Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cube Your Desserts and Treats


Once more I'm bringing you a product review from a company that I connected with through the Tomoson program. As you know, on The Chocolate Cult we primarily look at products which are chocolate or made from any part of the cacao tree/bean but we do also cover items you may use when you are making or serving your own goodies at home or even if you own a small business. These Market Lane 5oz Plastic Cube Cups come with spoons so that you could be ready to go with a dessert or treat in minutes. Not only did I test these with a few types of desserts but I also checked on the washability and reusability of the cups and spoons since reduce of trash and protection of our cacao growing world is very important to our chocolate futures. I was sent a set of 20 cube cups and spoons by Market Lane in exchange for an honest review; no other form of compensation was received.


Let's look at the cups and spoons themselves to begin. The label on the box reads "Clear food-grade cups for desserts / appetizer. BPA-FREE. EXTRA STRONG. When I unpack them I'm surprised by the shape, they are taller than I expected them to be. Specifically they have a 1.5 inch base square, a 2.25" top square, and are 3" tall. The spoons are 4" long and have a very round head. Here is one cup topped by one spoon.


Next let's examine how well these cups function as bowls for quick treats such as frozen desserts and ice cream. It is a bit of a challenge to put ice cream into the bowls given their shape; you have to do it a bit at a time, pressing gently down from time to time. If you can do that, you can get one serving worth of ice cream in as you can see in the photo. Yes, by weight (minus the cups) that is exactly one serving per variety of ice cream. In case you are wondering, this is peanut butter cup, chocolate, and s'mores flavors.



How well do these cups work as dishes for desserts to set in? I made some dark chocolate mousse to test this out. I used Dr. Oetiker Dark Chocolate Truffle Mousse mix with skim milk and it should make four servings. As you can see in the photo these cub cups are a bit small for that if you wanted to add anything else to the dessert like a cream topping or fruit.  I'd recommend if you want to do that, to put the mousse for four into 5 of these cups or you could even portion control or make a four serving dessert stretch to five with this trick as well.


One problem with the shape of these cups and the spoons is that you will get remains of whatever soft you put into them in the bottom corners. The photo shows the leftover mousse. There are two ways this could have been dealt with. First, make the spoons more squared shovel shaped or two round the inside. Of course you could use a finger to get the rest of the food but that's not very good etiquette. This a design problem and really only matters if you are putting soft or semi liquid food in these cups. They would work fine for berries or nuts, for example, but those are very chocolatey, are they? Not usually.

Finally how well did these cups and spoons wash up so that they could be reused? Washing by hand was find but a bit of a challenge, again, because of the shape. Putting the cups on the top rack of an average dish washer and the spoons with the rest of your utensils worked just fine; just don't use a heat dry setting for safety. Similar concerns for cold -- these are great in the refrigerator but keep them out of the freezer or they may crack and break.

Washable and reusable cups and spoons would be a great idea if you have parties. Not only would they pay for themselves over the course of several uses compared to just disposing of plastic or paper items but you can also exercise portion control so you can be certain you have enough of any treat for up to 20 guests. Make your desserts ahead of time and then serving up on a platter or lay out on a table. If these cups sound like they would be a great idea for a party, a company event, or even just to have around your house, check them out. Remember if you follow our links you help out the company as well as The Chocolate Cult.



Saturday, August 20, 2016

How to Celebrate National Honey Bee Day with Chocolate

Today is National Honey Bee day! Earlier this summer, my hubby and I went hiking and after we hiked and got lunch we went on a trek to find Hunters Honey Farm. We've seen their big billboard signs along the highway into Martinsville, Indiana, but never tracked the place down. It was a lot of tracking it down. Our GPS and our cellphone were struggling to get internet connections and satellite feeds. But eventually we did find them and when we did, it was very different from what I had imagined. We received the products for free in exchange for our honest review; no other form of compensation was received.

