Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The State of Cocoa Piracy in 2018

Back in 2009, we had an article about cocoa piracy and smuggling and how it affects cocoa production and chocolate sales. Today, partly in honor of "Talk Like a Pirate Day," we are going to revisit that topic to see if anything has changed.

Piracy and smuggling can arise during political crisis when governmental forces are engaged in battles and simply can't be everywhere at once. Smuggling and piracy can also arise when economic conditions deteriorate leaving large numbers of people struggling to make ends meet. Of course stealing and engaging in illegal commerce is common in most places and times, but what is chosen for this illicit trade changes. Cocoa has been part of pirate trade for centuries. So what is the state of cocoa smuggling in 2018.

Did you know there has been an ongoing civil conflict in Cameroon? Since November 2016, there has been a battle between English and French speakers in the African nation and it has impacted cocoa production. Major cocoa companies and plantations have left the region and their cocoa pods fell into the hands of pirates or just plain smugglers.

Around 100,000 metric tons of cocoa were smuggled from Ivory Coast during the 2017-2018 harvest season. These were sold for a higher price in Ghana so it makes sense that people want to steal them however, Not only is smuggling an issue, but a banking crisis in the Ivory Coast is threatened farmers who may lose plantations or turn to smuggling to find money.

As we talked about in our 2009 article, legitimate chocolate makers won't buy cacao that they can't track back to the farms. While the smugglers might get an immediate financial gain when they find an illegal buyers, most of us won't see products made from those beans. Instead the overall cost of beans goes up as the supply decreases meaning that either pay more or get less chocolate for our money. Smuggling and pirates travel across ecosystems, dragging contaminates from one area into others. Any cross contamination between cocoa farming regions, even across plantations, can introduce insects and diseases that endanger cacao production. Reduced yield obviously increase prices for everyone along the chain of cocoa trade.

Cocoa piracy is still a thing today and yes, it does affect your prices when you buy chocolate. Probably not as much weather does but still, it is a factor.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sweet Dough Chocolatey Recipes #1

Sweet and Cinnamon Chocolatey Sweet Dough Bread
The last feature on Rhodes BakeNServ frozen products will be split into three articles -- one for each creation I made using one of the three loaves in the Sweet Dough bag. Of course, this is The Chocolate Cult so each recipe has chocolate but what type and how I used it changed each time. The degree of each recipes success varied but the dough always worked well. The most challenging part of testing out these Rhodes products was that my area simply does not carry very many of their dozens and dozens of items. I got this on the way back from visiting my parents out in Iowa. I used to cooler of ice to transport each one and none were damaged. I find a way on The Chocolate Cult! Any ingredients I used for this recipe which I got from free from a brand I will mark with *; otherwise all ingredients were ones I had on hand. I got the bag of Sweet Dough using a coupon for a free product that was sent to my by Rhodes BakeNServ in exchange for testing out their products and sharing the results with all of you; no other form of compensation was received.

Sweet and Cinnamon Chocolatey Sweet Dough Bread
By: TammyJo Eckhart, PhD


1 loaf of Rhodes BakeNServ Sweet Dough*
non-stick spray
8 oz fat free cream cheese
1 T calorie free sugar substitute
ground cinnamon to taste
Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


1. Spray a large baking pan with non-stick spray and lay one frozen loaf of dough. Cover both dough and pan with plastic and let thaw for 2-4 hours until no longer frozen.

Rhodes BakeNServ Sweet Dough Loaf
2. Lay down a silicone mat or use whatever surface you use to roll out dough.

3. Place the thawed dough on the surface and roll out into a large rectangle that is fairly thin but cannot be seen through. Let rest for 20 minutes.

4. While dough is resting, mix up cream cheese with the sugar until smooth.

5. After dough has rested, spread the cream cheese mixture over it as evenly as you can.

6. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the cream cheese using as much or as little to your taste.

7. Measure out 172 grams of the chocolate chips, about half a bag. Sprinkle these over the dough and cream cheese, trying to spread the chips out evenly.

8. Roll the dough over along the long side so you end up with a long cylinder.

9. Fold the cylinder in half and then half again. Now roll it until you have a thick cylinder of dough. The chips may peek through.

10. Return the dough to the pan and cover both with the plastic again. Let rise for 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

11. Remove the plastic wrap and place the pan with the dough in the center of the pre-heated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly brown.

12. Cool completely (or until cool to the touch) and then slice into 9 pieces to eat. Each slice will be approximately 233 calories.


Is this a recipe you think you might give a try? 

Friday, September 14, 2018

What is Your Favorite Donut Place?

Today is three fun food holidays.

The first, is in honor of the appearance of Pop Tarts, an American vice that my own hubby adores as you can see from our collection of flavors. In 1964, these breakfast foods (or junk food depending on your opinion) became available to buy.

The second is National Cream Filled Donut Day!

The third is National Bakery Day!

Nice how those two fun food holiday connect, huh?

My favorite local bakery wasn't big into donuts and then it closed so I need advice from all of you.

What is your favorite local bakery where you can buy cream filled donuts?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

2018 Halloween Treat Challenge

Can your Halloween creations stand up to the previous winners? Contact us if you think so because we have slots left in our 10th challenge.

The winner gets 31 days free advertising on this blog, read by folks around the world.

If you know a chocolate or candy maker you think is up to the challenge, share this message with them please!

2009 -- Taraluna

2010 -- Sjaak's

2011 -- Cocoa Dolce

2012 -- Oliver Kita

2013 -- Magic Choc

2014 -- 240 Sweet

2015 -- Seattle Chocolates

2016 -- UNREAL

2017 -- Brownie Brittle

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