Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chocolate Planner for October 2012

In the USA, where The Chocolate Cult was founded and where we are headquartered, October is a huge candy month for one reason: Halloween.  We will be doing our Annual Halloween treat Challenge throughout the month.  There are other fun food holidays though you could celebrate with chocolate.


October = National Dessert Month, National Cookie Month -- Wow!  Two month long celebrations we could use chocolate for.

October = first full week is National Mental Health Illness Week -- I mention this because dark chocolate can have effects on your mind and your emotions.  It is no substitute for getting the mental health care you need however so this is actually something I want to warn you about doing.  Do not self-medicate with chocolate, please.

October 1 = National Homemade Cookie Day -- Please let it be cool enough so I can make cookies this day.

October 7 = National Frappe Day -- I've never made a frappé either... I want to try.

October 9, 1797 = Birthday of Philippe Suchard -- I'll do a brief history about why he's important for us.

October 10 = National Angel Food Cake Day; World Mental Health Day -- Yes there are chocolate angel food cakes out there but do they taste like chocolate?

October 14 = National Chocolate-Covered Insect Day -- Never tried one yet...

2nd Thursday = National Dessert Day -- Talk about wide ranging holidays, this could cover almost anything.

3rd Saturday in October = Sweetest Day -- I've done a historical report on this in the past so nothing new to report this year.

October 16 = World Food Day -- Look at food from countries that aren't your own today.

October 18 = National Chocolate Cupcake Day -- Cupcakes are a great way to exercise portion control or to serve a bit group.

October 28 = National Chocolate Day -- Get some chocolate made in your own country to celebrate this fun food holiday.

October 30 = Buy a Donut Day -- Blatant commericalism if you ask me.

October 31 = Halloween; National Candy Apple Day -- Yes you can have chocolate with your candy apple.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

DOVE Almond Dark Chocolate Bars Revealed

Remember back at the beginning of 2012, Sisters and Brothers? I'm sure you can! We received a huge basket from DOVE as well as a video interview with Claire Robinson. We still have not revealed all those products to you yet but here's one more for today's Saturday Sacrament: Almond Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Bars.  Soon we'll be featuring the 71% bars as we do some baking and candy making as the weather gets cooler.


Each bar is big at 3.3oz that the nutritional information labels two servings of 9 individual pieces which is about right with two pieces left over by my count of 5 rows of four sections.  IF nutrition is so important to you, then I think you know the best way to deal with chocolate is darker and moderate quantities.  In this case, I think four pieces, or one vertical line of the chocolate, is very satisfying because you get the darker chocolate but also about one whole almond per piece give or take as you can see in the photo and in the next close-up as well.


The bar is almost half an inch thick allowing the chocolate to just cover the almonds on top but you can see they point through on the bottom.  The bar has a nice dark cocoa scent with an undercurrent of creaminess.  I have to be right over an almond to smell it.  This bar was a bit broken as you can see but breaking the other pieces is a challenge if an almond is on that scored line. Of course the cacao percentage and the thickness means the bar snaps loudly when I bite, the almonds are a continuous crunch, too.   I can tell these nuts are roasted, they add no sweetness to the bar so be certain you love your dark chocolate before trying these.  Between the chocolate and the nuts though I notice just one piece tends to dry my mouth out so have some water ready.  This also means there is a nice cocoa buzz generated.

What do you think, Sisters and Brothers?  Have you had this version of DOVE's Silky Smooth bars?  They also have a Promise bite size version of this as well as bags of chocolate covered whole almonds now.  For the natural ingredient list, for the quality of the chocolate and almonds, and for the nice buzz this creates, these bars earn a Sacrament status today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Get Ice Cream, Help Kids

I wasn't asked to promote this event but I think it is worth spreading around any way.

Tomorrow Coldstone Ice Cream shops are hosting a charity benefit that some of you might be interested in.  To learn more you can visit their website.  I can't go, I have a very long day on campus, but let me know if you do go and if you had any chocolate with your ice cream.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy 2012 Birthday Chocolate Priestess

Yup, today is your Chocolate Priestess's 43rd birthday, see not as old as chocolate by a long shot.

