Wednesday, November 30, 2016

She Designs Calorie Free Candy Fantasies

Have you heard about Adult Coloring? Maybe some of you do it. It doesn't require an age (other than being 18+) and it is open to any gender, sex, race, ethnic group, and skill level. Coloring books can be dollar shop bargain or very expensive books tied to popular artists or pop culture phenomenon. Today we're going to meet Donna Linder, an artist whose first coloring book, Sweet Dreams: A Caboodle of Candy, has chocolates you can color and enjoy without worrying about calories. As always in our interviews, italics are the words of the individual we spoke with.

Donna Linder, Artist having fun1
Before you created Sweet Dreams: A Caboodle of Candy, what were you doing?

I was (and still am) working as a sleep tech at my local hospital.  I'm passionate about art (and candy!) but the medical field will always be my first love

Do you have formal training as an artist or is this raw talent that we're seeing in this coloring book?

I have no formal training. In fact, I flunked almost every art class I had to take throughout school. I was pretty much considered hopeless by the time I reached college!

You choose candy as the subject of this coloring book, why that topic?

Candy has always been one of my biggest comfort foods.  The bright colors, patterned wrappers, and textures appeal to me very much. Even just looking at the candy store displays makes me happy.  :)
  
When I first started Sweet Dreams, there were only one or two food-themed coloring books out there, so my initial motivation for this was to fulfill a need within myself. I got a lot of support from friends and family and it gave me the courage to take this a step further and share my art with others. 

Because this is The Chocolate Cult, we have to ask: Do you like chocolate? If so, what type is your favorite? Milk, Semi-sweet, Dark, Unsweetened, or White?

I LOVE chocolate!  Semi-sweet and Dark are my favorites, although any chocolate that's nice and cold right from the fridge will do the trick for me.  :)

Many adult coloring books are double-sided but I'm pleased that yours is single-sided. That requires more pages however and probably more cost to you to create the book. Why did you decide to go with one image per page?

It's the preferred style for most colorists, I wanted to create a book that people would enjoy and not have to worry about bleeding through.  Plus, I got to discover all the awesome candy-related quotes that I used to take up space on the opposite side of the pages.  

I notice that most of the images in the coloring book are mandala in style. Why does that particular layout appeal to you as the artist?

I love the symmetry and repetitive pattern that goes along with mandala style art; it creates the opportunity for a lot of variations, or some peaceful repetition. No matter how a person chooses to color a mandala, it will look like it was designed just for that style.  

Did you create the candy in your images from your imagination or did you have models that you used?

I had a lot of very delicious models! I knew what I wanted the candy to look like, but converting it from my head to the page was a challenge.  There were several trips to corner store for candy that nobody could eat until I had gotten the picture to look like I wanted it to.  

I see that this coloring book is on Amazon.com but were else could our readers buy your book?

Amazon and Createspace are the only two places the book is available currently. I also have an Etsy Store (GoddessLaughs Designs) for digital/printable/singles. 

What has been the biggest hurdle you've had to jump in order to get an adult coloring book published?

Gathering the courage to actually publish was my biggest issue.  I was so afraid that people were going to look at this book and think it was a crappy product or of crappy quality.  

This was your first adult coloring book. Do you have plans for more?

I have a darker/creepier book called After Midnight in the works and I've got the very beginnings of a cocktail themed book (hopefully).



Monday, November 28, 2016

Chocolate Cyber Monday Deals!

Let's help each other other today, Chocolate Lovers!

In the comments let us all know about Cyber Monday Chocolate Deals you've learned about.

I'll share some that I know. You'll have to find the website in another window but these are the coupons I know about for today.







I don't expect images in your comments but this is the one time you can provide coupon information and links in the comments without my deleting them to let's help each other out!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hot Gift that is Sweet to Give or Receive

240Sweet is a hot little company, literally and figuratively. We have featured their gourmet marshmallows many times here. Their creations are award winning, their chefs award winning. Today I want to share a hot gift you might want to give to your loved from 240Sweet -- Hot Chocolate Gift Set which is new for 2016. Furthermore, 240Sweet is offering a special coupon for readers of The Chocolate Cult but you have to keep reading to learn what that is after our full feature article today. Get in a comforty setting and get ready to try out their decadent hot chocolate and gourmet marshmallows with us. 240Sweet set me the decadent hot chocolate mix along with two types of their gourmet marshmallows (bourbon brown sugar and sugar cookie) in exchange for an honest feature article about their product.

