The Chocolate Cult

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Chocolate Related Recalls for January 17, 2021

 Remember that we only publish the chocolate related recalls on Sundays. This time around, I read about these as far back as last Monday. Keep your eyes open!

---------- Chocolate Related Recalls ----------

Weis Ice Cream Recall

Weis Markets today said it has issued a recall for:

10,869 containers of Weis Quality Cookies and Cream Ice Cream (48 oz.), and 502 bulk containers of Klein’s Vanilla Dairy Ice Cream (3 gallon)

because the products may be contaminated with extraneous material, specifically metal filling equipment parts. There has been one report of a customer who discovered an intact piece of metal equipment in the Weis Quality Cookies and Cream Ice Cream (48 oz). There is concern of an additional piece of equipment present in the ice cream product(s) possibly presenting a choking hazard.

The Weis Quality Cookies and Cream Ice Cream (in 48 oz. containers) product has been removed from sale. It was sold in 197 Weis Markets’ stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and West Virginia.

The Weis Quality Cookies and Cream ice cream is packaged in a scround 48- ounce container with a UPC of 041497-01253 and with a sell by date of 10/28/21. This was produced on 10/28/2020 and released for sale on 10/29/2020. The sell by date is located on the bottom of the container. An example of the label has been included with this release. Customers who have purchased this product may return it for a full refund.

Weis Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

The Klein’s Vanilla bulk ice cream is packaged in 3-gallon containers with a code stamp of 0302 and are not for retail sale. This product was sold to one retail establishment in New York and has been removed from sale.

Additional ice cream products packaged on 10/28/2020 included:

Klein’s Cookies and Cream Dairy Bulk – 665 containers, and

Nelson’s Graham Slam Bulk – 286 containers

These items are packaged in 3-gallon bulk containers with a code stamp of 0302 and are not for retail sale. They were stored in a warehouse and have not been distributed.

Customers requiring additional information may contact Weis Customer Service at 1-866-999-9347 Monday through Friday 8am-5pm EST.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

What is Pongo?

Pongo Jar

The quick answer is that it is a new type of chocolate hazelnut spread made by Feather Foods. The jar's label claims it has 77% less sugar, 3X more protein, and no palm oil... than what? That's part of what I'm going to try and decipher in today's feature article. Let's get the legal stuff out of the way. I was sent a free jar of this product via the Amazon Vine program to test and write a review on their website; no other form of compensation was received in exchange for my honest review. The article on The Chocolate Cult is an unexpected bonus for the brand.

When you think cocoa or chocolate hazelnut spread, what is the first brand you think of? Nutella, right? So let's compare the claims on the jar to that brand. 

Nutella has 7 ingredients; Pongo has 10.

Nutella has palm oil; Pong has sunflower oil and cocoa butter. (That's one ingredient from our scared fruit.)

Nutella has 20g of sugars; Pongo has 5g sugars but also 10g sugar alcohol in the form of maltitol. 

Nutella has 2g of protein; Pongo has 7g protein which includes whey protein concentrate

Both have cocoa powder, giving Pongo twice as many chocolate related ingredients as Nutella.

However, Pongo has 1g more of total fat than Nutella and 10mg cholesterol while Nutella has none. Pongo has 20 fewer calories per serving and the serving size is the same. 

You probably make your choice of what to buy and eat also on using the product not just the label, right?

Pongo Opened

Pongo is thinner which I think you can see in the photo above. The waxy paper under the lid was a pain to remove. It didn't have good sized tabs to pull, it broke into several parts, and it was covered with the product that got all over my fingers. That gave me a taste of the product itself. It has a definite maltitol flavor to it but also a strong hazelnut taste that quickly was conquered by a dark chocolate essence. If you don't like maltitol or cannot use it, stay away from this product because it is the first ingredient on the list and that flavor lingers.

Pongo on Toast

I used it on toast and found it a challenge to spread. First, I had to stir it as is common with natural nut spreads even though this is not what I'd call as natural or simple as Nutella. Second, the product was still thin and dripped from the knife so it was a bit messy to apply to the toast. Measuring out the serving would be a bit of  challenge because of the dripping. It tasted the same on the toast as by itself. The thinness would make this a good dipping choice if you had fruits, cookies, or marshmallows and might make it a good ingredient for candy or cookie making, just look up how the maltitol may affect temperature and time for such creations.

I will certainly finish this jar but this probably not a product I'd go out of my way to buy given the added ingredients. I'm more of a purist in terms of my chocolate hazelnut spreads.

What about you? Would you try this product?

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Brownie Test Alternative Sweetener #5

 In our 5th and at this point final alternative sweetener testing using a basic brownie recipe from an old Hershey's cookbook of mine, we turn to a company that I've been pleased by in the past: King Arthur Baking Company. The Baking Sugar Alternative boasts 0 net-carbs and 0 calories per serving on the front of the bag and in the nutrition facts on the back. I received four 12 oz bags of this product for free to test and review on Amazon via the Amazon Vine program; this article is a bonus and no other form of compensation was received in exchange for me sharing my honest experiences with the product.