For my birthday my hubby made me brownies with chocolate chunks and chocolate chips both.  We found a big box of mix from SAMs Club and he used two bags of mix to make a double recipe just a few hours before the time to eat them so they were nice and fresh, thick and fudgy on the inside and just a little crisp on top as I like my brownies to be.


Then we also had three different types of ice cream with chocolate.  I don't know about you but I can't bring myself to buy unnecessary food that isn't on sale. The Kroger brand ice cream was on sale so I got the two light ice cream and the one no sugar added/no lactose versions. One of my family members is intolerant to lactose though he loves ice cream, cheese, and chocolate milk.

One of my friends, Erica, gave me some of the new "Un" candy bars so when I try them I'll let you all know about them.  Erica is the same friend who has taken me to a few chocolate related events and helped me out at the convention where I did a presentation as my chocolate persona.




Then this evening we are going out to dinner to celebrate and I'll have chocolate then, too.  Except I didn't!  The choices for desserts were limited and there was only one chocolate option that I honestly didn't feel in the mood for so I went with cheesecake instead.

I share the exact birthday date with the following fellow famous people(1).  I'm famous just in a much smaller circle than most of these guys which means I can shop in sweatpants if I like without being worried about it.
Thank goodness no one "famous" died on my birthday!

I wonder if there were any events or individuals related to chocolate that tie to September 25? Nope, not that I can find. Please let me know if you find something.

References:
(1)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_25

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lindt Classic Recipe Bars Revealed

From the Lindt R.S.V.P. program, Amy Sue Lambermont sent us a huge selection of programs that are offered by any of the consultants who work with the home-sell and online business.  We've looked at many of these since the 2011 Christmas season and we are in our final stretch of featuring her offerings for you all, Sisters and Brothers.  Remember if you think these sound good, use the links to her site to make your purchases as a "thank you" for her sending us the samples.  Today we are going to reveal the Classic Recipe 4.4 oz bar set she sent our way that included a Milk Chocolate, a Milk Chocolate with almonds, and two White Chocolate bars.

Some chocolates taste interchangeable meaning that only a true expert would be able to tell them apart based on solely their five senses.  However some recipes and some manufacturing techniques result in very unique flavors that almost anyone should be able to identify once they have had it and taken the time to fully appreciate the chocolate.  The Lindt Milk Chocolate is one of the unique chocolates out there.  The scent once I tear open the foil wrapper is very light and very sweet.  The milk chocolate is a very light color, bordering on more tan than brown side of the chocolate spectrum.  Biting into it didn't make much of a sound though snapping it apart produced a soft snip.  It felt cool in my fingers and didn't start to melt for a few seconds though it melted very smoothly in the microwave.  The chocolate attempts to stick to my tongue as I ate it straight from the bar but even more so once melted; I'll talk about this in the next paragraph.  The flavor is the truly unique flavor.  There is a high cream and sweet ratio compared to the chocolate but also this essence that reminded me of a ice cream shop.  Then I looked at the ingredients: barley malt powder is listed and it clicked "this is what I'm tasting, it's like a malted milk".  There is also cocoa butter and chocolate in the ingredients but before the chocolate there is also sugar and milk and then more milk as well as artificial flavor.  To be blunt: This is not a milk chocolate I can really say I liked and given the ingredients it is less than ideal for The Chocolate Cult.

Sadly the wrapper is difficult to open so you can reuse it because one of these 4.4 oz bars is three servings.  So I just used all these bars in recipes.  For this Milk Chocolate I melted it over walnuts for three meals after tasting one of the rectangles that you can see are scored into the bar in the previous photo above.  This is basically how I can eat tree nuts in my house -- alone and not in anything others might want to share because of allergies.  The unique flavor mixed really well with these walnuts that I had for breakfast for three days.  Sometimes a fiber bar or a slice of toast and some eggs just won't do it for me and this allowed me to have a special morning on my own for a while.