Let's look at the marshmallows and the hot chocolate on their own first because when you add marshmallows to hot chocolate it does affect the flavor of both. Both of the bags have 10 petite gourmet marshmallows in them and as you'll see they vary in size. The bags unfortunately are not resealable so if you don't plan to use them right away have a bag or container of your own; based on previous experience I recommend using them within a week or so after you open them.

240Sweet Bourbon Brown vs Sugar Cookie

We'll start with the Bourbon Brown Sugar Marshmallows that you can see in our previous photo is slightly tan in color. There is a solid bourbon scent  but no alcohol sting in either fragrance or taste. There is a sweetness that builds with each chew and lingers for minutes afterward.



Next we tried the Sugar Cookie Marshmallows on their own, they are very white and have white edible sugar pearls on the top of them. These smell just like sugar, simple, basic, sweet. The vanilla burst of flavor when I take a bite is unexpected and intense but it really does make this taste like a sugar cookie. The pearls add crunch but I don't think that they add much flavor; I wonder if they will melt in the hot chocolate... let's find out!


Of course, given that this is The Chocolate Cult our real focus is on the Decadent Hot Chocolate mix. The instructions on the back label of the bag read "Whisk 4 Tbs of mix into 1 cup of boiling milk for 3 minutes." I measured out the mix and it is approximately 5 servings worth per these instructions. (there are also fondue directions but I didn't do both) Note: In my household we only use skim milk. Alone it is still creamy, a touch dark, and no other flavors, a good basic foundation.


What happens when you add the marshmallows to the hot chocolate?

When we added the sugar cookie marshmallows. The marshmallows get soft very quickly especially if you cut them up but they do not melt very quickly at all, you have to keep stirring them to get them to melt. The sugar pearls did not melt so if you don't swallow them you will find them at the bottom of your mug; I thought taking a photo of that was a bit icky so here you have them floating in the hot chocolate but you can see the pearls right there.. These marshmallows add a lot of sweetness to it but also butteriness: it is like dunking a sugar cookie into hot cocoa one of my testers declared with a grin.


Finally we added the bourbon brown sugar marshmallows. The first thing I notice is that the bourbon fragrance gets stronger and stronger as the marshmallows melt, something I did not notice with the sugar cookie variety. The intensity of the marshmallows remains very bourbon if you try one before they thoroughly melt. Again stir to make them melt faster. The intensity of flavor change to the hot chocolate depends on how many of the marshmallows you use -- one is a slight change, two is balanced, three is a bit too much. I didn't like these as much as the sugar cookie marshmallows in terms of what they added to the hot chocolate foundation. And yes, if you spotted, it this was my 240Sweet mug I got a few years ago which I still have and still use.





The flavors of gourmet marshmallows changes often at 240Sweet so I haven't linked to these products specifically. You just have to check them out and see what is currently available.

Here is the exclusive discount code for
$10 off the Peppermint Hot Chocolate Kit
Coupon Code: thechocolatecult

It is true that the kit in this offer doesn't include the same gourmet marshmallows that we tested for you today, but it still has the same decadent hot chocolate mix. We've had enough of 240Sweet's varieties of marshmallows to know the ones in this kit are very likely to be good.

So who out there is going to check out this offer for a holiday gift or treat for yourself?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Listeria And Dairy Recalls before Thanksgiving


-------------------- Recalls --------------------
Agave Dream Ice Cream

Agave Dream of Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA is recalling all vanilla, chocolate, cappuccino, chocolate chip and lavender ice creams packaged in pint sized containers, because it has 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.

Product was distributed across the United States through retail stores receiving product from KeHE Romeoville & Dallas warehouses, DPI NW, Americold Los Angeles & Modesto warehouses, IWI Franklin Indiana warehouse, Jakes Finer Foods Houston Texas, Haddon House Richburg South Carolina & Medford New Jersey, Grocery Outlet- CA, UNFI- Auburn Washington & Ridgefield Washington.

All of the recalled products were manufactured and packaged in a facility owned by a contract manufacturer, Dr. Bob’s of Upland, LLC. Recalled products are Agave Dream ice creams packed in pints with “best buy” date located at the bottom of the pint.

The following flavors and “Best By” dates are being recalled:

Flavor                UPC                                         Dates
Vanilla                8 9934900201 7 7/4/17, 9/8/17,10/9/17, 12/12/17, 1/14/18
Chocolate        8 9934900202 4 7/4/17, 8/5/17, 9/8/17, 10/9/17, 12/12/17, 12/24/17
Cappuccino        8 9934900204 8 7/4/17, 9/8/17, 12/2/17, 1/14/18
Chocolate Chip      8 9934900203 1 8/5/17, 12/12/17
Lavender                8 9934900206 2 12/2/17


No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall is the result of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finding samples positive for Listeria monocytogenes in the contract manufacturer’s facility and in finished product of another company’s brand, leading the contract manufacturer to recall all ice cream products it produced for Agave Dream.

