remember, our first Pilgrimage will be to the Nashville Chocolate Walk.  So become a follower or fan, buy your tickets, and then email me about joining the carpool to Nashville, Indiana.  Next Saturday I'm going to reveal two types of toffee from the Nashville Toffee Company in Tennessee.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Celebrate the Chocolate Priestess' Birthday!

Sisters and Brothers, welcome on a very special day for your Chocolate Priestess.

I turn 40 years old today and I would really like you to help me celebrate.

Please if you have never commented, add a comment and let me know you are reading. If you have commented before, please continue to do so. Your thoughts and witnessing aid us all on this Journey together.

If you are not a "Follower" on this blog or a "Fan" via Facebook of The Chocolate Cult, please consider joining. We have only been around seven months and have all ready had two contests. Contests are only open to Followers and Fan though so doing it now will save you time in the future.

If you know of a friend or family member who loves chocolate, please invite them to join us here on The Chocolate Cult.

I don't want to take a lot of your time today partly because my entire weekend if full of celebrations of this milestone in my life. I do want to share something personal with you. While the Sacred Substance will be a part of all my celebrations, today, after being on this path since the beginning of 2009, before I started The Chocolate Cult, I feel a much healthier and holier connection to Cocoa and Chocolate than ever before. I feel so much better about myself and confections, drinks, candies, cookies, everything chocolaty now that I have trained myself to appreciate each bite fully, indulging my five senses as the Divine intended.

Please continue with me on this Path, experiencing Chocolate fully and purposely in moderation, exploring it's full range of potential and opening yourself up to the grand variety I am only now revealing to you in increasing amounts each week.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Get FREE Ice Cream Today -- September 24, 2009

This evening, Sisters and Brothers you have an opportunity to get 3oz of FREE ice cream at the 8th Annual World's Largest Ice Cream Social at Cold Stone Creamery.

Now, this isn't completely free, they do ask for a donation to the Make-a-Wish Foundation which helps children with terminal illness enjoy their finals months of life by granting them a wish. It does say on the website or the store in our area if there is an amount you must donate. But if you like the ice they are offering and you like the charity, do go. Even if you don't like this particular type of ice cream creation, you can just go and donate and get something else too.

Our own store about half a mile from us has some dairy free, fat free, and even sugar free options now. Though last night I noticed they had only two types of chocolate ice cream: regular and white. This is what we, the Milk Chocolate Acolyte and your Chocolate Priestess, got last night in case you've never been to Cold Stone Creamery and need inspiration.

His was the Oreo Overload, a pre-designed creation from the store while mine was a "Create Your Own" with chocolate ice cream and Heath Bars. Both in waffle bowls generously edged with chocolate with your choice of nuts (mine), rainbow sprinkles (his), coconut, graham crackers, sugar, or chocolate sprinkles bowls on display. It was late at night when we went so a bit too dark for good pictures, Sisters and Brothers but this is a franchise so you can check out their website to see what one looks like.

Tonight, 5-8pm, your local times, around the USA and some national territories, you may find a Cold Stone Creamery near enough to you so that you can get FREE ice cream tonight. My advice, since we've gone to this for a few years, is to go early because the lines will build up and they stop at exactly 8pm.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Fudge From Nashville

The Nashville Candy Store is located at 1326 Annandale Drive West in Nashville, Indian. It does have a website you can check out or you can call them directly at this toll free number 1-877-735-8657 or send an email to nashvillecandy.com.

The store is located inside a sort of mini-mall area of Nashville, one of several such areas though many are an outdoor courtyard with surrounding stores, this one is entirely indoor. The Nashville Candy Store is the first store as you walk inside to your left. As the pictures will show, it is a small shop but packed with things to choose from. I had to wait about ten minutes to get inside because it seemed where ever our little group went, we were quickly followed by a dozen or more people.

Of the 18 flavors you can see listed on their website, I bought ¼ pounds of six flavors, the fudge display is in the photo to the left. Why 1.5 pounds? Simple. They had two offers. 4 varieties equaling one pound and 6 varieties equaling one pound but both cost the same amount. More variety for the same amount, I’d be fool not to try that, don’t you agree, Sisters and Brothers? The woman who cut the fudge for me told me that they make it themselves but I doubt they make all the candy in the store. Below are two more photos of the other offerings in this small shop.


