Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April 2015 Chocolate Calendar

Varied "holidays" would could celebrate with chocolate in April.

April = National Poetry Month

April 2 = International Children’s Book Day in honor of Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, celebrated since 1967 - Why a I including this? Because there are kids books that focus on chocolate and even kids cookbooks out there.

April 3, 1892 = Date of the creation of the Ice Cream Sundae

April 3 = National Chocolate Mousse Day

April 5, 2015 = Easter in Western Christianity

April 5 = National Caramel Day

2nd week of April = World Allergy Week -- Our Saturday Sacrament will look at an allergen free chocolate chip from a company that specializes in quality chocolate without food allergy worries.

April 9 = National Coffee Cake Day

April 12, 2015 = Easter in Orthodox Christianity

April 14 = National Pecan Day -- As opposed to the simple Pecan Day back in March...

April 21 = National Chocolate Covered Cashew Truffle Day

Sunday, March 29, 2015

3 Chocolate Recalls March 29, 2015

March ends with some chocolate related recalls... so many non-chocolate recalls this past week that I hope you all have gotten into the habit of watching out for your food and drink safety.

----------
Blue Bell Ice Cream Recalls 3 oz. Institutional/Food Service Ice Cream Cups – Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla (Tab Lid) – Because of Possible Health Risk

Consumer Contact: 979-836-7977

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — March 23, 2015 — Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, is recalling three 3 oz. institutional/food service ice cream cups- chocolate, strawberry and vanilla with tab lids because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections 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.

On March 22, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment reported one positive test for Listeria monocytogenes on a chocolate institutional/food service cup recovered from a hospital in Wichita, Kan. This cup was produced in the Broken Arrow, Okla., plant on April 15, 2014. These cups are not sold thru retail outlets such as convenience stores and supermarkets.

The ice cream cups listed below were distributed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming via food service accounts.

Ice Cream Cup Chocolate (3 FL OZ) No UPC - SKU #453
Ice Cream Cup Strawberry (3 FL OZ) No UPC - SKU #452
Ice Cream Cup Vanilla (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #451

There have been no reported illnesses to date.

This recall in no way includes Blue Bell Ice Cream half gallons, pints, quarts, 3 gallons or other 3 oz. cups.

Consumers who have purchased these items are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information consumers with questions may call 979-836-7977, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST.

----------
Supervalu Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Peanuts in Product (No Image Available)

Consumer Contact: 1-877-932-7948

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — March 20, 2015 — Eden Prairie, Minn. — Supervalu Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minn. is recalling Essential Everyday Chocolate Covered Raisins because the product may contain undeclared peanuts. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

Essential Everyday Chocolate Covered Raisins were distributed in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland, and may have been purchased at the company’s Farm Fresh, Shoppers, Cub Foods, Hornbacher’s and Shop ‘n Save stores.

There have been no confirmed illnesses associated with this product recall and the recall is being issued out of abundance of caution.

The product is in a 32 oz. clear plastic tub with a black lid. The product is labeled as Essential Everyday Chocolate Covered Raisins and may contain chocolate covered peanuts. The product UPC is code is 41303 05311 and is located on the back label. The product may have a back label with a product descriptor that does not match the product descriptor on the front label.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that product containing peanuts was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of peanuts on the front of the package. The product manufacturer is Quality Products, a division of MRCI WorkSource.

Consumer questions related to this product recall should be directed to SUPERVALU’s customer service line at 1-877-932-7948. Consumers may return any unused product to the place of purchase for a refund.

----------
Lindt USA Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Hazelnuts in Chocolate Covered Raisin and Chocolate Covered Almond Bags

Limited Product Impacted (56bags)

Consumer Contact: 1-877-MY-LINDT (1-877-695-4638)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — March 24, 2015 — STRATHAM, N.H. — Premium Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli is voluntarily recalling one product lot of its 6.4 oz Chocolate Covered Raisin Bags and 6.4 oz Chocolate Covered Almond Bags sold in nine Lindt Chocolate Shop locations in the U.S. between January 23 and March 16, 2015. Lindt is issuing this voluntary recall due to concerns about the potential presence of undeclared hazelnuts. People who are allergic to hazelnuts run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

This voluntary recall affects the following products:

Chocolate Covered Raisin 6.4 oz standup bag with a lot code L2975 and a best before date of 4-30-2015

Chocolate Covered Almond 6.4 oz standup bag with a lot code of L2975 and best before date of 4-30-2015

Consumers can find the lot codes on a white sticker placed on the back of the bag. Codes begin with the letter “L.”

