Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bears and Chocolate

I'm sure, Sisters and Brothers, that some of you have heard about a bear breaking into a home and eating chocolate while ignoring other food in the house. If not, here is a link to a brief article about it. This happens in San Antonio Heights, California just a few days ago but it is not the only time that bears have stolen chocolate.

A similar incident was reported in Aspen, Colorado, in 2004 in this article

A bear broke into a New Jersey mini van to take some chocolate in 2007 according to this article.

This is certainly not a rash of thievery among bears nor it is a trend with bears eating chocolate but it did surprise me to find similar events three times on a basic search on Google.

But should it surprise me?

Bears are omnivores, they eat a wide range of foods. Given that all of these bears lived near human habitats it is not unlikely that they would not have found chocolate in trash or even just tossed out during hikes or camping trips. We know that cocoa affects the human mind and for some of us can cause a strong desire for chocolate. I doubt anyone has studied the effects on bears but what if it has a similar affect on them? If that's true, it would be reasonable that a bear might recognize more chocolate and want it.

Or perhaps it's merely chance and because we human beings so love chocolate it makes the news.

Guard your Sacred Substance, Sisters and Brothers, never throw it away casually and be wary of giving it out too freely or you may create the next bear chocolate thief. Let me post fair warning to all the bears and other critters who may want my chocolate... Back Off!

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.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dark Version Health Comparison #1

Your Chocolate Priestess has briefly discussed some of the "health news" that comes out about chocolate. There was another article recently that you might want to look over. This summarizes several findings, showing benefits to darker chocolates, but as I ate a "Snickers Dark" on Saturday I thought: Are dark versions of things really that much better?

Let's start with the product itself, Sisters and Brothers. Since I prefer darker chocolate myself, I was hoping this version of the very old "Snickers" candy bar might taste better to me. When we look at the ingredients the only different is dark vs. milk chocolate and honestly I didn't like it as much as the original. While the milk chocolate mixes well with the peanuts, caramel and nougat I didn't think the bitterness of the dark variety made as good a balance for some reason I can't fully put my finger on. It wasn't an expectation though of the taste because I've never been a huge fan of "Snickers" -- they are OK but I wouldn't cross the street for one or normally even buy it unless it was Halloween.

Beyond my personal taste how does the dark compare to the milk version of "Snickers"?

First thing to note is that the Dark is smaller -- 1.83 oz vs 2 oz. Thus some differences may be a factor of quantity and not something innate to dark or milk variations of chocolate.

Dark has 250 Calories, Milk 280

Neither has transfat and both have 5g saturated fat and 5mg cholesterol.

Dark has 120mg sodium, Milk 140

Dark has 23g sugars, Milk 30g part of that is probably difference in chocolate since milk versions have more diary and sugar.

Dark has 2g fiber, Milk 1g -- not a high fiber food, Sisters and Brothers.

They have the exact same vitamins and proteins.

So at the end I have to say I don't think this is really healthier for you than the original version of "Snickers". If you like taste better, great, go for it, but don't tell yourself this is better for you.

So where did I get this "Snickers Dark" you are asking? Free coupon and I wanted to compare a dark version to a milk version of a popular mass produced candy bar. I got the coupon through a Friday contest that is going on all summer here.

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, June 27, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, June 27, 2009

When your Chocolate Priestess says the name Spokandy, it makes her giggle, because it sounds like what they make: candy. In business since 1913, this company has a lot of experience in the ups and downs of the economy and the changing tastes of consumers. They sent me three types of products to try — see the right hand picture — and today I'm going to look at one of these.

Spokandy has a very interesting label. Sisters and Brothers, by professional training, I'm an ancient historian, so their icon reminds me of classical images, while their red and gold boxes are unlike any chocolatier's packaging I've seen before. The lighting from my camera and the Sacred Dish probably make this a bit more impressive than you might think, but there are two characters at the center of the emblem. Here we see an adult and child figure walking through some trees, perhaps by a river, looking at a bird. Their website doesn't go into why they chose this image or its meaning, so I won't speculate further.

This 8 oz. "Premium Assorted Selection" contains 13 different candies, so prepare yourself for a long and hopefully enjoyable revelation today so you can determine whether Spokandy offers you a worthy Sacrament for your own Worship. Each piece is clearly unique, as you can see to the right. On the back of the box there are a few pictures of the six types of candies you can find in these boxed collections. The website, while full of nice images, didn't have pictures of everything, so come with me, Sisters and Brothers, on my journey of discovery as I try them. Just a note: although I give you my five-sense descriptions, I don't eat the entire piece that you see above; I generally eat two bites, and if there is more, I share it, unless I think a third bite will reveal something new to us. Moderation, even on these Holy Saturdays, Sisters and Brothers, must be one of the guideposts on our journey toward the Divine.

Free from all other tastes and textures now for several hours, I approach the first piece from this selection. This is the first of two "Specialities" that are wrapped in gold foil. The first is a rectangular piece measuring 1.25 × 0.75 × 0.75 inches of dark chocolate that has an intense mint scent as well as the cocoa scent when I take a mild breath of it. The piece makes a light crack as I bite into the thick ganache to reveal a greenish-gray firm center that delivers a rush of mint flavor. This blends fairly well with the dark chocolate, but the mint is the overwhelming flavor when I chew. It melts rapidly in my mouth and actually blends the two flavors more this way as well as delivering a tingling sensation to my mouth and up into my eyes for many minutes after I've eaten it. Two bites is like eating several mass-produced patties of the same flavors. An excellent choice for the mint chocolate lover.

