Friday, November 30, 2012

Chocolate Planner for December 2012

First things first.


Our winner of the Candy Kit from Glee Gum is from our Facebook page: Mr. Chad K. Schlesinger!

Chad email me using my name (tammyjo) with (the) in front of it via the gmail system and I'll ask you what I need to know for the giveaway and get you in contact with Glee Gum. If you post when you receive or use it, let us know, please.

Now on to the Chocolate Calendar for December.

Technically it is "National Mousse Day" but I also need to get this planner out to you all so you can look ahead to the busy month of December 2012.  I don't think the world is going to end so look sharp and get your calendars out to start figuring how you will have your chocolate this month.  I made mousse for part of the product testing of our Saturday Sacrament tomorrow so make sure you come back and read that, Sisters and Brothers.

1st Week of December = Cookie Cutter Week -- My husband always makes either cut out cookies or pressed cookies for our big holiday party.

December 1 = National Pie Day -- I'm not a big pie person, I'm really not.  I love a good chocolate pie that others make and I've made them in the past but for some reason I just never liked making pies and I could take or leave them in terms of eating them.

December 4 = National Cookie Day -- Didn't we have a cookie day all ready this year?  I made cookies today, cookie press cookies in fact for the Cookie Swap I'm doing this year on behalf of The Chocolate Cult.

December 5 = National Sacher Torte Day -- I've also never made one of these.  Are they difficult?

December 8 = National Chocolate Brownie Day -- I always have these on my birthday but that was back in September.  Time for some more and I think small brownies might be great for our Winter Holiday Party we are hosting this year on this very date!

December 9 = National Pastry Day -- Pastry always feels beyond my abilities. What do you think, Sisters and Brothers?

December 12 = National Cocoa Day -- Ah, cocoa, your creation was a gift to all of us.

December 15 = National Cookie Day, National Cupcake Day --Wait up, how can you celebrate both on the same day?   I may have an idea.

December 16 = National Chocolate Covered Anything Day -- Anything?  Anything?

December 28/29 = National Chocolate Days -- We'll probably have left over Christmas chocolate still by both these dates.

Do you use a lot of chocolate in December, Sisters and Brothers?




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gold Chocolate Coins for Han

First do not forget the GIVEAWAY THIS WEEK, ENDS FRIDAY.

Chanukah or Hanukkah if you like to spell it that way, starts this year at sundown on Saturday the 8th so I felt I needed to cover this treat from Amy Sue Lambert the LINDT R.S.V.P. consultant.  She sent us this bag of gold coins.  As you can see the bag is tied with a cream colored ribbon; it does tie it, no twisty ties underneath this ribbon.  Inside the bag were 32 gold foil wrapped pieces of milk chocolate; the information in the bag says there are about six servings and a serving is made of six coins so not quite as many as claimed.  These are made in Italy but distributed in the USA by Lindt and Sprüngli Inc. out of New Hampshire.  These are made of sugar, cocoa butter, milk, chocolate, lactose, soya lecithin, and artificial flavor.




These are milk chocolate coins made in the LINDT fashion so if you like their milk chocolate, you should like these.  Unwrapping chocolate coins is always a touch difficult for me.  The foil is very tight but after a bit of careful work I'm able to free the milk chocolate inside.  It has a very sweet and creamy fragrance that immediately rise to meet my nose.  The coin inside had the same images as on the wrappers -- 1 Euro and then a man reminiscent to da Vinci's drawing called Vitruvian Man; both sides identify the Italian maker "Caffarel."  These measure 1 3/8th inches across and 0.25 inches deep.  The coin makes a loud sound when I take a bite.  Immediately it begins to melt and flood my mouth with very creamy chocolate, less sweet than the scent suggested it would be; thank goodness since as you know, Sisters and Brothers, I prefer dark chocolates myself.  Now you could pop the entire thing in your mouth but recommend making it 2-3 bites so you can enjoy it without needing all six coins for a serving.  If you take the time to appreciate it once is easily enough at this level of milk cocoa essence.

Now there are historical reasons why coins are associated with Jewish holidays.  The reasons aren't particularly nice, however, yet many of the Jewish friends I have do indeed give their kids chocolate gold coins for Hanukkah.  But there is no reason you can't enjoy these if you aren't Jewish and you don't need to use them for a holiday.  I've used chocolate coins to reward players in my RPGs at conventions before for example.

There we go another LINDT R.S.V.P. treat from their 2012 Holiday Catalog.  You still have time to check them out and order some before the season begins, whatever season you may want to share these during.  Thanks, Amy Sue, for sharing these with us.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Grab a Free Gift of Chocolate for the Holidays

We've featured Glee Gum's Make Your Own Chocolate Kit in the past but this Winter Holiday season they are sponsoring a GIVEAWAY for you all, Sisters and Brothers.  You can also get a 30% holiday discount for a limited time on all three kits, potentially three of your holiday gifts purchased before the end of November.



This Giveaway is open to only addresses in the continental USA; sorry everyone else.  Make sure that I can email you or make sure you check back here on Saturday, December 1, 2012, at NOON when we announce the winner using Random.org to pick one of your comments.  The winner will be announced in an update of this post.

This is how you enter to get any one of their three Make Your Own kits.

Leave a comment saying how you'd use this kit -- gift for someone else, make chocolate for a party, use it with your kids.

For additional entries leave another comment telling me that you follow The Chocolate Cult in one of two ways: Facebook or Twitter.  Include your name on FB or Twitter so I can check.

For even more entries you can follow Glee Gum on FB or Twitter; again please leave your name that you use on these accounts so we can check.

If none of the above work for you you can tweet your answer to me at /thetammyjo or leave a comment on our FB page.

So if you follow these steps, you can get up to 5 entries in this giveaway.