We got two types of chocolate related honey products that I was told is made at the facilities on the honey bee farm. The first was a jaw of chocolate hazelnut honey spread from the refrigerator in the little shop you find at the end of the road into the farm. Keeping it refrigerated makes it thicker but a bit difficult to actually spread so I've been keeping mind just in my pantry. There is no nutritional information on this product so I can't tell how close it would be to just using honey versus a chocolate hazelnut spread. By taste, it is far more honey than chocolate or hazelnut but the chocolate comes out more powerfully than the nuts at least. It is very good on toast or other bread products and it spreads so well if you don't refrigerate it that one tablespoon is plenty.

We also got two honey cluster candies -- Honey Pecan Cluster and Honey Peanut Cluster. Both of these had milk chocolate which again fades into the background because the honey is the primary flavor. But given this is Hunters Honey Farm, I would expect nothing else. I enjoyed both candies while my hubby enjoyed the peanut one which is safe for him to eat.

We really wanted to take a tour of the bee farm but it turns out that you have to call ahead to schedule such a tour. But they did have a hive in the store arranged so you can look in at an active colony. The farm put a big dot on the queen, who is only a bit bigger, not five times as large as I thought she might be given my pop culture knowledge of bees, so I had fun watching her and the other bees for several minutes.


The shop has a lot of products including books and decorations, as well as a wider range of honey food items from BBQ sauce to ice cream to the candy and several varieties of honey spread.


If any of this sounds delicious or interesting to you, look up Hunters Honey Farm and make sure you contact them ahead of time to arrange a tour. When you go, tell them that you learned about them from The Chocolate Cult!


Monday, August 15, 2016

E. Coli, Metal, and Peanut Recalled Recalls!

Wow, what a spread of problems in our food to share with you all today. Some of these recalls are so massive that I'm just linking to the huge lists of products affect. Click the links, a new window will open, and get the information you need to protect yourself and your family.

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Rabbit Creek Products Recalls -- Bread, Brownies, and Muffin Mixes

Rabbit Creek Products of Louisburg, KS is recalling certain flavors of Bread mixes, Muffin mixes and Brownie mixes under the Rabbit Creek Products and other Private label brand names due to the potential presence of Escherichia coli O121 (E. coli O121). People usually get sick from E. coli O121, also referred to as STEC O121, 2-8 days (average of 3-4 days) after swallowing the bacteria. Most people develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps. Most people recover within a week. Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS can occur in people of any age, but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of HUS can include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, and decreased urination. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

The recalled dry mixes were distributed nationwide in retail stores and online sales December 2015 through February 2016.  Please see the list below for the mixes involved and the best by dates for those affected mixes.  For representative labeling, please see our website.

No illnesses have been reported to date to Rabbit Creek.  No other products sold by Rabbit Creek Products are involved in this recall

This recall was initiated after our suppliers notified us that we received General Mills flour which was recalled due to the potential presence of E. coli O121.

Please destroy any affected product and return the label to Rabbit Creek, PO Box 1059, Louisburg, KS 66053 for a refund.  Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-837-3073 Monday through Thursday between 8am and 4pm CT. 




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Country Home Voluntarily Recalls 12- and 24-Count Gourmet Cookies Sold Through ShopRite Stores Fresh Bake Department

Country Home has initiated a voluntary recall of Gourmet Chocolate Chunk Salted Caramel Cookies sold at ShopRite stores in its Fresh Bake department. These cookies were sold in 12- and 24-count containers and may also be part of the 12- and 24-count variety packages of cookies.

The recalled cookies may contain small pieces of metal fragments. This is an isolated incident and no other products sold in the Fresh Bake department are involved in this product recall.

The cookies were sold between July 19 and Aug. 4, 2016. Affected items have the following information noted on their labels: 

Gourmet Chocolate Chunk Salted Caramel Cookies, UPC 28978500000, UPC 28977600000

Gourmet Variety Pack Cookies, UPC 38978600000 and UPC 28977200000

and are sold in ShopRite Fresh Bake departments.

"We are advising customers who purchased 12- and 24-count Gourmet Chocolate Chunk Salted Caramel Cookies and Gourmet Variety Pack Cookies at ShopRite between July 19 and Aug. 4 to return them for an immediate refund or replacement," said ShopRite spokeswoman Karen Meleta.

No injuries related to the recall have been reported.

