Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bucceto's Chocolate Fondant

Yesterday your Chocolate Priestess celebrated her wedding anniversary by going out for lunch and dinner. Today I'm going to review the chocolate I had at Bucceto's and tomorrow I'll look at what another restaurant offered in the chocolate category.

The "Chocolate Fondant" is a large piece of cake, easily enough for two people, with three cake layers and three frosting layers. The outer side also had shaved pieces of chocolate on it as the decoration. The cake layers were moist and milk chocolate with a slightly sour edge in taste suggesting a butter milk flavoring but clearly had a high enough cocoa content to create a minor buzz as I ate my half. The frosting layer was smooth but a bit fatty tasting, I'm pretty sure that was were the bulk of the calories lay.

The combination of the cake and frosting was pleasing to me and the Milk Chocolate Acolyte merely smacked his lips with a smile when I asked his impressions. For it's size and price of $3.95 it was a very good dessert choice after two huge calzones.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

If you are reading in the eastern half of the midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, May 30, 2009

This morning I worship with an assorted selection from Donnelly Chocolates from Santa Cruz, California. They offered two choices to us in The Chocolate Cult, and they came wrapped as gifts in this eco-friendly paper made from recycled materials. The green one is the selection your Chocolate Priestess will reveal today. These are preservative-free candies, so I stored them in the fridge and moved them up the list for earlier review.

Inside the colorful paper were plain white boxes (see above) containing the chocolates themselves. I'll do a closer photograph later in the review. It contained 21 pieces, two of which seem identical at first glance, but we'll discover whether they are, Sisters and Brothers. Five are clearly milk chocolate shells, one is a foil-wrapped bittersweet truffle, and 15 are dark chocolate coated. When I open the box, a nice scent of chocolate drifts up, and as I keep the box open and near me this aroma builds up to tempt me. Fear not, for your Chocolate Priestess will conduct this Sacrament as it should be: purposefully, slowly, allowing each piece to fully engage her senses, and with only water as their companion, so that their flavors cannot be tainted.

The box came with a fold-out information sheet with pictures for most of the pieces you see to your left and written descriptions for others. I'll start with the lone truffle, wrapped in gold foil, “Bittersweet.” Unwrapping it reveals a French style truffle of just less than 1 inch in diameter, smelling of cocoa and getting cocoa powder on my fingers. Since your Chocolate Priestess is a personal fan of bittersweet and dark chocolates, just the scent is tempting to me, but I will myself to make this into two bites. Ah ha! It snaps when I bite it in two. This is not French style at all, but a cocoa powder coating over a harder shell and a softer center of nice mouth-puckering bitterness. The second bite I let melt on my tongue, and let me warn you that if you do not like pure bittersweet cocoa you should not do this, Sisters and Brothers, or it will overwhelm you. The cocoa melts, leaving the hard shell, which also melts, though very slowly, to release the soft center over the course of a minute. Though they are all bittersweet, there is a subtle difference in the three layers that, combined with the textures, creates a wonderful experience.

I'm going to focus on the milk chocolates next. The first is the “Toasted Walnuts,” which is 0.75 × 1.5 inches; it looks as if there are two separate nuts under the coating, and when I bite one off and it crunches nicely but leaves the other nut almost entirely covered, I know I'm correct. Normally I see walnuts paired with dark chocolate, so this is unusual. The milk chocolate flavor is a smooth addition to the walnut's own taste, and the walnut is fresh and crunchy with each bite. If you aren't a fan of darker chocolate but like walnuts, this is definitely a good choice, but I like it all, so I'm pleased.

Two more of the milk chocolate pieces are easy to identify from the inside of the information sheet that came with the box — it has drawings of the chocolates split into dark and milk sides. The crown-shaped piece is “Peanut Butter,” which I smell immediately when I bring it toward my nose. It measures 1.25 inches across and is more than half an inch thick. The crown design is on the top, and it is fairly detailed. It makes a very soft snap when I bite it in two to reveal the soft center. The peanut butter is the primary flavor here, and it is a bit sweet, though not as sweet as other peanut fillings I've had in chocolate. Letting the second bite melt strengthens the chocolate flavor, better mixing it with the peanut butter.

The next milk chocolate is also big, at almost 1.75 inches long and about an inch tall. Its flowing lines on top tell me it is the “Malted Milk” piece, but I can smell just the chocolate when I raise it to my lips and nose. It makes a very light snap as I bite; the bottom is thicker than the top and sides. It takes a few chews to fully release the malted flavor, which hits the center and back of my tongue suddenly. That taste builds up over the next two bites, reminding me of a good quality malted chocolate milkshake at a restaurant. Exactly what I expect from such a flavor. (The dark version of this shape is the “Coconut” flavor.)

The next piece is 1.25 inches square with some chocolate sprinkles on top, but I don't see a picture of it on the list, and breathing it in reveals only the milk chocolate essence. I think this is one of the caramels the website mentions, because it is chewy and sweet inside, though it is neither oblong nor heart shaped. Regardless, it has the pleasant tang you want from caramel.

The last milk chocolate is shaped like a rose, which if it were dark chocolate would be a rose flavor according to the list — let's see if that's true of the lighter confection. There is a hint of something floral when I take a deep whiff of it. It's so pretty, the folds of the rose wonderfully laid out, but I take a bite of the one-inch-diameter piece, which is almost an inch in height as well. The inside releases more of the fragrance, and that combined with the taste tells me that this is indeed “Rose” flavored, which threatens to overwhelm the milk chocolate and lingers in my mouth for a few minutes until I rinse it out to move on to the next piece.

Since I tried that, let's compare it to the dark version of “Rose.” First, the intensity of the dark chocolate when I take a whiff covers most of the floral perfume. Second, the rose flavor is still intense, but the bitterness of the dark chocolate combines better for my taste buds, and together they make my tongue tingle and my lips turn up in a smile. Personally your Chocolate Priestess would choose the darker version of this flavor.

The next dark chocolate is “Tahitian Vanilla,” which looks like a one-inch palm leaf. When I breath it in I only smell the cocoa, so I take a bite that barely makes a sound. The vanilla flavor is there, very lightly, but the primary taste is the bitter cocoa, which sends a rushing sensation from my tongue through my nose to my eyes. Nice. However, although the description says it should be flecked with seeds, the texture is only smooth and creamy inside, even when I let it melt in my mouth and search for them. As with very intense dark cocoa, the tartness lingers for several minutes.

Donnelly Chocolates also has spicy truffles, so I'll try their version of “Chipotle,” which has a five-pointed star on the top. There is an underlying hot scent when I breathe it in, and the very thin coating makes no sound. That's made up for by the intense, immediate kick to my tongue from the spice itself in the thick, smooth center, which makes my eyes water. That requires some time and liquid to ease out of my system, so if you like HOT, try this one.

I need a sweeter taste now, so I turn to the dark heart-shaped piece, “Honey Caramel.” Again, the scent is only the dark cocoa, but the texture of this piece is interesting before I even bite. There are tiny little raised dots on the top that I can feel with a fingertip, while the rest is smooth except for a sticky spot on one edge where the caramel has leaked a tiny bit. With a click the piece breaks apart as I try to take just one bite, letting the tangy yet sweet caramel inside leak into my mouth and lips. While the scent is definitely dark chocolate, the taste is mostly the caramel, with the bitterness kicking in right at the end. Far more complex in flavor than I was expecting, and that is delightful.

A 1.5-inch oblong piece with horizontal lines on the top of its 0.75-inch thickness is the “Macadamia Caramel” flavor — in fact, there are two pieces like this, so I'll share it with some friends here in the Cult. The dark golden caramel and the light shell reveal two whole macadamia nuts inside whose earthy taste mixes well with the sweet caramel and bitter cocoa. Normally, macadamia nuts are not my favorite, but this is such an incredible combination of textures and sensations that I'm positively surprised by how much I like it.

