The Chocolate Cult

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Your Connection for Ecuadorian Chocolate, Part 2

Now for part two of our series on Conexión Chocolate, a woman-owned company that is focused on bringing Ecuadorian chocolate to the world. We did all of the Conexión testing on the same afternoon over the course of two hours, but I've spaced them out to give this small brand more attention and all of you more time to discover them here. This time we looked at darker couvertures ranging from 64% to 70%. All were single origin allowing us to really experience the difference that soil and farming will have on chocolate. We were sent these samples from Conexión Chocolate in exchange for writing this article sharing our experiences; no other form of compensation was received.

We tackled the 64% dark chocolate couverture from Fortaleza first in this set of testing. I smelled some vanilla, but our Mocha Acolyte did not; she did taste the vanilla however. I let the first disc melt in my mouth and immediately got a vanilla flavor followed by the darker chocolate, and then a fruity edge. Mocha described a general sweetness; I think it has a light red berry essence in it, thus my fruity classification.  I don’t see vanilla though on any of the samples from Conexión, so I believe this is all differences based on soil and farming. This was our Mocha Acolyte’s favorite of this kit.

Next up is the Esmeraldas grown 70% dark chocolate. This might be a bit darker in color than the previous, but not enough to show up on my camera. It has a noticeably darker, bitter scent to it. However, when I let the first disc melt in my mouth, it was not bitter at first, just a soft earthiness, but that hid the increasing bitterness as you let it continue to melt. I also felt that the chocolate revealed a caramel-like tartness, but our Mocha thought it was a bit coffee like. At the end, I got that burst of red berry fruit again, but for Mocha, it was primarily bitter not sweet. This was my favorite of this group of four samples.

The second 70% dark chocolate we tested comes from the Los Rios region of Ecuador. I got a caramel scent from it as well as the dark chocolate; Mocha couldn’t smell anything this time. She thought it had a waxiness to the flavor and texture and it was almost too bitter for her. I also found the texture waxy and the disc was more flexible as it melted on my tongue. The flavor, too, was a little off, though I did like the bitterness, with a more intense fruity edge than the previous sample. Was this damaged in some fashion when made that would explain the color and the waxy nature? (Come back in January to see another sample from the Los Rios region to get a possible answer to this question.)

The final 70% dark chocolate for this session is from the Manabi region. This had the strongest fragrance of the bunch, a clearly darker chocolate scent even though it should have been identical. When I let a disc melt on my tongue I got the darker, slightly bitter chocolate first, then it turned into that sweeter, reddish berry essence, but the dark chocolate never faded. Mocha didn’t get any sweetness at all, only the bitter, slightly woody darkness when she tested it. Surprisingly, we both liked it, it was our secondary favorite of this foursome.

These were enjoyable on their own but could also work well for dipping any treat into. Later when I melted the Los Rios couverture and mixed it in with other foods, the waxiness disappeared. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Chocolate Recalls for November 20, 2022

Here we go with more chocolate related recalls to share with you all. Remember that if you live in the USA, follow the links to get the complete information. If you live elsewhere, check with your own country's food and beverage safety agencies to get you and your loved ones healthy while you enjoy chocolate.

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

Big Sky Bread Granola Recall

Big Sky Bread Company of Urbandale, IA is recalling their Big Sky Chocolate Chunk Granola and Big Sky Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Chip Granola because it may contain undeclared milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The Big Sky Chocolate Chunk Granola and Big Sky Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Chip Granola was distributed in Iowa through retail stores and direct delivery. All Big Sky Chocolate Chunk Granola and Big Sky Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Chip Granola in 14 oz packages that was distributed through 11/07/2022 fall under this recall.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered during a routine inspection that a product containing milk was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk.

Consumers who have purchased Big Sky Chocolate Chunk Granola or Big Sky Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Chip Granola are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or it may be returned to Big Sky Bread Company at 7021 Douglas Ave in Urbandale for a refund or product replacement. Consumers with questions may contact Big Sky Bread Company directly at 515-276-1800. We can be reached Monday-Friday between 7am-2pm CST.


Fudgeamentals Chocolate Fudge Bites Recall

Fudgeamentals of Melville, New York has voluntarily recalled one lot of Chocolate Fudge Bites packaged in 8 oz. plastic containers. The Chocolate Fudge Bites products may contain Chocolate Walnut Fudge Bites products instead, resulting in the presence of undeclared tree nut (walnut) ingredient. The issue was discovered after one of the store employees discovered Chocolate Walnut Fudge Bites were incorrectly labeled as Chocolate Fudge Bites.

Consumers who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to tree nuts (walnuts), run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions if they consume these products and are urged not to consume this item.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

These products were distributed through Fareway retail stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The product comes in a clear plastic container labeled Chocolate Fudge Bites, marked with lot #22301015 and UPC code 840235800392. The UPC code can be found on the back or bottom side of the product just below the barcode. The lot number can be found printed directly on the side of the package.