The second gold foil wrapped piece is much flatter (2 × 1.75 × 0.5 inches) and almost square. On top I see what may be almost pieces, though the scent reveals on milk chocolate. It cracks loudly when I take a bite, revealing a hard toffee center and a rush of almond flavors -- sorry, Milk Chocolate Acolyte, the nuts prevent you from sharing this piece today. The toffee center crunches with each bite, releasing a tangy and buttery essence that overpowers the milk chocolate. Any rush here is from the sugar and almonds of the toffee and not the cocoa, but if you love toffee this is a very good sample, as the hard center softens and becomes sticky in my mouth, providing a new texture to enjoy. I have to brush my teeth and rinse my mouth before continuing, since the toffee sticks to the tops of my molars.

Three pieces look to be "Butter Creams," with their colored icing lines on top of the chocolate ganache. They are all the same size, about 1.4 inches in diameter, and 1 inch high. Two are darker chocolate -- yellow and white lines -- and one is milk chocolate with pink lines. Let’s see if the colors of the lines give a hint as to the flavors, Sisters and Brothers. The pink one has a fruity scent to it, and the yellow does as well, but the white really only has the cocoa when I take a deep whiff of each.

The pink one makes a very soft snap when I bite into it to reveal a soft, bright pink center that is sweet with a little kick that tastes a lot like the strawberries we had last week, minus the bumpy textures. The brightness of the coloring makes me suspect an artificial coloring was added, but I taste no dye.

The yellow lined one makes no noise as I take a bite that reveals a light yellow center. It feels grainy in my mouth as I chew and has a definite lemon taste. A second bite and a mushing of it on my tongue makes me think this is a lemon zest or peel I'm feeling in the center. The lemon actually overwhelms the dark chocolate taste even if I let it melt, though that increases the cocoa flavor.

The white lined piece bites open with no sound to reveal very, very sweet, almost buttery white center. As you all know, I'm not a fan at all of coconut, but this has that the ending flavor I associate with coconut. Consulting with the Milk Chocolate Acolyte, he thinks it's marshmallow — he's wrong; the texture and chewiness is completely off for that, plus this is one of the butter creams. I'm left confused. If this is a coconut butter cream, it is very unlike what I'd expect, but it certainly is not vanilla flavored either. Whatever the flavor the intense sweetness immediately outshines the dark chocolate.

Of the remaining 7 pieces of this boxed selection, two are dark chocolates so I'll reveal those next, Sisters and Brothers. One looks like it probably has nuts and the other probably has coconut based on the uneven tops. Each piece is 1.25in in diameter and about 0.75in tall round shapes. Each smells only of deep, dark cocoa when I inhale their scents.

I take a bite of what I think may be the coconut candy and I am very surprised that it is indeed coconut but it's crunchy mixed in with a hard cocoa center. Still not a fan because it's definitely coconut -- here's to wishing for applications to the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte position -- but it is certainly unique of all the coconut candies I've had to try thus far in The Chocolate Cult.

Several minutes later I try the other dark chocolate and discover it has nuts; I think they are cashews by their taste, which crunch in a solid piece of intense dark chocolate. These two flavors are great together, and the cocoa definitely wins out and offers a nice buzz by the second bite. I think there are at least 10 cashew halves in this, so no skimping on the nuts for this candy.

The last six pieces then all appear to be milk chocolate candies of various forms. I'm going to try the long thin piece first, which measures almost 2.5 × 0.8 × 0.6 inches in dimensions. It has a strong fruity scent when I bring it to my nose that could be raspberry. Biting in silently reveals a dark chewy, jellylike center with a light taste which is either raspberry or cherry; it is hard to tell even after several bites. This is a really unique texture to feel for chocolate candies; it almost bounces in on my teeth as I chew and mostly disintegrates as I let it set in my mouth. I like it — it's unusual — but I like it as the fruit blends well with the milk chocolate.

After a few hours’ break — too much chocolate is not moderation, Sisters and Bothers, even if I'm only having a bite or two of each — I return to the last five candies from Spokandy's selection. The most visually interesting of these pieces is a round one covered with mini chocolate chips that is over 1.25 inches in diameter. The ganache makes a gentle snap when I bite. Inside is a very soft, almost flowing, very grainy center with a strong cocoa flavor. This is a triple chocolate threat candy that provides a rapid mild rush through my head.

The next round piece is just over 1 inch in diameter but 0.75 inches thick. It has a sweet scent to it, almost no scent at all. There are some bumps on the top, suggesting it may be a nut candy again. Nope, instead this is a solid milk chocolate candy, and it makes a loud snap as I struggle to bite into it. The chocolate is smooth and creamy, a touch of bitterness suggesting that this is on the higher cocoa content end of the milk chocolate continuum. Another bite reveals that there is something inside: raisins. There are only a few; I counted only four in the entire thing, and the cocoa completely overwhelms their flavor. Normally raisins have a unique sweetness, but not in this case, so it was disappointing.