Consumers who have purchased the identified Agave Dream ice cream products are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 866-993-4438 or agavedream@sbcglobal.net. Monday-Friday, 9am PST-5pm PST.

-------------------------

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company, Inc. of Madison, WI is recalling select ice cream products, because they were made with a chocolate chip cookie dough ingredient supplied by Aspen Hills, Inc., which has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is 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.

NOVEMBER 10, 2016 RECALL EXPANDED

The ice cream products were distributed to the following states AL, AZ, CA, FL, IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, NE, OH, PA, SC, VT, WA & WI. The ice cream products were distributed to various ice cream shops around the country, online outlets and limited grocery stores.

This recall includes the following products with code dates provided:

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co. 3 Gallon Cartons 

Cookie Dough (code date 10/15/17, 10/21/17, 11/1/17 & 11/8/17),

Heaps of Love (code date 10/20/17, 10/28/17 & 11/8/17),

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough (code date 10/9/17, 10/18/17 & 11/1/17),

Sticks & Stones (code date 10/26/17).

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co. Pints

Cookie Dough (code date 10/21/17).

The Baked Bear brand 3 Gallon Cartons

The Baked Bear brand Cookie Dough (code date 10/13/17, 10/15/17, 10/21/17).

------------------------------

November 11, 2016 – Boulder, CO - Free2b Foods of Boulder, CO is recalling its chocolate Sun Cups for three specific Sell By dates, because it may contain undeclared milk ingredients. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The recalled chocolate Sun Cups were distributed nationwide in retail stores.

Specifics on the recalled products are found below. UPC codes are printed on the back of packages and Sell By dates are stamped in black on the back of packages.

Product                           Name                     UPC Code          Sell By Dates

Chocolate Sun Cups Double cups in purple 895444001405 02 Aug 17,
04 Aug 17, and 07 Aug 17

Chocolate Sun Cups Single cups in purple   895444001443 02 Aug 17,
04 Aug 17, and 07 Aug 17

The issue was discovered as a result of a consumer communication. One reaction has been reported to the company to date. Subsequent investigation by the company indicates that this milk-containing product was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk.  This occurred during a transition the company recently made to remove dairy from its products and facility while moving from a top 7 Allergen-Free facility to a Top 8 Allergen-Free facility.  They are now a dedicated Top 8 Allergen-Free manufacturing facility.

If you have these Sun Cups and a milk allergy, do not consume them. Please photograph the package with UPC code, then dispose of them or return them to: Free2b Foods, 5305 Spine Road #E Boulder, CO 80301. Free2b Foods will reimburse or replace products with new chocolate Sun Cups.

For questions, please contact 844-610-5673 between 8am-10pm MST or email hey@free2bfoods.com.

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

-------------------

Cedar Crest Specialties, Inc. is recalling Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Monster Cookie and Pirate's Bounty ice cream flavors, bearing the following Product Name, Product Code Dates, and container sizes:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 3826, 3846, 4346, and 4326 Pints, 48 oz., and 3 gallon

Monster Cookie 3826 3 gallon

Pirate's Bounty 4346 48 oz.

Cedar Crest was notified on November 10 that the cookie dough in the above-referenced products, which is manufactured by Aspen Hills, Inc., has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that 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.

The affected products were distributed in retail stores throughout the Midwest. Cedar Crest Specialties is taking immediate steps to recall all affected products, as a voluntary, preventative safety measure.

Customers who have purchased Cedar Crest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Monster Cookie and/or Pirate's Bounty flavors, bearing the affected Product Code dates and container sizes, are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Questions may be directed to 1-888-628-0730, Monday-Friday between 8AM and 4PM Central Time.

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


Chicago, IL - Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae frozen desserts is voluntarily being recalled due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination from Aspen Hills, Inc. Cookie Dough Pieces. 

This issue was identified when Aspen Hills, the supplier of the cookie dough pieces used as an ingredient in Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae frozen desserts, reported positive test results for Listeria monocytogenes. We immediately began an investigation and are voluntarily taking this action as a precautionary measure.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that 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.

There have been no consumer complaints or reports of illness related to this issue to date.

The recall is for approximately 100,000 cases of Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae frozen desserts.

No other sizes, varieties or code dates of Weight Watchers Smart Ones products are included in this recall. (Click the Link for this article to see the full recall information.)