“Fresh Ginger” is a 1.25-inch hexagonal piece with a pinwheel design on top. The firmer, smooth interior has a faint hint of ginger, but the flavor is definitely there as I chew the first bite. Letting it melt only allows the dark chocolate to overwhelm that ginger essence, so I recommend chewing this piece to get a better mixture of tart spiciness and bitter cocoa.

“Cardamom” is a spice some of you may not know a lot about, but if you taste it, you won't forget it. The 1.5 inch long leaf-shaped and -inscribed piece is half an inch thick but only smells like cocoa at this point when I bring it to my lips and nose. The dark soft center is smooth and has that part-citrus, part-hot flavor that I feel describes cardamom. It doesn't have an aroma as I'd expect, since the chocolate remains the primary sensation for my nostrils. The spice mixes well with the chocolate as I chew or let it melt, but it is the cardamom that lingers in my mouth afterward.

There are six dark chocolates whose descriptions and images are not on the information sheet that came with this assortment. A check of the website reveals no pictures that I can compare them to, so your Chocolate Priestess must rely on her nose and taste buds to figure out what these are for you, Sisters and Brothers. I take a break and thoroughly cleanse my palate before embarking on this detective work.

Two of these are rectangular pieces, 1 × 1.25 inches in size, with some crystals on the top. One of them has bigger crystals than the other, but I'm not sure that means these are different flavors — I'll call them "big" and "tiny" to differentiate between them. "Big" has a very chewy dark caramel with a tangy flavor and a hint of salt; examining it means holding it, and the coating starts to melt on my fingertips. "Tiny" is identical in flavor, texture, and even melting, so the crystal size isn't important. The salt is a nice counter to the tangy and bitter flavors of the candy.

The next piece is a plain, dark, round one almost an inch in diameter. At first bite the liquid inside bursts forth and into my mouth. It has a raspberry flavor that suggests it may be a raspberry liqueur, which is very popular in some chocolates. The flavor reminds me of some other raspberry chocolates from other companies, though this has a kick that made my eyes roll up a bit and made the Milk Chocolate Acolyte sitting in the same room chuckle at me.

I think this and the other 3 round pieces are examples of the “Liquor Bombs” mentioned on the company website, which suggests that you eat it in one bite, so I'll give that a go and give you all my best guess as to which flavor each is. NOTE: Your Chocolate Priestess is not a big drinker — in fact, not much of a drinker at all, so please forgive her for her guesses, but she prefers to get her buzzes from cocoa over alcohol. The second has a stylized "q" or "b" on the top in extra chocolate. Popping it into my mouth whole, I let the liquor out, and it is smooth at first, then has a sting to it, but I'm not familiar enough with the flavors from the website to make a serious guess, though I do like it, so I wish I did. A loose sort of knot design graces the top of the next "bomb" that I take whole. This liquor is more intense, with a stronger sting to it from the start, and my mind is suggesting brandy of some type. The final "bomb" has a crosshatch pattern of four lines on the top. This is smooth, but has a bit more sting to it than the second piece I tried from this collection, though I can't say for certain what it is.

Overall, if sense of smell is an important factor for you, go for the milk chocolate pieces, which allow the internal flavors out, while the darker coatings mask any scent other than cocoa. Each piece was made of fine chocolate that could melt in my hands if I allowed it and which had none of the waxy texture common to most mass-produced chocolates. As is usual, some flavors I liked better than others, but other than the coconut I appreciate each of these and find them worthy for us, Sisters and Brothers.

While you can't pick each individual piece of chocolate if you order Donnelly Chocolates online, you can make some great choices: split of milk or dark, nuts or not, liqueur flavors or not, and spicy or not. This is true for several of their boxed collections. The website also gives information about chocolate in general as well as some of the recipes Donnelly uses. What the site lacks is nutritional information that might be valuable to some of you.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Double Offerings

This morning, Your Chocolate Priestess received two boxes of Enstrom's English Toffee. One box of their milk chocolate variety and one of the dark version each containing 1 entire pound of their offering. I want to say "thank you" to Enstrom's for entrusting The Chocolate Cult to reveal their products to all of you. Look for a future "Saturday Sacrament" to focus on these two types of toffee.

This afternoon, I received six, yes, you read that correctly, six sample from the wonderful folks at Astor Chocolate. This included not only their wonderful candies but also two products you use when making your own desserts -- liquor cups and dessert cups, all made of chocolate! They will all be reviewed in five separate posts in the future but for now check both Astor and Enstrom's out.

Remember our CONTEST on The Chocolate Cult.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Search for the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte

Your Chocolate Priestess does her best to give honest descriptions and reviews of chocolate related products as you all know. However, she, like everyone else, has food preferences, dislikes, and even hatreds. Coconut is something she has great difficulty being unbiased about.

Thus, I am opening a new position within the Cult with the official title of “Chocolate Coconut Acolyte.” Please read the requirements and how to apply below. If you think you are qualified and you want to join us, follow the directions.

Requirements for the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte:
1. Must have a fondness for chocolate and coconut together.
2. Must live in or near enough to Bloomington, Indiana that you can assist The Chocolate Priestess a few times a year for special coconut sacrament reviews.
3. Must have reliable transportation so you can get to these review meetings.
4. Must be at ease with eating chocolate and answering questions about that experience — The Chocolate Priestess will write the articles and simply lead you in the proper testing of potential sacraments.

The winner will have their views of chocolate and coconut published on The Chocolate Cult, receive free samples of all products they are asked to test for this purpose, and enjoy one-on-one testing led by The Chocolate Priestess to ensure the integrity of the reviews. No other monetary or product compensation is offered, and all reviews will become the property of The Chocolate Cult/The Chocolate Priestess.

A formal agreement between the newly chosen Chocolate Coconut Acolyte and The Chocolate Cult/The Chocolate Priestess will be presented to the winner for her or his acceptance or rejection. If the first place winner rejects the agreement, the position will be offered to the next place winner until the position is filled.

How to Apply:
1. Join The Chocolate Cult at — you must be a visible follower, not anonymous.
2. Post a comment to this announcement where you describe in 200 words or less why you think chocolate and coconut make a great combination and why you want to aid The Chocolate Cult by becoming an Acolyte.
3. Do not include personal contact information yet … the top five applicants will be asked to contact The Chocolate Priestess directly, and at that time such information will be required.

This application period will last for 60 days from the posting of this information or from May 28, 2009 through August 3, 2009.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brownies with Protein

Two weeks ago I revealed the nature of two types of cookies from The Protein Bakery and today I will look at the three types of brownies they offered to The Chocolate Cult. As the photo reveals these are all about the same size (3.5X3.5X1 in) but you can tell the different flavors simply by looking at them -- Walnut, Espresso, and Black&White.

The Walnut Brownie is probably my favorite because I get to eat these nuts so rarely since the Milk Chocolate Acolyte is allergic to tree nuts. These are full sized walnut quarters I can see on the top of the brownie. Smells very cocoa. Feels a bit crumbly but not as much as the cookies. The first bite is very soft and very chocolaty, mostly bitter with little sweetness. The walnuts are full and fleshy, their taste mixes very well with the brownie. In texture this is just like I’d expect a brownies to be but there tiny flecks of walnuts throughout — the bulk of the walnuts, I’d guess 95% are on the top where you can see them. That’s fine because when you bite in you take a nice bit half quarter with you. There are at least 12 bites in this, each as good as the previous. Over several bites a mild cocoa buzz does build up.

The Espresso with Cappuccino Chips in the next I try a day or two later. The top is covered in tan baking chips — I counted 38 of them on top. The scent of the coffee is as strong as the cocoa — the first time with these Protein Bakery products that I can say this. The first bite is with fewer chips but the coffee flavor is there in the moist body. Not overwhelming but nicely blended. The second bite is on a corner with a lot of chips but the flavor does not change that much suggesting the flavor is part of the brownie not merely the chips. The buzz begins immediately and builds up over 12 bites but as with all coffee and chocolate products we have to ask: What is creating the buzz? Coffee or Cocoa?

