Saturday, April 30, 2011

Save the Animals with Chocolate

Whenever a company or chocolatier uses fair trade, eco-friendly products, supports native growers or charities, we always mention that here on The Chocolate Cult.  At a huge chocolate event some months back, your Chocolate Priestess met a representative of the Endangered Species Chocolate Company.  They fulfill many of our criteria for being worthy Sacraments simply through their business practices (look at the Mission list at the bottom of the cover page on their website for a lot of information) but as we know, it has to appeal to our fives senses as well if people are going to be convinced to buy it regularly.

All of these nine varieties of bars are part of Endangered Species Chocolate's 3oz All Natural Collection.  This is not the entire collection, I counted 13 varieties on the website.  We'll look at these a few at a time so you can see the photos which are a big part of the mission for these bars. 10% of their costs go toward saving endangered species.  All of these bars contain chocolate liquor though not cocoa butter and rarely any added oils.  However I know that some of you have very strong allergies so you need to know that the machines used to create these also make bars with peanuts, milk, soy, and tree nuts.  Remember, the outside wrapper is 100% recyclable and inside it contains information on the animals or area pictured on the front as well as different ideas to help endangered species.  The also include three general suggestions on how to help other humans, the planet, save energy or save money.

We'll start with the two milk chocolate bars which have 48% cocoa content which is going to be quite high compared to most milk chocolate we have here in the USA.  Indeed, I'm not sure legally if this still qualifies as milk chocolate but they both have milk as a main ingredient.  For those with soy allergies, these also both have soy added.  Both the "Smooth Milk Chocolate" and the "Milk Chocolate with Cherries" have 220 calories in one half a bar so think of them as really 440 calories bars to make it easier on you to keep track.

 "Smooth Milk Chocolate" has a strong cocoa scent with a creamy undertone when I open the wrapper.  This is the sea otter bar and I really liked the four action suggestions inside for how we can help out these creatures with every day decisions we make.  The 15 squares break apart easily with loud snaps.  The first bite also makes a snap but otherwise it is quiet while I chew.  At first this has a strong milk chocolate flavor that turns more bitter then returns to the milk chocolate flavor again.   Since the cocoa content is fairly high, it has a hint of potential cocoa buzz.  Definitely a milk chocolate bar though for more dark chocolate lovers to try because I can just imagine some of my milk chocolate loving friends saying "this is too much, this can't be milk chocolate".

The "Milk Chocolate with Cherries" bar has a tart scent along with the chocolate, very little of the creaminess with the first bar is noticeable to my nose.  I hope you can see the dried pieces of cherry in the bar, each square seems to have at least one in them.  The cherry scent and the chocolate essence are both strong as I snap apart one of the squares which really means I snap a few off since they are arranged in five, three bar sections. This has a touch more crunch but it also has some chewiness when I get to the cherry; that also includes a burst of tart then sweet before returning to the chocolate which tastes darker than the other bar even though they have the same cocoa content.  The dolphin information inside also lists four actions you could do especially if you lived near the coasts. 

Next we'll look at the first two of the six varieties of 72% cocoa content bars: "Supreme Dark Chocolate" and "Dark Chocolate with Deep Forest Mint".  Each bar is 420 calories and include soy though no chocolate and no other allergens unless you are allergic to mint. Is anyone reading this allergic to mint?




The "Supreme Dark Chocolate"is our first dark chocolate bar and I wanted to just focus on the chocolate here without added fruits or nuts.  This is clearly a darker chocolate just from the scent and it makes my mouth eager to take a bite.  It also has a darker color than the milk chocolate bars, which we would expect.  It breaks apart with a snap and the chews make a soft crunch.  The chocolate itself is just a touch bitter but mostly smooth as the label promises.  There are undertones of vanilla which come through.  This chimpanzee bar has three suggested action we can take to help save this species though two of are more general for the habitats which protect other species as well.

Then I turn to the first dark bar with added ingredients, the "Dark Chocolate with Deep Forest Mint".  I personally think that darker chocolate always is better with mint than milk or white chocolate, I believe the coolness of the mint is a good counter to the bitterness we want with a darker chocolate. This has a moderate amount of mint scent mixed with a light chocolate fragrance but the mint actually cools my nose down a bit when I breathe it in.  This is slightly loudly when I take a bite and chew it than the plain 72% bar.  The mint is more cooling than a separate flavor, it really allows the chocolate to come out but oddly there is a lingering aftertaste I'm not pleased with and a lasting cooling sensation.  This is the only bar I received without an animal's photo on it.  Instead the label information is about the rainforest in general which is important to several of the animals we'll meet today.

"Dark Chocolate with Blueberries" and "Dark Chocolate with Raspberries" also have 420 calories each. The blueberry one has soy while the raspberry one has both soy and coconut oil so I don't think I need to consult our Acolyte for this though I'm eating only a small part of each bar and sharing the rest.





Our next two bars have added berries in them.  First, the "Dark Chocolate with Blueberries" and I have contrary views of this compared to what I said about mint.  Normally I find less cocoa content preferable with blueberries, around 60% or so down to even high quality white chocolate.  The berries are very buried in the dark chocolate but I tried to find a few for this photo.  The bar has only a chocolate scent but the berries inside is nice a juicy and sweet when I find them inside.  Not dried out at all which was a wonderful surprise.  I really like this combination of small, sweet berries with nicely intense dark chocolate and I now need to lift my opinion of high cocoa content's possibilities with this fruit. This sea turtle bar is the second sea creature on the bars I received.  This has four suggested action inside the wrapper. 