HURRY we are only hosting this givaway for a limited time.  If a minium number of entries are not received, there will be no giveaway; it is unfair to the companies when we get 10,000+ pageloads a month and have readers around the world to have such a low turn-out for any giveaway we host.

Winner will be announced on December 1, 2012.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Small Business Samples in Cocoa Paper

Today is "Small Business Saturday" so as a way to address this fairly new economic and social movement in the USA, I wanted to look at products directly related to business from Cocoa Paper.  We were sent samples of their pamphlets and boxes as part of a larger array of products made from cacao tree bark that this company makes, or more specifically that they hire cocoa farmers wives and cocoa farmers to make so that less of their crop goes to waste. Remember using the left over bark does not hurt the trees or the cocoa beans but it does give the small cocoa farmers another way to make a living which offers them more economic security and independence.

There are three basic things that Cocoa Paper sent us that I want to look at today because these are products that businesses themselves, as well as you or I, Sisters and Brothers, could use making us supporters of small businesses on several levels.  First Cocoa Paper itself is a small business but it also gives economic opportunities to cocoa farmers and their families beyond the growing of the cocoa beans.  I use boxes from time to time, and business cards all the time; pamphlets... not so much but some of you may so I thought you'd like to know about these options.

Pamphlets or brochures are a small way to pack a lot of information about your company into one neat sheet of paper.  The downside is that keeping them can be a hassle but I see these far more than I even see business cards because they make your presentation quick.  These are slightly thicker than the bleached and highly processed paper but on par with recycled paper products.  In this photo you can see the folded out brochure as well as the cover of it in the center from another one.  The paper has no scent to it so really this is equivalent to traditional paper you could use in terms of colors and print quality.

Business cards are still very popular to hand out and collect when you meet others face-to-face.  In some cultures there are practically rituals around giving and receiving cards though in the USA today it is more just hand them over and make vague promises to get in touch.  I have two  leather binders I keep those I receive in.  The ones from Cocoa Paper are sturdier than the traditional simple cards and you can get them coated, too, if you like.  They are standard size 9cm by 5cm though they can be customized in terms of size as well.  You can see our contact person there, Kate, since these are her business cards.

Boxes made with cocoa paper are just as sturdy as others and you can have your logo or other designs on them. Here you can see the two boxes we received as samples with chocolate designs on them that may seem familiar if you've been reading our features about this company and its products.  These are the same size but the graphics are in two directions so you can see some variation here.  There are two sizes you could get standard but also you can get a custom made size as well.  That's one of the bonuses of working with a small business: possibility for more direct influence over what your orders will look like.  Obviously all customize costs more but in this case you know you are supporting cocoa farmers as well as two levels of small business.






Cocoa Paper offers a fuller use of the cocoa tree in all aspects, not wasting any part of a plant or animal is just good practice as well as more respectful in my opinion.  Plus on Small Business Day it is good to know that one small business is turning around and trying to empower others as well as promote itself.  For that reason we have to give Cocoa Paper high marks for useable pamphlets, business cards, and boxes that you could use every day or for special occasions.  While they are not edible chocolate, they are Sacrament worthy on this Small Business Day and everyday for embracing the growth potential of cocoa trees and promoting better lives for the farmers and families that depend upon them.

Friday, November 23, 2012

French Chocolate to Honor Anne and Louis XIII

Tomorrow will be a Saturday Sacrament but is also the anniversary of Louis XIII of France's wedding to Anne of Austria back in 1615, 397 years ago.  One of the reasons she is important us here on The Chocolate Cult is that she is often credited with introducing chocolate to France where it became and remains a very big part of their culture.  In her honor, I'm going to look at a French chocolate that I found at a grocery store near Cincinnati, Ohio, that our Chocolate Fruit Acolyte, Rene, took me too right before Halloween this year.

Last month I went to a shop, more like an amusement park for foodies, called Jungle Jim's; at some point I'll get around to posting about the visit with photos.  One of the three chocolate items I purchased there was a Milk Chocolate with Caramel and Fleur de Sel bar from Bovetti Chocolats.  I found this in the chocolate/candy aisle of the store.  It has no artificial ingredients and yet a shelf life of almost a year because as long as you keep chocolate under the right conditions it can last a fair amount of time.  This 1.75oz bar has 2 servings but let's see if I'm tempted to eat more of it once I get started.

Four sections make up this bar so two sections per servings if you would.  On the back, as I hope you can see in this photo, you can see see bitty pieces of caramel and salt; these additional ingredients are in the bottom half of the bar and if you eat it this side on your tongue, you get their added flavors.  It is very creamy smelling and tasting when you eat it from the top side down.  The salt and caramel pieces are a bit crunchy at first bite and chew but the caramel becomes chewy and sticky.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A TCHO for the Holidays

Your Chocolate Priestess has gifted TCHO to others for birthdays and holidays and so I have high expectations for this new TCHO Mokaccino bar and the TCHO Hot and Cold Drinking Chocolate that we want to reveal to you all today, Sisters and Brothers.  To do this review I was helped by three of my Acolytes as well as a few other friends.  To the right you can see the new Mokaccino bars that TCHO has created so let's start with that.