A few days later I try the final brownie, Black & White. I counted 25 baking chips on the top, more white than black. The scent is mostly cocoa again and the first bite does not crumble at all. When you take a bite with the chips in it, there is a crunch and a different texture but sadly not really a different flavor until you have had a few chip including bites then the smooth white chips blend with the bitter black chips to enhance the cocoa. A very mild buzz builds up over time in this 12+ bite treat.

These brownies were all tasty but some of the nutritional facts should inform your usage. Each brownie is one serving so that makes this easy to figure out. Each one has 12g sat fat, 120mg cholesterol, 2g fiber, 11g protein, 35 sugars; no wheat, added soy protein, no artificial flavors or additives. What is amazing is that this nutritional value is the same regardless of the chips or nuts. Now since the focus on this company is protein obviously they have more than you might get in an average brownie but, and Your Chocolate Priestess will always say this, I'd like more fiber as well.

The website for The Protein Bakery is easy to navigate but I must say the music on the pages gets repetitive very quickly and turns annoying at that point. It has almost every type of information you might want from great pictures to nutrition. Since it's getting so hard to find Blondies in my local bakeries, the selection here was very intriguing... perhaps I'll get some for a friend I know who, hold on to your cocoa, Sisters and Brothers, does not like chocolate and another who is allergic. Sometimes we just have to eat one bite more for these poor souls who cannot enjoy the Sacred Substance.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Uptown Cafe Chocolate Desserts

Last night we went to a nice Bloomington, Indiana, restaurant called "The Uptown Cafe" where after a great meal, both your Chocolate Priestess and the Milk Chocolate Acolyte tried two of their desserts -- both chocolate obviously.

I had the "Chocolate Bread Pudding". This was a large quality of bite-sized pieces of bread soaked in the traditional sauce for this comfort food and a lot of chocolate. The chocolate was intense and bitter, not sweetened much it seemed and so it provided a very gentle buzz from the third bite. While the slice was stable when delivered, the pieces came apart easily into mouthfuls, at least 30 of them.

The Acolyte had "Chocolate Raspberry Torte" which had three layers -- a firm cake, rich cream, firm cake, topped by a thick fudgy frosting. It was drizzled with raspberry and chocolate sauce meaning the primary flavor was the very sweet chocolate and cream. It didn't produce that cocoa kick but then as the Milk Chocolate fan that isn't what he is usually expecting.

Both had a side of whipped cream and a half strawberry with a large mint leaf. The bread pudding can also be served with a scope of vanilla ice cream but honestly here we want as much of the cocoa to be appreciated free of other flavors. Had it been a warmer evening, a little ice cream might have been a good balance.

Both of us were very pleased by our dessert choices at "The Uptown Cafe". This means that thus far, with three dinners out in B-town, we have three excellent choices for chocolate desserts. As I explore other venues, I'll let you what is worthy of your attention.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, May 23, 2009

A few weeks ago, as you will recall, your Chocolate Priestess received a selection of truffles from Anna Shea Chocolates. Initially these came, as many offerings have, in a very well-packed box designed to protect the chocolate inside from weather and transportation jostling. Inside was this dusky pink box you can see to your left. Opening the box was simple, and my senses were immediately hit by the scent of cocoa, which is always a good sign. Beyond the smell, though, a treat awaited my eyes.

Of course I looked at the website, but nothing prepared me for the beauty I found in this box. Just look at this picture to your right. I have seen and held several lovely pieces of chocolate in my revelations, Sisters and Brothers, but these are miniature works of art. Twelve types are in this selection. A little color booklet with pictures of each piece and a description of what was in each came with the box. It has 32 pictures, but I could only identify 6 of the twelve flavors, so I turned to the website for help. If you look under "Signature Collection" and click on the individual categories, you can find several pictures of the chocolates. Each piece is about 1 inch in diameter or across, depending on the shape, so about two to three bites.

Let's start with what I can identify. To give me a kick start, "Espresso" will be my first piece. As always, I have only had water to drink for some time before this tasting, so the flavors and experience are pure. The scent is dark chocolate with a hint of coffee. This is an almost perfectly round truffle with drizzles of dark chocolate all over it. The ganache snaps when I bite and when I look I see three layers — the outer shell, an inner shell, then the soft truffle center. The coffee scent is more powerful in the center, but the flavor is mild, not overwhelming the cocoa at all, which is exactly what I want, since I'm not a huge coffee fan. Letting it melt creates a slightly stronger buzz, but that rush is there from the first bite.

The next piece is clearly a French style truffle, the "Original Sin," which has no ganache but a cocoa powder on the outside. This dusting is intense, covering my fingers and thrilling my nose. Ah ha! There is a very thin ganache layer underneath the cocoa powder, my bite reveals, and then a soft almost sweet truffle center. The bitterness you want from dark chocolate is there, but this unexpected sweetness was a good balance. Letting one bite rest in my mouth, it literally all melts, flooding my head with a rush of sensations. I can taste why this is one of their best selling bon-bons.

The "Beauty" piece looks like someone pinched the top with their fingers; it is light pink with a sprinkle of red over it and a dark chocolate line over the top. I basically can smell only a very light cocoa, and I think this is because when I bite, the ganache is a white chocolate with a very soft center that tastes of Chardonnay and strawberry. It tastes good, just like the description leads you to believe, but as is usual for the white chocolate there is no buzz.

"Heart of the Ocean" is a square of dark chocolate with some crystals on one corner that the description says is sea salt. I bite the side with the salt first, and the salt is strong, then it blends with the ganache and soft inside, but frankly the salt overwhelms the cocoa, making me take a few sips of water. The salt flavor is less intense for the rest of the piece, and I like the rest better. It's a unique flavor I haven't had before, but I can't say I'm pleased by it.

The next piece is a sort of mustard color with three leaves drawn on top and a dark line across it, identifying it as "Madagascar," a vanilla ganache with milk chocolate. I can certainly smell the vanilla when I bring it to my nose. The soft center mixes well with the shell to make a very sweet taste that surprisingly also has a kick that rises from my mouth to my eyes and gets better with each bite.

Anna Shea has a heart-shaped collection, and my sample had one of these. It's a shiny burgundy-colored piece with only a light cocoa scent when I first examine it. "Strawberry Fields Forever" makes me think not only of the Beatles song but also an area of Central Park I've walked in several times. The dark chocolate shell cracks under my teeth and reveals a pinkish center that smells and tastes like the promised strawberry, but the bitterness of the shell is strong and delivers a slight buzz.

That leaves me with six more flavors to figure out. Three are new flavors not featured in the booklet, so I ask the Milk Chocolate Acolyte to help me identify three more flavors whose color may be slightly different from transport or simply because food coloring is rarely 100% consistent. This also gives my palate time to recharge.

The next piece is a flatter rounded piece with a wave of dark red and golden yellow on the dark ganache. This is the "Vadelina," but its shape seems shorter than the picture suggested. The shell hides a raspberry and milk chocolate center, but all three flavors blend well for a unique taste on several parts of my tongue for the first bite. With the next two bites the raspberry becomes the primary flavor, thorougly winning out over the chocolates.

The next square piece, which has a reddish square on top, is the "Puleo," which is a dark shell with a dark truffle inside and a port taste. The cocoa is the principal scent and flavor, but the port gives it an extra burn, as you would expect from alcohol. If you like dark chocolate and port, then this is a good choice for you, because it blends well without one flavor overwhelming another.

"Lia" is an Earl Grey flavored chocolate, which I expected from looking at the picture to be more square in shape, but this piece is a rectangle with a gray top decorated with lovely little flowers. The tea scent comes through the dark ganache when I lift it to my nose. The top decoration pops off when I bite into it. The orange of the truffle sweetens the flavor a lot, but the primary flavor is still the chocolate. Honestly I couldn't tell this was Earl Grey except by the scent, and the Milk Chocolate Acolyte, who is a huge tea fan, suggested it was more caramel in flavor.

