Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chocolate Holidays, September 2011

It's that time, Sisters and Brothers, time to plan your month of chocolate enjoyment.


Beyond your own celebrations and daily consumption, which I know many of you do, let's be honest about it, I eat or drink something chocolate almost every day myself I try to be moderate and have a purpose though I'll confess it has been very challenging this year with so much stress in our lives.  I hate worries that involve money.  I mean, I know when money was created, I know there are other ways for human beings to live but I feel so trapped by my time.


Enough of that!  Let's look at fun food holidays you can use chocolate for in September.  As always if you see I've left something out, leave a comment and let me know.



September = National Whole Grains Month -- entire month long try to add some whole grains into anything you create with chocolate.  I only have whole grain wheat flour in our house and it does require a bit more work and a bit of adjusting what you expect things to taste like.

September 4 = World Chocolate Day -- we'll do a piece here but if it will be a review of chocolate or a look at world trends, I haven't decided.  Let me know what you want but make it soon!

September 8 = National Muffin Day -- easily celebrated with a view to the Whole Grain month, right?

September 12 = National Chocolate Milkshake Day -- I think it will still be more than hot enough for this celebration.

September 13 = International Chocolate Day -- we've got a post ready for this great day and it isn't another mass grocery shopping trip like we did back in 2009!

September 13, 1857 may also be the birthday of a very important figure in chocolate history but you'll to tune in to find out who one that day. 

September 14, 1964 = Pop-Tarts come on the market from Kellogg’s -- we have a posted all ready prepped for this date.  I know, I know, hardly the healthiest thing in the world but they are popular so I think we need to cover them.

September 23 = National White Chocolate Day -- as you know, your Chocolate Priestess prefers darker but I will help  you celebrate in some fashion.

September 27 = National Chocolate Milk Day -- how many days do we celebrate chocolate milk?  At least two.  hhhmmm....

So there you have it, Sisters and Brothers.  Let none of you feel you know have a reason to celebrate life with chocolate (and whole grains) in September.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two Blog Awards for The Chocolate Cult

There is a tradition in the vast world of foodie and food related blogs of giving out awards that you believe another blogger deserves.  We've only won one of these before which has never surprised me since we aren't a traditional foodie or food blog at all. Let's be blunt, recipes are rare here and those seem to be the bulk of most food related blogs.  But that doesn't mean that your Chocolate Priestess and the Acolytes do not provide both information and entertainment we hope you use in regards to all things chocolate.

We are honored to be given two awards from Free Spirit Eater.  Check out her blog please and you'll find lots of recipes and pretty awesome looking photos of what she makes and eats.

The first award is the "Blog on Fire Award". 

I tried to dig up some information about this award but all I found were various blogs winning it.  You know, Sisters and Brothers, that as a trained historian I do like me some facts but I can't share with you what I do not know.

What I did find out that is that I'm supposed to pass on this award to others (how many seems to vary) and that I'm supposed to list 7 things (again what this is varies).

Top Seven List of My Favorite Pieces I've Written as a Professional Author:

1.  At Her Feet -- a non-fiction book that I co-authored to help others in the alternative sexuality community.  If the idea of alternative sexualities offends, don't look it up and don't read it.

2. An Author-Centered Approach to Understanding Amazons in the Ancient World -- this was my PhD dissertation.  You can actually request copies from your university libraries if you want to look at it. I use my skills as a trained scholar to try and research and understand information we share here with all of you.

3. Eroscapes -- this was my fourth book, a collection of short stories, and while the publisher was very tiny, I've always been very proud of the quality of these stories even if they needed a better copy editor at the publisher house.

4. Beyond the Softness of His Fur, Book One: Wonders of Modern Science -- this started off as a sort of bedtime story I created for a partner but now it has grown into a trilogy published by Circlet Press.  Science fiction and social commentary with an erotic edge.

5. The Ancient History chapter in The History Highway series -- I worked on two releases of this book and I wanted to provide depth and range for the entire world's ancient history.  I wonder if they'd done another update?

6. Servants of Destiny -- my first published novel.  It was supposed to be a trilogy but I no longer trust that publisher so there won't be further adventures of Marelda and Dolan unless I do a self-published ebook sort of deal

7. "Feminism & BDSM: An Insider's View" is an article I wrote that was published back in 1996 for the Columbia University feminist magazine "Sister" and then republished, re-printed and referenced widely.  The link here takes you to one fairly stable current link.