We deeply regret this situation and apologize to any consumers we have disappointed.

Consumers who purchased this product should not eat it. They should return it to the store where purchased for an exchange or full refund. Consumers can also contact 1-866-572-3805. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern, for a full refund.

This product was distributed to retailers in the U.S. only.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Rainbow Your Kitchen with Science!

Last year as part of a cookie swap, I got a gift from OXO in the form of this set of liquid measuring cups that look like beakers you could find a science lab. They stack up very nearly as you can see in this photo; I'll lay them out below as well for you to see. You can find your set of OXO Good Grips 7-Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set, Multicolored on Amazon and help support The Chocolate Cult when you do so! These were easy to unwrap and they store very easily in my cabinets. I've probably used these an average of three times every week for eight months so this article will reflect frequent and multiple uses not merely a couple of recipes worth of use. I received this in exchange for my participation the cookie swap; no other form of compensation was received from OXO and they had no idea I'd be making this one of our Winter Holidays posts this year.

The beakers are hard plastic that is easy to clean. They stack inside of each other and the rubber bottoms means I have never had one slip around on the countertop no matter how messy or wet I might get things from cooking and baking.  Below you can see how they lay out in a 'rainbow" pattern, too, which makes this a colorful gift that might also make a social or political statement. Yes, I know this isn't scientifically a rainbow, the blues aren't quite right.

Red = 1 cup, 8 oz, 250 ml.
Orange = 3/4 cup, 6 oz, 175 ml
Yellow = 1/2 cup, 4 oz, 125 ml
Green = 2 oz, 4 Tbsp, 60 ml
Aqua = 1 oz, 2 Tbsp, 30 ml
Blue = 1 Tbsp, 3 tsp, 15 ml
Purple = 1 tsp w/ quarter marks, 5 ml

Again if you'd like to buy a set of these delightful beakers and help support The Chocolate Cult, you can follow the link below and buy your own. They also make great gifts!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hearty Banana Nib Bread

Today, November 17th is "Homemade Bread Day" and if you live in either hemisphere it might be cool enough to think of making some bread. I love banana nut bread, I always have. However I live in a house with one man who is allergic to tree nuts and another who doesn't like nuts. The dislike thing I can deal with, if I'm the one shopping for the ingredients and making it, I'll make it as I like. The allergic thing is serious so I often end up making simply banana bread. That's okay but I want something heartier. So I came up with a recipe for Hearty Banana Nib Bread. Yup, you read that right, "nib," meaning that this uses cacao nibs to add a bit of nutty flavor but that isn't the end to this heartiness. Ingredients marked by * are those that companies sent to me in the past and have already been in their own featured articles.

Hearty Banana Nib Bread
by TammyJo Eckhart, PhD

Ingredients

4 very ripe bananas, peeled then cut into 1 inch pieces
3 T egg whites
1/2 C Vita Labs Cacao Nibs*
7 T Splenda Sugar Blend*
1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
1.5 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C old fashioned oats
1/2 T baking soda
1/2 T baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 T skim milk + 1/2 tsp lime juice

Instructions

1. Move the rack of your oven into the center position then preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or use no-stick spray on the inside bottom and edges of a standard size bread loaf pan.

2. Beat together banana pieces, sugar blend, applesauce, egg whites, vanilla extract, milk, and lime juice. The wet mixture will still be slightly lumpy from the bananas that do not need to be liquefied for the best texture of the best. I use a stand alone electric mixer but use whatever you have.


3. Blend in flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until all of the dry ingredient are wet and you cannot pick out any of them except the oat grains. Mix in the cacao nibs.


4. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan.

5. Place in the center of your oven for 52-60 minutes; mine only required 52 minutes. Check with a toothpick to make sure the bread is done; toothpick inserted into center of bread should come out dry.


6. Set loaf pan on its side on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Then dump bread out onto wire rack to finish cooling. In about an hour you should be able to cut the loaf into slices.


I cut this loaf into 12 slices then halved them so I had 24 slice. Each slice has 81 calories. If you use other ingredients such as cane or beet sugar and whole eggs, then you will have more calories.

So tell me. What homemade bread are you making today?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Older Chocolate Guide Checks Today's Players

As we count down to the holidays, I want so share some of the chocolate and chocolate-related gifts I've gotten over the years that you or another chocolate lover in your life might be interested in. I can't promise that all of these will be easy to find but I'll give you my opinion of them so you can decide if it is worth the search. If I've found it online and a link could also help out our site, I'll share said links with you. Remember when you leave comments, clink on links, or even just share our posts you are helping The Chocolate Cult expand and bring more variety of chocolate and related products to your attention.