These last three pieces are new flavors that I'm honored to have a taste of. The first I'll try looks like a milk chocolate dome shell with a wave of coppery color over the top half. The soft center of the "Scott's Peanut Butter" tastes like what you get with organic peanut butter that has very little sugar. This intense darker flavor is surprisng, but it mixes very well with the milk chocolate. Definite hints of hazelnuts add a roasted flavor. Very different from what I was expecting for a peanut butter chocolate, but also very good.

A rectangular piece covered by a yellow decorative top with chocolate swirls is next; this turns out to be "Krystels Banana Foster" when I take that first bite. The caramel textured center has a mixture of flavors here that strike different parts of my tongue — sweet banana and caramel, tangy brandy, intense brown sugar and a slight kick of cinnamon. This is the most varied flavor in this collection, but if you don't like bananas you will not like this. I like bananas; bananas and chocolate with these other flavors was great.

Finally a light pink piece with white and burgundy flowers on a pyramid shape will close out this "Saturday Sacrament." This is the "Cherry Baby," with a light cherry taste that comes both from cherries and from Kirsche, a cherry brandy, in the dark truffle center beneath the colored white chocolate ganache. It's very smooth, and yet after a few seconds it kicks in, making this a great way to end our sampling today.

All in all, Anna Shea Chocolates delivers beauty to your eyes, your nose, and your mouth. As with most assortments, I liked some flavors more than others, and so will you. If you are looking for very beautiful chocolates that taste good, I recommend looking into this chocolatier for your next special Sacrament such as a wedding or anniversary, which they specialize in.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bakehouse Cheese Cake

While your Chocolate Priestess's in-laws are in town we tasted another chocolate offering from B-town. This was the Chocolate Dipped Cheesecake from The Bakehouse which is an outlet for an amazing local business that began as a B&B, became a restaurant, turned into some other small eateries and now supplies baked goods to a multiple of store in the region. We picked up our dessert at the 3rd street store.

It looked so pretty I too a picture before we cut it. The chocolate ganache is very chocolaty and rich, it melts on your fingertips and in your mouth. The top dollops seems to be white chocolate and they have chocolate chips on them as well. Given there are 8 of these white flowers on the edges you should try to cut it into 8 pieces but we chose six because we suspect it would be good and frankly the outer layer was hard to cut through. They must have a special tool or much sharper knife for the individual pieces they sell in the store itself.

The cheesecake is good New York style with lemon and orange hints you can taste. Definitely decadent but then almost all cheesecake is. In terms of chocolate buzz, not really that must, the ganache is only the outer layer but it did taste good especially with bites of creamy cheesecake at the same time, the sweet balancing the bitter. Certainly not a cheap dessert in any sense of the word but for this special visit very much worth it.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Mini Indulgence at Lennie's

Last night, your Chocolate Priestess, her family and in-laws went to a local Bloomington, Indiana, restaurant called Lennie's. At the end of a great pizza I had one of their "Mini-Indulgences" which are desserts in shot glasses for $2.25. They had five flavors to choose from last night, the flavors change, and I took the chocolate mousse which I will now reveal to you below.

This was a three-layer dessert. The bottom and top layer was a thick yet fluffy, very chocolaty mousse and delivered an immediate cocoa buzz. The middle layer was a thin ganache that was a bit tough and some of my mousse flew when I first tried to dig some of that midsection up. Don't worry, I saved it. It was topped with a big dollop of ganache with white chocolate flakes as decoration.

Because it was so rich and had such a great buzz from the cocoa content, I ate this small dessert slowly. Frankly I didn't need or want more because it was that good. At it's price I think it's an excellent choice for one person to have. These are big shot glasses so don't think these are too small, there were at least a dozen spoonfuls here. My father-in-law had the key lime flavor and he seemed pleased by it but alas it is not a chocolate so I cannot comment.

The late spring and summer time is the best time to go to Lennie's because you have a lot fewer students to compete with for seating though it was still nice crowd from the 7:30-9pm time we were there. Of course less competition for seating means more chocolate choices for you.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Donnelly Chocolates

Donnelly Chocolates has submitted two products for The Chocolate Cult to reviews. They came in two lovely boxes which you will see pictures of when I do the first review. I look forward to trying Richard Donnelly's fine products in the near future.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Acne Clearing Chocolate?

Sisters and Brothers, if this product reduces acne as this article claims, why haven't any of you reported it to before now. Supposedly it has "swept" the USA and UK where I know many of you live.

It makes your Chocolate Priestess suspicious of this "swept" claim.

So I look for the manufacturer of this product, Frutels, and asked them to send me enough product to evaluate their claims. I wonder if they shall be brave enough to submit to the rigor of The Chocolate Cult.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Alternative Cookies

The Alternative Baking Company sent your Chocolate Priestess two samples of the vegan cookies they make. Do these cookies offer enough taste and chocolate for non-vegans as well?

The first cookie I tried was their "Colossal Chocolate Chip" cookie which is 4.25oz and 4.5in diameter -- two servings worth in each cookie according to the nutritional information on the back firm waxed paper insert into each plastic sleeve it came sealed in. The nutritional information on each package is for one serving only or one-half the cookie, keep this in mind whenever you eat chocolate, Sisters and Brothers.

There are at least 20 bites in this cookie so it is big. There is immediate sweet smell when I open it up, the plastic is very secure. The cookie is firm but flexible, it does not crumble at my touch. It is a light tan color with mini chips not evenly distributed across the cookie but a glance at the bottom says these are throughout the cookie. It breaks in half easily revealing more chips inside, very solid to hold, has a good weight to it.

The cookie tastes a lot like what I’d expect from a good chocolate chip cookie. Having had many, many vegan and fat free, low fat, healthy cookies, this has a sweeter taste than I expected without being overly sweet. The slight bitterness of the chips is there but the rest of the cookie is more powerful. This is superior to many similarly marketed cookies I've tried in the past so I'm pleased.

The "Double Chocolate Decadence Cookie" weighs the same but is only 4in in diameter, it is thicker than the previous cookie however, and feel heavier in my hand. It is a bit crumbly but overall firm and moist, the cocoa smell hits me immediately when I open the package.

This is truly a lot of cocoa, the cookie is dark in color and the chips are dark as well. It’s a bit like a devil’s food in texture and taste, a rush from the cocoa happens right from the first bite. This rush certainly urges me to keep eating while the previous cookie I could have taken or left after a few bites. But I exercise self control and eat only one serving’s worth as I should since I practice moderation with my chocolate.

As the Protein cookies' big promise was more protein, these Alternative cookies have no animal products in them, not even eggs, so I think they qualify as vegan by all general standards. Each serving has 3+g sat fat, 200mg sodium, 20g sugar, 3g protein, with some vitamin A, iron, and calcium; the "Colossal Chocolate Chip" has 0 fiber while the "Double Chocolate Decadence Cookie" has 2g fiber. The amount of saturated fat concerns me especially since these are vegan but again you have to make a choice, Sisters and Brothers, to use chocolate in a way that fits with your ethics and morals and vegan may outweigh other concerns for you.

Overall these are slightly more tasting and more moist than the Protein cookies reviewed last week. However, only one of these, "Double Chocolate Decadence Cookie," honestly had a good chocolate buzz while both Protein cookies had that buzz. That's simply a matter of the amount of cocoa in each cookie. Balance what type of chocolate cookie fits best into your life and chose wisely.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Politeness Should be a Factor for Us

I saw this "Dear Abby" post in my local newspaper and I'll link to another source for it -- note the first article.

This appalled your Chocolate Priestess to no end. Not "Dear Abby's" comments, though I think her response lacked the spiritual component we should consider in The Chocolate Cult, but the very situation.