ShopRite has reached out via phone calls and email to ShopRite Price Plus Club customers who have purchased this product to alert them to the recall. ShopRite urges its customers to keep their Price Plus Club information updated, so they can be contacted in case of such events. Customers wishing to update their information can call 1-800-SHOPRITE or visit ShopRite.com.

Customer questions or concerns about the recall can be directed to 1-800-ShopRite (1-800-746-7748).

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Beyond Better Foods, LLC Issues Allergy Alert On Undeclared Peanuts In Mislabeled Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Beyond Better Foods, LLC is recalling select cases from a single production run of Enlightened brand Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip ice cream because they may have been packaged in Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream containers and thus 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.

The affected product was distributed nationwide in retail stores. Beyond Better Foods is taking immediate steps to recall all affected product.

(This is a complicated recall. Read the below paragraph a few times to understand it. I've bolded, italicized, and underlined the important bits.)

This recall is the result of mislabeled product. Specifically, portions of one lot of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip ice cream was mistakenly filled in pint sized Enlightened brand Mint Chocolate Chip pint containers, and capped with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip labeled lids. These packages have a base container labeled “Mint Chocolate Chip,” a lid labeled “Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip” and are filled with Peanut Butter Chocolate chip ice cream. The opaque container reveals tan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip ice cream inside -- not light green Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. All affected products have a “best by” date of November 18, 2017.

Customers who have purchased mislabeled Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip ice cream in an Enlightened brand Mint Chocolate Chip container are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Questions may be directed to 1-800-819-2998 Monday-Friday between 9AM and 5PM Eastern Time.

Investigation regarding the source of this mislabeling is ongoing, though it is believed to be an isolated incident.

To date, no illnesses have been reported related to this recall.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Take 5 Candy Bar Revealed

We cover a lot of fancy chocolates here on The Chocolate Cult but sometimes you just want a candy bar, right? Isn't healthy for you but it often returns us mentally to our childhoods either by being treat we had as a child or making us feel indulgent and like we are just tossing our adult cares to the wind. But sometimes a candy bar can actually be complex and more for an adult palate. This is often the case with fine dark chocolate, dark chocolate has a bitterness children often do not like, but it can also reflect the amount of varied flavors and textures in a product that you can best appreciate when you slow down while you consume it. I received this Take 5 candy bar as a freebie with my Kroger Loyalty Card; no other form of compensation was received and Kroger has no idea I was going to use this for a post.

It is called a Take 5 because it has 5 layers -- milk chocolate, pretzels, peanut butter, caramel, and peanuts -- not because you'll only find 5 ingredients on the label. It's a candy bar, folks, they tend to have a lot of ingredients compared to chocolate bars. If you look inside you can see the chocolate, caramel, pretzels, peanut butter, and peanuts in order from the bottom to the top of each of the two halves this bar comes in. Is it really a bar if it has two pieces? It has a good peanut and caramel scent, a slight sweetness and salty fragrance but no chocolate. Not surprising, it is a rare candy bar that smells like chocolate. The pretzels are very crunchy with each chew. The peanut and peanut butter are the dominant flavors, not surprising, of the five. There is a little tart caramel, then the pretzel but the milk chocolate really only came in at the end of the eat each bite.

Take 5 was introduced by Hershey in December of 2004. Originally it had a red label but I prefer this black label; I think it makes it look more sophisticated. While might like this, I think they make eat it so fast that they won't appreciate the variety of flavors and textures. But what do you think? Is this a more adult candy bar?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Help the Pets with Yummies for Your Tummy


In just three months, I hope to once again be at Brown County Humane Society's Chocolate Walk in Nashville, Indiana. That's right, mark your calendars for November 12th to join all of us getting dozens of chocolate samples, walking several miles, hanging out with friends, seeing lots of wonderful pets, and helping a humane society with an out-alive rate in the very high 90%! This will be the 9th annual walk, wow! Tickets are $20 a person, less than a dollar per chocolatey stop on the walk. They are on sale now!

But let's talk about the previous walks and why we keep promoting this event on The Chocolate Cult.