The next piece is identical externally, so I just bite into it. It crunches not from the chocolate but from the peanuts buried inside. There are probably 8 or so whole peanuts, and if they are salted it's only very lightly. The peanut and milk chocolate flavors blend almost perfectly as I chew. This is a good choice of flavors for anyone who likes both peanuts and milk chocolate.

A square piece measuring 1 × 1 × 0.75 inches with two raised chocolate lines on the top is the next one I'll reveal, Sisters and Brothers. I take two big whiffs before the first sniff hints at something sweet under the milk chocolate. It smushes as I bite, revealing a caramel center that as I chew it sticks to my teeth and becomes increasingly buttery to my taste buds. Very interesting, and the aftertaste lasts and lasts, overpowering the cocoa.

Finally the last candy is sort of oblong in shape at 1.75 ×1 × 0.5 inches. This is a "turtle" -- chocolate, caramel and pecans -- as I discover when I bite into it. The caramel here is just as buttery as the previous piece's, but it's blended well with the nutty flavor to create three levels of texture and taste in my mouth. The result is a rather surprising bitter aftertaste to this candy, which I do like, but which I was not expecting.

It happens to be a very hot and humid day where your Chocolate Priestess lives (air conditioning only does so much when you are trying to save energy and money), so the pieces melt a bit on my fingers. The label of the box indicates there are some preservatives in these, but primarily the ingredients are natural, confirmed by the scents and the textures of the candies in my hand.

Spokandy offers a lot of very interesting and even unique products, including Huckleberry flavored chocolate coated candies. Take a look around their website, and you'll be delighted. They do not take orders directly over the Internet, but they have a printable order form you can fill out, or you can phone or email them. One thing I would love to see on their website beyond the pictures of each type of candy they offer, especially for their selection boxes, is a nutritional guide. Overall I am pleased by their website and by their offering today. I look forward to revealing their other products in the future.

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, June 26, 2009

Chocolate Milk -- Shamrock Farms

Your Chocolate Priestess will not repeat all of the news stories that have appeared over the past several months that suggest drinking low fat chocolate milk after exercising may have health benefits. I've discussed that issue before. Today, after my own hour of biking I had some "reduced fat" chocolate milk from Shamrock Farms.

Normally I buy Nesquick fat free chocolate milk in a cartoon which lasts for 3-4 glasses depending on the size of the glass. I buy other brands when they are on sale and I have a coupon since over all other brands are less expensive. Plus so far Nesquick is the only brand that I've found in my area that offers a fat free version.

Shamrock Farms version still has a lot of fat -- 5g saturated fat, 35mg cholesterol, 300mg sodium, 600mg potassium, less than 1g fiber, 40g sugar, 13g protein but a lot of vitamins including 45% of the daily recommended calcium 40% vitamin D. The regular version of the product has even more fat per 12oz bottle which equals one serving. I like the product a lot but given the amount of fat and the price I buy it only rarely. One up side is that the bottle says they do not give their cows hormonal treatments so for those of you to whom this is important the cost may be worth it but I have to ask: Is the fat?

So have some low fat or fat free chocolate milk after your exercise and let me know how that makes you feel. Do you think it's helping you stay motivated to keep up your routine? Do you think it helps your physical development? Would you get the same benefits from soy products?

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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another Company to Consider Environment and Labor

Blommer Chocolate Company sells cocoa to chocolatiers to make their products. This news article informed your Chocolate Priestess yesterday that they are introducing a new line of products with the environment and sustainable agriculture in mind.

Why is this important for us in The Chocolate Cult? For three reasons really which are inter-related. First Blommer is the biggest supplier of cocoa and chocolate in North America so it's policies both reflect trends and can influence them as well. Second, consumers are often told that in order to protect the environment and jobs we have to be willing to pay a little more so expect prices to go up. Third, if you want to know where your chocolatier gets her supplies you can now ask them if they are using the Blommer line of sustainable products or not and thus make a more informed choice.

As I've said repeatedly, Sisters and Brothers, and I'll keep saying here, if we don't protect the land cocoa is produced on we will see lower quality cocoa and chocolate and much higher prices as it becomes more difficult for the plants to grow. But there is more to the issue that merely land, taste, and cost. Sustainable agriculture also means that future generations of farmers can continue to earn a living. In turn those farmers will then have money to spend on other products getting other people employed.

So you see, thinking about what your chocolate comes from is an excellent way to not only protect yourself but the planet and other human beings as well.

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.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Personal Responsibility Using Products

I've sure, Sisters and Brothers, you have all now heard and seen that Nestle has removed it's ready to bake products from stores because some people eating the uncooked cookie dough have gotten ill. While there is no excuse for any contamination of a product on the part of the manufacturer, I want to talk about consumer responsibility today.

Why? Not only are products being removed from shelves, products that some folks may really miss using, but this article from the Examiner warns that 200 jobs may be on the line as well. The Nestle products have a warning on them and instructions that say not to eat the dough uncooked. Now because some people feel the need to disregard these warnings and good old common sense, the company is losing revenue and people may lose jobs.

I'm sure someone out there is going to sue Nestle and frankly I think they should not win that suit unless they followed the product directions and got ill after baking them as instructed. If you want to make some homemade cookie dough and eat it raw, the consequences would rightly fall down on your own head. Isn't it about time that this applied to all circumstances in life? If you purposely misuse a product, choosing to not follow the directions the manufacturer has put on that product, aren't you the person responsible for what happens at that point?