I don't care how much you love chocolate in any of it's forms. You should attempt to foist your food preferences, your political philosophy or your religious beliefs onto someone who had stated they are not interested.

How would you feel is someone came to you and said you could no longer have the dark, milk or white chocolate you desire and use? That's correct, Sisters and Brothers, you would not like it one bit and the negative feelings this would create in your would temp you to leave your spiritual and life path, leading you astray and dampening your connection with the Divine.

Chocolate is our method, it is not the Divine itself, but one of the Creator's and humanity greatest collaborations. Appreciate it fully, offer it to others but if they turn aside then rejoice that this leaves more for you.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, May 16, 2009

May is rushing by so quickly, Sisters and Brothers, and the potential Sacraments seem more and more beautiful and intense than the last your Chocolate Priestess revealed to you. This week Wiseman House Fine Chocolates offered us their "Signature Collection," which came in this brown box with a yellow ribbon you see to the right. It was one of four potential Sacraments this company submitted, so you'll be reading more about Wiseman's in the future.

The box was easy to open, and inside, very carefully and securely packed, were two
trays of their handcrafted candies, which you can see in some detail to the left. The card which came in the box listed the flavors in this collection, but after looking it and the chocolates over, I fear this may be another case of my playing detective a bit. At least two pieces appear identical, but since there are 15 flavors on the card and 16 pieces, that makes sense. Two pieces are clearly white chocolate, and six are dark chocolate, leaving seven pieces milk chocolate — something for everyone in the Cult. I'll review them from the white to the milk to the dark chocolate.

Join me as I try these throughout the day, always cleansing my palate and waiting between pieces so that the true essence is revealed each time. Remember, Sisters and Brothers, this is how we should always approach our use of the Divine Substance as part of our spiritual journey toward the Creator.

The very first thing I notice when I remove the cushion from the top of the layers is the powerful cocoa scent, which tempts me sorely, but I am strong on the Path and resist. I will reveal these to you slowly and purposefully. The second thing I notice is how beautiful each piece is, each with a unique design or style, though two are the same, as I mentioned above. Handmade and homemade chocolates should be appreciated for their beauty just as you might appreciate a painting or a sculpture, because each is an artistic vision of its maker. Each of these pieces is 1 inch in diameter and about the same in height.

The "Coconut" piece is milk chocolate, identifiable by its lumpiness. The coconut inside is very moist and the milk chocolate smooth. Since, as you know by now, Sisters and Brothers, I'm not a fan of coconut, this description will have to suffice.

The "Apricot" piece is white chocolate with a bit of ruddy fruit on the top. The scent is very much the simple white chocolate you would expect. Inside is solid white, the apricots and brandy pureed with more white chocolate; here I can now smell the fruit itself, with a bit of a tang as it courses through my senses. The taste is very well blended; the white chocolate is the dominant flavor, with the fruit's sweetness smoothly combining for a very pleasurable taste.

The next white chocolate may be the "Raspberry Champagne" flavor, with the confectioner's sugar falling off in transit. When I bring it to my nose I smell the white chocolate, but something else I can't place, so I take a bite. The inside is a cream color and has a faint raspberry scent; however, the flavor isn't raspberry but more champagne. Taking some of the cream itself without the white chocolate reveals more of the raspberry flavor, but still it isn't very strong.

I try the plain milk chocolate piece next, which should be the "Milk Rufus" flavor. Yup, I can taste that hint of vanilla. The inside is surprisingly chewy almost, very creamy and rich tasting. Interestingly, the ganache melts, but the inside does not, nor does allowing it to melt increase or decrease the flavor. Overall a very good piece of milk chocolate that I can recommend for its mild buzz and consistent flavor.

The "Seville Orange" is marked with a dark chocolate spot on top of the milk chocolate shell. If I take a big whiff I can barely get a hint of citrus through the ganache. The dark chocolate center is lightly orange, and I think there are strands of orange in it that mildly crunch as I chew. Unexpected but not unpleasant texture, but I'm more impressed by the mixture of milk, dark and orange flavors. The orange and dark center lingers longer than the milk chocolate in my mouth.

The next piece looks very similar but with a white chocolate spot marking it as the "Amaretto" flavor. Breathing in the scent I can tell that there is a definite Amaretto aroma mixed with the much lighter white and milk chocolate smells. As promised, the inside is a soft white chocolate with Amaretto, which gives the normally very smooth flavor a kick. Together both the white chocolate and the liqueur overwhelm the milk chocolate flavor, so I say this is more for the white chocolate followers of The Chocolate Cult.

Next, drizzled with white chocolate, should be the "Irish Cream" piece. There is more than the chocolate scents here, but I can't say for certain it is an Irish Cream smell before biting into it. As with the previous candy, the flavor is blended with the soft white chocolate center. The Irish Cream builds up in my mouth as I chew and lingers until it overwhelms both the white and milk chocolates. This flavor also lingers for many minutes after finishing this piece, so make sure you are a fan of Irish Cream.

To continue with our liqueur theme, I'll next try the "Southern Hospitality" flavor, marked with a dusting of sugar on top. I can smell the milk chocolate and sugar before biting into it. This should be flavored with Jack Daniel's whiskey; the insert says that you really only taste if you let it melt or chew it slowly. The soft milk chocolate inside is smooth and melds perfectly into the matching ganache.

"Texas Pecan" is the only nut flavor of the selection, and it's the next milk chocolate piece your Chocolate Priestess will try. It is marked by a light pecan topping, which the scent confirms. I love pecans in chocolate, so I eagerly bite into this offering. The nuts inside are very finely ground and make no sound as I chew, though their flavor is strong but blends evenly with the soft milk chocolate center. Since neither of my Acolytes likes or can eat nuts, I'll just have to finish this piece entirely on my own — the sacrifices I make for you, Sisters and Brothers.

The final milk chocolate flavor is "Love Potion," which has a stroke of gold coloring on one half of the top. This is supposed to be a spicy truffle, with ancho and chilpotle cinnamon in a dark center. The inside is not as soft as previous truffles, and the spiciness is light, though it builds up at the back of my tongue as I let it melt or continue to chew. Not as much a kick as other spicy chocolates we've had.

That leaves us with the 6 remaining dark chocolate truffles in five flavors. I'm going to start with what I think is the "Dark Rufus" piece, the simplest flavor, a plain dark chocolate with no added decoration. Yup, I guessed correctly, the ganache makes a snapping sound when I bite into the equally dark and bitter center. An immediate buzz rushing through my mouth and up to my eyes as I let it melt.

The next piece is "Raspberry," which is marked by a thin gold line on the top. The fruit scent comes through the dark chocolate ganache when I take a slight whiff, suggesting the raspberry may overpower the cocoa. The inside is smooth, no seeds, and the flavor does indeed build up, but it never overpowers, merely blends well. A treat for the raspberry lovers among you, Sisters and Brothers.

"Snooky" is an odd name is the next flavor, a "dark Belgian ... with coffee cinnamon" that is covered in sugar so it sparkles in the light. The sugar scent almost buries the dark chocolate when I breathe it in before biting. The sugar crumbles off a bit as I bite into very bitter, intense dark chocolate that sends a spike of sensation up to my brain. Each chew crunches from the sugar, both it and the cocoa building the buzz up more and more. So far this is the most unique of the flavors; even the form of the chocolate, round and rolled, is different, and your Chocolate Priestess is pleased and a little high from the truffle.

The next piece, marked by a silver dot on the top, is the "Gran Saman," the highest cocoa content that Wiseman offers at 70%. You can smell that it is darker than the previous pieces. The inside is the firmest center of all the truffles thus far, and the bitterness is intense after so many milk and white chocolates. Now I like darker, more bitter, chocolates myself, 80% being the point at which I dislike it, and this creates a wonderful taste in my mouth. However, this level of bitterness and pure cocoa is not for everyone, so know your limits, Sisters and Brothers. At this level, letting it melt in my mouth creates such an intense rush that I'm almost feeling dizzy, my senses expanding and moving me outside my body as I focus on the taste, which oddly seems a bit sweet on the edges of my tongue.