As you know, I'm not a coffee or a tea fan; we have volunteers, called Acolytes, who help me with products that I simply could not be very objective about.  The Mokaccino bars were primarily tried by our two Mocha Acolytes, Tim and Charles, but they shared with some friends and family to get a wider view point of this new variety from TCHO.  The first thing everyone who tried these together on evening was that the look of the bar was disappointing give the image on the box.  Of course this bar (seen in second photo) look exactly like the other TCHO bars we've featured but I can understand the disconnect between the image and the actual product in terms of visuals.  When they tested the bars with their other senses their opinions changed.  Tim's View: Has a strong coffee scent, dark roast but not espresso.  Chocolate is very solid.  The flavor is very nicely blended, the chocolate flavor lingers afterwards to remain balanced in aftertaste.  It melts evenly in the mouth.  Charles's View: Nice rich chocolate brown color - quite even with a lightly embossed pattern over the grid of 9 squares. Breaking the squares is a nice solid snap. Upon opening the foil wrapper, you get a hint of the chocolate, mocha scent.  Deeper inhalation brings you nice strong, cocoa aroma with a slight hint of coffee. Nice solid feel to the bar.  Texture feels smooth, not waxy.  Feels reminiscent of "naturally-made" chocolate.  Initial first melting on tongue has nice mocha flavor - nicely balanced between coffee and cocoa.  Later notes of toffee and buttery flavor - buttery taste is accented with caramel and tastes like scorched sugar.  Very pleasant and continues for a time as the bar completes dissolving.  Very impressed overall with flavor and quality of the chocolate. 


The TCHO Hot and Cold Drinking Chocolate has four uses listed on the silver metal box it comes in: Shot, Hot Cocoa, Iced, and Mousse.  The Shot is really the way you combine the chocolate crumbles with water to make a very thick syrup that you then use to make the other three forms that you actually drink or eat.  I'm not sure how much this one container will make so since the weather has finally turned a bit cooler, let's follow the Hot Cocoa instructions.

As you can see the chocolate is indeed in the form of crumbled pieces. In fact as soon as I open the metal box I can smell the dark chocolate, I don't even need to open the bag because the essence is so strong.  I made this with 7oz of skim milk, the suggested range was 6-8 oz of milk.  The result was still a very dark and intense cup of hot chocolate, not cocoa, chocolate, Sisters and Brothers.  Let it cool to a  slightly warmer than lukewarm and you'll get the most pleasurable experience; too hot and it's just heat, too cool and the shot you made starts to pull away from the milk.

TCHO has done it again with these two products and they both earn Sacrament status for simple chocolate made in an honest way to create high quality cocoa buzz potential.  I consider these gifts for the darker chocolate lover in your life, one who can be satisfied with an intense experience without feeling the desire to just keep eating or drinking so that these last a little while.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chocolate Related Recalls November 18, 2012

New recalls from the FDA related to Chocolate, Sisters and Brothers.


Publix Issues Voluntary Recall Multiple Cake Products

Contact:
Consumer:
1-800-242-1227

Media:
Maria Brous
863-680-5339


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 15, 2012 - Out of an abundance of caution, Publix Super Markets is issuing a voluntary recall for forty-five (45) various cake products due to the fact that they may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes. Publix received notification of the contamination from our supplier, Maplehurst. This recall is for the following bakery products sold from the retail service bakery:

Scale Label Description Scale ID Number*
7" CHOC CKIES N CRM CAKE 002-13584-00000 *The last five digits of the scale ID number contain the unit price. For example $4.99 would have the last five digits ending 00499.
7" CHOC CKIES N CM LAY CK 002-16466-00000
7" W/T ICED CHOC LYR CAKE 002-16467-00000
7" DEC. BUTTERCREAM W/FIL 002-19722-00000
7" DEC WHIP TOPPING W/FIL 002-19734-00000
7" DEC FUDGE ICED W/FILL 002-19748-00000
7" DEC CRM CHSE ICED W/F 002-19759-00000
CRM CHSE 7" VAN DEC 002-92096-00000
CRM CHSE 7" CHOC DEC 002-92097-00000
CRM CHSE 1/2 & 1/2 7" DEC 002-92099-00000

CHOCOLATE GANACHE CAKE 002-94078-00000
DULCE DE LECHE BON BON CA 002-94003-00000
CHOC GANACHE SUPREME 002-94085-00000
CHOCOLATE GANACHE BON BON 002-94098-00000
CHOC GANACHE GRANDEUR 002-94130-00000
BUTTERCREAM 7" CHOC DEC 002-94333-00000
RASPBERRY SACHER TORTE 002-94132-00000
LATTE BLAST 002-94162-00000
WHIP TOPPING 7" CHOC DEC 002-94396-00000
WHIP TOPPING 7" 1/2-1/2 002-94420-00000

FUDGE ICED 7" CHOC DEC 002-94432-00000
ICE CREAM 7" CHOC DEC 002-94468-00000
ICE CREAM 7" 1/2-1/2 DEC2 002-94490-00000
BUTTERCREAM 7" 1/2-1/2 002-94502-00000
LYR W/T BLACKOUT CAKE 002-95322-00000
LYR 7" CHOCOLATE SHADOW 002-95323-00000
LYR 7" CHECKERBOARD WHOLE 002-95325-00000
LYR 7" W/T BLACK FOREST 002-95334-00000
GERMAN CHOC 7" LAYER CAKE 002-95353-00000
PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE FIX 002-95628-00000
LYR 7" CHOC W/ PISTACHIO 002-95657-00000
LYR 7" RIPPLE CAKE 002-95658-00000
LYR 7" CHOC W/MOCHA 002-95697-00000
LYR 7" CHOC W/ FUDGE 002-95663-00000
LYR 7" CHOC W/ BC 002-95664-00000
LYR 7" CHOC W/ CHERRY BC 002-95767-00000
CHEESECK TORTE 6" WHOLE 002-95770-00000
LYR 7" CHOC W/ CHOC BC 002-95954-00000
LYR 7" CHOC W/ MINT BC 002-95955-00000
GERMAN CHOC 7" CAKE 002-95958-00000
BLACK FOREST 7" CAKE 002-95970-00000
BLACK FOREST 7" CAKE 002-95970-00000
CARAMEL PECAN CRUNCH 002-94301-00000
MIDNIGHT FUDGE FANTASY 002-94254-00000
PEANUT BUTTER FDG FIX 002-94599-00000
Product was distributed to Publix stores between November 11, 2012 through November 15, 2012 to select Florida counties, including: Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Flagler, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia.