The six varieties came packed in a white box with the store's label on it and included two tiny knives to cut off pieces. The six pieces fit perfectly into the box, so perfectly that I had to tear open the sides when it was time to try them all for this revelation. Left over fudge can be stored in plastic containers once the air is removed for week in the refrigerator or months in the freezer. To make sure I get the air out, I prefer using plastic bags that I can fit more closely to the shape of the fudge.

The Chocolate Amaretto Swirl is very interesting looking, standing out from the rest of the fudges in the display case with it’s bright pink waves in the chocolate. It has a strong fruity scent that I cannot quite place so I take a bite. The flavors of chocolate and I think apricot literally melt with the fudge, mixing together perfectly. The bitter aftertaste common with Amaretto only enhances the natural essence of the cocoa and I really love this flavor of fudge. For more of the fruit, take a bite primarily of the pink areas, for more chocolate focus on the brown sections.

As I’ve said before, Sisters and Brothers, peanut butter chocolate fudge or just peanut butter fudge is very, very common in most stores where they sell this confection. Look at this piece, two-tone in color and I suspect two-tone in flavor as well. Taking a deep whiff of it I can’t separate the peanut from the chocolate scent. I take a bite that is equally both layers and they blend delightfully though the aftertaste is more peanut. The peanut butter layer alone is very buttery more than peanut in flavor and it easily melts into a smooth cream. The chocolate layer has a strong cocoa essence that sends a slightly rush of sensation up into my eyes as I chew it. This is an intriguing piece of fudge but it would be nice if the cocoa was stronger when you ate both layers together.

Nuts and fudge are another common combination in many candy shops. The Nashville Candy Store’s Chocolate Walnut variety has both small and large pieces of walnuts in it as you can see in the picture. The scent is primarily chocolate with the walnuts a secondary fragrance. Just like the previous pieces this practically melts in my mouth. It has a surprising almost marshmallowy flavor to it but no white fluff that I can see. That sweetness overpowers both the cocoa and the walnut flavors ultimately is disappointing because I wanted the chocolate nut fudge not this sweet fluff essence.

Sisters and Brothers, when you see “turtle” as a flavor you expect three things, right? Chocolate, caramel, nuts. The type of each of those three ingredients can vary between milk and dark, sweet and tangy, pecans or cashews. The Turtle fudge here has the caramel only on the top it appears but the nuts, they look like pecans, mixed in with the chocolate. This smells exactly like a turtle candy I’ve had recently from another chocolatier in Nashville so I take a bite. The caramel is on the tangier side of flavors, the cocoa again rather marshmallow like but the pecans are nice. Together they don’t quite have the turtle taste I was hoping for and it ends very sugary in the aftertaste.

The Plain Chocolate fudge is probably milk chocolate since there is a “dark” version as well. It smells just like milk chocolate fudge should when I bring a slice to my nose. Like the previous pieces, a bite basically melts in my mouth feeling it with a bitter cocoa flavor and the sugary flavor. In this case, the chocolate overcomes the sugar and butter flavors and by the second bite there is are equal buzzes of cocoa and sugar in my body. This is a good homemade chocolate fudge.

The Dark Chocolate fudge is darker in color than the plain though not by much and I fear my photograph cannot do the two flavors justice. Guess you’ll just have to visit the shop to see it yourself, Sisters and Brothers. As I take a breath of the fudge, dark cocoa hits me and I am very pleased. Other dark chocolate fudges I’ve tired from this one trip did not have such an intense odor so I hope the flavor matches. Sadly it does not. Unlike the plain chocolate that manages to overcome the sweetness, this darker version very strangely cannot manage resulting in a bittersweet aftertaste with a marshmallowy edge to it. Bittersweet can be great as can dark chocolate, but this other flavor I keep finding is really not very pleasing to me.

All of these fudges are cool to my fingertips but not one bit waxy or oily. Their marshmallow flavor in every fudge variety, reminds me of one homemade way I’ve made fudge myself or that my mother has made it. That can be a great flavor if you really like the average homemade type but it can easily overwhelm any cocoa in the batch. Of these six flavors I have to say the Amaretto was easily my favorite one and I highly recommend trying it yourselves.

Check out yesterday's post about the First Official Pilgrimage for The Chocolate Cult which will be the Chocolate Walk in November (http://www.bchumane.org/about/events/cw.html) sponsored by the Humane Society of Brown County.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Official Chocolate Cult Pilgrimage

Sisters and Brothers, it is time that those of us who can, have our first Chocolate Pilgrimage together. Your Chocolate Priestess has chosen an event not far from her home that both she and the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte can attend and which fulfills our spiritual obligations to eat chocolate in a purposeful and moderate way.