Consumers allergic to walnuts or who have purchased 8 oz package of Chocolate Fudge Bites, marked with lot #22301015 and UPC code 840235800392 are urged to discard the product or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers who have questions or would like to report adverse reactions should contact Fudgeamentals at 631-729-1408 or email Fudgeamentals hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9 AM to 6 PM (Eastern Time). 

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Can this Kinder Advent Calendar Bring Joy?

Christmas is over a month away, but I felt I needed to get this advent calendar article out soon so you all can make a decision about whether or not this is something you'd want to buy for a loved on or yourself. Never underestimate giving yourself joy during your holiday season, folks. Self Care isn't selfish, it is necessary! Today I'll share my experiences with the Kinder Holiday Mix Countdown Calendar which you might consider as a gift for December 1st if you celebrate Christmas. I also made a teaser video about this calendar so you can see how easy or difficult it was to open the doors to find the treats inside. These are candy because the first ingredient is sugar but cocoa butter, cocoa mass, and cocoa powder are part of each treat so that's why were are looking it on The Chocolate Cult. I received this product for free via the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review on their website; this article is an unexpected bonus and no other form of compensation was received for it.

Hopefully you checked out the video. The calendar has a flat bottom so it can set on a surface but it has no way to directly hang it up. Holding it, it was a bit challenging to push in one tab on each door and then lift the door upright. Once I set it flat on a table, I could see the tab better and the doors lifted more easily. The doors are clearly numbered 1 to 24 and are different sizes though along the bottom all the doors had the same treat. Most of the treats were space out well except for one type which I'll mention when I reveal that treat. There are six types of Kinder treats but they were not included in equal amounts as you can see in the photo to the right.  For a few treats there was  good reason to include fewer because of the size of the candy. Let's get to those treats and look at them in depth, going from left to right as you see in the photo.

Kinder Mini Buenos
We start with the Kinder Bueno Mini. There were four of these included in the calendar.  The wrappers have some different characters on them, my calendar had squirrel, nutcracker soldier, and polar bear. The candy has a strong sweet fragrance with a hint of hazelnut and chocolate from the milk chocolate coating and the darker drizzle. It has a crunchy outer shell under the coating that stays crunch with each bite. The dominant flavors are hazelnut cream and sweetness with only hints of the chocolate. Make sure you are creamy chocolate and hazelnut lover to enjoy these. They only have 30 calories a piece and would happily eat more of them.

Kinder Mini Eggs
Next were the Kinder Mini Eggs, but don't expect toys in these seven candies because they are tiny. These 28 calorie a piece treats are all wrapped identically in green. Inside the soft milk chocolate shell is a white cream with a tiny hint of crunch. This tastes like cream, sweet milk chocolate that turns into that sweet creaminess of the center. This isn't my favorite Kinder treat in the calendar, but it is fine and I suspect many of you who prefer sweeter candy will be happy with them.

Kinder Happys
There are only two of the Kinder Chocolate Happy, a candy I had never heard of before this calendar. These are 50 calories a piece, the second most caloric heavy treat but don't worry because you are spreading these out over 24 days (I hope). My calendar had two different wrapper designs -- gold with an elf (which I ate for this article) and green with a nutcracker. This isn't a half-egg shape, more like 1/8th of one side in terms of the thickness of the candy. As you can see it hsa Kinder Happy written on the top. This had a strong hazelnut and milk chocolate fragrance to it. It was soft and easy to bite into, it made no sound. The white cream inside was surprising lacking in hazelnut flavor and its sweetness quickly overcome the chocolate outside. I'm not a big fan of this treat and now I'm glad there were only two in my calendar (I don't plan to eat the other, either.)

Kinder Minis
Seven Kinder Mini treats were included, too, making them an even match with the mini eggs. The wrappers had different characters on them including Santa Claus, Reindeer, Elf, and Snowman. This looks much like a smaller, shorter version of the Kinder bar you may have seen. This smells much like the Chocolate Happy and has a similar flavor and texture, but with a odd sour aftertaste that shocked me. At 34 calories a piece, it wasn't bad for me to try it out for all of you, but I won't be eating more of these.

Kinder Happy Hippos
Another new to me candy were the three Kinder Happy Hippo. This made me think of the silly song, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. Yes, these were larger and did require a larger door, but two of them were only two days apart. Given that we have six treat types, I feel they should have been better spaced out. This is truly something that gives you joy just looking at it, doesn't it? The hippo mouth and head are clear, perhaps that is her upper shoulder sticking out, too. The crumbling sides and most of the bottom are darker and lighter pieces that remind me with either jimmies or crumbled cookies; they are crunchy and drier like cookies. I bite into it and am surprised that the entire thing is a thin cookie crust that continues to make a loud noise with each chew. Inside is a two-layer cream of chocolate on top and vanilla on the bottom. This is fun to eat but it is messy so get out a plate or bowl when you take this from the calendar. This is the most chocolate intensity of the candies so far and I must say I may keep the other two for myself.  At 50 calories each this is not a bad indulgence at all.