Consumption of products containing Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infection in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

“While the product is no longer available on store shelves, we have issued a voluntary recall because of our commitment to food safety and to advise our customers who may still have this product at home,” said Maria Brous, Publix media and community relations director. “No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the 7” chocolate layer cake used to make these desserts. Consumers who have purchased the products in question may return the product to their local store for a full refund. Publix customers with additional questions may call our Customer Care Center at 1-800-242-1227 or by visiting our website at www.publix.com. Customers can also contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366).”

Publix is privately owned and operated by its 153,000 employees, with 2011 sales of $27.0 billion. Currently Publix has 1,066 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. The company has been named one of FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” for 15 consecutive years. In addition, Publix’s dedication to superior quality and customer service is recognized as tops in the grocery business, most recently by an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey. For more information, visit the company’s website, www.publix.com.

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Focus Products Group International, LLC Announces a Nationwide Recall of Cocoa Latte™ Hot Drink Makers Due to Possible Lead Risk
Contact

Consumer:
888-943-5202

Media:
Mark Polzin
314.982.1758 (office)
314.971.0503 (cell)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 17, 2012 - Focus Products Group International, LLC announces the following voluntary recall.  Consumers should immediately stop using the Cocoa Latte™ Hot Drink Maker and contact the Focus Products Call Center for instructions on how to return the product and receive a replacement. The machines were sold under the following makes and model numbers:

West Bend
65032
Back to Basics
CM300BK, CM300BKL, CM300BLSS, CM300BR, CM300BRBRL CM300BRL, CM300W
Focus Products of Lincolnshire, IL, is voluntarily recalling Cocoa Latte Hot Drink Makers because a small bushing inside the container has the potential to leach lead. To date, Focus Products has received no notice of any consumer complaints. However, the company’s independent testing revealed the potential problem, and out of an abundance of caution, the company voluntarily decided to recall the product.

The only affected products are the Cocoa Latte Hot Drink Makers, makes and model numbers listed above.  The Cocoa Grande™ Hot Drink Maker is NOT affected by this recall.  The Cocoa Latte Hot Drink Makers shipped nationwide starting in 2004 through October 12, 2012. The affected products come in a variety of colors with transparent pitchers, and were sold primarily in the United States through various retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond, through various e-retailers such as Amazon.com and through Focus Products’ online store.

Consumers in possession of a Cocoa Latte Hot Drink Maker should contact Focus Products’ Call Center at 1-888-943-5202. Further information will be available on Focus Products’ websites, www.focuspg.com   and www.westbend.com  .


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chocolate Singles from The Best Chocolate in Town

This Saturday Sacrament was written quite a while back during the summer of 2012 after a 20th anniversary trip my husband and I took.  I had so many ice cream brands to feature, upcoming Halloween Treat Challenge 2012, and then the Christmas season that I had to find where to put all the reviews from the companies who gave me samples during that vacation.  Since it is always difficult to get a lot of Winter Holiday themed items in November, I decided to add them here as well since each stop on that vacation gave us a lot of products. The good folks at The Best Chocolate in Town gave us a lot of samples and so today I want to share a few of the non-truffle items they offered that you can find if you go down Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis or check out their website.  I choose this photo to the right so you can see their name clearly.

First up is their Peanut Butter Crunch (photo above) that has semi-sweet mini chocolate chips made with cocoa butter and chocolate liquor in it. It comes in this 4 oz bag as well as an 8 oz variety. If it looks like rice crispy treats well look through the ingredients and after a pastel coating you find peanut butter, crisp rice and the chips.  The first scent is the peanut butter when you open the bag and then the pastel coating has it's own creamy fragrance; no chocolate in terms of smell.  The pieces are all around one-half inch thick but vary in shape and size.  The rice makes a very crunchy noise as you bite and chew, just like it should.  It has a smoother texture because of the pastel coating to it but you can still feel the crevasses in the rice and the smoothness of the chips as you work it in your mouth a bit.  The chocolate is very subtle, showing up only when you bite into a chip itself and then blending immediately back into the very creamy tasting peanut butter.

Next we have their Sea Salt Caramels in both dark and milk chocolate.  Hand dipped these are approximately one inch cubes covered with chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt on top.  If you take a whiff from the top you primarily get salt and tangy caramel scent but if you turn them over you can also get the milk or dark chocolate fragrance with the caramel and without the salt.  Whenever your Chocolate Priestess gets the same basic item with only a difference in type of chocolate for the coating, I always start with white, then milk, and then along the scale of increasing darkness because then I'm not dampening my taste buds with the more bitter essence.  Thus I start with the milk chocolate sea salt caramel.  The coating is thick but the caramel inside is the bulk of these treat.  The caramel is a bit coarse and not as sweet as many are, I actually prefer the less sweet caramel myself.  The salt is very strong however and easily overwhelms the milk chocolate almost immediately.  Hopefully the dark chocolate will hold up better.  The caramel tastes the same but this time the darker chocolate is able to stand out far better and counter the salt so that it merely adds another dimension to the flavors.  The caramel also seems thicker in this version and I wonder if that is a result of less milk in the overall candy.  Of the two, the dark Sea Salt Caramel is more chocolaty by far.

You know what Nutter Butters are, right, Sisters and Brothers?  They are a peanut butter cookie shaped like a peanut.  They are very common in the USA but for our readers in other countries you might now know what they are so here is a reference photo to look at.  I copied this right from the Nutter Butter website that you go to as well if you want to check them out further.