Why should Nestle or their employees, many of whom have others dependent on their income, be punished for your choices? The government agencies that should be overseeing product safety need to do a better job and companies need to do better as well but I hope those folks don't lose their incomes or the issues ends up in court but those were be unjust in your Chocolate Priestess's rather strong opinion.

Yes, we need to hold business to high standards especially when it concerns consumer health but that never excuses the user from making wise decisions. Moderation and Purposefulness -- always think before you consume anything please.

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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Donaldson's Treats

The first day of our recent trip, your Chocolate Priestess and the Milk Chocolate Acolyte went through Lebanon, Indiana, where we saw a series of signs for "CHOCOLATE". Obviously we had to stop. What we found was a house which was actually a store called "Donaldson's Finer Chocolates".

Inside we found both the sells room and a the manufacturing part of the business as well. Another customer was there so we made sure not to get him in the picture while we looked around. The first thing you see is a big display of candies you can purchase individually. Yes, that's me in the front looking back at you but that's Laura, the owner's daughter-in-law who gave us permission to take pictures and answered a few questions. She said that Mr. Donaldson has been a chocolatier for four decades but he wasn't there today. Since I've had several fine truffles recently I looked at the other displays in the store.

They sell boxed sets as well. None list the contents and when I asked Laura she said they pride themselves on not listing the contents, it makes each bit a surprise. While I applaud their confidence in their products, I personally want to know what each piece is since my family, both immediate and extended, has allergies of a wide variety. In the background, beyond the glass you can see part of the manufacturing section of the store.

Again I've had a fair amount of boxed selections recently so I turned to another display only part of which you can see in the photo on the left. Here are individually wrapped and sold treats of a wide assortment. You can see more of the kitchen as well in this picture and though we didn't take pictures, they were making more candies while we were there.

We got a white chocolate pretzel, two milk chocolate covered oreos, two dark chocolate covered marshmallows, a milk chocolate covered rice crispy treat, two mint turtles and an orange butterfly. They also had a wide selection for Father's Day in the form of sports equipment. You can see what we bought below:
The chocolate covered treats were all excellent. I was most surprised by how much I liked the covered marshmallows with the pecan halves on them -- the inside was very chewy and fresh, the chocolate ganache had clearly sealed them well. The decorative candies on top of the oreos and the rice crispy treat could have been left off, it tasted like dye to be honest. The butterfly had an orange taste but sadly the turtle barely tasted like anything than white chocolate. But these items were all reasonably priced so you could try a variety of things and I didn't feel like it wasn't worth my money.

If "Donaldson's" sounds like a place you want to check out, you can find it at the Junction of I-5 & 600 S. State Road 39 in Lebanon, Indiana. We took this picture just because, hope it makes you smile but remember: Moderation and Purposefulness.

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.

Monday, June 22, 2009

National Chocolate Eclair Day

Today, according to some fun calendars in the USA, is "National Chocolate Eclair Day". To celebrate I tried an eclair from the Bakehouse, a restaurant I mentioned last month who offer this amazing chocolate dipped cheesecake.

Regardless of what I've felt about one product or a restaurant in the past, you know your Chocolate Priestess always uses all her senses and a clear mind to evaluate everything as fairly as possible. The last chocolate eclair I had was from Dunkin' Donuts so I'll compare this fancier one to that earlier one I revealed.

At first glance these may appear smaller but in fact while they are shorter they are much thicker. The chocolate on top melted on my fingertips and the taste strongly suggests this is a purer cocoa which I expect from the Bakehouse. By the end it also provided a gentle buzz. The pastry itself was very flaky and buttery tasting, almost melting in my mouth. There is less of the cream filling but it is also thicker than the Dunkin' variety. Sadly it is also tasteless. Frankly I want to know why chocolate eclairs have anything other than chocolate in them but when they do, I want it to taste like something even if that's vanilla.

The Bakehouse eclairs are more than two times the Dunkin' price so I expect them to be more than two times the quality. The chocolate and the pastry are undeniably better but the cream center is certainly not. So, Sisters and Brothers, figure out what matters most to you in your chocolate eclair and then consider getting one, just one, moderation remember to mark this day.

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.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day & Chocolate

Your Chocolate Priestess's father asked for chocolate this Father's Day.

I didn't send him any.

Now before you get upset and think that I'm disrespecting my father, know that I used The Chocolate Cult's ideals of Moderation and Purposefulness to make this decision. My father has always struggled with his weight though frankly he has never had any of those terrible health issues beyond merely weighing above his ideal until a few years ago.

My mother also, who lives with him, has a poor heart and she is forbidden to eat chocolate. The last time I sent him chocolate, she ate some. To me this demonstrated that together they are not yet able to watch her health as they should. Since I know he loves her dearly and it hurt him to know she ate that chocolate and may have hurt her health, I decided to not send him chocolate. If we lived closer to him, I'd certainly bring him some chocolate so I could oversee that she did not eat any.

Now, for most of you, Sisters and Brothers, I pray this won't be an issue. If your father wants chocolate, get him some but keep a few things in mind.

First, what type of chocolate does he like? Dark, bittersweet, milk, white? Don't get him something you love which he merely tolerates -- this is supposed to be about him today. If he likes plain chocolate don't get it nuts or caramels or added flavors. If he has a favorite, get him his favorite. Don't be thoughtless and just go buy a variety box.