Second we'll talk about the "Dark Chocolate with Raspberries".  Raspberries are so common with chocolate that I actually grow tired of reviewing them but I'll try to keep my mind open, Sisters and Brothers.  This has a lot of visible bumps on the bottom of the bar and some of the raspberries I hope you can make out in our photograph.  It has a strong raspberry scent but also a stronger chocolate essence than the previous bars did.  The bar makes a lot of crunchy sounds as I chew it, the dried raspberries are crunchy and very tart.  The chocolate grows more bitter over time and actually has a bitter aftertaste that I'd associate with a 80%or high cocoa content chocolate.  The grizzle bear is an animal that scared me terribly when I was child because of a terrible movie my parents to me to see when I was only five!  But they are an endangered species and this wrapper has four suggested actions you and even I can take to try and help them out today.  Just don't rip my face off, grizzles!

 Our last two 72% cocoa bars both have tree nuts so I'll be keeping them safely away from our Milk Chocolate Acolyte.  "Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee" sounds decadent while the "Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Almonds" sounds very outdoorsy.  Even with the added ingredients these are still 420 calorie bars though the hazelnut has a small amount of cholesterol and sodium.  Many of these bars have negligible amounts of these and most have neither.  Both have soy and the hazelnut also has milk for those of  you with allergies.

The final two 72% cocoa content bars have tree nuts.  The "Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee" goes beyond the normal hazelnut blend to include toffee which is most often associated with almonds.  This has a dark chocolate fragrance with an undercurrent of butter.  I can see small pieces of hazelnuts or perhaps toffee in the as you can see in the photo to the right.  There are both hazelnuts and toffee because I get a butter tang plus a hazelnut flavor at different points as I chew this crunchy section.  The chocolate is the strongest flavor by far and is the one that lingers long in my mouth.  I don't what exactly it is, but this earthy hazelnut is not sitting well with this particular toffee on my tastebuds.  The black rhino is the endangered species one this wrapper and two of the four suggested actions relate specifically to not buying products made from animal horns and adopting animals through various programs.  No, you don't get a pet rhino when you do that, sorry.

The "Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Almonds"combines fruit as well as tree nuts.  The almond pieces are large and you can see the cranberries pieces as well in our photo.  There is primarily a chocolate and almond scent to this bar.  The nuts are crunchy and unsweetened but also taste unroasted.  The cranberries are sweet but not as much as in the other bar with them.  The chocolate delivers a good solid buzz after one section and this combination of flavors is certainly one of my favorites for this collection.  Wolves have generally gotten a bad rap from humans and given what I know of the history of human development, that makes perfect sense.  But all of us are part of our eco-systems and all of us play an important role in them.  This wrapper offer three suggested actions you could take to protect the gray wolf right here in the USA.

That ends are exploration with the "Extreme Dark Chocolate" coming in with 88% cocoa content and 420 calories in the bar but also the highest amount of fiber at 12grams, more than it has sugars though it has more saturated fat.  It, too, contains soy but otherwise is allergen free.  You all know that your Chocolate Priestess loves her darker chocolates but the question with one at 88% is: Is this too dark?  You'd be surprised how much 88% cocoa varies in intensity.  It has to do with where it came from and what is added to it.  I can enjoy up to 92% and yet I've found some low 80% varieties too much for my tongue. 

Regardless I always love the fragrance when I open up such a dark treat.  This is harder to break apart, and with each break more of the deep chocolate is released to my nose.  The chocolate is loud as I bite and chew.  The chocolate itself starts off tart then turns very bitter almost making my eyes water.  This is a bit more than what I can enjoy for more than one square in a few hours I think but it certainly provides that cocoa rush to my brain.  This leopard and jaguar bar has four suggestions about the animals but also their habitats; while these are not cats you want to meet out in the wild, they are not more powerful than an automatic gun nor can they simply move if their forests are destroyed. 

You can find Endangered Species Chocolate in many brick and mortar stores now.  It used to be that I could only find that at our local food co-op but now I see them in mainstream grocery stores in the natural/organic food section and in several discount department stores as well.  But you can also buy these 3oz bars online and also many other products which surprised me like gourmet chocolates and chocolate covered goods.  The flavors are varied and I like more some than others.  Overall for their taste, the naturalness of their ingredients, and their mission, Endangered Species Chocolate certainly earns the right to be called a worthy Sacrament for The Chocolate Cult.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sad Vegan Chocolate News

We here on The Chocolate Cult had the honor of revealing a good source of vegan chocolate to the world not long ago for our 2010 Halloween Treat Challenge.  We wanted to pass on this following news to you all, Sisters and Brothers, especially those who need or want vegan products.