Today I want to talk about The Chocolate Companion, a Simon and Schuster book from 1995, by Chantal Coady, I think, the author attributions were strange on this book and not easy to determine. The book has two main sections: The Story of Chocolate and The Chocolate Directory. Let's look at each of these sections briefly.



The Story of Chocolate includes good discussion of the history of chocolate, definitions of chocolate, types of chocolate, and trends in chocolate in 1995. I note that many of those trends -- organic, fine versus mass market chocolates, and types of popular fillings -- are still a part of the chocolate world discussion that I see among creators, sellers, and reviewers today.


The Chocolate Directory is divided into three parts: Small Artisans (46), Medium-Sized (12), and Commercial (22). The category depends on the amount of chocolate they produce each year. Each brand is listed alphabetically and coverage includes a brief history, a few photos, and descriptions of what makes each worthy of the title "World's Finest Chocolate." The author contacted brands and asked them to submit products so she could test them for the book, very similar to what we do here, and since she is in Europe it is not surprising that most of the brands covered are from Europe.

What I found most interesting about this was checking to see how many of the brands mentioned are still around today, 21 years later and how many we've looked at here on The Chocolate Cult. We have written about Richard Donnelly Fine Chocolates, Moonstruck Chocolatier which now can be found in grocery stories, Charbonnel et Walker, and Lindt and Sprungli. Some of the brands which are still around have expanded, moving from one of the categories from this older book into another, some have also expanded what they offer to include other items, and some have become international in their reach not only in where they'll ship chocolate but where their stores and kitchens are located. Some have gone out of business for various reasons. Always makes me sad to learn that chocolate isn't selling well if it is good chocolate and this book only has good chocolate.

This book was updated in 2006, I have that one as well, so if you'd like to check out a later edition, click below.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Stellar Chocolate & Comedy Murder Mystery

Some of you may remember a fun little book I reviewed here called Chocolate, Chocolate Moons. That same author is back with the further Martian adventures Molly Marbles on terraformed Mars in a book entitled Sherlock Mars. If this second book with the same protagonist is like the first this will be a comedy mystery, heavier on the comedy than the mystery with a lot of talk of food and a good science fiction foundation. This combination of genres may be a bit odd to some of you but genres can be crossed and blended if it is well done. I thought the first book about Molly Marbles was very well done. If any of these genres sound interesting to you, please keep reading and share with article with others. Author Jackie Kingon sent me a paperback copy if this book in exchange for a fair and honest review; this feature on The Chocolate is a bonus because we cover all things related to chocolate, and there is indeed still chocolate in this book.

The comedy in Sherlock Mars happens on all levels from the names of characters and locations to their misunderstandings about history and their dialogue. Some of the names are mildly amusing like Molly Marbles but others are laugh provoking such as police detective Sid Seedless. The historical misunderstandings make some sense given that the book is set in the 24th century but the comedy in these misunderstandings ranges from mildly amusing to a dark humor particularly in light of some events in our own world.

But the murder of a virtual restaurant owner, Rick Frances, and the investigation into his death isn't a laughing matter even if the the investigations are not on center stage. While I knew that the comedy and interactions of characters would take a backseat to the mystery, given that we see several times that Molly is known as a one who discovered the identity of the killer in the first book. This book's title comes from the fact that on a few occasions Molly is called "Sherlock Mars" because of what she did. However apparently she hasn't solved any new mysteries and it has been years so her fame seemed a bit strained to me when I read the book. I want a few more example of Molly's investigative skill before I believe she is that well known.

The science fiction elements of the book is good in terms of possibilities for solar system colonization if not up to hard science fiction standards. We have robots, androids, cybernetics, implanted personal computers, and other types of advanced technology. Yet the social environment is disappointing the same as our own. I do not recall a non-het relationship and body shaming is still very popular. To me, that was the biggest disappointment, that Molly has lost weight and that being skinny is still the range. Plus is she really eating all the food we see in this book and being thinner? Really? I wanted more of a difference between our society now and that on Mars but instead it is sadly familiar.

Food is still the focus of much of the book because Molly owns an upscale restaurant and the murder victim is a neighboring "restaurant" owner. Several of the suspects and witnesses are associated with restaurants in some way and one of Molly's daughters is planning a wedding so food is a topic repeatedly in those threads. Chocolate, of course, keeps coming up in desserts and even main dishes and drinks with the good old Chocolate, Chocolate Moons appearing several times.