Second, are there any health concerns you should be aware of? Perhaps his weight is a bit high so get him one or two pieces of really good chocolate. If he's allergic to any thing make sure you check all the ingredients before you buy and if the chocolatier won't give you a list, don't buy their product.

Third, what are his other interests? Try to match the chocolate with something he likes. If he's into sports, try a football shaped chocolate or golf ball style truffle. If he likes cars, see if you can find a box shaped like a car. Don't assume that your father is like the stereotypical guy either. Really find out what he likes; it might be flowers or teddy bears.

Fourth, who will or may eat it with him? If, like my family, there is someone who should not have chocolate, be there to share his chocolate with him, making sure that you and he eat it but those who shouldn't do not. Plus eating with him is spending time with him, the greatest gift you can give him. Take that opportunity to introduce him to our ideals of Moderation and Purposefulness, too, and perhaps a link back to this site.

Not all fathers like chocolate. I know, Sisters and Brothers, you are shocked by that statement but it's true. If your father doesn't like chocolate, don't get it for him. If he only mildly likes it, consult with other family members so you don't all get him chocolate and really consider only getting a small amount so you don't overwhelm him. Fathers are great, they will smile and use what you give them even if they dislike it or hate it. Be kind enough to think and give a gift that is truly a gift in honor of Father's Day.

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, June 20, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, June 20, 2009

A few weeks ago, CBC Chocolates sent me two samples of their products. Normally I'd split these into two "Saturday Sacraments," but their chocolates have an expiration date that is next week, so I need to do them both now. Your Chocolate Priestess isn't fond of expiration dates that force her to reveal products to you ahead of other companies' offerings, but I hope those other companies understand and can wait an extra week. The thing to note about CBC is that their chocolates are almost always combined with
alcohol, so if that is a concern for you, look elsewhere. Their founder wasn't even an adult when he created this company, and given that both offerings are wine or ale truffles, that surprised me. The company has been around a few years, so they are a new player in the world of chocolate creations.

Let's start with the "Fat Scotch Ale Truffles," which are in the first picture above. They come in a little box with a handle; the box itself seemed about twice the size needed for the six truffles inside, since each measures about 0.75 inches in diameter with a height of 1 inch. Each piece is a unique shape, indicating that these are indeed hand dipped as the store information claims. When I bring a truffle to my nose and breathe its scent, I get only bittersweet chocolate. The ingredient list on the box shows nothing artificial in these, so I bite, hoping it will be an amazing taste. The dark ganache breaks easily to reveal the softer truffle inside. The bitterness of ale is immediate and results in a very bitter candy that is excellent if you like your chocolate with such a kick. Surprisingly it takes a while for the second bite to melt in my mouth, but this increases the ale taste I get until it overcomes the chocolate. If you want more cocoa flavor, just chew it slowly; if you want more of the ale, let it melt.

The second offering from CBC was their "Assorted Wine Truffles," which come in a box of 5 truffles of the same dimensions as the brew series above. Three of these truffles are almost identical in appearance aside from the slight difference in shape that comes from being hand dipped. They are all milk chocolate, so I'm going to have to use my sadly lacking knowledge of wines to try to determine which flavor these are. In terms of scent, they all smell like milk chocolate with an undertone of bitterness, which the ingredients for the "Syrah," the "Port," and the "Malbec" all indicate they should have.

The first piece I try has a sort of fruity sweet taste that is very smooth in the soft dark center. The second piece has a stronger tannin taste. The final one of this trio has a firmer center and almost no wine taste that I can determine over the cocoa. I consult several online sources for information about what each of these should ideally taste like. None of these have the peppery essence I'd expect from a Syrah, but I'm guessing it's the second one because of the tannin content. Since Port is more of a dessert wine, I'm going to guess that is the first I tried, which leaves the last the Malbec, though I don't get a "yammy" sort of taste from it. Regardless, the dominant flavor for all three is the bittersweet chocolate center that increases in intensity when you let the outer milk chocolate shell melt.

I thoroughly cleanse my palate then look to the two unique wine series truffles -- a white one and a dark one with a white curlicue on the top. According to the ingredients list, the white one should be a "White Port" and the other "Champagne." The white one has an alcoholic scent to it when I take a deep whiff of it. Inside it has an equally white soft center with a light fruity flavor that strongly suggests my milk chocolate guess for the "Port" was correct. As I expect from white chocolate, this is smooth and provides no cocoa buzz. In fact, after about five minutes, my stomach rebels a bit at the overall sweetness of this piece, so consider it best for those of you who really love white chocolate and a lot of sweetness in your truffles.

I take another break then pick up the last piece. The "Champagne" truffle smells only of bittersweet chocolate when I breathe it in. Biting in reveals an equally dark semi-soft center that is very bitter with a hint of champagne, which I personally think of as only slightly sweet with a hint of spice to it and whose quality can vary widely -- sometimes I dislike champagne, but sometimes I like it. Letting the second bite melt at first gives a strong cocoa rush followed by a more intense champagne flavor, so make sure you like both sensations in your mouth and on your tongue. This and the "Port" milk chocolate were my two favorites of the wine series of truffles.