If you want to see other things I've had published, you can look HERE.

Now on to the "Blog on Fire" awards I'm giving out.

Here are 7 Blogs I think deserve the "Blog On Fire Award" because they offer us a "kick" in their recipes or essays.

1.  "What's Cookin' Italian Style Cuisine" has a range of recipes but being focused a bit on Italian foods and culture also provides a good spice in most of the hearty recipe.

2.  curry and comfort takes exotic and makes it doable for most of us.

3. SpicieFoodie is a Mexican's take on ethnic food in Europe and the results are often very hot and spicy as well as unique.

4. Flour Dusted is by our fairly regularly reader and commenter, briarrose, who indulges in "food porn" -- now that is a HOT idea, isn't it?

5. Food o'del Mundo has an awesome logo and a wide range of recipes with a varied palate that does include spices from around the world.

6. Cajun Chef Ryan should be a site with a lot of spicy recipes, right?  Actually he has a lot of different recipes and sadly I owe him a guest post that is unlikely to happen here's a much deserved award from me to you, Chef Ryan.

7. The Spiced Life is pretty much what it sounds like but this blog is a model of how to do a great layout and share a lot of recipes in an appealing fashion.


The other award the Free Spirit Eater gave us is the "Cute Little Chef Award."  Between our group of volunteers I'd say we have "cute" and "chef" definitely in the mix... "little" well can we qualify as little for the few recipes we share?  I'm teasing the Acolytes, they know it, don't worry.


I couldn't find any further information about this award either only again that we should pass it on to the bloggers we think are deserving.

Here is my list of "Cute Little Chef Awards."  These are not in any particular order but each of these offers recipes that I think will interest chocolate lovers plus their creations or posts are cute.   I'll give out seven to balance out the "hot" awards above.

1. Pass the Sushi is a blog about "cooking, baking, and all things cute" and even though sushi is in the title, she does have some nice chocolate treats on there.

2. Daydreamer Desserts has lovely, cute, and often chocolatey treats.

3. From Val's Kitchen is a great site that does a lot of what we do here on The Chocolate Cult but she is not focused on chocolate.  Recipes and crafts makes this a very cute blog.

4. Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy is a lot of desserts on a very cute blog with an adorable icon character.

5. The Cookbook of Trial and Error offers a wide variety of recipes but what makes it "cute" is that Cooking Rookie does not shy away from sharing both successes and failures plus the photos are lovely.

6. Cake Spy is always adding these delightfully cute icons to the recipes and they have a lot of sweet treats there as well.

7. bake at 350 is all about beautiful, often exceedingly cute desserts; I like just looking at them even if they aren't always chocolate.

If you created either of these awards, please let me know and give me a link to show when you created it. I'd like to keep a record for us all of this information.

If you are a winner of either of these awards today, please drop us a comment below.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Halloween Treat Challenge 2011


The Chocolate Cult is pleased to announce our 3rd annual Halloween Treats Challenge for chocolatiers, confectioners, bakers, and purveyors of cocoa related treats.  Sisters and Brothers, if you have a favorite chocolate treat for Halloween tell the folks who make it to contact us!

The rules are simple.

Contact the Chocolate Priestess via thetammyjo@gmail.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 2000+ unique visitors 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 we take of the product(s) will accompany the review. 

On Halloween, October 31, 2011, I will name up to six winners of the challenge.  The categories will be Best Mass Produced Halloween Treat, Best Gourmet Halloween Treat, Best Baked Halloween Treat (for businesses that create their own unique products), Best Independent Halloween Novelty, Best Halloween Treat Source (or those places that sell the products but do not create the treats themselves), and across category winner will be labeled Best Halloween Treat.

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 or at the bottom of the page, and you would need to provide the HTML code for it.  This means that you’ll get extra notice for any month of your choosing.

Previous winners have included Equal Exchange, Obrigadeiro, Sjaak’s, Sweet Mona’s, Taraluna, and The Cookie Sandwich Company, The Protein Bakery.

Please contact thetammyjo@gmail.com if your company is interested in this opportunity.   We also do year round reviews so if you don’t have Halloween Treats you can still become featured review on our popular blog that has worked with 110 different chocolatiers and companies in less than three years.