I've been seeing "recipes" online now for a few years where they basically are just dipping these cookies into chocolate and this is what The Best Chocolate in Town has down with these Nutter Butters coated in milk and dark chocolate.  Each are 2.75 inches long and still have a bit of the peanut shape to them even though they are coated with chocolate.  No peanut scent comes through this coating but there is slight difference in fragrance between the milk and the dark chocolate.  Of course they make a loud snap when I take a bite.  The milk chocolate is the first flavor and then the wheat of the cookies, some of the roasted peanut, then back to the milk chocolate flavor.  It all balances pretty well for this version of the treat.  The dark version in this case is not as well balanced, the bitterness of the dark chocolate overpowers the peanut butter and if you didn't know you were eating a Nutter Butter you might not be able to tell. This and the previous Sea Salt Caramels are excellent examples of how the type of chocolate that works best for one treat may not be as good a match for another.

One final milk and dark pairing to look at, Sisters and Brothers, and this time is is for their Pecan Turtle Squares.  These are big at 1.5 X 1.5 X 1 inches in dimension and they have a bit of heft to them as well and entirely covered in a coating of milk or dark chocolate.  The milk chocolate has a light cocoa and a sweet pecan scent while the dark version has a deeper cocoa and a slight pecan fragrance.  Both are smooth and cool in my fingers.  While the milk chocolate does not make a sound when I take a bite I discover the inside is a sort of crumbling almost cookie like mixture of pecans with enough sweetness, perhaps caramel, holding it together.  The pecans are primarily finely chopped but there are a few large slices as well; they make no sound when I take bites or chew. The milk chocolate gets lost quickly in all the pecan and sweet flavors so let's see how the darker chocolate coating fairs.  First difference is that the dark chocolate coating makes a soft sound when I take a bite.  Second the darker chocolate last throughout the chewing on the edge bites where you get more of it.  Third the pecan mixture is slightly drier in this version as well but that is very common when you use darker chocolate in anything.  So in the final analysis I say go for the dark Pecan Turtle Square if you are looking for chocolate but with the milk chocolate variety if you really just want the pecan sweetness center.

Finally we'll try out the two varieties of Toffee that The Best Chocolate in Town offers -- English or with nuts (a lot of nuts as you can see) or plain (nut-free).  The nut free one has chocolate on one side and the toffee showing through on the other; the nuts cover every centimeter of the English variety so I can't really tell how much is covered in chocolate.  They are each about 3 inches long and around 2-2.25 inches wide with 0.25 inches thickness not including the nuts so the English toffee is thicker.  They both make a fair amount of noise when you take a bite and chew them, the toffee becomes stickier as you chew as well. The milk chocolate is the first flavor with the nut-free version while the almonds are the first and final flavor for the English version.  The buttery sweetness is the central essence for both but the almonds really are the primary flavor for the English variety of this toffee.  In neither case is the milk chocolate strong enough to be a real player in this combination of flavors; dark chocolate does much better in terms of our Sacred Substance in every type of toffee we've ever tried and this is no exception.

So there you have it, more variety from The Best Chocolate in Town.  While the truffles and the bars we've looked at from them certainly lived up to their name, these single novelty items often fell short in terms of chocolate, that has to be our primarily criteria here on The Chocolate Cult.  You might like the products we've reviewed today, but like them for reasons other than chocolate.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter Holidays with Lindt Chocolate

Our friend Amy Sue who is one of the consultants for LINDT Chocolate R.S.V.P. sent us a nice selection of holiday treats for 2012.  Your Chocolate Priestess wanted to get this feature out in time for you to check them out because one of these you'd want to start using on December 1st.  We'll start with a video (our first original video for The Chocolate Cult) and then look at three more products from this offering before the Winter Holidays hit.



I hope you all could hear that Okay, Sisters and Brothers.



Besides the calendar, Amy Sue sent us two types of hot chocolate mix and a box of Goldstücke or Lindt Gold Pieces that I think could actually fit in the calendar as well.


The Goldstücke have hazelnuts again but also I note cinnamon and coriander in their ingredients... these should be different, huh? Two of these bars are a serving but you can probably be satisfied with one at a time or share them out if you want.  The bars are just over 2.5 X 1.25 X 0.25 inches in dimensions  larger than I thought from within the box that slides apart into two pieces.  The milk chocolate is cool to my fingertips and gives off a very unique scent -- the coriander and cinnamon are powerful and they almost overcome the creamy hazelnut chocolate I associate with Lindt.  As you can see in this photo, "Lindt" is written over the surface of the top.  Taking a bite reveals a very creamy cocoa flavor with a strong hazelnut edge.  The coriander's licorice flavor's and the cinnamon's slight burn are after tone but the final flavor is a creamy milk chocolate.  I like but you may want to warn your friends and family before they eat it or you'll get the same frowns I did.  If they like licorice then you are have found a perfect gift.

The hot chocolate mixes come in two varieties: Milk and Dark.  They come in these blue canisters and the individual flakes of dark and milk chocolate are further enclosed in foil bags.  Here in this photograph I hope you can see the differences in the flakes as well as the cans and the bags that contain them. First preparation note: the amounts of milk are given in millilitres while the amount of chocolate flakes are in teaspoons; for an American this felt a bit off to me but I figured it out.  The flakes melt very well and stay melted. In the Milk version the result is fairly light in color; the Dark variety is a bit darker but both are fairly light colored.  The resulting drink is very smooth and creamy regardless of variety you use; the darker one has a stronger chocolate flavor over all.  Given how creamy Lindt chocolate tends to be, both the light color and the flavor makes sense. Think of this as a truffle in drink form and you'll know exactly what to expect.

LINDT R.S.V.P. is best purchased from a presenter at a party you can host but you can also order it directly through a consultant like Amy Sue so please check out her site.  One negative about the site is that you have to download the catalog to find these items we've reviewed today so I couldn't link directly to them.  If you or someone you are close to loves LINDT chocolate these are excellent gifts especially the reusable advent calendar.  Just for this calendar I'd give this a Sacrament title.  The hot chocolate flakes are simple chocolate, safe for everyone who isn't allergic to just chocolate (sad but there are folks like that, Sisters and Brothers).  However what holds me back repeatedly from just saying that LINDT chocolate itself is worthy are the added oils and fats to their many of their products.  So I'm glad that this time around I can say that three of the four products we revealed today are indeed the real chocolate deal with no added fats ingredients.