April/May 2011
A lot has been happening in my life since the last newsletter, and here’s a snapshot of the major activities:
  • political rallies to defend our rights to collectively bargain;
  • pending retirement from state government;
  • deciding to depart from Madison (my home of 19-plus years); and
  • needing to address the debt accumulation from TerraSource Chocolates activities
It saddens me to say that as of May 15th, TerraSource Chocolates production will cease for an indefinite period of time, with no certainty that it will be able to resume in the future. My enthusiasm for offering dark vegan chocolates was not matched by market demand and I incurred some serious debt that cannot be ignored.
The good news for you is that the last of my existing stock is available for Mother’s Day at 25% off while supplies last. I have limited quantities in the various assortments and will try to match your preference as best I can. If you enjoy these chocolates and the green/social mission, it would help me tremendously to sell through the stock that remains. To order, please email me at josie@terrasourcechocolates.com or call me at 1.608.221.0588 or 1.877.808.9217.
I welcome any words of kindness or encouragement, and really appreciate each of you who gave TerraSource Chocolates a try. I hope to be writing to you with good news at some point in the future. In the meantime, I wish you a great summer and fall.
Your chocolate enthusiast,
Josie Pradella
Owner, TerraSource Chocolates

  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where's the Filling?

Recently I found some organic cookies on sale at our nearby Kroger grocery store.  These are from a company called Late July Organic and are "Dark Chocolate Sandwich Cookies" described on the box as "intense ad decadent".  There are 7 servings of 3 cookies each in this 8.2oz box.  I tried one serving worth so I consumed 150 calories made of 3g saturated fat, 125mg sodium, 2g fiber, 9g sugars, and 2g protein.  That isn't too bad, is it, Sisters and Brothers?

The cookies themselves looked good except for one thing: the inside, the filling looked rather thin to my eyes.  Trying to twist them open proved very difficult but once I did I could see that the filling is very thin, almost a ganache not really a filling.  But that's mean that it wouldn't taste as promised did it?  Actually yes, it did.  The cookie part was like a crisp cookie, strongly cocoa and a bit dry.  The inside though was almost like nothing.  It wasn't sweet, didn't expect it to be with that amount of sugar, and it wasn't fatty tasting either.  It was almost useless in terms of adding to the cookie.

So here's my take. Either this needs to be a single cookie, crisp and strongly cocoa or it needs to be a sandwich cookie with at least two to three times the amount of filling it currently has.  While this was on sale, it was more expensive than a mainstream brand of this same size.  I have to applaud the nutrition and the chocolate used and the over all chocolate taste but decadent is not a word I can use with so little filling.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Recalls April 24, 2011

Your Chocolate Priestess is going to try and be a bit more helpful in terms of your health by passing on recalls on chocolate related products.  I can't predict how often these will be posted but no more often than once a week.

From: U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) <fda@service.govdelivery.com>
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2011 15:46:08 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Doctor's CarbRite Diet Issues Allergy Alert on Certain Chocolate Brownie Flavored Bars


Doctor's CarbRite Diet Issues Allergy Alert on Certain Chocolate Brownie Flavored Bars
Thu, 21 Apr 2011 17:30:00 -0500
Doctor’s CarbRite Diet of New Brunswick, NJ is voluntarily recalling all lots of the 2 oz. Chocolate Brownie Doctor’s CarbRite Diet Bar that are missing the allergen statement, “Allergy Alert: Made on equipment that also processes soy, milk, egg, peanuts and tree nuts”, due to possible peanut allergen cross-contamination. This allergy statement would be found at the end of the Ingredients list.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dove Easter 2011

We love it here on The Chocolate Cult when a company not only makes great chocolate but they remember us through the year and something over the course of a couple of years.  We get to know the creators of the chocolate we write about and we get to know how their businesses work through their marketing and outreach staff.  We're pleased to add Dove Chocolate to that list of re-occurring featured reviews by looking at three different chocolate eggs you may still be able to find out in your shops.  But hurry because tomorrow is Easter and I'm betting these will not be around for the after-Easter sales because they are that good.   Two of them, the Milk Chocolate and the Dark Chocolate Eggs come in 8.87oz bags while the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Eggs are in a 7.94oz bag.

We'll start with the blue bag that has the Milk Chocolate Eggs.  As you can see each of the eggs is wrapped in light blue metal foil.  The egg unwrapped is about an inch long and about half an inch across, it has an almost smooth surface that is the color I expect from milk chocolate.  This obviously has milk but also some soy. It has both chocolate and cocoa butter with no added oils or fats -- we like that because frankly it is unnecessary and unhealthy to add in fats which cocoa beans themselves can supply.  It has a very deep chocolaty scent with a hint of creaminess.  These are solid so it makes a very solid snap when I take a bite but each chew is silent.  It has a good burst of cocoa and then vanilla and the milk as I chew so I decide to let the second bite of this one egg melt to see if that changes the flavor.  It takes over a minute to melt, that's a sign of good chocolate, Sisters and Brothers.  It does taste slightly different, letting it melt brings out more of the creaminess of the egg. One serving is 6 of these eggs so this one egg itself was 20 calories, 1.33g saturated fat, 1.67mg cholesterol, 4.2mg sodium, 1/6g fiber, 4g sugars, 0.5g protein. 

The Dark Chocolate Eggs have some different nutritional values per egg with the big exception of more fiber, 0.5g fiber per egg with a bit less cholesterol and sugars, and no sodium at all.  These purple wrapped eggs are visibly darker in color than the milk chocolate variety and have a much darker cocoa scent.  They are the same size as their milk cousins but a bit harder to bite, making a louder snap when I do so.  The first half of the eggs has an immediate dark burst of cocoa that builds with each chew.  Letting it melt, which take well over a minute, intensities that darkness and I can feel a bit of a buzz building by the end of just one egg. That is amazing and very satisfying.  In terms of allergies, you'd need a serious soy allergy for the soy lecthin to harm you but otherwise it is safe to eat.

