The Chocolate Cult

Friday, January 24, 2020

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Today is National Peanut Butter Day so in honor of that I worked on a new recipe that I could make with this PB & Me Powdered Peanut Butter I was sent for free to test and then review on Amazon via their Vine program. Of course, this is The Chocolate Cult so what could I make that would include chocolate or cocoa as well? I had an idea after looking through previous recipes on this blog and on others. BROWNIES! I could use the peanut butter powder as well as cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and even cacao nibs -- a triple chocolate threat. This article is an expected bonus for the brand but as always I'm going to share my honest results, good or bad, for these brownies. These are also gluten-free and wheat free if that is important to you but I justed wanted them to be chocolatey, peanut buttery, and chewy brownies. Did I succeed?


Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
By TammyJo Eckhart

Ingredients: *products this blog was sent to test and write about

1 cup butter
1/2 cup *Dixies Crystals white  sugar
1/4 cup *Dixies Crystals brown sugar
6 T liquid egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp *McCormick vanilla
1/2 cup *PB & Me peanut butter powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 T TCHO cacao nibs
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp baking powder

Directions:

1. Bring butter to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 350 °F and grease a 8 X 8 inch pan (or equivalent size). 



3. Soften butter for 20 seconds on medium in microwave to soften it a bit more.

4. Mix together the salt, baking powder, cocoa powder, and peanut butter powder and set aside.



5. Using an electric mixer, beat together the egg whites, vanilla, butter, and sugars until thoroughly blended.



6. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix on low setting.

7. Fold in the chocolate chips and cacao nibs. The batter will be thick but easy to stir if the butter's consistency was soft but not melted.



8. Spoon batter into the pan and smooth evenly.



9. Place in oven to bake for 28-32 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

10. Cool on a wire rack before cutting into 9, 12, or 16 pieces and eating. 




Calories depend on the size of pieces:

9 pieces = 231 calories
12 pieces = 173 calories
16 pieces = 130 calories 

So how did these brownies turn out?

They are more soft than chewy. But it tastes great! Both very chocolatey and strongly peanut flavored.

The next day, I tried this recipe again adding 2 T more of both the powdered peanut butter and the cocoa. Below you can see a side by side of the two recipes -- original on the left, extra powdered ingredients on the right. The added powders didn't make the other really thicker but it was firmer without losing the chocolate or peanut flavor and without getting dry. My taster said "I like this better."


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Chocoolate: Pathway to the Gods

Today is World Religion Day so in honor of that I'm going to finally review a book that was recommended to me years ago by a professor who studies Mesoamerican history and culture. The book is by Meredith L. Dreiss and Sharon Edgar Greenhill and it is entitled Chocolate Pathway to the Gods. The version I received as a gift many years ago was published in 2008 by The University of Arizona Press.


The book has 6 chapters that cover the role of chocolate in Mesoamerican societies. We learn about deities associated with and consuming chocolate. Human rituals around and beliefs about chocolate are next addressed. We see how chocolate became aligned with power and wealth but also how that translated into harm. Then we see and read about how chocolate was eaten or drank and in what types of vessels it was made and consumed. Chocolate as a medical or health aid is the topic of chapter five. Finally we we learn facts about cacao trees, cacao farming, and issues of making sure we can have chocolate in the future. That last chapter is the most dated of the book but it is still valuable.

Nearly every page of this book has color photos that illustrate what the text says and demonstrates much of the evidence. This makes it good for the serious chocolate lover or even a teacher trying to show others the history of chocolate or Mesoamerican cultures.

On the back cover page of the book was a dvr that contains a movie that I could play on my computer even 11 years later. While it does contain some of the same information in the book it is not a video of the book. This would be a great short film to show in a classroom or at an organizational meeting if you were introducing your audience to chocolate. It is well crafted and fun to watch and it takes less than 10 minutes.