I was sent two White Classic bars to use and I did so in two different ways.


First I melted one bar to use as a frosting on some brownies.  I used a springform pan for this and the Ghirardelli brownie mix that I found on sale and had a coupon for.  Why spend more money for a fun and lovely treat?


Melting them was very easy, they melted very smoothly.  Just break it up, add tablespoon of milk, heat it on medium power in the microwave at 20 second pops, stirring between each, and it was smooth and easy.





Pour the melted mixture onto the top of the brownies while they are still in the springform pan and still warm.  This keeps the white chocolate mixture melted and lets it melt into the top layer of the brownie.  That's why the white chocolate topping does not look like solid chocolate, it isn't, it's melted a bit into the brownie and taken on some of the cakelike characteristics.  I cut the entire thing into eight pieces and shared it with a group of friends who all like it.

The second way I used the White Classic bars was to just try one by itself.  Now as you may recall, Sisters and Brothers, I'm not a huge fan of white chocolate but since the next bar didn't really seem usable in a recipe, you'll read why in a moment, I decided it was a good comparison to try this part alone as well.  Even though the photo is a touch dark, this white chocolate isn't white nor should it be.  If you have seen cocoa butter it isn't white, much of the whiteness we see in many white chocolate products is added color or from the edition of milk and milk solids; when melted it does seem whiter in color.  This has a very creamy scent, a very soft feeling in my hands and it melts quickly in my mouth, coating my tongue with creaminess and a touch of tanginess.  There are added unspecified flavors on the ingredients list but otherwise this is pure for white chocolate.

The Classic Milk with Almond bars do not seem like bars to use in recipes, I mean if you melt off the chocolate the almonds simply get mixed into the rest of the recipe.  I suppose if you wanted almonds that would be great but why use this bar then and not just milk chocolate bars with your own nuts added?  A good part of this bar is the nuts which are in smaller pieces that the stiff paper package shows.  Because the Lindt Classic Recipe Milk Chocolate Bar is basically the same here, this has that malted sort of flavor which is very interesting when combined with the almonds, adds an unexpected kick the flavor and of course an extra crunchy texture.

The Classic Recipes from Lindt are not my favorite Lindt product by a long shot.  The milk chocolate is definitely unique and the white chocolate is excellent for baking or cooking, the almond version, well, depends on if you like a bit of malt with your almonds.  But millions of you are probably big fans of these bars so I say give Amy Sue a look up and order through her as a way to say "thank you again, Amy Sue, for sending all these products to reveal to everyone".

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Buy Chocolate, Help a School

Sisters and Brothers, as you know we consider a wide range of issues when we discuss chocolate here. One of these is where does the money you pay go.  Sometimes it is pure big business profits, other times it helps support ecological or social programs, and then there are the targeted charities like The Chocolate Walk.  Today I want to introduce you all to Gwynn, a young lady I know who is working to help support her school in a way that connects to chocolate through an online fundraising company called The Chip Shoppe. That link takes you to our guest's page. As always with our interviews, the guests words are copied as sent to us and in italics for clarity.




What grade are you in at FISHERS JR HS 38862?

This is my first year at the junior high, I'm in 7th grade.

Is this fundraiser something that every student is doing?

Yes, the whole school has the chance to participate, though it is optional. We had a big kick off where two kids got to choose ping pong balls and get prizes. For every 12 items I sell, I get a chance to draw a ping pong ball and can earn prizes. 

Have you ever tried any of the products from the Chip Shoppe?

Not yet, but, because of the fundraiser, I look forward to getting a chance to. I know my mom is going to order some of the wrapping paper and I'd like to try the cheese cakes.



Are there a few products you see on the Chip Shoppe that you'd recommend?

Absolutely! We were told some of the cookie dough was ranked best in the country.





As you know, this is The Chocolate Cult, and we want to know: Do you like chocolate, Gwynn?