If this book sounds like fun for you or a loved one, consider getting one for a holiday gift. If you do so with our link, you'll also be helping The Chocolate Cult.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Does Jif Kick Up Peanut Butter?

Through the Crowdtap program I had the opportunity to test out the new Jif Peanut Butter flavored with Cinnamon. Have you seen it in stores yet? Well, I tried it three ways and today I want to share my two recipes that used chocolate as well as the spread. First I tried it on toasted English Muffins and let my family test it out this way. The peanut butter has a good roasted flavor and isn't too sweet. Just to put that in context, I prefer natural peanut butter without artificial ingredients or too much added sugars. The cinnamon is a light scent and the heat and flavor of the cinnamon builds up with each bite and each chew. Everyone in my family liked it. Other than the 12oz jar of spread in exchange for a review, no other form of compensation was received.

Of course, this is The Chocolate Cult so I had to also see how this would work with chocolate. My first "recipe" is really simple. Take the toasted English Muffins and top with just one serving of the spread. I used one packet of the Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips we covered a few weeks back before Halloween and sprinkled them on the spread. This is important because the mini chips won't stick to the berries. The berrie are next. add a few blueberries to your taste but don't overload it or there won't be room for the strawberries. I halved my strawberries adding three halves as you can see in the photo. You could try other berrie too but I picked these for their slightly tart yet cool sweetness that could balance out the roasted peanut butter, the heat of the cinnamon and the intensity of the chips.



I made sure to hide the rest of the Jif because I wanted to try it in cocoa peanut butter cookies. I've made cookies like this before and here is the weird thing: these cookies, with the Jif Cinnamon Flavored Peanut Butter didn't taste like much of anything. It was as though the ingredients were too balanced and canceled each other out. I'm not sure what is to blame. When I've made peanut butter cookies in the past and substituted out some of the flour for baking cocoa and I can taste the cocoa, the butter, the sugar, and the peanut butter but that was not the case here. The peanut butter was an aftertaste only and the cinnamon didn't come through at all. I can't recommend this product for baking. I won't share this recipe with you because it was a failure but here is a photo of the cookies themselves.



So have you seen and used Jif's new Cinnamon Flavored Peanut Butter yet? What did you think of it?


Monday, November 7, 2016

Listeria & Eggs Cause More Chocolate Recalls, November 7, 2016

Well, darn it! We're starting off November with a Listeria recall as well as a missing ingredient recall. Frankly unless you have the allergy for the missing ingredient, I wouldn't worry too much about it personally but that has to be your choice. Remember I'm only sharing the ones related to chocolate so be on the lookout for others. And click on the links so you can get the full information to protect your families and yourself.

--------------------
7 McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams Recalled

Santa Barbara, CA - Out of an abundance of caution, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams is undertaking a voluntary recall of selected, 16 oz. (pint size) packages of ice cream produced by a contract manufacturer because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The seven affected flavors, available only in pints, accounts for approximately 15% of the pint-packaged ice cream products carrying the McConnell’s brand label. All of the recalled products were manufactured and packaged in a facility owned by a contract manufacturer, Dr. Bob’s of Upland, LLC. No other products were affected. Ice cream produced at McConnell’s Santa Barbara facility are not included in the recall. No illnesses have been reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found samples positive for Listeria monocytogenes in the contract manufacturer’s facility and in finished product of another company’s brand, leading the contract manufacturer to recall all ice cream products it produced for McConnell’s and other ice cream companies this year.

Because this recall affects only McConnell’s products manufactured by the contract manufacturer (sic) facility, it is important that consumers carefully check the following flavor/code date combinations to be certain the correct products are removed.

The following flavors and “Best By” code dates are being recalled:

Dutchman’s Chocolate JUL 27 2017, OCT 01 2017 and OCT 05 2017

Mint Chip SEP 08 2017, SEP 30 2017, OCT 07 2017, DEC 01, 2017, DEC 30, 2017, JAN 04, 2018, JAN 05, 2018

Peppermint Stick JUL 25, 2017, JUL 26, 2017, SEP 30, 2017

Salted Caramel Chip OCT 07, 2017, OCT 20, 2017, DEC 22, 2017, JAN 06, 2018, JAN 07, 2018
Sweet Cream JUL 27, 2017, SEP 08, 2017, OCT 01, 2017, OCT 21, 2017, DEC 08, 2017, DEC 21, 2017, DEC 24, 2017

Turkish Coffee JUL 28, 2017, SEP 22, 2017, OCT 07, 2017, Dec 06, 2017

Vanilla Bean JUL 13, 2017, JUL 25, 2017, JUL 27, 2017, OCT 01, 2017, OCT 15, 2017, DEC 07, 2017, DEC 25, 2017, JAN 03, 2018, JAN 06, 2018

The recalled ice cream was distributed in AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MS, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA and WI to retail stores.