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Chocolate Related Recalls, 11/12/12

Sadly there are new recalls to share with you all today, Sisters and Brothers. I know that I normally do these types of posts on Sunday but yesterday was a "Chocolate on the Calendar" that I wanted to do so I hope no one was hurt by the one day delay.

Without further words, here are the new chocolate related recalls I am aware of this week.


The Raymond-Hadley Corporation Expands Voluntary Recall to Include Additional Enjoy by Dates on Webmans Gluten Free Mixes Including: Double Chocolate Brownie Mix 17.2 oz., All Purpose Baking Mix 16oz., Honey Cornbread Mix 16oz., and Chocolate Cake Mix 15.3oz because they may be contaminated with the undeclared allergens Milk, Soy, or Pecan. People who have an allergy to these allergens run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products..
11/02/2012 08:29 PM EDT

-----------

The voluntary recall is limited to only specific production codes of NESQUIK Chocolate Powder. No other varieties of NESQUIK powder or NESQUIK Ready-to-drink are affected by this recall. We are asking that you please take a moment to check if your NESQUIK® Chocolate Powder carries the production codes we are recalling. To find this code, please look on the bottom of the canister, adjacent to the consumer expiration date. If you find NESQUIK Chocolate Powder, with any of the production codes listed below, here's what to do: Contact us at (800) 628-7679. Our consumer experts will help you. 

Size UPC Code Production Codes
40.7 oz. Chocolate (72 servings) 0 28000 68230 9 2282574810
2282574820
21.8 oz. Chocolate (38 servings) 0 28000 68090 9 2278574810
2278574820
2279574810
2279574820
2284574820
2284574830
2285574810
2285574820
2287574820
2289574810
2289574820
10.9 oz. Chocolate (19 servings) 0 28000 67990 3 2278574810


Everything we do on the Nesquik brand is aimed at making the best possible product for you and your family. We know that is what you expect from us, and we will continue working tirelessly to exceed your expectations. Thank you again for your loyal support. 

Sincerely, 

The Nesquik Brand Team 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pocky Day

Have you had Pocky?  This is a Japanese wheat cracker in the form of a stick that is generally covered in something sweet such as chocolate, strawberry, or almond coating.  Your Chocolate Priestess was introduced to Pocky a few years back when she started watching animé; yes, I watch some animé because of it is pretty darned interesting.  A while back one of our Acolytes and I were shopping and she wanted to go to the nearby Asian grocery store.  Now I've had other varieties of Pocky in the past but we found a new one that was chocolate, in fact it is "chocolat on chocolat creamy" according to the English translation on the back label.  As you'll see in the photo below, this is a milk chocolate with a darker chocolate swirled around it, the label marks it as 70% cacao.

Pocky is imported to our area by JFC International, Inc, but is made in Japan. It has wheat, milk, eggs, and soybeans in case you are allergic to any of these.  This box had four three stick bags in it for a total weight of 2.15oz. Two bags equal a serving of a 170 calories but since these are in four bags, you can easily control your consumption of it and indeed share it like I did.  Everyone who tried it with me agreed that this combination of milk and dark chocolate created a mousse like flavor, very creamy yet also a hint of bitterness.  We all really liked them.

So since today is "Pocky Day" in Japan, I thought we might support our good friends and I want to hear from all of you, Sisters and Brothers, about your experience with Pocky.  What flavors have you tried?  Where can you find it near you?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

South Bend Gift Basket 2

As the major winter holidays are now approaching, I wanted to share more with you all from the gift basket we were given by the Chocolate Café folks in Indianapolis back in late May, 2012.  The Chocolate Café is a retail shop for The South Bend Chocolate Company right here in Indiana, where your Chocolate Priestess currently lives.  A gift basket is a lovely gift for a family or couple because you get variety that will hopefully have something for everyone but also it comes pretty much wrapped for a lovely display.

Today while I'm actually at the 10th Annual Chocolate Walk for a charity, I wanted to give you three items to consider as you start thinking about upcoming holidays.  What?  You haven't started thinking about them yet?  Well, let us hope this starts you thinking ahead.  Remember that when stored under temperature and moisture controls, chocolate will keep for three months to a full year so why not save some money and time later and invest today for the holidays you want to give gifts for?  In the photo to the left you can see that today we'll look at a milk chocolate bar, turtles, and The LaSalle a mint chocolate treat that South Bend Chocolate Company is known for statewide.

Let's start with the Turtles and see how SBC does with this commonly made treats.  This is the milk chocolate variety but they also have a sugar free type as well.  This is their standard milk chocolate that they put on most of what they make -- cocoa butter and chocolate liquor and a sizable amount of vanilla as well to give them a distinctive if not unique taste.  As max the turtles around just under two inches in diameter and about 1/3rd of an inch thick.  You can see that they are not identical suggesting a hands-on assemble.  Through the shell I can only smell the vanilla and the chocolate.  The coating has a slightly shiny gleam to it and it starts to melt on my fingertips.  Biting into it reveals a mostly tangy caramel with several half pieces of pecans.  This isn't too sweet so the nuts, the caramel, and the milk chocolate all blend very well.  Further bites do build up the caramel so just slow down a bit between bites to get a fuller taste of the chocolate.

The LaSalle are a South Bend Chocolate favorite and the 3.5 oz box is very common in their gift baskets.  These are a milk chocolate peppermint candy with the peppermint mixed into the milk chocolate filling center.  The peppermint fragrance comes through the milk chocolate easily.  The coating is so thick that it makes soft sound when I take a bite.  Immediately I can taste the very creamy milk chocolate followed by peppermint that adds a bit of cooling sensation to my mouth.  Letting a bite melt in your mouth takes a bit of time but it does increase both the milk chocolate and then the peppermint's power on your tongue.  For the milk chocolate lover who just can't really handle the bitterness of a York Peppermint Patty, these LaSalle mints are a good choice; peppermint lovers will enjoy these, too.