On November 14, 2009, at 10am, we are going to attend the 2nd Annual Chocolate Walk in Nashville, Indiana, from where I have posted several Sacraments and reviews of a small selection of the many confectionery and chocolate stores that are in this small artist colony. This event provides funds for the Brown County Humane Society and all proceeds go to help the animals of Brown County.

This is what you need to do to participate in this Pilgrimage.

1) Go to the event's link and purchase your ticket.

To do this as an official part of our Pilgrimage you also need to do two more things:

2) Become an official member of The Chocolate Cult via the "Followers" list on this site or through Facebook.

3) Carpool to the event because remember the environment we save means more room for growing the necessary components for the Sacred Substance.

To carpool, please send me an email (thetammyjo via gmail) and let me know if you want to a ride or if you have a car you can use to help transport people. The Chocolate Coconut Acolyte's car can hold three more passengers and hopefully we'll get one or two more cars volunteered. Once these are volunteered to meet in Bloomington, Indiana, I'll let those know who have rides where exactly to meet around 9:15am that day so we can meet, get into the cars, and then head over to Nashville. If you go with the official group you'll get your picture and thoughts published on this blog about the experience.

In terms of money, you'll need to pay for your tickets, $15 now or if you wait until November the price rises to $20, bring some money for any thing you might want to buy including lunch if we stay that long, and a dollar or two to help the person volunteering a car to pay for parking and gas.

Let me tell you a bit more about this Chocolate Walk based on discussions I've had with Heather Newton, one of the committee in charge of this event. Last year, there were almost 600 tickets sold to this event and this year they want to do better but tickets are limited to 1000 only so you may want to get your tickets quickly if you decide to do this. Ticket purchasers will pick up the tickets, a button that we will wear to say we are part of this event, and a punch card for the stores at the event at Brown County Art Gallery at Main Street and Artist's Drive. We will each receive a map listing the 30 stores offering samples for the walk. That's 30 samples of chocolate you can choose to get though you don't need to get them all. Nashville itself will be decorated for the winter holidays by that time so it should be very nice.

According to Ms. Newton, "The Brown County Humane Society is a small shelter, but we still take in every homeless pet that comes our way--about 1400 a year--and we have an over 91% "Out Alive" rate. (The national average is only 50%) We're very proud to say that we will do everything in our power to find homes for every dog and cat. " That sounds like a good charity to help out with this event, don't you agree, Sisters and Brothers?

I do hope that those of you in the area will join us for our First Official Chocolate Cult Pilgrimage. If you can't visit with the group, please consider attending The Chocolate Walk on your own. Saturday, November 11, 2009, 10am to 5pm, in Nashville, Indiana. I will mention this event a few more times but remember, tickets and carpooling is limited.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kroger Cake & Bubble Chocolate

Sisters and Brothers, I visited the discount bakery racks in Kroger a few weeks ago but with so many candy store reviews, chocolate days on the calendar, and breaking health news now is the first time I can reveal the simple chocolate cake slice I purchased.

This slice seems to be a bundt cake with simple sugar glazing on the top.
Tastes like devil’s food cake, very moist even three days old, very chocolaty, with a buzz that builds up over time. Sold by the piece at $1, the next day I got it for 49¢,and ate it the following day, thus the three day old cake that tasted mighty good at less than half price. 100% satisfaction on my part.

The Saturday Sacrament for September 26, 2009, will look at the dark and milk chocolate versions of a new product called "Bubble Chocolate" who sent The Chocolate Cult two full bars of their treats to try.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, September 19, 2009

As with every fudge shop I visited in Nashville the Sunday before Labor Day, I got only ¼ pound of the chocolate varieties at Schwab’s, which is located a bit out of the way in town in Calvin Place — this photo should help you find it. I did this for two reasons. First, because I am sampling these to reveal them to you all, Sisters and Brothers, I do not require much of each variety. Second, each store generally sold them in ½ pound sections but were willing to go to ¼ pound; smaller amounts would be difficult for them to cut and sell, so I was happy. Also, the stores priced things by the pound, so this way I was able to get four flavors for the price of one pound.