I agree with that professor I met years ago. This is an excellent book for anyone interested in the complex history of chocolate in the societies that discovered cacao trees, figured out how to eat from them, and saw their creations as heaven sent. While it is not as detailed as other books on the subject that I have read, it is a great starting text that is grounded in solid research.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Fannie May Candy Bars to Share

When I was growing up in the 1970s, Fannie May didn't mean housing it meant chocolate and candy that was good enough and cost enough that it could be given as a nice gift. While there has been an explosion of fine chocolates, bean to bar chocolates, and luxury chocolates, this company is still around and still creating their products that you can find in grocery stores and pharmacies around the United States of America. Today I'm going to look at the Fannie May Assorted Chocolate Bars that has 12 bars in four flavors -- milk chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and 46% dark chocolate bars. Presented in this simple white box, these look to be the type of bars you could keep on hand or that you could wrap up nicely as a gift. But are these worth your money and the calories? Keep reading to find out. Fannie May Fine Chocolates sent me this box of their bars via the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review on that website but this feature is a bonus them and the readers of The Chocolate Cult. No other form of compensation was received for my honest sharing of my experiences with this product.

We'll start with the basic Milk Chocolate bars and work out way to through the other bars. A bar has 260 calories and the ingredients reveal this will be on the candy side more than the chocolate side of the products we look at her on this blog since the first ingredient is sugar followed by cocoa butter and chocolate liquor in that order. The bar has a very candy smell to it, sweet with the chocolatey scent secondary. But it looks good, right? you can see from the back of the bar that it was probably made by filling up a mold so that we can see the Fannie May name on the front of the bar; all the bars have this on the back so I won't show both sides on the next flavors. The 1.8 ounce bar is thick at 1/2 an inch at the tallest section, 5 inches measures long, and 1.5 inches across. It takes a bit of strength to snap off one of the six sections of the bar. The initial taste is a lot like a milk chocolate hot cocoa -- sweet, vanilla, creamy, and then the chocolate flavor. It isn't bad or great tasting but if I were offered a milk chocolate bar with chocolate liquor first, I'd take that over this.

The Caramel Milk Chocolate bar is next and clocks in at 250 calories. Not surprisingly the ingredients are the same order as the previous putting this firmly in the candy aisle. This bar has a sharper sweet fragrance than the previous bar. It seems a bit more challenging to break apart but the dimensions of the bar is identical to the bar I wrote about above. I hope you can see in my photo to the right that inside each of the section is caramel filling. That caramel is thick and barely comes out when I broke the section open. The caramel has a slightly tangy flavor it is basically sweet and not sticky. The chocolate candy around it is the same flavor as the previous bar -- sweet, creamy, vanilla, but the chocolate is a bit stronger possibly because of the contrast with the caramel itself. I do like this bar more than the basic milk chocolate candy bar because the chocolate flavor is more intense and that matters on The Chocolate Cult.

The candy trend continues with the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Bar with the same trio of first ingredients. This time the bar has 270 calories but the other information I've been giving about the bars in terms of basic ingredients and their size still apply. The photo to the left is a bit misleading since the amount of peanut butter filling I could see depended on how closely I was able to get the sections to break apart; the filling is across the entire center of each section. The bar itself has a very vanilla scent to it and I can't really pick out the peanut butter separately until I span a section free from the rest of the bar. The peanut butter is light in color and flavor, it has a bit of a roasted flavor that gets more sweet with each chew; it is not salty. The rest of the bar is creamy, sweet, and has that hint of chocolate like the first bar we looked at today did. This was disappointing because I hoped that as with the caramel the chocolate flavor might come out more strongly. A deeper dive into the ingredient list reveals what may be part of the peanut butter filling that affects the flavor -- palm oil and white confectionery coating.

The 46% Dark Chocolate bar has a strong chocolate fragrance when I open the wrapper and it visibly darker in color than the other three bars. However, a it is still candy since sugar is the first ingredient but chocolate liquor follows it before cocoa butter which probably explains the stronger scent and deeper color. There is still milk in this bar as is butter which does not appear on the other bars ingredient list. The dimensions of this bar is the same as the others. When I snap apart one section to eat, that releases more of the chocolate scent. Taking a bite I get sweetness first but then there is chocolate essence followed by vanilla. The texture is smooth though each chew does make a bit of noise as I'd expect from a higher cacao content bar. Of the four bars in this assortment, this is my favorite.

Fannie May 4 Chocolate Candy Bar Pack

Overall I'm disappointed that these bars are really candy bars not chocolate bars. A chocolate bar needs its first ingredient to be chocolate liquor or chocolate/cocoa mass not sugar. Labeling them chocolate bars may not be illegal but it feels misleading to me. Would you or someone you love enjoy them? I enjoyed the caramel and the 46% bar but I'd be disappointed to get this as a gift if it was presented as chocolate and not candy.

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