Our address:
TammyJo Eckhart, PhD
The Chocolate Cult
3532 E Park Lane
Bloomington, IN 47408

Saturday, August 27, 2011

National Marshmallow Day Gourmet Style

Tuesday, August 30 is either "National Toasted Marshmallow Day " or simply "National Marshmallow Day" -- your Chocolate Priestess found both variations on the various food fun calendars and resources I turn to when I want to find another opportunity for you to enjoy a bit of chocolate.  Once more we have some offerings from the good ladies at 240sweet who have sent three more flavors of gourmet marshmallows our way.


The first of these is a "Cookies & Cream" variety that is basically their handmade white marshmallow coated in chocolate cookie crumbs.  Wouldn't it be awesome if they could mix the cookie crumbs into the marshmallow?  I wonder if that would change it too much chemically and make it not turn into the soft solids we can marshmallows?

As you can see here these are a big size so I often cut them in half or quarters to use.  I used these both on their own, very soft and sugary with a good cocoa cookie taste on the top, but also between two graham crackers and melted for just 10 seconds in the microwave. This isn't a 'smore because it lacks the chocolate candy or chocolate piece melted with it.  The resulting softer marshmallow is very very sticky and gooey, it stuck to the plate, to my teeth, to my partner's chin, which made it both messy and fun to eat.  Plus I could taste the chocolate cookies so it was pleasing on a cocoa level which is what we want here on The Chocolate Cult.


Finally I got to try the Dark Chocolate variety of marshmallows and I was as impressed as I was promised I'd be by the ladies from 240Sweet plus a few readers and friends who have tried these.  Just like with all their marshmallows this is all natural though they don't list cocoa, cocoa butter, or anything like that only "natural flavors" here.  But it certainly tasted and smelled like darker cocoa to me.

I used it in two ways.  First I roasted two of them and unlike previous attempts where pieces like chips or sugar or whatever would have fallen off and burned, these marshmallows are simply solid chocolate flavor.  I used them to make whole grain pseudo-s'mores meaning I didn't add extract chocolate to them.  Didn't need the extra chocolate and it still tasted very chocolaty.  It was, however, very sticky to eat so be prepared to wash off plates and yourself vigorously.

Second, I cut up one and put half of it in two mugs of white hot chocolate.  They looked beautiful, sent out a nice cocoa scent and then with a bit more heating in the microwave I got mine to fully melt and it added a good cocoa kick to the creamy white hot chocolate.  Eating them without letting them melt intensified the cocoa flavor of them but left the cocoa very creamy which I'm not terribly fond of personally -- your Chocolate Priestess wants here cocoa buzz!

You can order from 240sweet or you may find them at local shops or events around central Indiana.  Here is Samantha at my local Bloomingfood store back in July promoting their 4th of July specials of red, white, and blue marshmallows.  As you can see she loves her job and marshmallows.  They have a lot to be happy about because this summer they've been noticed by several big names in entertaining like Martha Stewart.  But they are still Indiana Artisans just of the fluffy, puffy kind.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Top Chef: Just Desserts 2, Watching #1

Who here would like to do a weekly series with me, The Chocolate Priestess, and talk about the second season of "Top Chef: Just Desserts?"  I taped the first episode and what I am proposing is that every Friday evening I post my thoughts on the episode that aired Thursday evening and you all comment and we discuss.

This gives us up to 24 hours for each of us to watch the show live or DVRed or taped and thus we are each forewarned that we need to keep up or risk spoilers.

Who is with me?  If I get enough interest, I'll post again next week and I'll keep it up as long as your comments keep flowing.

The first episode introduced far too briefly 14 dessert specialists.  Before they even entered their show kitchen they had to do a "Quick Fire Challenge," a very short at a moment's notice event that generally offers one or two people immunity.  This first "Quick Fire Challenge" had them using a soda foundation shop set up to create a modern classic dessert.  I had two problems with this challenge: Not everyone knew what a soda foundation or this sort of shop was thus making it innately uneven from the start.  The second was that most of these people barely had time to get to know each others' names yet they were paired off and expected to perform.  That is part of the "intensity" of the show but I want to see and hear about quality desserts.  Very few had much chocolate I sadly noted.