Lindt is issuing this voluntary recall after learning that a limited number of bags (56 bags or less) of these two products were mistakenly labeled and may contain hazelnuts. No allergic reactions have been reported to date. The impacted bags were available for purchase at the following nine Lindt Chocolate Shops between January 23 – March 16, 2015:

Fashion Outlets of Chicago
5220 Fashion Outlets Way
Rosemont, IL 60018Peninsula Hotel
692 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10019

Maine Outlet Mall
345 US Route 1
Kittery, ME 03904The Rolex Building
665 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Woodbury Common Premium Outlets
498 Red Apple Court
Central Valley, NY 10917Tanger Outlet Center
1770 West Main Street
Riverhead, NY 11720

Sawgrass Mills
12801 West Sunrise Blvd
Sunrise, FL 33323Chicago Premium Outlets
1650 Premium Outlets Blvd
Aurora, IL 60502

Mall of America
284 South Avenue
Bloomington, MN 55425

Consumers who believe they purchased one of these bags should return the product to a Lindt Chocolate Shop for a full refund, or contact Lindt Customer Service at 1-877-MY-LINDT (1-877-695-4638) 24 hours/ day or ChocCovered@lindt.com. Consumers with questions should contact Lindt Customer Service.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Peanut Butter Enters Magnum Ranks

Another peanut butter related chocolate treat for this month to share with you all. Last week the concern was the weather getting too warm but today's treat is all about cooling down especially in the warmer weather. Unilever sent us a coupon to try out their brand new variety of Magnum -- Double Peanut Butter. The box comes with three bars so I shared it and this is our collective reactions to the new treat.

The bars come in the normal gold wrappers that you expect but when you open them you immediately notice a difference from the other varieties we've looked at on this blog. Instead of a nice arch top, each of our bars had peaked top that we could see a hint of the ice cream though... that made us wonder if they pipe the peanut butter ice cream into the chocolate and peanut butter layers after they harden. The bar had a strong cocoa and peanut butter fragrance even straight from the freezer and out of the wrappers. The bars are very large, each 3.38 fl oz and having 340 calories so this would not be an everyday treat for us though definitely worthy of special treat status as you'll soon see.

When you bite into the bar you can see the various layers -- chocolatey coating made with cocoa, peanut butter layer, milk chocolate coating made with chocolate and cocoa butter, and finally the bulk of the bar which is peanut butter ice cream. The first flavor is a creamy chocolate then a deeper chocolate, a very roasted peanut butter, and a creamy very lightly peanut butter that all blend well together with the creaminess of the ice cream as the strongest flavor. On the box the peanut butter ice cream seems much darker in color than what we saw so I hope you can see that in our photo. to the right. The layers keep the ice cream from melting very fast and the cold of the ice cream also keeps the chocolate outer layer from melting as well so we could take our time and really savor and discuss the bars while we ate them.

In our final photo you can see more evidence of the layering over the ice cream. In this case you can see the peanut butter under the outer coating and under it you should be able to make out the milk chocolate layer next to the ice cream. Ultimately the bars were very tasty for each of us but it wasn't our favorite of the varieties that Magnum offers. For me that is the the Double Chocolate but I haven't had the dark versions yet; for our Milk Chocolate Acolyte it is the Double Caramel; and for our White Chocolate Acolyte the preference is for the Gold bar. The good news is that Magnum is available in a lot of different stores and you can use their store finder on their website to find the variety you want.

What variety of Magnum is your favorite?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day

Yup!

Today is National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day so I want to hear from you in the comments.

What "holiday" do you think we should be celebrating today and why?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Get Your Askinosie Peanut Butter Bars Soon!

