The Chocolate Cult

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Brownie Test Alternative Sweetener #1

 Baking in July 2020, I was sent this small bag of Pereg Zero Calorie Sweetener from the Amazon Vine program for me to test and then review on their site. Using the same recipe as shown on the earlier announcement about this brownie baking series, I changed out cane sugar for this Erythritol sweetener. Other than the free 14 ounce bag of this brand's sugar substitute, no other form of compensation was received in exchange for my sharing my honest opinions based upon my use of the product and the final results. This article on The Chocolate Cult is an expected bonus for that brand.


The bag is very small for the price of it; on October 14, 2020, it is 63¢ an ounce. This wasn't quite enough for the recipe so I had to use 1/3 cup of another product of the same chemical make up that I've reviewed in the past. Unlike every other zero calorie sweetener I've test for this blog, this one required more of the product in comparison to plain cane sugar -- 1 1/3 cups of Pereg for each cup of sugar. That's kind crazy and I confess that I am worried about what this product will make the brownie like, feel, and taste like.

As I mixed the recipe in the same order and the same way as before, I noticed that the Pereg product was grainier in texture and made a firmer, stickier batter. I could still spread it in the pan that I baked it in, but it didn't pour out as easier as the brownies made with cane sugar and all purpose flour did.

As you can see in the photo above, the resulting brownies were darker around the edges, harder, and denser. There was also a lot of bubbles over the top. Depending on how dark or burnt the outside edges are, we may need to toss those because I'm not feeding my family burnt brownies even if the overall number of fewer calories in the entire pan is 1546 compared to those made with cane sugar. I did not like these at all! They were so sweet that I couldn't taste the cocoa and that makes brownies worthless to me.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Did the Franken Ruin Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

 Since no one is entering our 2020 Halloween Treat Challenge (the first time this has happened since we began in 2009), I wanted to do product review that was Halloween themed for you all. I also want to know if you have tried the new Reese's Franken-Cup and what you thought about them.

The first thing to note is that I compared with with the King Size of regular Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The Franken-Cup has .4 ounces less candy inside the sleeve which helps explain why the this new Halloween version has 15 calories less per cup.

Here we see the size difference a bit of the color.


Next we see the size difference when I cut them in half but the color is more challenging to see.


The bottom 2/3 of the Franken-Cups are light green color. I think this is a reference to Frankenstein's monster from the book but mostly from the various movie and television versions based on the novel by Mary Shelley.

How do the Halloween variety compare to the regular? Let's find out.

There is a bit of food dye scent on the bottom of the Franken-cup but the top has the same peanut butter and waxy milk chocolate scent as the regular one. The regular one has a strong peanut butter flavor that almost overwhelms the chocolatey flavor. The Franken-Cup has a touch of some other flavor that is more creamy; the chocolatey and peanut butter flavor is about the same. Looking at the ingredients list, the Franken-Cup has a lot more of them; the print size and width is the same but there are three more lines of added ingredients including several types of added oils and diary related ones.

I was hoping these would be awesome but I'm not impressed. I want the dark chocolate versions of Pumpkins and Bats instead!

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Brownie Baking Test

 For some reason, throughout this 2020 pandemic summer, I was sent alternative flours and sweeteners to test. In what? I wasn't baking when it was humid and hot! I stored up those ingredients and now as it is cooling off I'm going to start baking and testing them. While I was sent the various ingredients I'm be using to conduct this series of browning baking articles, I was not given any money or other form of compensation for sharing my honest opinions based on my experience with those ingredients.

To do so, I'm going to use a recipe I've loved in the past from this cookbook which I got back in 1993. The recipe is "HERSHEY'S Best Brownies" (page 79) and it uses Hershey's cocoa powder which I have plenty of on hand. I also have plenty of margarine (in this case because it is less expensive than butter) and all the other ingredients like egg whites, salt, baking powder, flours, and sugars.


First I made the brownies as directed using my regular sugar and flour. These are the results. The brownie had a slightly crispy top, a reddish tinge to it, and was about 1 inch thick. It tasted sweet and buttery with a clear cocoa flavor as well. It did not dry out the mouth when you tried it. Even my family member who isn't a fan of cocoa powder, liked this. Why not, it is mostly sugar and eggs, right?


Next I tried several different types of flours and sweetners that I'd been sent. Each time I only substituted a single gredient out. I'll post about the results later on.

Who is eager to learn more about how flour and sweetener affect brownies?

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