Of course and, well, who doesn't? I like dark chocolate, and love milk chocolate, but I think white chocolate is my favorite, but only in small doses. 

If so, what is your favorite kind of chocolate?

I think my favorite chocolates are the kinds with filling.

What is your favorite subject(s) in school?

Hard to say....most likely orchestra because music is my passion. I also sing and have been part of the school choir since 3rd grade. I also enjoy social studies because of the history lessons and english is great when I get to read. I love to read and am usually in the middle of 6 or 7 books. 

Do you have a home economics or cooking class in school yet?

Yes, we do, but I had to choose between it and orchestra. When we did our school visit last year, I got to see the final projects of the home ec class, but I enjoy sewing and cooking at home and realized I was learning just as much there as I would at school.

At home do you ever cook or bake with chocolate?

Of course. Dad and I are famous for our cocoa pancakes, we make them every time I have a sleepover party. I'm learning to make icing with my mom and love making chocolate icing.

Back to the fundraiser, would you give us the website address people should use and a date they need to keep in mind for ordering?

Our forms need to be in Monday, September 24th, although the website says the 27th, so it may be different, the website is http://www.helpsupportourschool.com/index.asp?PID=6059549, that link should take you right to my selling page.

Finally, what is the one thing you hope this fundraiser can help with at your school?

I hope the orchestra will be able to have more rental instruments available for students who don't have instruments of their own.

Thank you, Gwynn, for talking with us and letting us know about the fundraiser.  I hope that all of our readers check it out.  I ordered four cookie dough vouchers so I qualified for free shipping, too.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Choco Tacos?

We used our Klondike coupon from Unilever to buy this new ice cream novelty we'd never seen before: The ice cream taco called a Choco Taco.  Their website lists three varieties but I've only seen two -- the original that we will look at today and the peanut butter variety.  I'd love to find the fully chocolate one. This brings the basic Klondikes to three forms: bars, sandwiches, and now tacos.

There are four of these treats to a box so I shared them with three of my Acolytes to get a wider view.  Each taco is wrapped in silver foil and easy to open.  Inside you can see it looks like taco sealed with milk chocolate and tiny pieces of peanuts, not nearly as many as show on the box.  The shell is a waffle cone type of material and it tastes just like that and it is solid but also not crispy like a waffle cone.  The ice cream has a chocolate flavored sauce mixed into it made from cocoa processed with alkali and a little cocoa.  The sealing chocolate is made with chocolate liquor.  So actual chocolate is being used here though with added oils and fats, not cocoa butter.

The taco has a little sweet and peanut scent to it when I bring it up for a bite.  The shell makes a soft cracking sound and it and the peanuts continue to crunch.   Go slowly because the ice cream could cause a headache if you don't since it is cold however you want to eat it fast enough that it does not melt.  Between the shell and the ice cream itself seems to be a layer of the chocolate coating used to seal the open seams.  I took a two bites then tried to peel back the waffle cone shell to show you in this photo.  The flavors all blend very well together to make a very balanced experience.  These are an excellent addition to the Klondike lineup.

There you have it, another novelty from Klondike.  Have you seen the Choco Taco in your area?  Have you tried it yet?  What do you think about it?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chocolate Chip Swirl Cake

At the beginning of September, I received an email from Betty Crocker with a link to a "celebration cake" booklet that is really an online or downloadable 15 recipe collection.  September has two birthdays and an anniversary in my household so I thought I'd check them out. Several of the recipes are chocolate so I asked my husband, the one with the first birthday, if he wanted me to try any of these recipes.  Surprisingly he said not only "yes" but he also picked a recipe I didn't expect: "Chocolate Chip Swirl Cake."  I thought for sure he'd pick the Chocolate Peppermint Stab Cake since about half the time he wants me to make a lemon stab cake and he loves peppermint and chocolate together.

Here is the recipe, copyrighted to General Mills, of course.