Askinosie is a brand we've been honored to test and feature here several times. Right now, before May, you can get their 60% Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bar. Why before May? Well, the peanut butter makes this a higher fat content bar so it will not do as well in warmer temperatures so the company simply will not sell them starting in May until October we've been recently informed. Like all Askinosie chocolate and cocoa, the company deals directly with farmers and you learn about the farmers who supplied the beans for the product on the label. In this case, the cocoa beans are from Tanzania and specially the lead farmer, Mama Rahabu. Lets see what sort of treat she helped grow for us.

The bars measure 6.5 X 3 X 1/8th inches and there are two servings in each bar. As you can see it has the normal Askinosie Chocolate lettering on the sections. Once the clear plastic sleeve was open I got a light hight of cocoa and roasted peanuts but it wasn't as strong I thought it might be given that the ingredients are only cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, peanut butter, and cocoa butter. The bar breaks in half very easily with a soft pop. As I bring my half into sections I don't see any pieces of peanut butter along the edges, just very dark brown chocolate but each break releases a bit more cocoa and peanut fragrance but the roasted peanut seems stronger now. Biting a piece makes little sound and the bar is soft and a bit flexible almost in texture, not chewy. The first flavor is a bit of chocolate followed by roasted peanuts but really the flavor is a very intense sweetness that I was not expecting at all. I'm going to let my mouth rest then see if letting a piece melt on my tongue changes the flavor. I put an entire section on my tongue and start watching the clock as I wait for it to melt which it does very slowly coating my tongue with very thick, slick chocolateyness; it takes a good two minutes to fully melt. The first flavor is a dark cocoa with an edge of roasted peanut; the sweetness is very distant at first but builds up with each passing 10 seconds but the sweetness never overwhelms the chocolate and peanut butter. This is best enjoyed by allowing it to melt I think.

This is another Sacrament worthy chocolate creations from Askinosie. If this bar sounds good to you, don't wait to go and order the 60% Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bar or go look for them in your local shops because starting in May you won't be able to find them for at least five months.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Local Chocolate Truffles from Blu Boy

Back around Christmas time 2014, a dear friend of your Chocolate Priestess who is also our Fruit Acolyte, gave all of her friends gift certificates for local businesses.  I finally spent mine at a local chocolate shop called Blu Boy in the town I live in. I wanted to just look at the five piece box I was able to get with the gift.


The wonderful young woman who helped me out, directed me toward their dark chocolates which you know I favor above milk and white chocolate though we test everything here when we are sent samples. Based on my memories and the enclosed list, this are the Fleur de Sel Caramel, Blood Orange, Solid Dark Chocolate, Lavender, and Jasmine. They are very pretty, aren't they? But did I enjoy them?

The Fleur de Sel Caramel was a chocolate caramel covered in chocolate and I loved it! The Blood Orange Truffle hemisphere started off with dark chocolate flavor and revealed the orange slowly with each bite. The Solid Dark Chocolate has little light blue pumps on the top (there were other images I could have chosen the day I got this but I thought these might show up in a photo better for you all); it was just a delightful cocoa rush in two bites. The Lavender Truffle hemisphere was strongly floral to begin but blended into the creamy dark chocolate very well. Finally the Jasmine Truffle has a subtle flavor that blended very well with the creamy dark chocolate center.

I loved them all!  Thanks to my friend for this gift!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Green Chocolate?

We've had tea flavored and infused chocolate before here on The Chocolate Cult but usually in dark chocolate and occasionally in milk chocolate. Today for our first look at Voilà Chocolat we are going to reveal their Green Tea White Chocolate Bar. Why now? Well, St. Patrick's Day, a day in the USA where you wear green and do all things "green" it seems appropriate to let you all know about this option, doesn't it?

Our Tea Acolyte tested this bar one afternoon and this is his report; photos were taken by your Chocolate Priestess. His words are italicized for clarity.

First of all, green tea is a typically weak tea with a subtle flavor, not really sweet at all, so I am wondering how Voilà has approached the task of capturing this in a bar of chocolate.  They have started with a white chocolate base, so that will help – a milk or dark chocolate would immediately overwhelm the tea flavor – but even white chocolate has a flavor of its own, and there is sugar to consider as well (pure cane sugar appears first in the ingredients list on the label).  It seems to be a challenge: Can this chocolate really taste like green tea?