That brings us back to milk chocolate again in the form of the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Eggs in two colors of wrappers: a very light orange and a darker, more average vibrancy of orange.  You would think given the peanut butter that the nutritional value might be quite different but here only 3 eggs make a serving.  Each egg has more sodium than the other two flavors but has the least amount of sugars and is part way between the milk and dark in terms of fiber and protein.  I hope you can see that these are half globes for the eggs measuring 1 5/8th inches long, 1.25 inches across and 5/8th inches thick with a solid milk chocolate coating.  These have a strong peanut scent that is more roasted than sweet.  I bite it in half and it makes no noise at all. Inside is a semi-solid peanut butter cream while the milk chocolate shell reveals itself to be thicker than I had imagined.  The result is a roasted peanut flavor with a strong undercurrent of milk chocolate before the peanut becomes the final flavor. 

Sisters and Brothers, I want you to let me know if you bought or received any of these three Dove eggs this year.  If you're been out and about, let me know where you've been finding them because yesterday when I finally checked out our nearby Target, they were down to about 1/2 the amount of Easter anything they'd had at the first of the week according to a store manager I spoke with.  These are good choices to buy for Easter, I have to especially say that the Dark Chocolate Eggs are more than worthy Sacraments while the Milk Chocolate Eggs are equally good for those of you who like your creamier chocolate.  The Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Eggs could have been more chocolaty but they aren't overly sweet at all and that makes them better in my opinion than many other similarly combined treats we've had here so far.

Friday, April 22, 2011

3 Easter Chocolate Singles

Easter is only a few days away and if you aren't Christian, don't worry, most of things that happen around Easter these days have almost nothing to do with religion but a lot of them can have something to do with our Sacred Substance: Chocolate.  I went out and found a few more treats in the single pack category and wanted to share them with you today, Sisters and Brothers.  As you can see I found another Peeps, a Butterfinger product and something from Russell Stover all at my nearby K-mart store.  All three for under $3 though that is mostly because our first treat was well below the average price of the other two.

We'll start with the first of our two marshmallow based treats.  This will be four such reviews for Easter 2011, won't it?  Our artisan marshmallows which were a Saturday Sacrament put the marshmallows in all of these to shame but these over more chocolate coating so let's see how they do over all.  The Russell Stover Marshmallow Egg covered in Milk Chocolate weighs in at 1oz and was about 60¢ a piece.  I also saw a strawberry version but I wanted to go simple for this comparison.  This has real chocolate but also artificial flavors though not cocoa related and in terms of allergens only dairy and possibly soy seem to be an issue.  One egg has 110 calories made up of mostly sugars but it is marshmallow so what do you expect?  The egg is 2.5 X 1.6 X 0.75 inches in dimensions so a nice big treat.  It has a moderate milk chocolate scent and a strong sugary scent.  The marshmallow is very soft, and not as sugary as the scent suggested which let the chocolate reign supreme.  I give this a thumbs up.

Remember the milk chocolate peeps from last week?  Several of you said you'd seen and tried the dark chocolate ones so I looked and finally at that same K-mart I found a few of them, I bought one because these were 99$ a piece.  Nutritionally not much different from the Russell Stover, both are 1oz by the way, and I'm curious about where this one's 10 extra calories come from.  The peeps inside Does not have as strong of a chocolate scent but what it does have is much darker and no sugar fragrance before I take a bite.  It measures 2.5 X 2.25 X 1 inches in dimensions as as you can see is only vaguely chick shaped which was disappointing to me.  The chocolate shell here is much thicker and the marshmallow inside is a bright yellow... sigh, that dye is one reason I don't like Peeps because I always taste the dye over the marshmallow.  That's the case here as well though the dark chocolate almost covers it up.  I'm so sad to say this but in this case, I liked the milk chocolate variety better.

That takes us to the Butterfinger Egg which I've had before but never reviewed so it was a nice reason to buy this at also 99¢ a piece.  This is 1.2oz and has 160 calories with more saturated fat and sugars than the other two treats we've looked at today.  It is supposed to be butterfinger pieces in milk chocolate and it looks like a big half eggs coming in at 2.5 X 1.5 X 0.75 inches.  It feels hefty to hold and has a moderate milk chocolate scent with an underlining hint of Butterfinger.  The egg is primarily solid chocolate with pieces of visible Butterfinger which makes a crunchy sound and adds more texture.  The buttery tanginess of the candy bar pieces blend perfectly with the milk chocolate but because of the amount of the chocolate, this is more chocolaty that the Butterfinger candy bar you are probably familiar with.  As with those, this has dairy, soy, and peanuts some of you may need to be wary about.

What is up with the stores this Easter?  There seems to be a great lack of candy and treats for Easter in my area.  What is it like where you are, Sisters and Brothers? Tomorrow I'm going to ask you what your favorite mass produced chocolate Easter treat is so please come back and leave comment on that post as well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tiny Morsels for Easter 2011


The nice people from Divine Morsels sent us a bag of their treats for Easter and given that it is getting close, Sisters and Brothers, we needed to do this Special Sacramental Review so you can check them out and perhaps add them to your Easter baskets.  As you can see, the caramels are wrapped in brightly colored foil, I counted five colors in this one bag.