Mr. Schwab — that’s him in the photo — was kind enough to give The Chocolate Cult five chocolate flavors to try in ¼ pound servings. These he packed in a box, individually wrapped in plastic, inside a bag along with napkins and a plastic knife. Fudge is thick, and you can’t readily break it into pieces, so a knife is necessary. If it melts, then you’ve let it get too warm. Fudge is usually best at room temperature, though you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for months.

In this next photo you can see that they use marble countertops to pour out, cool, and then cut the fudge. Marble is ideal for this because of its coolness and low-stick surface. An aunt of mine had one marble counter right in her kitchen because she was known for her homemade candies, and I’d love to have one marble section in a future kitchen myself for this very reason.

If you’ve never had fudge before, it’s hard to describe the scent, but I will try. In chocolate fudge you should be able to smell the cocoa but also the sugar and butter, and these should blend together if it’s well made. All of the fudge from Schwab’s has this overall essence, plus hints of their individual flavors, though I don’t think I could identify them merely by smell. Fudge should also have a firm but soft texture when you touch it and never be waxy if it is high quality. Again all of the flavors from Schwab’s meet these criteria.

The day I visited they were making their “Jack Daniel’s Fudge,” which has nuts in it as you can see. Mr. Schwab packed this separately from the others so that the alcohol wouldn’t affect the other flavors. That, of course, made me very curious. Given that making fudge involves heating the mixture first, it is not hot enough to cook out most of the alcohol? Was I also going to get an alcohol buzz from this piece?

There is no alcoholic burn in my mouth when I take a bite, so that tells me that a lot of the alcohol has indeed cooked out. However, the flavor is certainly there, along with the walnut pieces, chocolate, butter, and sugars. Letting a bite melt in my mouth allows more of the cocoa out but also the whiskey flavor, which overwhelms the other flavors and definitely results in a bit of an alcoholic buzz. This is not for kids, Sisters and Brothers. For adults who like whiskey this may do the trick on several levels, so eat it slowly, or you may get more of a buzz than you expect. One of my friends who loves whiskey agreed this tastes exactly like Jack Daniel's and concurs with my advice to you about eating it. I have to let some time pass to cleanse my palate before trying the next piece.

The “Rocky Road Fudge” piece is darker in color and has visible walnuts and marshmallows in it, as you can see in the photograph, Sisters and Brothers. It has a sweeter smell than the “Jack Daniel’s” did; I take a deep whiff of it. I cut off a corner and chew it; the cocoa is much more intense, as is a sugary marshmallow taste, even in a bite that did not have an obvious piece in it. The nuts are good and crunchy throughout. I purposely take a piece with marshmallow in it, and indeed there the sugar borders on overwhelming the chocolate, but overall it mixes fairly well. Letting a bite melt in my mouth increases the bitterness of the chocolate and allows a very slight cocoa buzz. This fudge lives up to its name, so if you like Rocky Road, you will like this.

Another darker fudge is the “Chocolate Walnut Fudge,” which has visible nuts in it, as you can see in my photograph. When I take a deep sniff of this fudge I am surprised to find it very dark and earthy smelling. I take a bite and find that it is indeed a darker chocolate and the nuts are slightly different tasting — perhaps black walnuts, which I think have an earthier flavor. Getting a piece without the nuts is nearly impossible since they are mixed thoroughly throughout. Letting a bite melt increases the dark cocoa flavor and buzz greatly. I really, really liked this variety, Sisters and Brothers.

The two remaining pieces are nut-free and almost identical. One does have a slight peanut scent to it, so it must be the “Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.” That essence is released more when I cut a bite off, so my suspicions are confirmed. The bite melts easily in my mouth but not on my fingers, and the peanut flavor is very strong and pure, with no additional sugars or salts, really, beyond what you’d expect in chocolate fudge. Every time I cut another bite, more of the peanut fragrance is released, so that is pretty neat and an experience you won’t have unless you focus on the fudge and fully engage your senses with each bite. When you take the time to do that, then this variety is wonderful, if not as chocolaty as we’d like in The Chocolate Cult.

Finally the last variety is simply “Chocolate Fudge.” It might be odd that I worked backwards from more complicated to more simple flavors this Saturday, but I wanted to change things up a bit, and since I drink water and wait between samples, I think each type gets a fair revelation to you all, Sisters and Brothers. This fudge has a simple, slight cocoa scent to it, unmasked by anything else. What is disappointing is that the principal flavor is sugar, really, followed by a very creamy chocolate taste that increases when I let a bite melt in my mouth. This is more for milk chocolate lovers, and any rushing sensation there may be registers as more sugar than cocoa for me.