CBC Chocolates has a nice range of alcoholic and coffee chocolates on their website. I do think that for the size and quantity of chocolates they are a bit expensive compared to other companies who have submitted offerings to The Chocolate Cult. The "Fat Scotch Ale Truffles" were excellent and unique, while the wine series could use more variation in both the external decorations to label their type and some more intensity on some of the flavors.

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, June 19, 2009

Traviata's Chocolate Love

While in Lisle, Illinois, last weekend, your Chocolate Priestess found and visited a local chocolatier named Violeta Karalis who has a long history in the catering business. Three years ago she started a "chocolate and gelato cafe" called Traviata after the opera. Let me explain, Sisters and Brothers, why you should strongly consider visiting her at 1111 Burlington Ave, Suite 101. I'm going to include lot of photographs the Milk Chocolate Acolyte took so enjoy -- note that is my head over in the lower right hand corner.

First, don't let these external photos fool you, the place is much deeper than you might image from the outside. While there isn't much seating inside, Violeta goes out of her way to make you feel welcome and help you celebrate. In fact while we were there she helped a young man plan a special surprise for his lady by taking items he wanted placed out by a certain time and making notes about the little party he wanted to throw.

That was just one of the ways that Violeta showed her love of chocolate and focus on customer service. She was more than happy to talk to us about her business, all of her products, and offer me free samples. Her cafe has seasonal business. They always make the candies but in the summer the gelato and other types of candies sell more than the truffles or hot drinks. That makes perfect sense but the range of products in this store also demonstrates that they understand that and offer such a wide range of products on purpose.

First we tried the gelato, sharing one scoop of the chocolate variety. I remember gelato from Rome, Italy, that I had many years ago while studying abroad for a year and this reminded me of that. Gelato is slightly healthier than ice cream but the outstanding characteristic it has for us, Sisters and Brothers, is that the flavors are stronger in gelato. This was very much like eating a rich milk chocolate in every bite, nothing dulled by the cold or added ingredients.

Violeta offered me a taste of her hot chocolate drinks but your Chocolate Priestess really limits such drinks to the cooler or cold months just as I limit ice cream and gelato to the warm or hot months. I find a nice contrast with the environment helps me appreciate the cocoa more. Besides hot chocolates, the large red poster to the left, Traviata also has coffees, teas and cold drinks. If you are having anything else that is chocolate, I have to recommend you stick to water so you can fully experience what you are eating.

Obviously one of the big draws for any chocolatier are the candies it sells. Truffles are big sellers during the cooler months and the regular school year, Violeta told me. To the left we see the truffle display which I was told has a smaller selection than it would have a month or two before. Up by the counter there are also other candy and cookie products and Violeta game me a box of 6 dark chocolate covered turtles that I'll discuss in a moment. I also bought two truffles -- White Lavender and Hazelnut -- and three dessert truffles -- Tiramisu, Caramel, and Mint. The truffles are about 1in in diameter while the dessert size are about 1.5in across. All tasted exactly as I'd expect given their names.

The turtles I bought were about 1.75in across and very thick with chocolate, caramel, and 2-3 pieces pecan halves in each. To the right you see the candies I bought and three of the turtles. The dark chocolate was wonderful bitter and balanced with the sweetness of the caramel that literally oozed from the turtle when I bite. The unique look of each, sometimes as you can see the pecan was visible, sometimes only caramel, confirmed these were handmade as Violeta told me. Each one was chewing and by the time I finished I had a definite cocoa high that opened my sinuses and eyes and lightened my head.

If we are ever back in Lisle, Illinois, again I will certainly stop by Traviata. Check it out if you are in the area not far from Chicago.

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.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quincy's Restaurant = Fudge Cake

While your Chocolate Priestess and the Milk Chocolate Acolyte were away on a four day weekend to a convention, sadly not having anything to do with chocolate, she visited a few chocolatiers and had chocolate about once a day to try out the local fare instead of chain eateries.

On Friday, June 12, 2009, I went to Quincy's Restaurant in Naperville, Illinois, not far from the convention itself. They don't have a website but their address is 1112 E. Ogden Ave, phone number (603)369-8035, if you want to check them out. As you can see, this restaurant is one of many "pancake houses" that are around Chicago. I think that 1/10th of the restaurants we saw were "pancakes houses" and, yes, we ate at two of them.

Beyond the dinner offerings, the "Board Specials" were great in portion, taste, and price, our server said they had two chocolate desserts I could choose from as part of the "special". I chose the "Fudge Cake" which was simply served on plate with no added decorations. It was large, filling up most of the dessert plate and a dark, dark color with lighter chocolate frosting stylized flowers on the top.

The two layers of cake were a great balance, not too dry or moist, and they had a definite dark cocoa flavor that matched their color. Between them, on the top and on both sides, suggesting this was a loaf style cake, were thick layers of darker chocolate fudge that wasn't too sweet but definitely not bitter. The lighter frosting decorations were sweeter and added a nice compliment without sauces or fruit slices on the plate.

As I left, I told the manager, the owner's son, that I would be giving his cake a favorable review. He was pleased because he said they had been working on the recipe, trying to make it more fudgelike. It is indeed worthy of that name and a good deal as part of the special or by itself for $3.50. If you are in Naperville give Quincy's a try.