The product comes in a 16-ounce (pint size) paper package marked with “Best By” lot numbers listed above and printed in black on the bottom of the carton.

Consumers who have purchased any of the seven 16-ounce (pint size) packages of McConnell’s ice cream should not eat these products and are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company recall hotline at 866-723-2454 between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm E.S.T., Monday through Friday. Customers may also contact McConnell’s by email at recall@mcconnells.com.

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Whole Foods Market Chocolate Croissants Recalled

I couldn't find a good image of these but I've include their logo just in case you are unfamiliar with it.

Rockville, Md. – Select Whole Foods Market stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington D.C. are voluntarily recalling batches of its Chocolate Croissants because the product contains eggs and the ingredient was not declared on product packaging. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to eggs run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

This recall only applies to Whole Foods Market’s stores in its Mid-Atlantic region, which include 51 stores located throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington D.C. The recalled products were made and packaged in-house in clear plastic containers in counts of six. Each product also had a white label on top of the package that included the product name “Chocolate Croissants 6pk,” UPC0248422008994 and sell-by dates on or before Nov. 5, 2016.

All affected product has already been removed from store shelves and no adverse reactions have been reported, to date.

Customers who have purchased this product can bring the item or receipt into the store for a full refund. Customers with additional questions can contact Mid-Atlantic Regional Support Office: 301-984-4874. Please check the Whole Foods Market website to find the location and hours of the store nearest to you.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Create a Silicone Work Surface in One Step

I've been testing various silicone baking mats and rolling surfaces for a while now. This summer, Velesco sent me the biggest silicone mat yet and I've decided it makes a great surface for all manner of dough making, some cookie making, and a lot of candy making. But there is also a very real reason why I tested this mat in as more of a kneading mat; It is simply too large to fit into my oven because it measures 23x15 inches! I want to share a few of the treats I've made using this product. But first, check out the size of this mat in this photo.  This Velesco Large Mat isn't that expensive either at less than $15 on Amazon! The I received this silicone mat for free in exchange for an honest review; no other form of compensation was received.

While the ecookbook I was testing out didn't work very well, this silicone mat made rolling out chocolate shortbread dough very easy. This dough made 32 thick, chocolate cookies so you may get an idea of how large this surface is by considering that!


Things do not stick to this matt, not even this caramel popcorn with Reese's Pieces and caramel sticks to everything!


The Velesco Large Mat  is big, far too big for my home oven but fact that I can use it to make products on a countertop makes it worth the space in my kitchen cabinet. Do you use silicone mats not just for baking for for countertop work, too?

Friday, November 4, 2016

5 Ways to Celebrate National Candy Day 2016

Today is National Candy Day which may seem ridiculous considering that it was just Halloween. But think again. You might have a lot of leftover candy so how could you celebrate today's fun food holiday without just stuffing your mouth with the remnants of the spooky season. I'm going to suggest five ways to celebrate this fun food holiday including a candy bar you may have seen in your local stores. I got one candy bar for free using my Kroger loyalty card; no other form of compensation was received for using it in today's article.

1. Try a candy you haven't tried before.

I tried this Snickers Crisper bar. I hadn't even seen it in store until it become a Friday Freebie at our local Kroger. It was good especially since it was free!

2. Make some Bark.

If you have chocolate, any variety, milk it, and then very quickly stir in tiny pieces of candy but don't let that candy melt. Then pour it out and let cool so you get a candy bar bark. Bark really is that simple to make. Just break it into pieces once it it thoroughly cooled, don't worry about pieces being equal, this is bark. If you don't put this in the refrigerator you could use semi-soft candies for it as well.

3. Doll up your brownies.

Make brownies as you normally would but after pouring half of the batter into your pan, stir in 1-2 broken up candy bars or a couple of dozen candy pieces and pour that batter on top. This will stop the candy from sinking entirely to the bottom of the baking pan. Be careful if you are considering hard or soft candies for this, they can be tough on your teeth so stick to to chocolatey candies you can break up or toss in.

4. Decorate, decorate, decorate!

Use candies to add some decoration to the top of cupcake, cakes, brownies, bars, and ice cream. This can be a kid friendly activity, too, if you pre-break up the candy bars or use candy that is already in small pieces. If you are thinking of decorating ice cream, consider the difficulty of chewing, it will only get worse when the candy gets cold.