King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative

This product has a fluffy texture to it; a cloud like residue was left behind on the measuring cups and in the air as I added it to the melted butter. I am very grateful that the bag includes specific information on how to use it. You sub it for cane sugar 1:1 but that is by measuring volume not by weight. You only bake it at 350°F max and only for 0.75 percent of the normal bake time; this is my biggest concern because these brownies include four eggs and I want them cooked plus I want the brownies to have time to rise and thoroughly bake. These instructions are something that every alternative sweetener or flour or other ingredients needs to include.

Let's remember what the basic Hershey's brownie looked like.

Basic Hershey's Brownie

Remember my biggest concern was the baking time of only 0.75 of the recipe. Let's look at how this 5th type of alternative sweetener and that reduced baking time affected the brownies. In some parts of the surface there were a couple of pale bubbles but not as much as other alternative sweeteners that I've tried in this series of testing and posting. It turned out a touch shorter than the basic one, too.

King Arthur Alt Baking Sugar Brownie

Beyond the look, taste, scent, and texture are of utmost importance for brownies. They had a good cocoa fragrance. This is more on the thick cakeside instead of fudgy brownie. The cocoa and the sweetness came out balanced; as the bag promised now aftertaste. 

Of the five sugar alternatives that I've tested in 2020 and now 2021 with the same brownie recipe, King Arthur is the winner. When I look at the ingredients, I can see why that might be the case. Unlike with the others, where 1-3 ingredients are listed, this is a lot of different sugar substitutes that are blended together. This may allow for the best of all of their qualities without the horrible aftertastes or easy burning that many have. Good job, King Arthur!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Chocolate Recalls to Welcome 2021

Learning about recalls of chocolate products is never something that I like to do, but if it helps keep readers safer, I'll keep doing it. As always, these are from the FDA in the USA so if you are a reader in another country, please check your local food safety agencies to protect yourself and your family.

---------- Chocolate Recalls ----------

French Silk Pie Recall

Legendary Baking of Chaska, MN is voluntarily recalling a single lot of item number 7545 - French Silk Pie. This product is being recalled due to a potential undeclared pecan allergen. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to pecans run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product. Caramel Pecan Silk Supreme pies may have been packaged in containers that otherwise identify the product as French Silk Pie and did not reveal the presence of pecans.

NO OTHER LOT CODES OR PRODUCTS ARE IMPACTED. There has been no illness reported to date.

Currently there are 330 pies or less than 14% of the lot unaccounted for at this time that were delivered to certain Village Inn restaurants in the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. Pies were sold either whole through a retail case located within the restaurants or in slices. All the potentially affected restaurants who may have received the pies at issue have been notified. The potentially affected product can be identified as follows:

Only this specific lot code is impacted. Customers are asked to remove or discard all product with the lot code listed above immediately. If customers are uncertain of the lot code, please discard product and do not consume. Customers may call 1-877-394-4147 for additional information or assistance (available Monday through Friday 7am - 7pm CST).

Friday, January 1, 2021

Best Chocolate of 2020

Best Chocolate We Tested in 2020

At the end of the year, we look back at all of the products we have been honored to test out and write about here on The Chocolate Cult. It is from that group that we name our "Best of."

Previous Best of the Year on The Chocolate Cult:

The MilkShake Factory (2019)

Hedonist Chocolate (2018)

Ococoa (2017)

Equal Exchange (2016)
Chocion (2015)

Michel Cluizel (2014)

Askinosie Chocolate (2013)

TCHO (2012)

American Heritage Chocolate (2011)

Guittard (2010)

Theo Chocolate (2009)

These are the brands, companies, and individual creators who sent us their products to test out and review for you all in 2020. Those marked with a * are in the running for "Best Chocolate of 2020" on The Chocolate Cult blog. Before the list, I want to say that I was disappointed by 2020 in terms of this blog. You would think that as people were turning to order online more and more, that brands would turn to blogs to get the word out about their products. That wasn't the case. For the first time since this blog was created in 2009, we did not have a Halloween Treat Challenge winner. Picking from the slim number of products that qualified was a bit sad to do, but we did pick our best of 2020 nonetheless. You'll see that announcement below.

Land O Lakes

Petit Collage

Suzanne Nelson

Sara McGlothlin

*Fannie May

PB & Me Powdered Peanut Butter

Mr. Food Test Kitchen

Scholastic, Inc.

Rockridge Press



Charity Mathews

Linda Larsen

Kelly Mikolich

*Sanders' Fine Chocolates

Candace Braun Davison



*no cow

*Bolt's Red Mill

* Toblerone





*MCM Nutrition

Sara Mella

Cuddles and Rage

*Dallmann Fine Chocolates/Confections






*Flavor Seed


Jesseca Hallows


*Good Day Chocolate

Now for the Best Chocolate we had in 2020: 

Fanny May (2020)

To be blunt, for the over all consistency of their chocolate as well as the variety we were sent, Fanny May  was the choice this year. Other chocolate makers has fancier products and more variety but the testing results were more haphazard for the few assistants that I could get samples to this year.

I don't know what 2021 will hold for The Chocolate Cult. We have done our best to maintain this blog and to adhere to standards for the products we test and write about. I hope that brands will come back. 

If you find this blog useful at all, please leave comments so that brands can see that this is a blog that offers service that other foodie blogs do not. We test and we write about products with full sensory descriptions so that you the reader can make a wise choice of where to spend your money.

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