This is the bag of their chocolate caramels that Divine Morsels sent to us a short while back.  As you can the bag is very Easter like, itself like a colored egg with eggs, dots and flowers on the size.   Divine Morsels specializes in caramels of a wide variety and hopefully when their website is fully operational they'll list several flavors for you to chose from.  They also make fudge but today we'll focus on these caramels.

As you can see here when the foil wrappers are removed, the pieces vary by size.  This strongly adds weight to the handmade approach on their website.  Each is almost half an inch thick and vary from 1 X 1 inches to about 1/2 X 1/2 inch.  They have a sticky surface and a very buttery scent.  They are chewy but as as sticky as other caramels I've had so there's not pieces I have to work free with my tongue.  There is some texture inside the most soft caramel, tiny granular pieces that I can't identify, but which might be salt since there is a salty essence here as well.  The main taste is a strong creamy, buttery taste with a burst of something slightly chocolaty, some salt, and then tangy aftertaste.  The four flavors blend to leave a unique and very decadent flavor in my mouth.  Furthermore there is a powerful sugar rush that ran through my body after one piece.

How did Divine Morsels chocolate caramels sound to you, Sisters and Brothers?  Over all I wish it had more chocolate essence, let's face it, this is The Chocolate Cult!  This is a truly buttery and creamy caramel that really satisfied me in one piece, indeed having more immediately was out of the question and my sweet tooth felt sated for some time.  Others who tried it with me felt it was a bit too salty but I felt there was balance in general even with my desire for more of our Sacred Substance.  For caramels lovers these are one of the best caramels I've ever had or reviewed her on The Chocolate Cult.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chocolate for Passover

Recently I was looking through the Passover selection in our local Kroger. I've reviewed items which are proper for Jewish holidays before and we've had one Jewish bakery send us a lovely chocolate item for a featured review.  I was ticking off the items I've revealed to you all before when I saw something new.  Dark Chocolate Coated Matzoh!

I saw several varieties but I went with the Holiday Candies by Bazzini Holdings, LLC, from Allentown Pennsylvania.  I choose it because it was the best price but I have to say that all of the selections for Passover were rather expensive.  I understand that to assure something is pareve, and this products, is to make it under specific religious conditions but really, does it need to be so expensive?  This particular box should have two matzos each with three servings of 160 calories, 5g saturated fat, 2g fiber, 11g sugars, 2g protein, with some Iron.  It has dark chocolate with some artificial flavor and wheat for those of you with allergies.

Here you can see the big matzos here but what is a matzo?  It is a biscuit or cracker made without leavening agents used during the Jewish Passover celebrations but also for meals throughout the year.  It is ubiquitous at many meals according to Jewish friends and colleagues.  These matzos are basically 6.5 X 6.x inches and very thin by themselves but they are supposed to be covered entirely by a layer of chocolate which turns out to be as thick as the cracker on each side.

Sadly when I turned over the matzo I discovered that both of them were only covered on one side.  I hope you can see from this photo that the missing chocolate had been on the cracker but came loose for some reason.  By itself the dark chocolate was good; not the best we've had but far, far from the worst chocolate.

Together the matzo was basically like a dull salt-free saltine cracker but it was a delight once the dark chocolate was added.  Sisters and Brothers, have you had this product either from this brand or others?  Have you ever made home-made matzo with chocolate?  Leave us comments and let us know.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chocolate Related Recalls April 2011

Sisters and Brothers, it has been some time since your Chocolate Priestess gave you a heads up for recalls of products related to chocolate.  Today I saw a recalled for a chocolate pot from Williams-Sonoma and that made me to the the FDA's official recall cite and do some checking.

Organic Food Bar Recall 

This was the only current food recall I could find related to chocolate.  Previous ones were at least a month old and for products that wouldn't last a month so I didn't think it necessary to repeat them here.

Remember that products can be recalled for a variety of reasons.  Often it is a matter of an ingredient being left off the nutritional label and/or off of the list of possible allergens.  Always use your common sense though.  Bakes goods are very likely to have dairy products as is anything milk or white chocolate.  If you have serious tree nuts or peanut allergies and there is no nutritional list or label, err on the side of caution. 

Here is information about the recall that sent me looking.  Williams-Sonoma Hot Chocolate Pot Recall.   That something you can pay $30-40 dollars for might have the handle break off is a more serious problem.  You can't assume your cookwear, furniture and other reusable items are going to break, that just isn't a logical assumption unless you drop or misuse it, now is it?  At the same time one product does not undermine the good items any company or chocolatier might offer.  Be cautious but if you've had good experiences with a manufacturer I think you should keep purchasing from them.

I want you all to stay healthy and keep coming back to read and comment on The Chocolate Cult.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Artisan Marshmallow for Easter 2011

 Our friends at 240 Sweet Artisan Marshmallows sent us three more flavors of marshmallows to reveal to you this Easter season. Given that we just talked about Peeps yesterday, it seems the perfect time to reveal what your Chocolate Priestess did with these fluffy treats in honor of the spring time holiday.  We'll be seeing more from 240sweet in the future since our own Chocolate Fruit Acolyte now works there and lives in my town so she can save them money in bringing us new chocolate marshmallow creations. Do not worry; she will never be part of the review and we will always hold them to the same standards we do with all similar products.