That leaves what must be the "Wild Woman" pieces, which are dark chocolate covered in a dark chocolate drizzling, though the description on the list does not say this. Again the scent is pure dark chocolate, though not as dark as the previous piece. The first bite is soft and cocoaey, more dark than the "Dark Rufus" but not as intense as the "Gran Saman." It practically melts in my mouth and becomes one of my favorites from the Signature Collection.

Each piece melts slightly, signaling the purity of the chocolate ganache that forms their shells. Each has a nice soft center and is about 2-3 bites in size. The milk chocolate and dark chocolate truffles also each have a definite buzz factor that the milk chocolate lacked, which is not too surprising considering what causes the sensation in the first place. These are well-crafted truffles, in all senses of that phrase, that were a pleasure to reveal to you all. A worthy Sacrament if you choose which flavors you like best, which you can at custom made assortments. There aren't as many flavors to choose from as with other chocolatiers we've revealed here in The Chocolate Cult, but these were all solid offerings.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Still Another Breakfast Bar

Previously, Sisters and Brothers, your Chocolate Priestess as revealed two possible breakfasts ("Fiber One" and "Fiber Fit") with chocolate that might fit into your healthy diet. This morning I want to look at Kellogg's "Fiber Plus Chocolate Chip" bars which has two box cover claims: 35% of daily fiber and antioxidants.

These come in a 6.3oz box of 5 single serving bars and are priced similar to the previous fiber bars. These also have the exact same amount of fiber, 9g, as the two previous bars I've looked at. Each bar has 2g Saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, 55mg sodium, 7g sugars, and 2g protein. What stands out is that these bars also have 20% of the daily vitamin E and zinc -- the antioxidants.

In terms of taste these are good. Sweet and interestingly textured. The bottom is a chocolate ganache, the chips are on the top along with a drizzle of chocolate. The chocolate here is the standard mass produced kind: not really a buzz, tastes a bit waxy. For a bit of chocolate in your day when you really want fiber and in this case extra vitamins and minerals, this is good choice.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Two Cookies to Review

The day after I review two cookies from The Protein Company, I get two other cookies from Alternative Baking Co. One is a chocolate chocolate chip which I will be able to directly compare to the Protein Company cookie and the other is a chocolate chip one.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Protein & Cookies

The Protein Bakery sent me two types of their cookies to try. Since they will spoil or get stale long before other chocolate products, I'm reviewing them in two posts. One this week, one next week.

They sent me their "Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies" which come in a plastic sleeve with two cookies or two servings to each pack. Each cookie is about 2.75in across, dark brown with visible chocolate chips as you can see in the picture to the right. The package takes a bit to open since it is sealed tight making me specific these might last longer than the ten days in the documentation I received with them. Once open a pleasant cocoa smell can be found by breathing in deeply.

The cookie is very crumbly and it seems dry though once I bit into it, it was not as dry as I suspected it might be which was a surprise. However the cookie is also not chewy. The chocolate is more bitter than the average mass produced cookie and something about it soaked up the moisture in my mouth. The cocoa taste lingered about 10 minutes after a bite even after I rinsed my mouth out. The product has oats in it which you can feel as you chew though the taste of oats isn't strong. The same can be said for the chips which I didn't find had much taste to them beyond the cookie cocoa which was enough to curb any chocolate craving.

The second cookie was a "Chocolate Chocolate Cherry" one and this came one cookie, two servings, to a plastic sleeve and measured a good 4 inches across. It was also dark brown and you can see darker, blackish pieces which are the cherries -- black because they were baked obviously. Note the size difference in the photo above; you cannot confuse these cookies. Both the cocoa and the cheery could be smelled when I breathed this huge cookie in after unwrapping it. This was also crumbly to the touch but a bit moister inside from the cherries. The sweetness and tartness of the cherry almost overwhelmed the cocoa but managed to just blend nicely. Like the other cookie this too has oats, I'm a bit fan of added fiber.

However, each serving has identical nutrients and they are not a good source of fiber. Why should they be? They are "protein" cookies after all. Each serving had 4g of protein which I'm not sure I'd call a good source of protein either. Each serving also had 25mg of cholesterol and 4g of saturated fat -- that concerns your Chocolate Priestess. Clearly this fat can't just be from the baking chips because the Cherry cookie has it as well. All I can think is that it is primarily from the butter, whey protein and eggs but that still seems like a lot of saturated fat to me.

The Protein Bakery cookies I tried tasted good and satisfied any cocoa craving easily with only one serving. The website puts all the nutritional information within easy reach so you can decide what works best in your own diet or daily regime.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chocolate Man

I'm sure, Sisters and Brothers, in the USA have seen this commercial but if not, give it a watch.

Axe Commercial

Now what is being said in this commercial?

That women are obsessed with chocolate? Brothers, aren't you as well?

That a body spray can get you attention? Hhhmmm.... as we know from properly using chocolate, scent is only one factor in a good product.

Your Chocolate Priestess finds the commercial both disturbing and entertaining. What does that say about me?

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quaker Mini Delights

Quaker has a relatively new product called "Mini Delights: Chocolatey Drizzle" that your Chocolate Priestess has a free sample of. So I thought I'd give it a try and reveal it's quality to you.

The first thing to note is that this one serving bag is 0.70 ounces and it contains 90 calories. Doesn't seem like much however a third, 1/3, of those calories come from saturated fat or about 16% of the fat you should consume in a 2000 calories diet. It has no cholesterol but 85mg of sodium, 1g fiber, 6g sugars, and 1g protein.

What do you get in package of delights? I got 18 1in pieces of rice cake like discs with chocolate drizzled on one side. That isn't too bad if you just want a light snack I think though I'm having this as part of my lunch.

What do they taste like? If you put the chocolate side down on your tongue you can taste the chocolate, a sort of waxing not very cocoa intense taste. If you put it rice side down... blah, not much taste at all.

Overall if you like the rice cakes products from Quaker Oats and you like a hint of chocolate, you might like these. But the amount of saturated fat really concerns me because I want the best of you, Sisters and Brothers. Personally I'd go with one of the fiber bars I've looked at previously on The Chocolate Cult.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Science Improving Chocolate

This article briefly mentions that a researcher is trying to understand how to curb "fat bloom". "Fat bloom" for those who do not know, is caused as chocolate ages or undergoes certain temperature changes. This discolors chocolate but does not necessary destroy the chemical structure in a way that harms it as a product you can use. For further information, look here or here.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, May 9, 2009

Monica Chocolates sent us two offerings to try, Sisters and Brothers. The first your Chocolate Priestess will reveal to you is the "Raspberry Wine Truffles," which came in a 6 count box that you see to the right. These are one of seven flavors of truffles you can get from Monica's.

Upon opening the box, the scent of dark chocolate hit me hard; after a few minutes in close proximity to these offerings my eyes were starting to glaze over, suggesting this would be a very, very good potential Sacrament for us to consider. Each piece is very round, measuring almost 1.5 inches across the base and rising another 1.5 inches high, with a crosshatch pattern on top.

These are fairly simple in terms of ingredients: bittersweet chocolate, dried raspberries, raspberry wine, cream, corn syrup, and butter are the only materials used to make them. I could not find any nutritional information on the website, and none was included, so exercise moderation.

Picking up one, I take a deep whiff and can only smell cocoa. Figuring out how to take a bite is a bit of a trick, given its circumference, so I take a nibble from the bottom first. The ganache breaks softly, and the rest of the truffle starts to collapse in my fingers. This first bite is only dark chocolate, really, and it sends an immediate buzz from my tongue and mouth up to my head and down into my chest.