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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"National Dump the Pump Day"

You Chocolate Priestess knows that you are wondering how tomorrow's "holiday" urging us to take forms of public transit relates to chocolate.

Sisters and Brothers, anything that relates to the planet and it's environment relates to chocolate.

To put it in simple terms.

Damaged Environment = Less Land for Cacao or the Cocoa Plant

Less Cacao = Less Chocolate

Less Chocolate = Higher Prices for the Products We Love and Use

Over a month ago, I was at a neighborhood event and I heard something amazing. Some people didn't know that cacao is a plant. Where they thought cocoa and thus chocolate comes from I'm not sure. Cacao grows best in certain regions so you can't just plant it in your back you. Here's a map you should look at to get an idea of where your chocolate comes from.

If you haven't seen the cacao plant before, here is an image from a 19th century book by Francisco Manuel Blanco that I found here. I choose this image because it is now in the public domain and I never want to infringe on other writers' and artists' work.

The entire point of my post today, Sisters and Brothers, is to get you to think today, and every day, about what you do that will impact your use of chocolate products. So the next time you want to just hop in a car to go to the store STOP. Could you walk or take mass transit? Could you postpone that trip or combine it with other errands? Could you make a list of everything else you might need over the course of a full week and only go shopping once? These are things I try to do myself so I'm not asking you to walk this Path alone but with me. Make June 18, 2009, the first day you change your transportation habits to save the Chocolate.

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. If I don't get any applicants soon, I'm seriously considering ending this contest. I can use the chocolate coconut bars I have in other promotions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trip from 2007 with Candy!

Approximately two years ago, in late May and early June 2007, your Chocolate Priestess went on a little trip where she found a wonderful candy store called Albanese Candy Store in northern Indiana. This past weekend we drove by it again but didn't stop so this post are my memories and photos from the first trip. On the right, Sisters and Brothers, is the store front.

The Alabanese group specializes in gummi bears really but they also make some chocolate as well as retail a lot of different types of candy which you can see of to the left. We took their tour which is really just a video tour where you walk around the outside of the factory. Frankly the tour was a bit disappointing since we didn't see any live candy making on the video and their was no live tour guide to interact with.

I remember we bought a good selection of their candies both chocolate and not though, of course, I focused on the chocolates and choose a high percentage of the darker variety myself from the section in the photo to the right. This was years before I discovered the Path I follow and I pray you follow now so I'm sure I at the candy too quickly and did not enjoy it as much as I could have. Thus, to be completely honest, even only two years later my memories of quality are vague.

I think one of the biggest attractions to the store in Merrillville, Indiana, has to be the giant chocolate waterfall display that you can see to the left. You can't even see the base of it in this photo. I remember that because it's enclosed in plastic you can't really smell the chocolate, only see it as it flows and mixes. Around it was a selection of boxed chocolates you could buy but when I go to a chocolatier or candy shop, Sisters and Brothers, I prefer to buy one piece at a time instead prepackaged selections. That way I get only what I want or what I think another person will want if I'm buying as a gift. Given the dangers of allergies, I've found this to be a wise move.

We drove by Merrillville on Thursday but didn't stop into the store again when I realized I had these photos and memories all ready. Plus as you'll see the rest of this week, I had a trip full of chocolate stores and restaurants all ready to share with 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.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Chocolate Priestess on the Road

Your Chocolate Priestess does not take a lot of trips and I'm sure many of you can understand that given the current state of the economy of most places on earth today. When I do, I will samples local chocolate and share my findings, good or not so good with you. If I have reliable Internet access, or at least free access, I'll try to post as I am traveling. When I don't, I post the week after I get back.

So do not worry when I stop posting for a while. I am merely journeying and opening myself up to a greater world of chocolate so I can point you in the direction of potential sacraments and reveal products worth your attention or one you should avoid.

In other news, Taraluna, a company that supports fair trade and eco-friendly products, sent an offering to The Chocolate Cult today. I'll be reviewing them over the next several months including products for the winter holidays when we get closer to the appropriate season. Taraluna takes their commitment to the planet and we who live here seriously but please take your time to check them out.

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, June 13, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, June 13, 2009

Sisters and Brothers, today your Chocolate Priestess reveals the essence of four types of chocolate covered fruits and nuts from Emily’s Chocolates while I’m traveling. I will always lead you in Saturday Sacraments unless it is absolutely impossible, as part of my service to you and the Divine.
As you can see to the left, each type of covered fruits or nuts from Emily’s comes in a bag and weighs 5 ounces, and each has a color associated with the type of product so they are easier to recognize. While each type has 3.5 servings of product per bag, the nutritional value varies, so I’ll highlight that in each review but, overall they have very little sodium – none to 10mg for the almonds – and 170-180 calories. One thing to note is that they are great for travel because the bags are designed to be resealable, but you’ll want these up front with you, because, as the bag warns, the chocolate may melt above 70 degrees F.

“Milk Chocolate Covered Almonds” have a distinctive nut scent when you open the brown and orange striped bag. These are big almonds, about an inch long, with a very slight waxy feel that is a result of the additives necessary to give the bags a shelf life of approximately a year. Individually the milk chocolate scent covers the earthy nut smell that was obvious when I first opened the bag. When I bite the nut crunches and remains crunchy, its texture and flavor contrasting with the milk chocolate shell. The almond is the dominant flavor, and it lingers after the cocoa flavor is gone. Each serving is about 10 almonds, has 170 calories, 4.5 g saturated fat, less than 5 mg cholesterol, 2 g dietary fibers, 11 g sugar, and 4 g of protein, with 6% of the daily calcium and 4% of the daily iron the USDA recommends for an adult.