There was more chocolate in the "Elimination Challenge" with each team's project featuring some chocolate.  The theme was fairytales and again this left some people with an immediate disadvantage because they were not familiar with the fairytales.  The second disadvantage was the fact that they split into four teams but had 14 people thus two teams of three and two teams of four.  Guess which teams had the best work and the most finished?  That's right, the teams of four people.

There were four regular judges but I only saw two judges per team's efforts.  Those efforts were to create 150 plated desserts and a centerpiece that told the fairytale.  The randomness of team selection made for great difficulties in the two teams who did not impress the judges. 

Let's talk about the cast, Sisters and Brothers.  The judges, I recognize three from last season, also seemed more cold and harsh than last year.  The contestants were not people I'd want to spend time with by and large. The arrogance of some was amazing and the over all childishness of others was astounding.  While I know they judge by final products, I really think they judges need to watch the tapes and see how things go down in the kitchens when they make decisions.

So what did you all think?  Leave your comments and let's talk. Remember if you keep commenting, I'll keep watching and posting week by week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Simple Chocolate Waffles Recipe

In time for "National Waffle Day" and yes we had two of them not only in a year but in this one month this is the second recipe here on The Chocolate.  Double importance for waffles... I wonder if it is a trend?  This is a record number of recipes in a month for us because usually we are overwhelmed by products to try not recipes to share.

Today, August 24th is the day that the first patient on an waffle iron we filed by the USA's patent office.  So here is a chocolate waffle I just made up off the top of my head one day and it turned out good.  Bonus to this is that I didn't use syrup or butter then, I ate it as you see it because it tasted so chocolaty that it needed nothing else.  Whatever extra calories I added with my chocolate I think I recovered from by using neither syrup nor margarine or butter.


It was this easy: I used a mix, in this case Krusteaz buttermilk variety that we bought in bulk at Sam's Club -- we like our waffles.  Added to that was, of course, water and oil, I use an omega oil in my kitchen.  Except this time in place of water I used chocolate syrup.




I used Hershey's Lite Syrup so it had less calories and more of a cocoa flavor I think compared to the regular.  The dark chocolate would also work but I had this and it has more of a watery consistency that I thought might be important to the mix. The trick is to use non-stick spray between waffles to keep it easily removable or they tend to stick in our waffle iron. I've had that thing for well over a decade now and we use it a few times each month.






See, you can see the syrup in the mix here in this great ceramic pitcher bowl I have that lets me pour directly into my waffle iron or muffin tins or whatever.  It is a bowl I got for answering surveys on one of the many businesses I do that for.  I'm highly opinionated so I love surveys and polls.


So now share your opinion, Sisters and Brothers, and tell me: Do you have a waffle iron?  If yes, how often do you use it? Do you make chocolate waffles?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chocolate Lips

This summer your Chocolate Priestess attended a local event that show-cased the businesses and work of women in my city, county and even surrounding counties. Many of these business felt into a few categories with jewelry, clothing, and personal products very common.  Two of these women-owned businesses that focus on personal items gave us samples of the products they make using chocolate and cocoa.  Today I want to look at one of these products from Creating Harmony LLC's Harmony Soaps & Scents which is headquartered here in Bloomington, Indiana.

This "Oh! Cocoa" lip balm caught my eye at their table display but it was talking with the lady there that convinced me to try this and share it with you.  This is one of four varieties of lip balm they carry.  The ingredients in this 0.25oz container are simple and for the most part organics as well: olive oil, coconut creme, beeswax, chocolate, vitamin E, castor oil, Cocoa Absolute, peppermint & Stevia.  Now let's figure out what some of these are.  "Cocoa Absolute" seems to be a solvent that is extracted from cocoa beans, it is a dark brown liquid and shouldn't have any added ingredients to it. It seems mostly used for scent and in a wide range of products.  "Stevia" is one type of sunflower plant and it is used as a sugar substitute in many products. 

The lip balm itself is in this little silver tin that is a bit tricky to slide open -- push and slide back in the direction of the little indent on the top.  Inside is a very dark brown semi-solid product that has a very strong chocolate scent even months after opening it.  It does not come with a brush or application tool but I just used my finger; easier to clean and no fear of any bacteria building up as can happen on a brush or sponge applicator.  It kept my lips very moist and I loved getting folks to lean in and "smell my lips" on weekend long conventions where I tried this product after receiving it.  In fact, I think it kept my lips better moisturized than other such products I've tried so I was very very pleased.  Just make sure you also have fresh breathe before asking someone to smell your lips -- I brushed my teeth but the mint from that mixed with my lips too much.