Using the recipe on their website as a starting place, I made tiny batches of gourmet rice crispy treats.  While it would have been nice to try and make Easter shapes I didn't really have enough to work with.  This is the modified recipe:



2.67 ounces (approximately 3) 240sweet Artisan Marshmallows
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup crisped rice cereal


Grease bottom of 8 aluminum foil on a flat surface with a bit of the butter butter if so desired, I didn't to cut down on fat. 

In small saucepan, melt rest of butter over medium-low heat. Cut marshmallows into quarters so you have 12 pieces.  Add pieces and stir until melted.  Add crisped rice cereal. Stir until completely mixed.

Using a soup or table spoon from your table setting utensils, spoon out the goo into 3 mounds.  Let cool. Enjoy!

Makes about 3 serving.


Snickerlicioius Marshmallows.
The Snickerlicious smelled a bit like Snickers as I melted it but more peanut than chocolate really though there was a hint of caramel there as well. It melted very well and of course the full peanut pieces I hope you can make out in the close up photo didn't melt.  The flavor of the treats was a nice balance between the marshmallow and the peanuts then there was an almost noughty sort of flavor with the rice.  Sadly I didn't taste chocolate at all in this version.






S'mores Marshmallows
The S'more had a slightly strong chocolate flavor but even as it melted I could catch the graham crackers with my nose.  The chocolate chips melted easily.  These turned out almost the exact same color as the first batch of gourmet treats.  The primary flavor here was the marshmallows followed by a strong grahman cracker taste then the rice and just a hint of the chocolate.  With S'mores you want the flavors to be more balanced, the chocolate holding its own and that didn't work in these treats.




Coffee Chocolate Chip Marshmallows
Finally the Coffee Chocolate Chip marshmallows had a nice mocha scent as soon as I opened the bag. That fragrance grew as they melted and because of the much larger number of chocolate chips these were a darker color than the previous two  sets of gourmet rice crispy treats. As you know, coffee is not something your Chocolate Priestess really likes so I gave one of these treats to three different coffee drinkers, two of them our own Mocha Acolytes.  This was their consensus: very very like cocoa flavor, a mocha flavor but one that was very sugared down.  Over all they all three liked it but had to say it wasn't quite chocolaty enough.

Over all these three gourmet marshmallow just could not hold up their chocolate once melted into a rice crispy treat form.  240sweet Artisan Marshmallows are great as marshmallows but this particular trio lacked what we are really looking for here on The Chocolate Cult: CHOCOLATE. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Milk Chocolate Peeps

Last year I heard that Peeps, the makers of marshmallow treats mostly associated with Easter but not expanded into other Holidays like Christmas and Halloween, was adding a milk chocolate covered Peep to their Easter mix.  I couldn't find one any where and my attempts to contact Peeps headquarters were ignored.  I found one finally the day after Easter in Target so I bought one.  This review you are about to read for this year was written last year.  The product may have improved, gotten worse or disappeared by now but I was thinking of you all, Sisters and Brothers, and planning ahead.

This 1oz bag has one serving or one milk chocolate covered peep inside of it.  Nutritionally this has 110 calories, 1.5g saturated fat, 15mg cholesterol 14g sugars, 1 g protein with 2% of the calcium and iron an adult needs daily.  I don't think this can be considered healthy but how much of the candy you'll being eating this Easter could you call healthy?  It is covered with real chocolate and is the very first ingredient on the list, better than what many other single serving holiday treats can say and still be in this price range. It also has a lot of sugar, artificial ingredients and preservatives.

The chocolate covered chick measures almost 2.5 inches at it's width and 2.25 inches at it's tallest so very round in shape.  It has a very sweet milk chocolate scent and is firm to my touch.  Inside it is a soft, sticky yellow marshmallow but the milk chocolate does a decent job competing with the sweetness of the peep itself.  Thank goodness it doesn't have an additional flavor like lemon because marshmallows and chocolate can taste great together.  The result is a surprising yummy taste for someone, your Chocolate Priestess, who honestly is not a Peep fan at all.  So far, I haven't seen this around this year in 2011 so if you find this or had these last year, leave a comment and let me know what you thought about them. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lindt Easter Bunny Option

If you can find this cute little "basket" with two milk chocolate bunnies this review will give you a heads up on whether or not you should spend your Easter money this 2011 season or look elsewhere for a treat.

Like with most Lindt products this is real chocolate without preservatives or too many artificial flavorings though it does have both milk and soy if those are allergy concerns for you.  The two bunnies together are 2.5 servings which is a very unfortunate matter. Really?  Why put information on the label like this?  Why not have the nutritional value per bunny since that is how these will be eaten, you know that as well as I, Sisters and Brothers.  So let me try some math for you to figure this out more realistically.  One bunny has 262,5 calories made of 10g saturated fat, 12.5mg cholesterol, 37.5mg sodium, 27.5g sugars, 3.75g protein, less than 3% of the daily vitamin A and C, and iron you need daily along with 10% of the daily calcium you need.  See, it can be figured out and frankly companies should be serious and reflect actual consumption in their nutritional lists.