Ingredients:
Mini semisweet chocolate chips
box Betty Crocker Super Moist White cake mix
1.25 cups of water
1/3 cup vegetable oil (in my case I used Omega 3 oil)
3 egg whites (3/4 cup egg white substitute)
Chocolate Syrup
1 container Betty Crocker white frosting

My husband's birthday was on Sunday so on Sunday morning, early so I couldn't heat the house up uncomfortably, I baked the cake.

I used the 13X9-inch pan as recommended and then tossed together 1/2 cup mini chips with 1T of the dry mix. I set that small bowl aside and then mixed the rest of the dry mix as directed by the box.  Once that was all mixed I added in the chips dusted with the remaining dry mix.

I scooped out 1 cup of the mixture into the same small bowl because why make even more dishes to wash?  To this I added 1/4 cup of the syrup and mixed it well. Frankly I didn't think this was enough syrup but since this was my first time following this recipe I didn't want to add more since that would be adding in more moisture as well.  I just like a more chocolaty anything as you all know, Sisters and Brothers.

Then I poured the rest of the mixture into the pan and smoothed it out a touch.  I dropped the chocolaty mixture onto the top in eight sections, adding extra until I'd used it all.  Note: you lose mixture with each of these steps no matter how well you scrape the bowls, it is just a simple fact.  Then I made a swirling pattern with a knife through the entire cake, turning it one-quarter turn and repeating as directed.

In my oven it only took 34 minutes on the lowest shelf for the cake to bake thoroughly and well without any slight burning at all.  I was very pleased by that since my oven can at times be temperamental.  I often think this is gas oven thing but then I grew up with electric so I've never fully adjusted in some ways or I just have less than objective memories.



Here's the cake post baking.  I think I did a good job with the swirling pattern, what do you all think?







Then after letting it cool for a good three hours I mixed together the rest of the chips with the frosting.  Now this is more chips than the recipe called for but really what would I do with the leftovers?  Why not add them to the frosting, right?  I'm not a particularly good froster, I'm just not but there is only so much you can do with such a thick resulting frosting.  I even added 2T vanilla extract to the frosting to add more flavor and make it a touch thinner to work with.


I waited to add the syrup until right before I expected guests to arrive for the party.  I didn't want the syrup to soak through and I hoped it would look nicer this way.  I tried to mimic what I did with the knife swirling the cake batter but I'm not sure it turned out exactly the same.



For as good or poor as it looks, the true test was what the guests and the birthday boy thought of the cake.  Several people asked if it was homemade... semi-homemade I think is the correct term.  It was very moist and fluffy, the chips and the top syrup added a lot of chocolate.  Overall most people who had it seemed to like it.  We have some left over so the birthday boy can enjoy it a few more days.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2012 Halloween Treat Challenge

This year will be The Chocolate Cult's 4th Annual Halloween Treat Challenge.

Our hope is to have 8 challengers to reveal to you all throughout October as you are getting ready for Halloween whether you live in the USA, Canada, UK, or other countries that now celebrate this spooky fall time holiday.

Here is our basic information.  Please let your favorite chocolatier, candy maker, baker, chocolate sculptor know about this event.



Halloween Treats Challenge 2012

The Chocolate Cult is pleased to announce our 4th annual Halloween Treats Challenge for chocolatiers, confectioners, bakers, and purveyors of chocolate related treats.

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 3000+ 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 and/or her volunteer assistants (called Acolytes) 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, 2012, I will name up to six winners of the challenge, one for each category plus the Best over all.  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 one 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 over all 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 for the next year.

Previous category winners have included Equal Exchange, Obrigadeiro, Sjaak’s, Sweet Mona’s, Taraluna, The Cookie Sandwich Company, The Protein Bakery, Praim, Cocoa Dolce, Creative Chocolates, and CandyFavorites.com.

Please contact thetammyjo@gmail.com if your company is interested in this opportunity.   Note that featured review dates are limited eight (8) dates so contact us soon but also know that we review on a first samples to arrive = first reviews scheduled and featured basis.  One all ready have one challenger line up for October 13, 2012.