The second bit is smooth except for these little crunches and pieces that I assume are the raspberries, which always have little seeds. These make an interesting texture, and though this flavor is not my favorite, it blends very well with the cocoa. The chocolate lingers on my palate for several moments while the fruit flavor dissipates, though the seeds remain, fighting to stay on my teeth.

I rinse my mouth with water and try another bite, this one with more of the coating. This third bite is the same as the second in terms of quality, though pieces of the ganache are falling off because it is a thin layer, so you get mostly the creamy filling with these truffles.

Each truffle is between 5-6 bites depending on how much you want to take. The cocoa rush builds up, as do the slightly annoying seeds on my teeth. For people who love raspberries, this will be no problem at all but simply part of the joy of eating the berries. You must like raspberries to enjoy these, so consider that when thinking about flavors. Personally the other six flavors sound more enjoyable to me, but these "Raspberry Wine Truffles" were good, had a nice blend of flavors, and delivered the cocoa rush consistently. Monica Chocolates has succeeded with their offering.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cookies as Potential Sacraments

Here at The Chocolate Cult we will consider anything chocolate or cocoa in nature to be a potential tool for our spiritual journey. Yesterday I received the first non-candy submission of a product, two types of products in fact, from The Protein Bakery.

They send three types of their brownies and two types of cookies -- all chocolate at their core. Since these are baked goods and run the risk of spoiling or becoming stale, I will reveal them to you under the "Product/Restaurant/Store Reviews" section of the blog.

Please sign up as a "follower" or subscribe to the RSS feed or check back every day to get the full scoop on chocolate.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Special Sacramental Review

Sisters and Brothers, in the country where your Chocolate Priestess lives, today is a National Day of Prayer. I wanted to do this special review for you in the hopes that as you read you will also consider your nation and your role in how it functions and how you as a citizen can help it become healthier and more in tune with the needs of all its people. Conveniently, the next product on my review schedule was created for a charity, so I wanted to reveal its quality. However, the website for the company that created it is down, and I want you to be able to immediately check out everything I share with you. I will return to that product later when their website is back up.

Today I want to review the nature of Krause's Chocolates in a box of 12 assorted flavors they sent me. Here we see their signature dark brown box. The "K" looks more red in my photograph than it does to my eye because of the lighting I need to use. This is a 1/2 lb. box of chocolates, which means each of the 12 pieces weighs about 0.67 oz., so these are sizable pieces. According to the website, Krause's offers 80 flavors to choose from, so this is merely a sampling of what they have to offer. Normally they sell these assortments in boxes ranging from 1-5 pounds.

As you can see here, Sisters and Brothers, each piece is shaped and decorated differently. Included with the box was an identification chart that lists flavors by shape and design on each piece. I'll do my best to identify everything for you as we go along. The smallest piece in my sample is approximately 1 inch across, while the largest is close to 2 inches in length. Since this is not a Saturday I don't want to eat every bit of this chocolate; it falls outside my personal spiritual guidelines for moderation in my life. I will eat one bite of each type and save the rest for another day.

There are dark and milk chocolate pieces revealed when I open the box, easily done after I cut the tape that holds the lid down on two sides. There is a bit of bubble wrap and tissue paper to hold the pieces in place. They float in individual paper cups, but they are so large they do not seem to have moved much in transport. The first scent that hits me is a mixture of cocoa and nuts. This selection clearly has several nut flavors.

I remove what I am sure is the "Peanut Butter Meltaway" first. This has mini peanut butter chips on top of a 1.5 × 1.5 inch square. The milk chocolate here is quickly lost to the solid peanut flavor of the slightly dry cream inside. It isn't unpleasant, but more cocoa would be nice.

I rinse my mouth and let several minutes pass. Remember, give your mouth and nose time between chocolates so you can fully appreciate each new flavor when you try an assortment. This is an easy two-step process that will become second nature to you, Sisters and Brothers, as you practice it.

Next to it in the box is a 1.75 inch rectangular piece covered with rainbow sprinkles, the "Chocolate Cream" flavor. The sprinkles create an interesting texture, and crunch as I bite into this piece. The chocolate of the inner cream is sharp and intense, wonderful, an immediate minor rush of cocoa on my tongue that tingles in my mouth. This piece is the full sensory experience, so I highly recommend "Chocolate Cream."

The next piece is a 1.5 inch rectangle which is caramel on top with peanuts and milk chocolate on the bottom: "Peanut Caramel." It bites off with effort, because this caramel is very thick. The chocolate is overwhelmed by the caramel and the peanuts; the caramel is so thick that it takes several minutes of chewing, which releases more and more of its sweetness and makes it the dominant flavor.

I'm not sure of this next piece; it's round and has a light sprinkle of red on it, but I think another candy in the box might as well. When I breathe in the smell, there is a hint of fruit, so I take a bite of the 1 × 1 inch round piece. The outer dark chocolate shell snaps and then melts quickly. The dark chocolate cream inside also melts, and the flavor is revealed: "Strawberry Cream." This is another piece that delivers a buzz very quickly. The flavor lingers for several minutes as well, the fruit fading into the dark cocoa.

The next round dark chocolate piece has a coffee scent, so this must be the "Mocha Latte," and the the red on it was a transfer from the other piece. A snap of the hard shell reveals that inside it is much like the previous piece, but the coffee flavor is very intense. Luckily chewing the hard shell and the cream together make the flavor melt, but the coffee is still the dominant in this relationship.

This next piece is a milk chocolate that I can't smell anything but chocolate on, and I can't decipher the design or lack thereof. It's molded into the wrapper, which peels off easily. The shell is very thick but only makes a soft snap. The inside is soft, and after a few moments it reveals a sharp sweetness, so this must be the "Maple Cream" flavor. This is a well-balanced piece, the two flavors blending well to create a tangy milk chocolate taste in my mouth.

That takes us to the halfway mark. I'm going to go bike for 50 to 60 minutes, Sisters and Brothers, then I will continue to reveal the nature of this potential sacrament from Krause Chocolates. Refreshed 55 minutes later I can begin to look at the second half of Krause's offering to The Chocolate Cult.

The next rectangular piece is "Pecan Caramel" by its smell. Again this is a milk chocolate base topped by caramel and nut layers. The caramel here is softer than the one with the peanuts, but again the sweetness of the nuts and caramel overwhelm the milk chocolate. A good flavor, just not very chocolatey, and as time passes the bitterness of the cocoa entirely disappears.

The next one is an oblong, but its dark chocolate with three raised stripes isn't on this list. Smelling it, all I get is the cocoa. Inside is a soft creamy almost peanut butter color, but it doesn't taste like that. It's hard to describe. The texture is a bit rough and the taste a bit ... I think this may be "Ginger Crackers" flavor, Sisters and Brothers. Definite buzz from the dark cocoa.

A huge rectangular piece at 1.74 × 1 inch is my next piece from this assortment. Biting into this monster I taste caramel which is sticky and tangy, as well as milk chocolate. This "Caramel," then, is different from others revealed to this Cult, with its chocolate coating. Very heavy to hold in my hand and very rich in my mouth, it takes a bit of chewing, and the caramel is the more powerful flavor of the two, lingering for a few minutes.

After cleansing my mouth, drinking some water and waiting for some minutes, I turn to the next piece. This is an oddly shaped piece, and I'm fearing it may be coconut, given the white flecks on it ... your Chocolate Priestess is not a fan of coconut. Tentatively I sniff it and get only milk chocolate. I take a small bite, and indeed this is the "Coconut" piece. I can say for certain it is very much coconut, and it completely overpowers the milk chocolate.

The last two pieces both have chopped nuts on them. The square piece must be "Buttercrunch." It is huge at 1.5 ×1.75 inches — who cares if it isn't a perfect square if it takes good? The nuts smell like pecans to me as I take a bite. The center is hard, like a toffee, but it doesn't have the toffee taste; no, this is indeed a buttery taste. It crunches as I bite, sticking to the top of my teeth, which requires me to work the pieces loose with my tongue, adding to the buttery flavor throughout my mouth. This another example of the internal flavor overwhelming the chocolate.