Looking for chocolate that won't add pounds to your waist?  "Oh! Cocoa" will do that.  Looking for something that supports organic and preservative free products?  "Oh! Cocoa" will do that.  Looking to support women-owned businesses and small business?  "Oh! Cocoa" will do that, too.  For all those reasons we think this is a good Sacrament for our Sisters and Brothers in The Chocolate Cult.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

National Soft Serve Ice Cream Day

Yes, that is correct, Sisters and Brothers.  Today is another fun food holiday you could enjoy with chocolate: "National Soft Serve Ice Cream Day."

If you've have homemade, store boxed, or soft serve ice cream you know that they tend to differ in terms of taste and texture.  Depending on your mood, the size of your wallet and where you live, it may be easier to buy or make one type of ice cream.  Until recently we didn't have an ice cream maker (you might recall the one we were sent to review last summer was an utter failure) so where we bought was our big choice.  We can easily visit a dozen plus places to buy ice cream out where we live.

We went to Jiffy Treat where I had a "buy one, get one free" coupon and we each got a Cyclone that comes with a mix-in.  You can also decide if you want vanilla, swirl or chocolate soft serve for the base though why you'd do a swirl when it is all going to be mixed up is very odd to me.

I got a chocolate base with chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate syrup while my hubby got vanilla base with Kit Kats (maybe he's a fish and just hasn't told me?).  I don't know why, but twice now the folks at the Jiffy Treat have given me a double cup.  Any way, can you tell which is which Cyclone?

Mine tasted very chocolaty which is not surprising considering what I had them mix together.  What surprised me best though was that the cookie dough pieces were broken up more and thus spread more evenly throughout the ice cream.  Every now and again I'd happen upon a ribbon of syrup which is nice and also a surprise because I figured it would just be mixed in completely and give my ice cream a bigger cocoa kick.

So you tell me, Sisters and Brothers?  Is there a soft serve ice cream you like best?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chocolate & Fish

Sisters and Brothers, I'm sure most of you know by now that you shouldn't feed your dogs chocolate.  Cats and other small pets also require your wariness when it comes to chocolate.  No matter how much they may beg, we are told that chocolate is bad, perhaps even deadly, for our pets.

All pets?

I saw a news article a while back about a London aquarium, the Sea Life London Aquarium, where a fish, Gary the gourami, had a serious Kit Kat habit.  The aquarium reported that he was healthy but they slowly weaned him off this diet of candy by hiding the candy inside grapes.  Fruit is the normal diet for gouramis, the plural of gourami by the way, so this was a clever trick similar to hiding carrots in your child's meal by mashing them or liquidifing them.

Was Gary healthy for a gourami?  He weighed 4kg and was 40cm long but is that a good size for a gourami?  What is a gourami?  A gourami  is a tropical, freshwater fish that can and will eat almost anything.  Contrary to what the newspaper articles claimed of a fruit based diet, the Aquatic Community article on gourami said they need a wide range of from including proteins, veggies and fruits to be most healthy.  They also vary greatly in size from the tiny 5cm to the 60 cm which is about two feet!  They can live for 25+ years in captivity, too, if they are taken care of properly.

From: http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/870970-gary-the-greedy-gourami-takes-a-break-from-eating-kitkats
So why would you feed Gary Kit Kats?  There is a type of gourami called a "chocolate gourami" which can breath air above the waterline and is very tiny at only 5cm with a mostly flat body.  That doesn't sound like Gary at all, does it?


From: http://fishindex.blogspot.com/2008/10/chocolate-gourami-sphaerichthys.html
Without an interview form Gary's former owner and chocolate feeder we'll never know what was the deal with the Kit Kats. 

News Articles Consulted for this Essay:
     News.com.au
     Couriermail.com.au
     Aquatic Community
     Aquatic Community Chocolate Gourami
     Metro

Saturday, August 13, 2011

SIngle Origin Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Beyond their bars, we'll feature these in a month or two, Sisters and Brothers, the folks from Askinosie Chocolate also make a Chocolate Hazelnut Spread which uses single origin cacao from the Phillipines and hazelnuts from a single farm in the USA -- doubly single origins.  The jar is 6.5 oz and contains only natural and several organic ingredients.  No preservatives so plan to eat this within a month or two of purchase for best quality.