To be specific, the label says that this bar contains "Green Tea/Matcha Tea." There are several forms of green tea, and matcha (the powdered tea used in, among other things, the famed Japanese tea ceremony) is one of them, but they are all made from the same plant.  I'm not sure what the label means, though; is this green tea in the form of matcha, or is there some other type of green tea in this bar in addition to matcha?


The appearance of the chocolate is quite distinctive – it is definitely the color of green tea.  This is a testament to the refusal of the creators to use artificial colors; the only thing giving this white chocolate any color is the tea itself.  The bar is molded into rectangular pips that come apart easily with a dull snap.  The aroma of the chocolate is only vaguely like green tea; it is more like smelling the tea powder.

Biting into the chocolate gives a firm snap.  Allowing a piece to melt in my mouth gives an interesting combination of flavors; the very sweet white chocolate is, however, the dominant note by far.  This is not to say that the tea flavor is absent, however – there is enough tea in this chocolate to turn the bar green.  If I had been testing this in a dark room with no way to know what was in it to begin with, I'm confident that I would still have been able to say that this chocolate was flavored with green tea, as its flavor may be subtle, but it is also unique.  The texture is completely smooth; my guess would be that they either strained the tea or thoroughly mixed matcha powder in with the melted chocolate, as there is no hint of sediment or residue.  After the chocolate has melted away, a hint of the tea flavor remains for some time.  I would call this white chocolate flavored with green tea, rather than, for example, a chocolate bar that attempts to duplicate the green tea flavor (I'm not sure that could be done).

Sweetened with pure cane sugar and made with whole milk, this green tea chocolate is an East-meets-West combination of flavors from different cultures.  I'm not sure how an Asian palate would perceive it, but it is pleasing to my American one.

There you have it from our Tea Acolyte a vote of satisfaction for this bar earning it Sacrament Status on our site. Well done,  Voilà Chocolat, well done!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Meet the Men behind Voilà Chocolat

Next in our series of introductions to the people behind the brands we test and reveal to you all is our very first two-person email interview. Today we are going to meet the founder of Voilà Chocolat, Peter Moustakerski and Christophe Toury the Master Chocolatier at Voilà Chocolat. As always our guests words will be in italics for reading clarity and I'll start each question with their first names so you don't get confused, Sisters and Brothers in Chocolate, when the questions directly related to each man.

Peter Moustakerski with cacao pods in Costa Rica
Peter, how did you get the idea for Voilà Chocolat?

I've always loved eating chocolate since I was a kid. In the 1990’s, when percentage numbers started appearing on chocolate packaging (thanks to John Scharffenberger), I took a somewhat geeky interest in what those meant. I started tasting darker and darker (and pricier and pricier) chocolate bars, and learning to taste the difference between over-processed mass chocolate and small-batch artisanal bars that utilize quality beans. 

Later, I decided to allocate more time to my chocolate passion, and started taking a variety of courses: I took master chocolatier and bean-to-bar maker courses at École Chocolat, took the chocolatiering course at the French Culinary Institute, and travelled to Costa Rica to visit cacao growers, researchers, traders, and chocolatiers. Along the way, I learned quite a bit about every aspect of the business, artistry, culture and history of chocolate. As I encountered many wonderful experiences, I wondered why no business is bringing these experiences in a compelling, user-friendly retail environment to discerning consumers in the US and around the world. And that’s how the idea of Voilà Chocolat was born.

The actual ‘epiphany’ about launching Voilà Chocolat came to me during my daughter’s 10th birthday party, which we had at a ‘make your own’ pottery/arts and crafts place. When I saw how much fun both kids and adults were having and how immersed they were in their creativity, I thought: this could be done with chocolate too. At that point, I knew what we had to create with Voilà Chocolat.

Peter, what were some for the logistical challenges you had to overcome to create Voilà Chocolat?

Too many to recount, from enlisting the right financial supporters to securing the right real estate. But one very interesting challenge was how we could help amateur chocolatiers (our customers) to get professional results when working with tempered chocolate. Professional chocolatiers temper their chocolate and then work with it quickly. But a guest at Voilà Chocolat might be working with their chocolate for 30-45 minutes, and we don't want the chocolate to go out of temper while they are creating and having fun. We are proud of our technological solutions, which we developed with the help of Dennis Teets, our Chocolate Scientist (what a great title!) Our patented, self-heated workstations help solve this logistical problem, and allow guests both to achieve professional results and to have a comfortable place to sit and work together.