Schwab’s primarily makes fudge, but they also had chocolate dipped strawberries the day I visited. Unfortunately, any type of fresh fruit candy must be eaten very quickly and does not travel very well so I didn’t get any. Perhaps when The Chocolate Cult participates in the Chocolate Walk sponsored by the Humane Society of Brown County, they will have some other treats for us to try.

Schwab’s Fudge does not have a website. You can write to them at PO Box 464, Nashville, IN, 47448, call them at (812) 988-6723, or email them at RSCHWAB38@gmail.com, as well as find them on Facebook.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Migraines and Cocoa

Sisters and Brothers, who among you gets migraines?


The White Chocolate Acolyte does so your Chocolate Priestess has spent hours worrying about him and trying to keep things dark and quiet to help him out when these strike. Recently I saw some news articles that ask whether or not cocoa might help with migraines. I want us to look at the studies and claims to this point. When more details emerge, I'll return to this topic. If any of the researchers out there is reading this, please, we in The Chocolate Cult would love more details about your work.

First, if you are unsure if you get migraines, check out this website where I got the above photo. It goes into a lot of details about four types of headaches. Personally, something as serious a migraine or frequents headaches would have be going to a doctor. I know that getting to a doctor can prove difficult in some areas but please remember that part of being on this Path is learning to take care of yourself. Honestly are you going to enjoy the Sacred Substance if you have a pounding headache?

Now, what are the claims of these reports about cocoa and migraines?
In animal study, Theobroma cacao may reduce inflammation associated with headaches. This repeats other studies about cocoa in relationship to the heart for the same reasons.

Questions and Facts about this study:
It was conducted on animals not humans. While it is popular to speculate about how observed changes and behavior in animals may play out in humans, you should never accept a substitute study for one that is specifically on humans. Better yet, humans like you in terms of sex, age, and perhaps race or ethnic group. Human beings are complex and different from other animals, even other primates, how we respond may be quite different. I, for one, want more research before I run out and self-medicate.

Is inflammation only associated with migraines? It seems more likely that since migraines are the"worst type of headache" that they are being used in an attempt to garner more publicity about the study in question.

This is not your main stream chocolate. While neither of the mainstream reports are specific as to what form the Theobroma cacao these rats were given came in. I think most of us would find this raw product unbearable.

Finally but certainly not least in importance, the diet these rats were fed was called "rich in cocoa" but what exactly does that mean? 10% of their diet? 25%? 5%

Once again, Sisters and Brothers, I have to urge you to enjoy chocolate for what it is and what it can do for you and not use current medical news and studies to justify using the Sacred Substance. As more studies are done, we may have more reasons to use chocolate and cocoa but I doubt that it will ever become an excuse to chow down on some Hershey bars whenever we feel like it. Be wary of stores, and I've seen some all ready online, using this health claim to promote their products. By jumping on this bandwagon before we have more evidence, I think it is rather clear that those companies are more interested in your wallet than you health.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Sources about Cocoa and Headaches:
Emax Health
Medical News Today

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fudge Extreme, A Candy Shop Tour

The “Nashville Fudge Kitchen” is an entire building at 175 South Van Buren in Nashville, Indiana. Inside as you’ll see from my photos are not only up to 26 flavors of fudge but also other candies both made there and purchased along with over 50 flavors of popcorn. There is no website so you have to call them at (812)988-0709 or write to them directly but the business card says “we ship anywhere”.

The treats I bought here were individually wrapped in slightly waxy white paper and placed into a plain white paper bag so I won’t give you a photo. With it came the apparently required plastic knife that seems part of the fudge deal. Instead here is a copy of their outdoor sign to tell you what is inside.

The sign though does not prepare you for all that is inside. These photographs will be a bit smaller so I can show you as much as possible, Sisters and Brothers, give you a feel for being there with me. When you first walk in, on the right hand side is large display for the homemade fudge and flavored popcorns. This display is so large it took two photos to try and do it justice as you see below.








To your left of this candy display is the rest of the sales space of the store but this is only one picture of it. They have other candies, jams, and treats that are not made in the store on what I think of more as bakery displays. Further to the left is an entire wall with more of the flavored popcorn. As you can see, they are getting in Fall and Halloween decorations. Since Halloween is a big candy holiday in the USA I'll be spending several reviews and posts on it so look ahead for that, Sisters and Brothers.