The spread is very thick and dark looking and when I saw that I was immediately concerned.  It had a good chocolaty hazelnut scent but I couldn't get beyond how thick it looked.  With natural peanut butters thickness generally signals a problem I'll have with spreading it, a problem generally created when the oils separate. If I stir it, it will spread but it always tastes a bit uneven.

I should not have worried because Askinosie's Chocolate Hazelnut Spread spread very easily yet remained very thick.  This alone is even to set this particular spread about natural peanut butters but this isn't a peanut butter of course.  Compared to other natural chocolate hazelnut spreads, the Askinosie also spreads more easily.  For all it's thickness it was very smooth both in the spread and when I mushed it around in my mouth from the remains on the knife I used to spread it -- I couldn't just let it go to waste, right?  That chocolate flavor and hazelnut blended very well, I didn't feel short-changed on either flavor.  One on the plain French bread in this photo, it tasted good with the same balance at the beginning though it did fade into more hazelnut with each chew then the bitter chocolate came back right at the end.  The thicker the slice of bread, the more hazelnut came out -- for more chocolate then you can spread this Askinosie product thicker or slice your French bread thinner.

Then I had to try it on other products just for variety.

 On the everyday wheat and whole grain bread we use, the spread melted well onto the toast.  The chocolate parts of it came through much better on these thinner slices compared to the French bread slices.  The cocoa scent was even stronger probably because it was warm.  I've found that when heated, cocoa and chocolate give off more fragrance in general.

Of course I had to try it on graham crackers as well.  Around here we put peanut butter, frosting, chocolate, just plain old marshmallows or fancy gourmet marshmallows on graham crackers.  This was a bit difficult to spread without damaging the crackers, I problem I always have with these things.  Again the chocolate came out more in terms of flavor but not in terms of scent where the sweetness of the cracker was fairly strong.  For the most cocoa essence with this spread, go for the everyday, simple, thin slices of bread toasted.

Askinosie's Chocolate Hazelnut Spread is not for milk chocolate lovers.  It has a good bitterness that only darker cocoa lovers will fully appreciate.  If you can find it, or if you order it, know that you're getting a lot of product for what may seem a high price but that your money is doing far more than merely making some rich guy richer.  For the quality of the spread and the good the company is trying to do, this product is a worthy Sacrament for The Chocolate Cult.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: Chocolate Wars

Today is the anniversary of John Cadbury's birth back in 1801.  Surely you've heard of the Cadbury chocolate dynasty, right, Sisters and Brothers?  Good, good.

Instead of giving you a brief history, I thought I'd share a book, Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers
, I recently had to read as part of my work for The New York Journal of Book Reviews. 

Written by a member of the Cadbury family whose branch left the chocolate business some time back, award winning author Deborah Cadbury researches her own family history as well as the history of chocolate starting in the 19th century.  Chocolate as we think of it today is a very recent development and she does a good job of laying out the historical evidence in an approachable fashion.

Now many of you may think that she'll naturally favor her family over rivals both in England and around the world.  It is very true that the Cadburys were originally guided by their Quaker principles but our author doesn't shrink from showing us the steps that led the company to open itself up to commercial and corporate greed even turning their backs at specific points and literally selling out.  Today they are merely part of one the world's two biggest "food" companies.

So check out the book either as a hardcover above or a paperback below and learn about more about chocolate and why the question of who you buy from today is even more important than it was a hundred years ago.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

National S'mores Day Recipe

I rarely do recipes but this month there will be at least two -- this one for "National S'mores Day" and then one for waffles on the day marking the anniversary of the first US patent for the waffle iron.

I've seen a lot of "s'mores" this and that in the past year and each of these recipes has given me ideas but none of them are this particular idea I had tossing around in my head.  The closest recent recipe came from Curry and Comfort's "Easy S'more Brownie" idea but even that wasn't perfect.  I love to experiment with food when I feel there's a decent chance of it working out.  What is the worst that can happen with butter, marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers, right?

For me the big thing missing in most of these recipes was the layering -- graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow and then graham cracker again.  So I had this idea.  Let's see how it worked out, Sisters and Brothers.