Peter, how did you meet Christophe Toury?

The chocolate industry, particularly in New York City, is a small and intimate field of people. As I researched and developed the idea for Voilà Chocolat, I connected with a lot of great people who shared their expertise and advice with me, and who in turn introduced me to others who might be helpful. One of those conversations eventually led me to Master Chocolatier Christophe Toury. It was one of the most fortunate connections among the many I've made throughout this long process of developing and launching Voilà Chocolat. Christophe is incredibly talented, and he is a great partner who has put so much of his own ideas into Voilà Chocolat to make it even better than I imagined. 

Christophe Toury with  toppings kits 
Christophe, you have a very impressive background as a pastry and chocolate chef. Could you tell our readers briefly about that?

In Paris, France, I started early at Les Bains and at a pastry shop called Patachou, where I created and decorated many desserts for celebrities, decorated cakes and made various pastries and regional tarts. Even in my military service, I produced all the desserts and pastries for the Officers and Generals at the Ministry of Defense in Paris. And then my career was at the Ritz Hotel in Paris at L'Espadon, producing all desserts for the hotel including big show pieces; production consisted of the famous Escoffier Heritage. Les Compagnons du devoir that I was exposed to at an early point in my life is where I met my mentor Andre Renard who assisted me in coming to the US. He is a philanthropist at heart, and in that way he is like all the members of Les Campagnons -- they share their knowledge and life philosophy with all those they encounter. After that: Essex House, Four Seasons in Maui and in NYC, Executive Pastry Chef there and then also at the Manadarin Oriental NYC, and then Chocolatier and Executive Pastry Chef at Jacques Torres Chocolate. And now, Master Chocolatier at Voilà Chocolat!

Christophe, your brief bio on the Voilà Chocolat website says that you enjoy making chocolate sculptures just for fun. How did you get into that and would you share an image of one of them with us?

Throughout a career as a Pastry Chef, we are exposed to chocolate and it’s part of the curriculum. Chocolate has a very distinct way of responding to creativity. It almost makes you feel like its alive and very mystical. You can do almost anything with chocolate and I am inspired by that. To become a chef, I had to make huge show pieces in France, really complicated amazing things. From that I learned you can do almost anything with chocolate, with enough skill. In the attached photo, I made a NYC fire hydrant by hand out of chocolate (it's about 60% scale size). I saw near my home in Astoria, Queens that someone had made a fire hydrant into art by painting it, and I just thought I could make art with chocolate by making it into a fire hydrant. Sometimes you don't need a big reason or a purpose, you are just inspired by the things around you. The Voilà Chocolat team had Thanksgiving dinner together this year (in the store before opening, while the space was still under construction!) and everyone's children had fun smashing that fire hydrant like a piñata, and then everyone enjoyed eating the chocolate.

Christophe, given your background what attracted you to Voilà Chocolat?

Throughout my career as a Pastry chef I’ve done pretty much everything from the opening of a five star hotel to working with a celebrity chef as the Creative Director, therefore what excited me about Voilà Chocolat was The UNKNOWN! It was totally different than anything I’ve ever done which to me equals a challenge.  Also, the structure and uniqueness of the concept made everything much more attractive.


Voilà Chocolat makes chocolates that folks can buy but your focus is on parties. Would you tell us more about them?

Our parties are totally unique and incredibly fun, because everyone gets to make beautiful gourmet chocolates together! When someone hosts a party at Voilà Chocolat, you're not only giving them a fun time but also a unique experience, a new set of skills, pride of craftsmanship and a fresh appreciation for how fine chocolate is actually made. Enjoyment of chocolate is almost universal, so all the attendees love it. It's especially great for corporate events, team bonding, or bridal showers, because these are events where not all the guests may know each other well yet, and sharing an enjoyable experience together (such as chocolatiering) brings people together with new experiences in common.

Does your company do more parties for children or adult groups?