The bunny is 2.75 inches along the bottom and stands 3.75 inches tall.  The ears are solid milk chocolate that has a more vanilla than a creamy or milky taste to it.  The head and body are hollow however but that isn't uncommon for Easter bunnies now is it?  Be careful unwrapping it because the body and head are rather thin and I notice it broke very easily if you applied even the smallest amount of pressure.  One bunny is a lot chocolate and sugar but no cocoa buzz really.  Regardless, compare to what is generally out there in your brick and mortar stores, this is one of the better Easter bunnies I've ever had.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bright Easter Chocolates

Indiana has some good chocolatiers right here in the state.  There was such a lack of chocolate shops on our trip through Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota in March 2010, I was afraid I had covered all the candy and chocolate making venues in Indiana all ready. Luckily this is not the case and I found another one up in Wayne County called Ghyslain chocolate des beaux arts.  The wonderful lady there, Gen, sent us two boxes of their Easter chocolates and I think you are going to fall in love with at first site.  But looks are only one of the five senses we cover here on The Chocolate Cult.  Your Chocolate Priestess will reveal these beauties in all five senses.

Easter is one of their seasonal times at Ghyslain and you can get a taste of their lovely creations by checking out their website.  Now this link will change through the year so if you want to bookmark it and return to it every few months, I think that would be a delight for your eyes.  They sent us two six counts of their Egg and Bunny Collections so that we got to sample each of the flavors they come in.  When I show you the photos I took, I hope it will take your breath away like they took mine away.

The 6 count Easter Bunny Collection has four flavors with repeats of two of them which I'll reveal in turn going from top left across to the lower right as you see in this photo.  These is the larger of the two boxes they sent, with each bunny weighing 1oz according to the website but the tag which came on the box said 4.5oz or only 0.75oz per bunny.  I don't have a scale but my guess is that these are under an ounce.  Each of then is 2.25 inches from tail to paw tips, an inch crouched down, and 1.5 inches from hunch to hunch.

Let's begin with the deep purple bunny which is the Peanut Butter.  The coloring and the shell is very smooth and cool to my fingertips and I'm doing this live this morning so it isn't warm enough yet to start melting though today, oddly we are to hit the 80s all ready.  It has no real fragrance as far as I can determine and that might be the coloring or the shell.  I take a bit and since I'm a bit cruel and he is a bit large, I can't get his full head in one bite.  The shell breaks apart easily and makes almost no sound at all while I chew.  As I suspected the colored shell is a thin layer of white choocolate but the coloring is only on the top -- hand-painted is one of Ghyslain's hallmarks.  Then there is a layer of milk chocolate that is much thicker on the bottom with a central semi-soft darker looking chocolate that has the flavor of both peanut butter and chocolate.  The darker chocolate does not taste particular dark to me, just darker than the other two chocolate which are both very creamy and smooth.  The peanut butter is the stronger essence at first then the a darker yet still creamy chocolate becomes the primary and final flavor.


The green, a fairly dark lime green, bunny is the Milk Chocolate with Puff Rice so I'm expecting more crunch this time.  Again no scent before I bite which is indeed a very crunchy affair since inside is a solid milk chocolate with visible pieces of crispy rice.  The white chocolate shell also looks to be a bit thicker and there is a milk chocolate bottom shell.  This has a sweeter fragrance and flavor than the previous piece though the chocolate itself is more consistently the main essence.  By the second and third bite, it becomes clear that a large part of the flavor is the white chocolate which is very creamy and sweet though there is the milk chocolate edge and a definite rice flavor as well. 


The pink bunny should be a Strawberry flavor and I'm thrilled simply because it is not raspberry.  I get a bit tired of every pink or red chocolate being raspberry and these secondarily cherry.  I'm hopeful then when I take a bite, unsurprised by the lack of scent before I take half this bunny's face off with my teeth.  Like the first bunny, the white chocolate shell is thin and there is a thicker milk chocolate shell under it.  The semi-soft inside though is more creamy and more milk chocolate in flavor not in color.  The strawberry flavor is powerful, sweetly tart as the best strawberries are, and practically melts in my mouth.  Oddly I'm not getting a very strong fragrance but the taste is very pleasing.   So far, this has to be my favorite but make sure you like strawberries.  The aftertaste is long lasting so I had to cleanse my mouth before moving on to the next piece.


Finally our last bunny is the aqua one, a Toffee Caramel.  Now without an ingredient list I don't know what is really meant by "toffee caramel" because it can be made from almonds or simply from butter and other natural flavorings.  I've seen and eaten both and unless the almonds are there or their flavor is particularly strong, I generally can't tell the difference just by taste.  The white and milk chocolate shells break easily and silently when I take a bite.  The semi-soft center has a golden hue and appears to be milk chocolate which is what I taste -- a buttery, slightly tangy milk chocolate.  There is a hint of another flavor which may be a bit of the dye for the color; until now that wasn't an issue for me but I will be completely open and tell you all that in the past I've had reactions to very intense blue dye in food and clothing so I might be more sensitive to the flavor here.

The 6 count Easter Egg Collection was even more lovely to look at when I took the lid off the.  This has six flavors and you may notice the top three eggs are different in shape than the bottom three. Again we'll look at these from upper left to lower right in turn.  The eggs collectively are 3oz but just from this first photo you can see they are two different sizes and the larger ones on the bottom (smooth eggs) feel just a touch heavier than the top ones (cracked eggs). I hope my photos give you a good visual because these are very detailed and lovely to simply gaze at.