Since it has cooled down some and since I had a friend scheduled to come over Monday night, I decided to work on this recipe idea on Monday.  If it didn't work, I'd have another day to try before the fun food holiday was upon me.  It did work!  So here it is, I hope you enjoy it because you still have time to make it yourself and enjoy it today on "National S'mores Day."

TammyJo's S'more Brownies
1 box brownie mix, Hershey's in the mix
1stick Crisco, butter flavored
1 bag miniature marshmallows
1 can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 box graham cracker crumbs

Pre-heat oven as directed on the brownie mix -- I used a glass 7 X 11 pan so that affects the temp and the time.


Pour condensed milk into a large pan and warm on low heat.  Add in marshmallows.  Let them heat while do you do the next step.









Blend together the Crisco with the graham cracker crumbs until smooth. 







Stir the marshmallows, lower heat if you see any golden tones on the bottom.

Make the brownies according to the directions on the box.  You may want to add a bit more water to make it easier to spread out but not very much or it won't be as fudgy and dark tasting.

Stir marshmallows until almost smooth and turn off the heat.


Press 2/3 of the crumbs into the bottom of the pan, you may want to grease or spray it.







Pat down crumbs then pour brownie mixture on the top.  Try to smooth it out but it was a bit thick.  Next time I might add in more chocolate syrup, weak type, to thin it out just a bit.  I liked how it didn't rise much and stayed very fudgy and dark tasting though I would have liked it to reach the entire edges.




Stir the marshmallows and then pour these over the top and smooth these out.  Don't worry, this layer should not burn with the next and final top layer.






Now sprinkle the remaining crumbs and smooth those out.  Now it is layered just like a S'mores would be -- graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker.






Bake as directed on the brownie mix.

The result is a nice layered effect where the brownie part remains very fudgy, the crumbs hold together decently, and the marshmallows remain very sticky.  Do not put this in the refrigerator unless you want it to turn into a rock. No, you want to eat this and I recommend doing so with a fork or spoon after it cools.  Make sure you let it cool or the marshmallow layer can burn your mouth.

Don't forget the Visit the Activia Selects Facebook page to get your FREE coupon now!  You have until August 15, 2011 to get a free coupon using this link.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cocoa Dolce Bars

Our final Offering from Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates are two samples of their bars which come in many flavors and varieties if you look through that page on their website.  Here you see a photo of the 1.5oz bars with the Wine and Chocolate truffles you might recall from March 5, 2011.  Cocoa Dolce strives to make unique flavor combinations and products using Belgian chocolate so I have yet to be disappointed in the Offerings they have sent us.

We'll start with one of the seven milk chocolate bars they offer, this one has roasted almonds. The bar has six sections, each measuring 1.25 X 0.75 X 0.50 inches and as you can see in the photograph, it has whole almonds in it.  The pieces have three divisions -- the sections that attach to each other, a part that gently tips inward on all sides, and the top which is grooved.  It has a creamy cocoa scent but also an earthy almond essence as well.  There is an entire almond in the one section that I bite into and I see one in at least two other pieces.  As you know, I try to practice Moderation and Purposefulness here as a model to you all -- that can be a real challenge at times -- so I eat only one.  The nuts is crunchy and blends well with the milk chocolate. 

Now we'll turn to one of the four 70% cocoa bars they offer, the one with nibs which should offer a bit of extra crunch and bitterness.  It has a strong cocoa scent and when I break the bar into its six pieces I can see nibs which I hope you can see in the photo to the right.  These pieces are the same size as the previous bar.  This is more crunchy than the previous bar because the nibs are throughout.  It is also very, very bitter, I'd rank this up with a 85% bar without nibs easily in terms of intensity so make sure you like dark chocolate before you take a bite of one of these.  That pleases your Chocolate Priestess immensely as it creates a little buzz by the end of one half of one piece!



Remember if you order from Cocoa Dolce you might get a very cute package in the mail like we did but you should inquire about that when you order.  But it is the chocolate inside that is worth every penny.  Cocoa Dolce once more proves itself a worthy Sacrament.

Friday, August 5, 2011

FREE Yogurt & Organic Frozen Waffles

Today is "National Waffle Day" and like last year, your Chocolate Priestess is going to review some frozen and quick mix varieties you might be looking at.