We are actually designed for adults, but children obviously love making chocolate too. What we have found since we opened in December is that even though the experience is not designed for kids, children do really well with it and have a great time. So I'd say the split is pretty even for now, partly because there are so many kids living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and they have birthday parties all the time. But more and more companies and other folks outside our immediate neighborhood are discovering us, so we're starting to welcome many more people for team outings, bridal showers, corporate events.

Which do you find the most fun to throw -- parties for adults or children?

They are both fun in different ways. The kids' parties are amazing because they are literally "kids in a candy store." Children really love applying all their creativity to their chocolates (and sometimes licking the chocolatiering tools). It's also very gratifying to watch kids learn and absorb facts and knowledge about the science of chocolate. It's like all the best things from both art class and science class in one fun party where they can be with their friends. 

On the other hand, watching adults being transformed almost into kids again themselves by the magic of chocolate is amazing too. We had someone celebrate his 72nd birthday with us, and he pointed out to us that he was having as much fun as another birthday celebrant in our atelier who was turning 6. Adults are able to ask deeper questions about the science behind chocolate and the deep history behind the technique, which is very gratifying for us and for them. One of the values upon which Voilà Chocolat was founded is Education, so we really relish the opportunity to share what we know about chocolate. 

We've also had teenagers' parties, and all of the 15-year olds and 17 year-olds had a great time. Chocolatiering is probably one of few activities that makes teens want to stop texting and put down their iPhone! It's a great equalizer. One man in his 80's came in with his wife and children and grandson and they all made chocolates together - it was their first outing together after he had been released from the hospital from getting a heart transplant; he chose to make heart-chaped chocolate Voilàllipops to give to his cardiac surgeons. At the other end of the spectrum, we had a young little guy visit us whose caregiver said he suffered from very severe ADHD, and she said that she'd never seen him as calm and focused for an entire hour as he was while making chocolates with us.  I've always felt that losing yourself in creative expression with chocolate can be therapeutic, and in these last two examples, that was literally true! People of all ages really get into learning how to make chocolate confections, even more than they imagined or expected.

Finally, working with chocolate can be seen as scary or difficult by the average person.  What is your advice for anyone who is thinking of trying to make chocolate at home or to come to one of your parties?

Chocolate is endlessly fascinating and there is so much to discover about it. There is no reason to be intimidated by what you don't know yet - just start learning and exploring! Tempering and working with chocolate at home might be difficult, but there are many classes and resources to learn how to do it (soon Voilà Chocolat will offer such advanced classes as well). One of the very reasons that Voilà Chocolat exists is to provide an accessible and welcoming place to work successfully and satisfyingly with fine chocolate, without having to learn the trickier aspects of tempering or to take an expensive and time-consuming course to learn very advanced technique. Voilà Chocolat was created precisely in order to bring the joy of chocolatiering to the average consumer, and to remove the barriers and make it welcoming and accessible.

Thank you both for speaking with us today.  If any reader has a question, please do leave one in a comment below or simply let us know what you thought about today's interview.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Duo Chocolate Chip Sugar Cookies

This week is "Chocolate Chip Cookie Week" so to celebrate I'm going to share the Duo Chocolate Chip Sugar Cookie recipe I created for the Splenda party I held back in February. You can read an article about that party at this LINK.  In this photo can you guess which version of this recipe is which?  The one on the left is made with cane sugar; the one on the right is the Splenda version. Splenda baked cookies tend to not spread as much nor to get as browned or golden. The texture is more dense because of this and in this case it made the chocolate seem more intense simply because the chips were closer together; otherwise the flavor was the same. Here's the recipe.

Duo Chocolate Chip Sugar Cookies
By TammyJo Eckhart

Ingredients:
1/2 C Cane Sugar OR 1/2 C Splenda Original
1 stick light butter
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1.25 C whole grain flour
100 grams milk chocolate chips
100 grams semi sweet chocolate chips

Calories saved if you use Splenda = 12 per cookie in a 24 cookie batch.

Directions:

1. Let the butter come to room temperature first then cut it into 1/2 T pieces

2. Pre-heat oven to 350°F and grease or spray two flat cookie sheets if you want to make all 24 cookies at once. Layout a sheet of paper; I just use the inside of a paper shopping bag then recycle it when I'm done.