These should have more complex flavors based on their descriptions with no copies of the bunnies or of each other.  The yellow cracked egg is Milk Chocolate Tangelo Ganache, but what is a Tangelo?  I looked it up, and I'm very glad I did, because it is a citrus fruit hybrid that is a cross between a tangerine with a grapefruit, or a pomelo.  I have very few food allergies, Sisters and Brothers, and this isn't an allergy but a medication restriction.  I cannot have anything with grapefruit, period, with a new medication.  So I've asked our Milk Chocolate Acolyte to describe this for you today.  Milk Chocolate Acolyte, go!  This confection carefully balances flavors that are very different, succeeding where it could easily have failed.  There is a lengthwise seam around the egg; it turns out that it is actually two half-eggs, formed separately and then pressed together, meaning that the two half-eggs' flat faces meet in the middle, and this is important to its flavor and texture.  Before I take a bite, I smell no hint of citrus in the chocolate.  But biting into it reveals the ganache, accented with a subtle but fresh tang of citrus fruit.  We all know that it is important to avoid overpowering the flavor of chocolate, Brothers and Sisters, but that is exactly what would have happened if this had been one single egg filled with ganache.  Instead, the extra milk chocolate down the middle balances the flavor and texture, keeping the focus on the chocolate.  In the end, the experience is smooth milk chocolate with an added flash of interesting tangelo flavor, rather than merely a chocolate shell as a delivery system for a fruity filling.

The purple cracked egg is a buttery caramel, one of Ghyslain's signature flavors.  A hint of butteriness comes out through the colored shell even before I take a bite, so I'm hopeful this will tantalize all five of my senses.  Underneath a thick but silent white chocolate shell is an oozing tangy sweet caramel that blends very well with the creaminess of the chocolate.  Normally I am concerned that white chocolate and caramel is too sweet, but the tanginess does a good job of adding a bit of intensity beyond what I was expecting. 

The orange cracked egg is a milk chocolate praline ganache, and again, praline has different meanings, so I won't know if it has tree nuts or not until I try it.  This has a slight praline scent, though I can't detect nuts or not at this level.  Inside the white chocolate shell is a solid chocolate, sweet, tangy, and somewhat nutty center.  This isn't quite a single nut flavor, because the sweet and tangy overwhelms that flavor, sending the chocolate back to ease forward slightly at the end of the first bite.  The second bite strongly suggests a hazelnut flavor here and allows the chocolate to come forth more as well.

The smooth eggs are all half eggs unlike the cracked versions which are fully egg shaped but smaller.  The smooth eggs are all painted only on the top but have a milk chocolate bottom shell.  The green one is their buttery caramel again but with roasted pecans this time.  Strange, much like the bunnies, this also has no scent before I take a bite.  I wonder if it reflects the smoothness trapping the scent in better than the roughness of the cracked eggs, which may not hold the edible paint on as solidly?  The upper shell is white chocolate then there is an inner milk chocolate shell but the layers don't stop there.  There is a more solid milk chocolate on the bottom with oozing sweet tangy caramel on the top with nice pieces of pecans in the caramel.  I think the flavors blend perfectly with the caramel tang and the milk chocolate the final essence in my mouth.

The pink smooth egg is dark chocolate raspberry ganache.  The bottom of this egg reveals a milk chocolate shell like the previous one so I'm expecting the dark chocolate to be inside.  Unexpectedly, based on the bunny and the previous smooth egg, this has a strong fragrance, raspberry very clearly is the scent I get immediately upon bringing it to my nose.  Inside is a semi-soft but very smooth looking dark chocolate under the white and milk chocolate layers. It has a very intense raspberry essence along with a textural surprise -- either pieces of raspberry or the seeds at least.  The dark chocolate has a good bitterness that competes well but ultimately the raspberry wins out.

Finally we end this review with the aqua smooth egg which should be sea salt buttery caramel with caramelize macadamia nuts -- that's a lot of flavors in one little egg!  No real scene again with this piece though I had hoped for sugary since so much caramel and caramelized ingredients in this piece.  This is a multi-layered and very creamy chocolate egg.  First the white and milk chocolate shells cover what appears to be another semi-solid white chocolate layer topped by caramel with a few macadamia pieces in it.  It is very sugary and sweet with that macadamian essence blending in very well so if you aren't a big fan, I don't think you'll be turned off by the nuts.  This is definitely the sweetest of the Easter Offerings.

Simply in terms of visuals, the prices for these Ghyslain Easter treats is very reasonable.  They don't use any additives other than color, clearly there is food dye here, you can tell simply by looking but it is also listed on the boxes.  They use all natural ingredients and they literature you'll receive gives you instructions on how to store and how soon you should eat them.  I love that these are all very tasty though I personally wanted more fragrance both before and after taking a bite -- all five senses are important.  I also really loved that if you buy both, you get 10 different treats. In a world where we crank out the same thing under different shapes or call a variety pack something with only two to three combinations, this is a delight to your senses.  However this may not be the best gift for people with dairy, tree nuts or other allergies. Think and perhaps write to to Ghyslain before you buy.

Gyhslain has two bistro locations, one in Richmond and the other in Zionsville, bothin Indiana.  Their production facility is in Union City.  I'm hopeful that I'll be able to arrange a trip to the Wayne County Chocolate Trail later this summer with some of the Acolytes and Followers of The Chocolate Cult.  Ghyslain, I'm not sure which location, will be on that tour if we can make it work.  How many of you would like to join us in a two day getaway for wonderful chocolate and fellowship?  We'll make a collective decision here at Cult Central and then share that date with all of you.  We'll need a head count to make some special arrangements and I've been told we might be able to get special tours of some facilities as well as interview the chocolatiers themselves.