Finally we'll look at the Milk Chocolate Candy Bar that has 15 sections of 3.5 oz of their basic milk chocolate.  Each section has this three wave pattern over  diagonal lines on it.  Taking just one section is easy because the chocolate is a bit soft and make no sound at all.  It has a strong vanilla and creamy chocolate scent to it and even feels slightly soft in my fingers.  Biting into it does make a bit of a noise.  It melts easily and soon my entire mouth is coated in creamy chocolate that builds up in intensity but has far less vanilla flavor than either the scent or the previous milk chocolate covered treats in this basket suggested.  This is still more creamy than the standard Hershey's bar so if you like a creamy milk chocolate then give this one a try.

One of the nicest things about the gift baskets from South Bend Chocolate is that if you order one from their website you have the ability to pick a few of the items.  I bet if you walked into one of their Chocolate Cafes they could help you create a very special gift.  You know, both Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up so take a good look at this company especially if you are Hoosier, and consider them as one of the places you buy from this season.  For using as many local products as they can and for producing a signature taste, these treats get a Sacramental status today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review: Chocolate: A Healthy Passion

As you know, your Chocolate Priestess tries to bring you information and products that are not just foods or drinks including chocolate.  When I can, when I am able to read a study on chocolate and ask questions about the health claims of chocolate, I try to do so in a rational and analytical manner.  Beyond chocolate, I review books in general and after I did one for Prometheus Books they asked if I'd ever read "Chocolate: A Healthy Passion" by Shara Aaron and Monica Bearden.  I hadn't and so they sent me a copy.  Thus today they are our second Winter Holidays 2012 featured review.  Now let's see if Aaron and Bearden also apply a rational and analytical eye to health claims about our Sacred Substance.

Aaron and Bearden are nutritionists and co-owners of Nutcom Nutrition Communications; both have written about health and chocolate before this 2008 book. To the left you can see a photo I took of the back cover where their credentials are listed.  Given that four years have passed and several new studies about chocolate have been published, this book obviously needs updating.  By and large, the studies that Aaron and Bearden discuss in chapters four and five, are not identified in the format I except for scientific or sociological studies.  They name some journals and their years but not the names of the authors or more information that would enable us to check the studies ourselves.  While they break down basic data and words I think the rigor with which they question the studies is lacking.  Rarely do they discuss the specifics of the studies even at the level of who was studied, the controls, or the details about the chocolate used in the research.

They do better with the first, third, and sixth chapters where they discuss the basics about what chocolate is, how it is created, and some psychologically and sociologically reasons why we might "crave" chocolate.  That they tackle this idea that we even crave something was a pleasantly surprising though I don't there is firm evidence in this book for an answer.  If you want to learn about chocolate these are the chapters to read. If you'd like to try out some recipes, there are 31 drink and food recipes and 13 recipes for body care items you make with chocolate in one form or another.  If this were a cookbook I would have held off on a review until I'd tried three or more recipes but I wanted to get this out to you before the winter holidays, Sisters and Brothers, in case you are looking for a non-calorie chocolate related gift.

The second chapter is all about the history of chocolate and here they a tough audience with this historian.  Even though chocolate and the cultures which recognized the cocoa bean and developed ways to use it is not my field of expertise, I've read a fair amount and can apply the rigors of historical research to almost any subject.  What I really wanted more was a lot of citation. Yes, there is an annotated bibliography at the end of the book but I need citations of all the events, names, and beliefs that this book discusses.  The historical section is not nearly as good as in other books but then this is a book more about health claims than anything else.  I would advise removing the history parts of the book and putting more time into evaluating health claims and analyzing scientific studies that are used by candy companies to products goods that simply cannot meet the health benefits because of everything else added to their chocolate.

All issues I may have with the rigor of this book's look into various studies about chocolate, it proves a great introduction to chocolate for the average reader.  The large print makes this easy to read for all ages and eyesights and the included recipes appear to be solid and fun to make.  If the scientific studies were questioned more and the historical chapters better documented, I'd have no problem giving this a full Sacrament status. As it is, I think it is a good gift for the chocolate lover beginning to learn about the cocoa bean, it's history, and health claims.  If you do decide to buy it, please use our links below.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chocolate Related Recalls 1st Sunday November 2012

Today is the latest in a line of chocolate related recalls I have for you all, Sisters and Brothers.


BT McElrath Chocolatier, Inc. Announces Nationwide Recall Of Peanut Butter Pave Due To Possible Health Risks
10/29/2012 03:16 PM EDT
October 26th 2012 BT McElrath Chocolatier, Inc. is initiating a voluntary recall of the seasonal peanut butter pave because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.


Wegmans Recalls Gluten Free Baking Products - Chocolate Cake Mix, Food You Feel Good About Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Mix, and Food You Feel Good About All Purpose Baking Mix Because Products May Contain Undeclared Soy
10/31/2012 05:55 PM EDT
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is voluntarily recalling all code dates of Wegmans Gluten Free Baking Products



Saturday, November 3, 2012

Abbott's Also Dark Chocolate Candies

A few months ago we looked at the milk chocolates that were included in the sample box from Abbott's Also Candy Shop when we visited with them back at the end of May.  To kick off our 2012 Winter Holiday features (booked through all of November) we decided to go back to the shops we found in Indianapolis and do their second feature now.  Today we're going to look at nine dark chocolate candies that were in this box.  Note that this post was not written live this morning but over the course many days as I tried to practice the Moderation I preach to you all, Sisters and Brothers, yet when the candies were still fresh enough to be high quality.  When something tastes so good and gives you that little cocoa buzz you may want to keep eating but you must prevail... OK, I tried, I really did and it took several days to sample and write just not the nine days it should ideally have.  Since I don't know what each of these is until I eat it and share it, I'll label these by number.  Ready to explore this box with me?