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 137 different chocolatiers and companies since 2009 with readers in 163 difference countries averaging 10,000 pageloads every month.


Monday, September 10, 2012

5th Annual Chocolate Walk Reminder 2

Two months from now we will be attending this; will you be there as well?




Saturday, November 10, 10 am – 5 pm

Join hundreds of Chocolate Lovers from near and far to stroll through the quaint Village of Nashville and enjoy delectable chocolate treats offered at 32 participating shops.

Tickets are limited and may sell out prior to Nov 10, so order yours early!

They are $15 through Oct 31 and $20 from Nov 1-10.

Purchase tickets online at our Chocolate Walk Ticket Sales Page or by calling 812-327-3016.

The Chocolate Cult is arranging carpools for people near Bloomington, Indiana, to attend together.  So leave a comment on FB or Google+ if you'd like to learn more about this option to carpool.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blue Bunny Novelties 2012

Ah, Blue Bunny ice cream.  I remember it from my childhood and last year I was able to relieve those memories when the company sent us coupons for free treats.  They did the same this year and so I want to look at a couple of products in their "Sweet Freedom" line that has no sugar added to ice cream and novelty frozen treats as well as one standard ice cream novelty.

Our first product are these Sweet Freedom Fudge Bars that come 6 bars to a box.  One of the very interesting things about these bars other than the fact that they do use only cocoa as their form of our Sacred Substance is that one bar has 6 grams of fiber in it.  Actually cocoa has a lot of fiber in it so perhaps this is an example of how much they are using.   Of course taste is the real test of how chocolaty anything is that only uses cocoa.  One of the reasons that I personally find baked good less chocolate satisfying than just chocolate itself is that they tend to use cocoa more than cocoa butter or chocolate liquor or chocolate in another form.

The fudge bars are fairly large .  They have a creamy but not sweet flavor with a strong cocoa essence to them that results in a slightly fudgy taste that is less than I've had with other fudge bars this summer.  They are well over an inch thick so it may take a bit of skill to get a good bite.  Luckily the frozen treat adheres well to the stick so as you take your time it shouldn't fall off.  This has milk and sugar alcohols in it so be aware of that if you have allergies or intolerances.  Of course these are fudgy enough that you probably will be satisfied with one.

A similar treat are the Sweet Freedom Chocolate & Vanilla Swirl Ice Cream Bars.  There are 8 bars per package and each bar is only 70 calories.  Each of these compared to the previous Fudge bars is 10 grams lighter and looks substantially smaller.  Sadly I didn't think to keep a fudge bar for direct comparison for a photo but now let's look at this variety.


Made with chocolate liquor and cocoa processed with alkali, these bars have 4 grams of fiber each.  As you can see they are a swirled combination of chocolate and vanilla ice cream half covered by a chocolate coating. I thought the bottom half might melt quicker than the top but that didn't seem to be the case.  The bottom ice cream base had only a very light scent while the coating had a much stronger chocolaty fragrance.  Not surprisingly the top half makes a snap when you bite and the coating crunches while the ice cream only part is silent.


If you think the swirling might be a trick I took this extra photo to show the inside.  See?  There are stripes of chocolate and vanilla inside as well so you get a bit of chocolate and a bit of vanilla ice cream in every bite.  This is how much I love chocolate, Sisters and Brothers, because the only problem I had with the bars are that I wished they were fully covered in the coating because on it's own the chocolate ice cream has a weak cocoa flavor that the coating greatly adds to.

The last novelty item is not a Sweet Freedom type by one from their Champ! line of products and one of five ice cream cone varieties within this line.  The Chocolate Lovers Ice Cream Cone is reduced fat chocolate ice cream in a chocolate waffle cone, the ice cream then is covered in a layer of chocolate and chocolate cookie crumbs.  So four layers of chocolate in all!  Unlike the previous two novelties this isn't low fat or low sugar and shockingly it only has 2 grams of fiber per cone.  In terms of the types of cacoa products it uses, it has cocoa processed with alkali, cocoa, chocolate liquor, and cocoa butter along with a "chocolate fudge flavor" what ever that is.