Van's are a brand that I find in our local Kroger and at our local co-op so I know it meets the local criteria for all natural, organic and supposedly healthier foods.  I bought these on sale with a coupon as you know I often buy things.  As with many all natural foods we have to be aware of possible allergens such as wheat, egg, soy and milk in these.  Frankly that's just normal for any frozen waffle I've seen.  The chocolate chips are made with cocoa butter and chocolate liquor so a nice high quality chocolate taste should be for the enjoying.
 
These are small, about three of them equal one large waffle I could make in my waffle iron but 4 of them equals one serving.  That serving has 210 calories, before any syrup you might want to use, made up of 1g saturated fat, 490mg sodium (whoa!), 1g fiber, 8g sugars, 4g protein, with 30% of the calcium and 10% of the iron an adult needs daily.  As you can see I made these in our oven not the toaster because they are too small to safely get out once hot.

They were nice and crisp coming out of the oven and the chocolate was good.  I didn't want to use syrup on them but if you do, I recommend not too much or you'll drown the chocolate and we don't want that.  Over all for frozen waffles, these pleased us greatly.

Not related to waffles really, though I suppose you could add this product to them in some fashion is a FREE off from Dannon Activia Yogurt.  Here's the legal: "This sponsorship is brought to you by Activia Selects who we have partnered with for this promotion.
FREE coupon offer good 8/3 /11 - 8/15/11, up to 1 million coupons, on any Activia Selects Single Serve, up to $3.00. One coupon per household. Offer valid in the U.S only. VOID IN LA, NJ, CA. Coupon valid until 8/15/11.
Residents of LA, NJ, CA will be given a '$1 off 3 Activia Selects' coupon."

Here's the link: Visit the Activia Selects Facebook page to get your FREE coupon now!

Let your Chocolate Priestess know if you go try out this Dannon product yourself or if you've had it in the past.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Marshmallow Photo Contest

Hey all you Chocolate Sisters and Brothers, I just found out that our friend at 240sweet are having a photo contest.  Below is there information.  If you enter and win, let us know here on The Chocolate Cult.

2011 Marshmallow Fun Photo Contest
240sweet Artisan Marshmallow is having a photo contest

Columbus, Indiana(8.1.11)—240sweet Artisan Marshmallows is having a free photo contest open to the general public of all ages. Entries will be judged on creativity, originality and personal preference of Chef Alexa and her staff. We are excited to see the unique photos people take with our marshmallows.

Grand prize is a one-year membership in our Marshmallow of the Month Club ($290 value). First prize is a six-month membership in our Marshmallow of the Month Club ($170 value). Other undetermined prizes may be awarded.

While each entry must include 240sweet Artisan Marshmallows, no purchase is necessary. We suggest visiting our commissary at 1120 Washington Street, Columbus, Indiana for free samples. Entries may be uploaded to the 240sweet Facebook page (Facebook.com/240sweet) or by email to sam@240sweet.com.

Full details are available by contacting Samantha Aulick, Sales Manager at 812.372.9898 or sam@240sweet.com. Full rules/guidelines are available online at www.lemleyscatering.blogspot.com.

Please visit www.240sweet.com to learn more about their delicious puffs and upcoming events.

Executive Chef Alexa Lemley’s 240sweet Artisan Marshmallows are the only ones in the world recognized as art. In 2009, she juried into the Indiana Artisan (www.IndianaArtisan.org) for her 240sweet Artisan Marshmallows. In September 2011, she will again be the Artist in Residence at the Indiana State Museum. Chef Alexa is a native of Columbus, Indiana.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Favorite Ice Cream Sandwich Recipe

In August there were a lot of ice cream recipes on various food blogs I read.  I'll be blunt, Sisters and Brothers, I don't consider myself a foodie, I'm too picky for that, but if a blog has chocolate on it and I know about it, I'll go check it out.

I've seen a surplus of recipes and idea of how to make homemade ice cream sandwiches.  Since today is "National Ice Cream Sandwich Day" I want to hear from you all what recipes you've seen and tried or what recipes you've created to make ice cream sandwiches at home for you and your family.

Or maybe like with the photo to the left that one lucky followers has won from Blue Bunny, you have a favorite ice cream sandwich you buy from a grocery shop or an ice cream parlor.  Let us all know the brand and the location so we can all go check our favorites out.