The very first Chocolate Walked happened in 2008 if this is the 9th year of the charity event. The Chocolate Cult wasn't created until February 2009 and that first year, I didn't learn anything about the Nashville, Indiana event. However, as soon as I learned about it in 2009, I contacted my friends and asked who wanted to go with me. I got only one friend to go with me, Lisa, and she'll talk about her experiences on the walk in a later post. After my first Chocolate Walk (the event's 2nd) I did a massive four-part review of it.

Every year since then, I've been honored that the Brown County Humane Society has offered me two free tickets to the event so I can let you all know about it and go on the walk and then report on it. I have not missed a walk since the very first that I didn't know about. That's seven so far and I'm looking forward to my 8th in November.

Now, who is going with me this year? Who is going on their own? Leave a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Variety S'mores

Today is National S'mores! Have you celebrated yet? No?! Go do that!

What you are tired of the same old milk chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker treat? We'll check out how my family celebrates with variety!

At like you -- milk chocolate bars. Then my family decided to try and mix it up a few years back. We used dark chocolate, white chocolate, and peppermint patties. Different members of my family liked different combinations. As you may recall I hosted a sterno s'mores party last month. Click on this link to read that again if you haven't, it will open in a new window for you. This evening we celebrated by trying peanut butter cups and rice crispy bars. The rice crispy bar (my husband snagged that before I could take this photo worked well but the peanut butter cup's peanut butter center didn't get melty at all. It was tasty but not as melted as I normally like.

So now you tell me, what candy do you use when you make s'mores?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Hampton Creek Baking Mixes Recalled

Isn't it sad that a Sunday of only one recall makes me happy?

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Hampton Creek Issues Voluntary Recall of Mixes Containing Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder Because of Possible Health Risk

San Francisco, CA. - Out of an abundance of caution, Hampton Creek is undertaking a voluntary recall of 6 SKU’s of baking mixes that contain the Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder. The ingredient, which makes up less than 1.31% of the mixes, tested positive for Salmonella in a company-initiated testing program. Hampton Creek immediately notified Native Forest and their distributor, and has requested they initiate a voluntary recall of all their Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder-in all formats-with all retail and food manufacturing customers.
The affected mixes, available nation-wide, are as follows:


 
Per the FDA’s website, “Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.”
As part of Hampton Creek’s testing program, 30 Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder samples were pulled and tested. 29 of the samples tested negative and one sample tested positive for Salmonella. 74 additional samples taken from other lots of the Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder tested negative.

No other Hampton Creek products were affected, and there have been no reports of any health issues.

All finished mixes released into the market tested negative for any pathogens, but with the presence of Salmonella in the Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder, we notified the FDA of the potential health risk. Consumers who have purchased any of the recalled products should not consume the product, and either discard it or return it to the retailer for a full refund.

“Nothing else matters without safety,” said Hampton Creek’s Founder and CEO, Josh Tetrick. “The guidance we’ve received from the FDA has been vital to ensuring any affected product is removed from the marketplace. You can reach me directly any time at 415.404.2372 or the company at 844.423.6637, M-F 9:00-6pm PST, and wecare@hamptoncreek.com with any and all questions or concerns.”

With the health and safety of consumers being the company’s top priority, Hampton Creek decided to inform the FDA of the Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder concern 2 days before the confirmed test result.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Rolo Revisited

If you see or hear "Rolo" what do you think of? Do you think of the Hershey candy which is caramels covered in milk chocolate? Did you know that this candy was invented in the U.K. in 1937 and only became available in the American market in after 1969. It was first created by Mackintosh’s an English confectionary originally known for it's toffee. After a fire destroyed a manufacturing facility, the new building was able to start making chocolate by 1912. Obviously they turned to toffee and chocolate at first but caramel isn't that far from toffee, right? Mackintosh's went through a series of mergers with other companies over the years and one of these, with Rowntree opened the American market to them.

In the USA, Rolos have been around as long as I've been alive. I've ground up with them in my life. Frankly I think they taste the same now as I remember them from my youth. Primarily we use them in my family during the winter holidays when we have them in wrapped singles and use them for markers in our holiday BINGO game. After that I'll bake or make candy with them for the rest of the holiday season. But it is still a nice treat to just enjoy a few.

Do you enjoy Rolos? When and where? Leave a comment and let me know.