Dark #1 is actually two pieces of candy that has a very jagged shape suggesting nuts of some type underneath the dark chocolate.  All I can smell is a light cocoa scent even when I take a big breath in, holding it right up to my nose.  The chocolate is shiny and cool to my fingers like it should be.  It makes a loud snap when I take a bite to discover that there are whole almonds here held together with slightly bitter chocolate.  The almonds continue to crunch, it is a bit of a jaw workout in fact.  The chocolate builds up with each bite lingering a bit after I finish and long after the almonds' essence, too.  Just as I want from a chocolate nut cluster -- crunchy nuts but the chocolate is the primary flavor.

Dark #2 is round and looks like one of their many flavors of creams.  The chocolate is so thick and strong I can't make out another scent and soon the coating starts to melt on my fingertips.  Drat!  When I take a bite which makes no sound at all, I find coconut inside and as you all know by now, I don't like coconut and can't say anything about it.  Sadly I didn't know this was coconut and thus could not give it to the appropriate people.

Hopefully Dark #3 is not coconut in any shape or fashion.  It looks like a nut cluster again with the jagged edges, one sticking straight up in fact but let's find out.  This has the chocolate scent but also a hint of a nutty fragrance that my initial response to is cashews.  I take a bite to find out if my nose is correct and the candy makes a soft crunch that continues as I chew.  The Chocolate Priestess was right, these are cashews covered in dark chocolate.  Unlike with the almonds the nuts here let the dark chocolate dominate every second but their subtle flavor is still there nicely blended into the bitter, rich chocolateness.  It creates a nice little cocoa rush by the the time I'm done, three bites later.  Lovely.

Dark #4 looks like a cream but a bit more round and less thick than the coconut candy was.  There is a slightly sweet scent that breaks through the dark chocolate coating when I bring it to my nose but not strong enough to identify.  No sound can be heard when I take a bite, the bottom seems less thick than the rest of the coating.  Inside is very soft and somewhat sweet but not in an identifiable way.  Is it vanilla?  I don't get that unique flavor?  It isn't buttery or purely sweet either. Either way it lets the dark chocolate's essences out though I'm disappointed I can't identify it.

Dark #5 is oblong and has a big nut, I believe a pecan, on the top of it.  There is no scent beyond the dark chocolate and the pecan on top so I must take a bite to figure this one out. This is soft and thus makes no noise when I bite into it.  Inside is a chocolate cream that is also a bit fluffy.  It feels light and airy yet melts immediately when the center hits my tongue. This is double the chocolate -- a milk chocolate on the inside and darker coating -- but the nut is really more decorative than adding anything necessary to the candy. I really like it a lot.

I think a cream is next as Dark #6 is round but also a bit wider at the base than the previous one.  I think this one is raspberry from the strong fragrance I get.  I hand it over to my hubby who loves raspberries.  He says I think this is a strawberry cream.  It is very sweet, almost stingingly so, making it hard to discern the flavor.  The chocolate doesn't fade as quickly as the fruit flavor probably because the shell is thick.

Remember the milk chocolate toffee from Abbott's Also?  Dark #7 reminds me of that in terms of the shape and the drizzle on top.  I hope that it is because I find dark chocolate works much better with toffee if you are looking for chocolate first of all in your candy.  No toffee scent -- no tang, no butteriness, gets through the dark chocolate coating so maybe I'm wrong.  I take a bite but while I hold it, the coating starts to melt on my fingertips.  Inside is the Abbott's caramel but it is surrounded by a sort of cookie crumb cover between it and the dark chocolate.  The tangy caramel is very googy while this coating adds a bit of abrasion to the mixture. It is delicious because the darker chocolate is able to remain in the flavor mix.  This is now my favorite of the set but we have two more to go, Sisters and Brothers.

Dark #8 is likely a cream and it is both the thickest and widest candy yet.  This one also has no scent beyond the dark chocolate coating, that seems to be the most common trend here in this feature review.  It makes no sound when I take a bite but the inside is a very thick and strongly vanilla chocolate fudge feeling. It melts after a few seconds mixing the fudge and the slightly bitter coating together for a kick of cocoa buzz and a slight sugar rush after just one bite.  Remember the difference?  Sugar rush feels like it flows downward while the cocoa buzz seems to move up from my mouth into my head.  I don't know know if everyone has this difference or can feel these at all but it very fun to experience.  This is excellent double chocolate candy.

Finally Dark #9 is as tall as the previous but not as wide; more rounded in shape it makes me think of a chocolate covered cherry cordial and I'm debating if I should try to get one of our Fruit based Acolytes over here to try it for you all.  It has a slightly sweet scent but not enough to tell me if I'm right or wrong, is this cherry or something else?  You know my hubby also likes cherries, I think I'll have him try this as well as the raspberry one.  He tells me this is a lemon cream.  The Lemon flavor is very sweet but the chocolate shell is thin = less chocolate.  Not as much chocolate allows the lemon filling to overpower the chocolate in flavor.

The darker chocolate candies do have more of a cocoa kick to them than their milk chocolate counterparts did.  Some of these were very good but unfortunately the creams all seemed to fail either in delivering the extra flavor, their intensity of sweetness, or the inability of the chocolate to be the primary flavor.  To find your own dark chocolate candies from Abbott's Also Candy Shop you can check out their website or if you are in Indianapolis either their NW Indy location or the shop in Greenwood.  If you do that, let them know you read about them here on The Chocolate Cult please, Sisters and Brothers.  For the Winter Holidays they'll have special themed boxes and containers you can choose from so help support your local and regional businesses if you live up in Indy and check them out.