Further into the store just beyond the fudge and popcorn display are the marble counters where they make the fudge. The store owner, Debbie Bartes, in this picture hard at work, talked to me for a bit and gave me an orange information sheet about all that they sell. Of the fudge flavors on this list, half have chocolate in them but I didn't get 13 samples of fudge, I would have gone into a coma from the sugar, cocoa, and butter.

The area for making candy is large, with multiple marble work table, instructions on how to make the fudge, and racks to let it cool before it is cut and placed into the display cases to sell. While there appears to be a kitchen proper as well, I think part of these marble tables in several of the fudge places in Nashville is to show the potential buyer how it is made and get you interested in the product by making you feel part of that process. Below are two more small photos of the Nashville Fudge Kitchen candy making area.


The “Hand Dipped Caramel” measures 1.25 inches and is 0.75 inches thick. It feels a touch waxy to my fingertips but as promised does not melt. The covered caramel doesn’t seem to have a fragrance that I can sense even though I try very hard to find one. It breaks apart easily with my teeth and the semi-soft caramel inside is sweet and chewy. But the chocolate tastes very dull yet not creamy as I’d expect with a low cocoa milk chocolate. I’m disappointed at the final result.

The “Mint Bark” is actually rather complicated looking as I hope this photo can show. It has three different layers: dark bottom, green center, and lighter top which I’m guessing will be dark chocolate, mint, and milk chocolate in flavors. The sizes are all slightly different and this is 3.25 X 3 X 0.75 inches. The odors of cocoa and mint are fairly strong when I bring it to my nose and again the milk chocolate top feels a bit waxy in my hands, more so than the dark bottom layer. Taking a bite is more like snapping off a piece but it melts quickly in my mouth as their signs promise around the store. I can definitely taste dark and milk chocolate with a sharp yet cooling layer of mint between them. This is better than the caramel was in my opinion because it matches exactly what I’d expect — a good chocolate base, two of them in this case, and an intense mint flavor that lingers after the cocoa.

This is a little odd because I know the sign for this flavor said “Black Walnut Fudge” yet that is not a variety listed on the orange sheet you can get which gives all of the varies candies and varieties of them in the store that are made right there on the premise. You can see the walnuts in this ¼ pound piece of fudge and you can even smell their earthiness mixed with the cocoa. Just so you know, Sisters and Brothers, every sample of fudge from this store was purchased in ¼ pound slices because it is an easy division for the clerks to make and results in fairly simple math for me. The black walnut essence of this fudge is well defined and lingers long after the very sweet chocolate has left. There is cocoa here but it’s very highly sugared and melts very rapidly. This is almost overwhelmingly sweet in fact.

“Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge” is a very common variety of fudge I noticed in the shops in Nashville. I imagine this is so because it is relatively easy to make and with the popularity of both chocolate and peanut butter, a fairly safe bet for sells. When I take a whiff it has primarily a good peanut butter scent mixed with milk chocolate, a milder version of what I get from a Reese’s Cup for an example many of you might know. This is very firm when I cut it. Surprisingly it is also a bit chewy and sticky in my mouth with a honey like flavor to the peanut butter that completely overpowers the chocolate. Yes, you want peanut butter in your fudge but it if it is also supposed to be chocolate, you need to state that more strongly or simply go for the straight peanut butter variety.

The final sample from The Nashville Fudge Kitchen is the “Dark Chocolate Fudge” which is a bit darker in color than the other varieties I tried. When I cut into it, it is very firm and the cocoa scent wafts up into my nose. It has a definite darker cocoa taste than the other types of fudge to this point. This bitterness almost balances the sweetness of the fudge but it is still very rich and sugary.

Overall the candy products I tried from The Nashville Fudge Kitchen are very sugary in taste more than chocolaty. This is certainly true of most fudge so I’m not going to complain too strongly. Of these five products I sampled, my favorite for this store is the “Mint Bark” which tasted and smelled better than I expected. Of the three fudge varieties the “Dark Chocolate” is the one that lets most of the cocoa itself out and thus I have give it the highest grade in The Chocolate Cult.

The Milk Chocolate Acolyte bought three types of the popcorn and loved each one. There is a chocolate flavor listed for the popcorn so perhaps I’ll try that again at the Chocolate Walk in November sponsored by the Humane Society of Brown County.

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