Kinder Card
Finally, on December 24th you'll find the Kinder Card, the largest of the candies. It makes perfect sense for the largest to happen on the last day. This is two crisp wafer cookies with a dark and light side; I've flipped one over in the photo to show you. I was expecting a holiday style card, but my hubby suggested these were more like credit cards. What do you think? Anyway, these had no fragrance really at all beyond some general wheat that you would get from any type of wafer cookie. They were crunchy for a few bites and then dissolved in my mouth quickly. Between the wafers were two thin layer of the cream from the Happy Hippo, but they are so thin here, that I got more sweetness than chocolate. For 65 calories a cookie, I want stronger chocolate in my treats.

The treats in this candy calendar come from different European countries: Poland, Italy, Belgium, and Germany, but they should be using the brand's recipes, so the differences in flavors must be differences in the candy styles themselves. I prefered the Happy Hippo and the Bueno Mini best of all. If this Kinder Holiday Mix Countdown Calendar sounds like an activity and treats that you or your kids might enjoy, you fight it using any of our links. Remember that we are an Amazon Affiliate so we do get a tiny amount of money when follow those links and if you buy.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Chocolate Recalls for November 13, 2022

More chocolate related recalls to share with you all. 

Please follow the links for more information if you live in the USA.

If you live in another country, please consult your local food and beverage safety agencies to protect you and your loved ones.

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

Nestlé Cookie Dough Recall

ARLINGTON, VA., November 3, 2022 — Nestlé USA is initiating a voluntary recall of a limited quantity of Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough tubs from NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® due to the potential presence of soft plastic film.

This voluntary recall is isolated to three batches of Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough tubs from NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® that were produced August 1-3, 2022. These products were distributed to retailers nationwide. This recall does not involve any other NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® products, including other varieties of Edible cookie dough or Ready-to-Bake cookie dough.

Batch Codes:                        Corresponding Best By Dates:

22135554RR                            1/28/2023

22145554RR                            1/29/2023

22155554RR                            1/30/2023

While no illnesses or injuries have been reported, we took action out of an abundance of caution after a small number of consumers contacted Nestlé USA about this issue.

Consumers who may have purchased these three batch codes (22135554RR, 22145554RR, 22155554RR) of Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough tubs from NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® should not consume the product and should return the product to the retailer where it was purchased for a replacement or refund. For any further support needed, please contact Nestlé USA at (800) 681-1678 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. EST.

Nestlé recently initiated a separate and unrelated recall for NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with Fudge Filling. Following each instance, we took immediate action to address the specific issue. We work closely with our suppliers and factory teams to ensure that our products are safe and meet the expectations of our consumers.

We are working with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on this voluntary recall and will cooperate with them fully.

The quality, safety and integrity of our products remain our number one priority. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this action represents to both our consumers and retail customers.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Will this Egg bring Joy to Any Occasion?

Sometimes I get products to test that have a specific them or occasion in mind. For example, these Kinder Joy eggs are marketed as birthday favors; the box is even designed for you to write the birthday person's name on it and then for folks to grab a favor as they leave. If a product includes that theme in their packaging you may be stuck with using it only for those occasions. In this case, the treats themselves are not marked as anything other than "Kinder Joy" and therefore could be used in multiple ways. Before I reveal them to you and share my ideas on how you could use these, let's get the legal out of the way. I was sent this free box via the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review there; no other form of compensation was received. This review is a bonus.

Inside as you can see are the Kinder Joy eggs which have no "birthday" words or symbols on them at all. This means that you could use these for other occasions such as Easter (they are egg shaped), stocking stuffers, Hanukkah gifts, and basically any other holiday you might give someone a gift that includes candy and a small toy.

The Kinder Joy egg has two sides. One has the toy (under the white plastic which also includes a weird shaped spoon) while the other has the treat (under the gold plastic. This is a lot of plastic all to meet USA standards which require any edible to separate any toy element because I guess some folks can't teach their kids not to eat toys? Kinder in Europe has no problem with the toy inside the candy.

The toys come in pieces as this photo shows. You have to put it together and the directions weren't the greatest. I understand that this product is geared toward four-year olds and above so they are mostly in pictures and not words, but given the size of the pieces and the requirement to follow directions, I'd think these were more appropriate for kids in first or second grade (or anyone older who likes kiddie stuff, too).

What does that treat side taste like? It has some vanilla chocolate cream, some milk chocolate cream, and the crunchy malted chocolate balls. Depending on how you eat them, you can isolate the balls or include them. The flavors are well balanced but this is quite sweet so definitely candy instead of chocolate. Great taste for kids and adults both plus the texture variations were interesting.

Out of 15 eggs, we only got 7 different toys. Given that there are supposed to be "over 100" different toys that you can get, this was disappointing. Every toy required be put together and the direction were image based. You kiddo may need help and I wouldn't give these to anyone below second grade because of the small pieces and sometimes complicated construction. All of them included information about the APPLAYDU program that Kinder has now. Below you'll see the seven designs we found in the entire book.

Kinder Joy Toys 2022

If this all seems like something your family or friends would like, and if you can it this box at a price that is less than the cost of just buying individual Kinder Joy eggs (which I now see in the change aisles where I shop) this could be a good way to stock for an event you are celebrating soon.

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