As you can see here the treat is dark looking, it was difficult to get a photo that didn't wash it out as happened with our attempt to get the box.  As often happens with these type of treats, the tips of the cones tend to get broken off before you even unwrap them.  But they've thought of something to prevent loss of ice cream that we'll get to in a moment.  Getting that first bite is a bit tricky but once you do you'll hear some snaps and crunches of the cookie crumbs and the chocolate coating over the ice cream.  With so many layers the ice cream will not melt easily making this a fairly good choice if you want to eat it outside.  Fairly because of that crumb topping that is going to fall everywhere.  I ate it over a bowl and later tried the crumbs by themselves.  They are the part of the treat that has the most types of cacao products in them and therefor the most chocolate intense.  The ice cream itself has a light chocolate flavor suffering as must ice cream does from the cold dampening the intensity.  The cone stayed crunchy right down to the final half inch where it was solid chocolate inside.  That's the trick they use to keep the ice cream from leaking out.  I wish ice cream shops did this, too, because there is nothing worse than leaking ice cream out of the bottom of the cone and on the floor or your clothes.

There we go some deliciously cold treats as the summer continues but with less sugar and perhaps less guilt?  Using chocolate in a few forms and a relatively short ingredient list is a good thing but I believe that Blue Bunny could do better with fewer chemicals.  Why not just not add in substitutes for the sugar and see what you get?  Probably a darker tasting chocolate but the ice cream could counter that well even made with skim milk.  Blue Bunny, thank you for letting us reveal your products to the world.  Sisters and Brothers, let us know if you've tried anything from the "Sweet Freedom" product line and what you thought about it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tomorrow is National Muffin Day

Since tomorrow is also our Saturday Sacrament, I have to get this product review out the day before.  That's OK because if you like what you read, you can go out and find it yourself and make your own Chocolate Chip Muffins.  I found this Krusteaz One Step Muffin Mix for Chocolate Chip muffins in my local Kroger -- it was on sale, I had a coupon, my family might like it, plus I hadn't reviewed it yet for you all, Sisters and Brothers.  Seemed like a good idea to give it a try.  I actually tried this back in January of this year but since I can pre-write reviews, why shouldn't I?  If I get busy as the year goes on, I always have posts in the schedule to reassure myself that I'm not ignoring you too much.

This is a add water and shake sort of mix; I've never tried this before so this was an adventure in the kitchen.  To complicate matters this was when my left arm was still injured so I knew I'd have to do most things with just one arm and hand.  That's OK because I'm not and I'm not fatigued as easily as you might think by looking at me.

It was very easy to use.  Add in 1/2 cup tap water, shake for 60 seconds, then pour into the pre-slicked 6 muffin tin.  This only makes 6 muffins unlike a traditional mix in a box that generally makes 12-18 muffins in my experience.  The greatest difficulty came with filling muffin number 6 because some of the batter stayed in the tube.  Luckily I have a long yet small scraper that I used to get all of the batter out that I could which resulted in 6 fairly equally sized muffins. I baked it for the minimum time of 15 and it was done in my oven.

There were tiny semi-sweet chocolate chips throughout the mix made with chocolate liquor and cocoa butter both.  There are also wheat, milk, eggs, and soy for those of you with allergies.  I think they looked good but a bit on the small size of an average muffin, don't you?  They also tasted very balanced between the sweet, the bitter, and the savory that I like in such muffins.  The chips kept their shapes well until you bit into one or touched it and then it melted.  Yes, I do eat my muffins a bit warm still.  Don't you?

So how will you celebrate National Muffin Day tomorrow?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

National Whole Grains Month

Today, September 4th, is actually World Chocolate Day but since we've looked at chocolates from around the world in the past to mark this fun food holiday, I thought I'd ask you all about something else.  This something does require you to leave comments, so please do so below.

September is also National Whole Grains Month.