3. Beat together the butter and all of the wet ingredients until fairly smooth. You should not be able to see pieces of butter very easily.




4. Add in the salt and baking soda along with the chocolate chips. Weigh the chips, do not measure them unless you don't care about the calories, then just add in 1/2 cup of each.




5. Mix in the flour slowly. The dough will be a bit moist but also stiff enough to easily be spooned onto the cookie sheet(s).

6. Spoon onto cookie sheet with 12 cookies per sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remember that the Splenda version will not be as golden in color nor will it spread out as much; it is not underdone.

7. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes. Then remove the cookies to continue cooling on the laid out paper.

Enjoy!


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Celebrate National Cereal Day Today!

Today, March 7, 2015, is one of our fun food holidays that we keep track of here on The Chocolate Cult.  In honor of it, I'm going to share a recipe using cereal as well as the Pascha 85% Cacao Chocolate Chips that I was sent to test and write about for you all, Sisters and Brothers. Pascha Chocolates sent only the chips, all other ingredients were at my own expense. In order to test these I decided to try out a recipe idea I've had for a while, something simple but hopefully yummy. Let's start with the basics about the Pascha chips.

These are made with organic cocoa mass, organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, and organic vanilla -- that's it!  No soy lecithin or other ingredients. Of these four ingredients, the first three are also fair trade products.  I will say that the bag itself is smaller than most of the bags of chocolate chips you might find in your local grocery stores but consider the intensity of the chips, their organic ingredients, and the fair trade for most of these.  You can't compare these to generic or even the big brand names simply because the Pascha chocolate is focused on matters other than simply cheap chocolate.  You'd have to compare them to other brands of similar quality and when we do that, these are priced pretty fairly. On these qualities alone the product is excellent but let's talk about it in a recipe, one your Chocolate Priestess created based on years of making cereal treats.

Dark Golden Graham Goodies

Ingredients:

1/4 C Light Corn Syrup

4 T Imperial Margarine (I wanted to not use margarine or butter but the chips are so dark that you really do need the extra oils)

1 15oz jar of Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

1 8.8oz bag of Pascha 85% Cacao Bitter-Sweet Dark Chocolate Chips

4 heaping cups of Golden Graham cereal

Directions:

1) Lightly grease or spray a 2X9X13 inch page.

2) Pour corn syrup and peanut butter into a large cooking pot turn stove top on lowest setting.


3) Cut up margarine into small pieces and add to the peanut butter and corn syrup.  Turn up the heat just slightly then stir until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

4) Pour in the chocolate chips and stir quickly until well melted.  You may need help with the next steps.


5) Add in the cereal one cup at a time making sure to blend it well so that as much of it as possible is covered with the chocolate and peanut butter.


6) Pour the cereal mixture into the greased pan and smooth out as much as possible.


7) Store pan in the refrigerator for 1.5-2 hours. Remove and cut into bars; I cut mine into 32 bars and each one had about 162 calories.

8) You can store the treats either in the refrigerator or on your counter with a lid depending on the weather and how you like them -- cold or room temperature.

9) Make sure you have something to drink with these because the bitter-sweet chocolate will dry out your mouth.


There you have it, more great baking chocolate chips from Pascha earning this Canadian company yet another Sacrament Status here on The Chocolate Cult. 85% Cacao Chips may be intense for many of you but if you combine it with other ingredients as we did in this treats it can be a wonderful addition to your pantry and your cooking repertoire.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Two Recipes to Celebrate National Cereal Day 2015

In honor of the approaching "National Cereal Day" on Saturday, we're going to look at two Cheerios brand chocolate varieties that your Chocolate Priestess received for free using coupons from Kroger and from Savingstar.  I tried them as breakfast cereals and also in candy making.  Ready to learn the results?  Let's go!

I based my Minty Chocolate Cheerio Rounds on this recipe for Fun Cereal Cookies.  I used chips and minty mini marshmallows in place of regular mini marshmallows, peanut butter, and butterscotch chips as well as Dark Chocolate Crunch Cheerios.  Note: the cereal itself tasted very good and didn't get sticky or go stale even after a week.  I'd buy this variety again.