5. Show you care.

Make up little gift bags or boxes of candy and hand them out to neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family today. Consider the likes, dislikes, and allergies of those you are going to give these out to please. You can use tiny plastic baggies, little boxes, netting closed with ribbon, almost anything can think of. Add a note saying who it is from (or not if you want to be anonymous) and that it is National Candy Day you hope they are celebrating.

Will you do any of these 5 things to celebrate National Candy Day today? Leave a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Oreo and Back To Nature Recalls

Only two to start off November but still I am always sad to have any chocolate related food recalls that I need to share with you all. Given the Halloween holiday and the approaching Chocolate Walk, this post is a bit late. As always, check our links, read the information, and check out the food in your house to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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I"ve tried this brand's products before. Personally I find them mixed in qualities but some of you may buy and use them regularly.

Back to Nature Issues a Product Recall and Allergy Alert for Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Mini Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Chocolate Granola Due to Undeclared Milk

Naples, FL – Back to Nature Foods, LLC is voluntarily recalling four (4) products because those products contain chocolate purchased from a third party supplier which was found to contain undeclared Milk that is not listed as an ingredient on the label.
Products affected are:  

Back to Nature Products UPC  Best By Date

Chocolate Delight Granola 
11oz 19898-01201 12/25/16 - 7/27/17


Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola 
11oz 19898-01225 5/9/17 - 8/14/17


Chocolate Chunk Cookies 
9.5oz 19898-01100 5/8/17 – 5/12/17


Mini Chocolate Chunk Cookies 
6 x 1.25oz 19898-01114 (Tray)
19898-01115 (Pouch) 5/1/17

Mini Chocolate Chunk Cookies 
100 x 1.25oz 19898-01148 (Case)
19898-01115 (Pouch) 5/1/17

Mini Chocolate Chunk Cookies
9 x 2.5oz 19898-01144 (Caddy)
19898-01143 (Pouch) 5/1/17

Persons who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

The affected Cookie and Granola products were distributed to retail stores nationwide. No other products or best by dates are affected.

Best by date codes can be found on the top of the bottom of the Granola packaging, the top of the Chocolate Chunk 9.5 oz carton, and on the back of the Mini Chocolate Chunk Tray or individual package.

Consumers who have purchased the Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Mini Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Chocolate Delight Granola, or Dark Chocolate Granola with the UPC numbers and dates noted, and have an allergy to milk, should destroy the product they have or are urged to return the product to the place of purchase for product replacement or refund.

Consumers with questions may call Back to Nature’s Consumer Relations Center at 844-275-5845. The center is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Consumers also may contact the center via e-mail by visiting the Contact Us page at Back to Nature Foods for a replacement coupon.

No other Back to Nature brand products are included in this recall.

This voluntary recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

The company has also reported the recall to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) and is placing a notification on the FAACT website.

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East Hanover, N.J. – Mondelez Global LLC announced today a nationwide voluntary recall in the United States, including the U.S. Territories of Puerto Rico, St. Croix and St. Thomas, of certain Oreo Fudge Cremes product, Original and Mint varieties, due to milk allergen not being declared in the ingredient list.

Mondelez Global LLC is taking this action out of an abundance of caution. Consumers may be informed about the potential presence of milk by an allergen advisory statement already included on the label (“Manufactured on equipment that processes milk....”). People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

The following product is being recalled:

Description Retail UPC Best When Used By Dates

Oreo Fudge Cremes, Original variety (11.3 oz package) 0 44000 02694 3
19 AUG 16
20 AUG 16
14 SEP 16
13 OCT 16
14 OCT 16
17 OCT 16
(see code date on bottom left corner on back of package)

Oreo Fudge Cremes, Mint variety (11.3 oz. package) 0 44000 02696 7 20 AUG 16
21 AUG 16
14 SEP 16
15 SEP 16
16 SEP 16
17 OCT 16
18 OCT 16 (see code date on bottom left corner on back of package)

This recall is limited exclusively to this Oreo Fudge Cremes product, Original and Mint varieties, sold in the U.S., including the U.S. Territories of Puerto Rico, St. Croix and St. Thomas, and no other products are included in this recall. To date, one report of an allergic reaction has been received related to the above-listed “Best When Used By” dates. This recall is a result of analysis conducted by the FDA related to this product.

Consumers who have this product should not eat it and should discard any products they may have. 

Consumers can contact the company at 1-855-535-5948, 24 hours a day to get more information about the recall, and Consumer Relations specialists are available Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.