USA stamps
It used to be a challenge to find whole grains, we in the USA were a nation that loved it's highly processed grains but over the decade or so that whole grains and health have gotten more attention, it is becoming easier and easier to find ready made products of whole grains.



Canadian stamps
Baking with whole grain is a bit trickier.  Finding processed flours that are whole grain are merely part of the problem. Often recipes using whole grains require extra steps that many of us may feel take too much time.  The results will have a different texture to them so sometimes our families aren't so happy when we first begin creating whole grain goods at home.

So, Sisters and Brothers, I want  you to tell me about your experiences using whole grains.  Do you primarily buy products that are whole grain but bake or cook using more heavily processed grains?  Do you have any tips for others starting out using whole grains in their own kitchens?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Add Chocolate for International Bacon Day

Until a few years ago, we couldn't have celebrated this international fun food holiday here on The Chocolate Cult.  Your Chocolate Priestess had never heard of anyone adding chocolate to bacon (or bacon to chocolate) then suddenly it was everywhere.  And yet until this year I had never tried it.  You see bacon plus chocolate... well, it is one of those things I was open to trying if I was given some but I didn't feel it was worth the risk to spend money on.  The folks who took over Cero's Candies sent us their "Sweet Pig Twig" to try.  Now this is a product you need to use quickly, within a few days because of the bacon and I did so way back in March, sharing it with three others so you could get a well-rounded review from three people who had never tried bacon with chocolate and one who had it in the past in a candy bar that also had coffee.

Let's start off with the amazing fact that this is a full length (7.25 inches) piece of smoked and brown sugared cured bacon.  This isn't a little piece, this isn't just bacon added to a candy bar or some brownies as I've read about in the past, this is you getting a piece of bacon like you might at breakfast plus a lot of dark chocolate.  The chocolate is real dark chocolate made with chocolate liquor and cocoa butter with no added fats though it does have soy lecithin in case you have a very sensitive soy allergy.  Let's look at the four different views of this "Sweet Pig Twig."


Cero's Bacon cooked and waiting for chocolate.
I could taste the bacon in full glory.  The quarter of the strip I tried was very chewy, it was slightly salty but I could also taste the smoked nature of the bacon as well as the brown sugar's tang.  For me the dark chocolate's bitterness was an interesting addition but then I really like darker chocolate.  I don't think this is the sort of treat I'd want to eat an entire strip of by myself, the flavors were very intense, but I would certainly share it with another person.

This was not the case for two of the folks who tried it with me.  One of them got an end piece and it was far too crunchy and hard for him, he felt that the saltyness overpowered the dark chocolate whose bitterness was too intense.  Now this person does like dark chocolate but is more of a fan of milk.  This individual also is not a fan of hard or chewy things because they tend to hurt his jaw.

Pick these up in their store

The other sampler who did not like this, disliked it for other reasons.  He liked the crunchyness (his was also an end piece) but after one bite the bitterness of the chocolate was too much for him; he prefers the milk and even the white chocolates.  He had been looking forward to the bacon, he loves him some bacon, but said he really could not taste it.

Finally our fourth tester had a middle piece like me but his was both chewy and crunchy -- seems like we got a lot of variety in terms of texture for this treat.  He, too, could taste the smokyness and the sugar but agreed that that the salt wasn't countered best by the darker chocolate.  He liked it, he assured me of that, but felt it might have been much better with a lighter chocolate. He is one of our Mocha Acolytes who had the bacon, coffee, and dark chocolate bar in the past that was a gift, not a featured review.

There you have it, in honor of "International Bacon Day," a chocolate covered strip of real bacon from Cero's Candies.  While our team of four disagreed about the product, we all agreed that the chocolate was quality dark and the bacon was honest to goodness bacon of a high quality as well.  Therefore, the "Sweet Pig Twig" gets our approval as a Sacrament for The Chocolate Cult.  However this would have to be a very rare treat for any of us and we encourage Cero's Candies to try this treat with other types of chocolate to see how that balances with the bacon they use.