Recipe for Chocolate Marshmallow Cheerio Rounds
5 cups (180g) Chocolate Cheerios cereal
4 T Imperial Margarine
31oz container of Marshmallow Fluff (Kroger brand)
8oz Sugar Free Chocolate Chips (Hershey brand)

1) Lightly oil mini-muffin pans -- you'll need at least 48 cups to fill depending on how large you make each round.

2) Cut margarine into six pieces and melt in a large pan on medium-low heat on the stovetop.

3) Measure out your cereal. Note: the photo shows one serving of Chocolate Cheerios, yup that small amount is one serving so be careful when you are eating a bowl of it because you may be getting more servings than you expect. Cheerios are heavy things and they quickly equal a serving in comparison to a cereal like puffed rice or cornflakes.

4) Add in the marshmallow fluff and stir a couple of times.

5) Stir in the chocolate chips and stir until it and the fluff are completely smooth again.  It should a very milk chocolate color.

6) Add in the cereal a bit at a time, stirring to thoroughly mix it then turn off the heat.

7) Using a regular sized eating spoon, drop the cereal mixture into the mini muffin cups until they are all filled.  You may need to keep stirring the cereal mixture from time to time.

Let sit for at least an hour before turning out onto a waxed sheet or into a container for storage.  Can be stored in refrigerator or if covered at room temperature depending on how sticky you like them.

These were a bit sticky so next time I think I'd try one tablespoon less of the margarine.

Recipe for Minty Chocolate Cheerios Bars
5 cups (180g) Dark Chocolate Cheerios
3 T margarine (Imperial)
1 8oz bag mint chocolate marshmallows (Kraft brand)
1 10oz bag Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips

1) Cut margarine into six pieces and melt in a large pan on medium-low heat on the stovetop.

2) Measure out your cereal. Again the photo shows just one serving of this cereal. Notice that only some of the Cheerio pieces are dark in the Dark Chocolate Crunch version.

3) Add in the marshmallows and stir until smooth.

4) Stir in the baking chips and stir until it and the marshmallows are completely smooth again.  It should a  color.

5) Add in the cereal a bit at a time, stirring to thoroughly mix it then turn off the heat. This will start to firm up quickly because of the mint.

6) Spoon into a large edged pan and spread out evenly as fast as you can. It will start to cool and stiffen up as soon as you pour it from the pan so I got an extra set of hands to help me out with the pouring/scooping so that I could spread out the mixture.

7) Let set to cool for an hour then cut into bars -- if you end up with 24 bars each will be about 134 calories IF you used the same brands and amounts that I did.

What do you all think of these cereal ideas as treats?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Organic Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Recall

I've never had chocolate hazelnut butter... unless the "butter" is more like a "spread" similar to Nutella or the Askinosie hazelnut spread we've loved, but if you have such products regularly, check out this recall.

----------
Hummingbird Wholesale Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk in Organic Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Consumer Contact: 541-686-0921 ext. 105

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — February 20, 2015 — Hummingbird Wholesale in Eugene Oregon is recalling 110 jars of Hummingbird Brand Organic Chocolate Hazelnut Butter that may contain undeclared milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk products run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recalled product sold to retail outlets in California, Oregon, and Washington and directly to consumers in Oregon in 1 pound (454 gram) glass jars that show lot number of 15023 on a white sticker on the jar between the dates of 1/27/15 and 2/19/15.

HW Item # Lot # UPC Code
N270         15023 6-96859-11035-1

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that a supplier had changed the ingredients without notice to include milk in the 65% dark chocolate used to make the Organic Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. The label does not show milk as an ingredient. Only lot # 15023 was made with the affected chocolate.

Consumers who purchased this product are welcome to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund, or to contact Hummingbird at 541-686-0921 ext. 105 from 8am to 4pm PST Monday through Friday.

This recall is being made with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Hummingbird Wholesale has taken immediate action to recall the affected Organic Chocolate Hazelnut Butter in order to ensure the safety of its consumers.

Hummingbird Wholesale is dedicated to providing the highest quality organic and raw products, and the safety of our customers is our number one priority.