The last piece is dark chocolate molded into the little brown paper cup. The scent of the nuts on top is almost nothing, and looking at them I'd guess walnuts, but that doesn't fit with any of the brief descriptions I have on the sheet that came in the box. The outer coating is hard; it comes off without revealing the inner part in my mouth. But this gives me time to taste just the dark chocolate and nuts, which turn out to be almonds. Inside are the almonds themselves, so this is the "Almonds" cluster. The almonds are huge; they are hard to bite through, so this will be a piece that takes a while to eat. The dark chocolate is in both the shell and the inner part holding the nuts together. A wonderful blend of flavors on my tongue that makes my eyes water with the cocoa rush.

If you choose to consume Krause's Chocolate as part of your Saturday or Special Sacraments, consider the range of flavors and ask for ones you will thoroughly enjoy. Since I couldn't find nutritional facts beyond an ingredient list, I urge you to carefully practice moderation when you eat. Be aware that as these are packed, any allergens are going to mix unless you carefully ask for specific flavors.

All of these, minus my own bias against coconut, were great tasting pieces of handmade candy. Some provided a good cocoa buzz while others were overpowered by the other flavors. At least none were so lightly flavored that I couldn't determine what they were. This means that Krause's Chocolates did a good job with this Special Sacrament.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

2 Offerings to the Chocolate Cult

Today, within a half an hour, Sisters and Brothers, your Chocolate Priestess was blessed with samples from two companies

Anna Shea Chocolates sent a box of their handmade bonbons including new flavors they are soon adding to their stores.

Spokandy sent three products, two types of mints, English Almond Toffee, and their Premium Assorted Selection of chocolates.

I look forward to revealing their products to you in the future.

Tomorrow, on May 7, 2009, in honor of the USA National Day of Prayer I will be doing a special Sacrament so that you might observe a spiritual moment or two with me.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chocolate Powered Race Car?

Have you heard, Sisters and Brothers, about a Formula 3 race car that claims it runs on waste products from food including from chocolate?

Today I saw these three articles about it. #1, #2 , and #3. The second and third articles have pictures of this car.

While your Chocolate Priestess cannot claim to be a big racing fan, she lives in Indiana so I do know something about Formula 1 racing. Formula 3 is sort of a proving ground that can lead to competing in bigger races around the globe. Primarily Formula 3 races now happen in Australia, Europe, Asia and South America. Check here to see a bit more about it.

Now while I'm all for using alternative energy because remember, Sisters and Brothers, we must protect the planet in order to grow the Sacred Substance, I do hope they aren't using edible chocolates. We need those, they can use the unnecessary parts of the plant or leftovers from the creation process of the chocolate humans eat.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Your Chocolate Priestess should perhaps not be too surprised but I was when I saw this article about Consumer Reports judging chocolate chip cookies.

In the new issue of Consumer Reports they used three criteria to judge cookies. "A top rated cookie is well-blended, flavorful, and has a good chip-to-cookie ratio." I note that how the chocolate itself affected the eater was not a factor which, as you know, Sisters and Brothers, is always a factor for us here.

They tested 13 packaged cookies that most of us could buy in a grocery store near us I'm sure. Their review of organic cookies sadly matches my own thoughts: too often these are bland and dry. What we need are cookies that are organic and fair trade without sacrificing taste. So far I've been hard pressed to find that with cookies though we have found that with candies.

If you want to do the taste test yourself, this article I've linked above lists them. Just please remember our ideal below and try to model your consumption on what I demonstrate on the "Saturday Sacraments" so that you can repeat their testing in a healthy and spiritually aware fashion.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, May 2, 2009

Montana Tom's Chocolate Factory sent your Chocolate Priestess three products to try. They came in a small box with only one bubble wrap piece cushioning them, which is a appreciated. Remember, Sisters and Brothers, if we don't protect our planet, where can we grow the precious cocoa beans we need to help us connect with the Divine?

Today I'm going to reveal the true nature of the "Taste of Montana" (Chocolate Trout and River Rocks) they sent my way. Here you see them packaged in a simple plastic sheath with a stapled label which only identifies it as a "goodie" -- looking on the website I identified it further. Both of these are milk chocolate, and there are some additives, but not nearly as many as you find in many of the chocolates you can buy in any grocery or drug store. The Rocks also have artificial coloring, which as you can see here in this next photo gives them an interesting rock-like look with colors ranging from dark brown to off-white with red and blue shades as well.

The little Trout measures 3.25 inches long and about 7/8 inch wide. As you can see in the picture, it has a little face and fin details etched in it, which make it very cute. Neither the website nor the label has nutritional information, but this is only a 1.6 oz. package, so it can't be too bad if you use it wisely.

The Rocks do not smell like chocolate, and that's likely because of the hard candy shell on them. I take a gray one and put it on my tongue to see how long it will take to melt. I'm not pleased by the flavoring of the shell — a bit sweeter than an M&M, but when it melts, which takes about 45 seconds or longer, it reveals milk chocolate much like the M&Ms I'm sure we've all eaten. One of the smallest pieces is primarily sugar tasting with not much chocolate. If I don't let it melt, the candy shell crunches with each bite and blends in fairly well with the milk chocolate. However, I think it would take a fair number of these to get a buzz, and it might be more from sugar than cocoa.

So I turn to the Trout next. When I fish saw this wrapped in gold foil I thought immediately of the folktale about the Golden Fish. So as to not mimic the bad wife's judgement in that story, I will take this in multiple bites, enjoying what I have in each moment and not wishing for more.

Taking a deep breath in I can smell the smooth milk chocolate. The fish is not waxy, and I can feel the etched details if I close my eyes and focus for a moment, letting my mind merge texture with scent. Now I have a dilemma: do I start with the tail or the head? Given my desire to put the poor dear out of its misery, as I do with chocolate bunnies after all, I bite off the head, which makes a very soft snapping sound but no noise as I chew.

This first chewed bite seems almost a bit fruity, which is odd given the ingredients. The second bite I let melt to see if the taste is different. The fruity flavor isn't as strong, but it is there, and I can't quite place it — a bit citruslike, I think, not unpleasant, but certainly unexpected. Over a minute is required to let that second bite melt, and by the time it has, my eyes water with the rush of the cocoa and sugars. The remainder of the bites, six of them in all, I also let melt, so this buzz grows with each one.

I was pleasantly surprised by this adorable offering from Montana Tom's for the amount of buzz it offered. Given the cuteness and price, I think this is a nice idea to add a little fun to your Saturday Sacraments or as a gift. Just make sure that you don't confuse these rocks with decorative rocks you might have elsewhere in your house.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chocolate and Beauty?

I'm sure, Sisters and Brothers, that most of you are familiar with Dove Chocolate. In terms of chocolate, Dove creates good chocolate at a price that most people can afford. At first, the products they offered were limited -- milk chocolate or dark chocolate. However in the past few years they have expanded their product line.

I got a 5.36oz "Dove Beautiful" package on sale. This past week I tried it to see if the claims that it would "promote beautiful-looking skin" worked. I used it as directed, one serving a day and as recent studies I've seen suggest by only drinking water with it and by not using other chocolates for the days I tried it.

This isn't pure chocolate. It has artificial ingredients even a casual look at the ingredients will show. It boasts that it has vitamins C & E, biotin and zinc and this is certainly something most chocolates do not have added to them.

During the time this one package offered me chocolate, I saw absolutely no improvement in the "beauty" of my skin. I even told friends and family about it before I began and checked in with then once I finished.

Your Chocolate Priestess then must say that as far as "Dove Beautiful" is concerned, one package worth will not provide benefits. If you want to spend money to try more packages, go ahead. I did not think though that this chocolate tasted as good as some of their other products so make your choice with this in mind.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

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