The smallest candies of these four types are found in the blue-striped bag of “Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries,” where ¼ cup equals a serving. You can see the relative sizes of these four chocolate covered treats from Emily’s to the right. Again, the blueberry flavor is strong when I first open the bag, but individually the chocolate takes command. Even though this is darker chocolate, the texture is the same, as are the listed ingredients, so I’m not sure of the cocoa percentages that define milk versus dark for Emily’s. When I eat one, the first flavor is the chocolate – an average quality of dark chocolate for such products – but as I chew the blueberry bursts forth, though it never covers the cocoa; this is true for the second and third pieces I eat as well. If you want a strong blueberry flavor you will not find it here but you will find 4.5 g saturated fat, zero cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 1 g protein and 170 calories in each serving, and 4% of the recommended daily amounts of Vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

I rinse my mouth out before moving on to the “Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries,” which are “dried red sour cherries” in the obvious cherry red striped bag. Each serving is 11 pieces, which are larger than the almond pieces but not as big as the next fruit I’ll reveal today. Once more the fruit scent is dominant when the bag opens but quickly fades for the individual pieces. The bite is chewy, and the sour cherry taste works forth with each chew to blend nicely with the bitterness of the chocolate. These are two deep flavors with very little sweetness, and I liked that a lot, but that’s probably because I prefer the more sour of the cherry varieties. A serving of these has 180 calories, 6 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 23 g sugars, and 1 g protein, with 4% of the recommended daily amounts of calcium and iron and 2% of the Vitamin A an adult should get.

Finally I turn my attention to the “Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries” in the green striped bag, which are the biggest pieces you see in the above photo, and this is why it only takes 6 of these to equal one serving. Each serving has an amazing 35% of the daily recommended Vitamin C but 4% of the calcium and iron you want each day, along with 4.5 g saturated fat, zero cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 22 g sugars, and 1 g protein. Unlike the other bagged fruits and nuts, upon opening this bag the dominant scent is chocolate not strawberry. The bite is firm, but barely makes a sound. With each chew the strawberry flavor is slowly revealed, which really surprised me considering how big each piece is and the nutritional information – I thought the strawberry would surely overwhelm the dark cocoa taste.
While I have mentioned the initial waxy texture of the candies, I want to explore that briefly. We, Sisters and Brothers, need to judge chocolate products by their purpose. For more expensive handcrafted products our expectations need to be high to balance out the cost per unit, but even then, as I’ve mentioned before, taste or appearance may be important for different reasons . For bagged covered fruits and nuts we need to consider their shelf life and portability as well as taste. These Emily’s products are higher quality than your average chocolate covered raisins, more flavorful, less waxy, and more nutritious. If you are choosing between covered fruits and nuts, I think this is the superior choice for a decent price, but not as healthy as the fruits and nuts by themselves.

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 this post from the eastern half of the Midwest, don’t forget The Chocolate Cult’s first CONTEST.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sharing Some "Truths"

Newspaper reporter and self-proclaimed chocoholic, Janice Taylor, recently had a "10 Truths" list about chocolate here. Sounds like a lot of the things I've been saying now for a few months.

However, your Chocolate Priestess does not believe she is unique, only that the way she shares the ecstasy of chocolate and cocoa along with being a model of how to use chocolate as part of your spiritual journey. Any priest or religious figure should be a model that you can follow. Not perfect but honest with their weaknesses. Not all knowing but sharing their thirst for knowledge and helping you ask questions. Not the only one who can connect with the Divine but the one willing to take that first step, risking it for the sake of revelation.

Plus I want to entertain you as well.

If I do any of that for any one of you, Sisters and Brothers, then I am achieving what I hoped for and I pray you continue to keep reading, become "followers," write comments, and try the Saturday Sacraments yourself perhaps choosing some of the products I reveal here or letting me know about other chocolatiers or sending me other offerings to reveal.

On a personal note, there will be no message on Friday or Sunday because I'm going to a convention. I will make a special effort to do the Saturday Sacrament Saturday morning, live as always, so please do return to read that. If I find any worthy or unworthy chocolate in my time in Lisle or Naperville near Chicago, I will write about it next week.

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.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"The Lockhorns," Chocolate & Social Band Aids

Sisters and Brothers, your Chocolate Priestess saw this comic in her morning newspaper and it made her think.

Here we have Mr. and Mrs. Lockhorn at their front door and the wife says "If you haven't done anything wrong, Leroy, then why the Belgian chocolate?" I want to decipher these words within the context of moderation and purposefulness.

Clearly there is a purpose to what Mr. Lockhorn is doing and the Mrs. sees through it. His purpose is to help him deal with a conflict he knows is going to arise between him and his bride. That he has a huge box and one of "Belgian" variety implies two things. First, this must be a big conflict brewing to require so much chocolate. Second, it is implied that Belgian chocolate is higher quality than what he might get from a local chocolatier, therefore more expensive, and thus again his "error" or their fight is going to be large enough for him to bribe her into calming her emotions.

On the surface the comic is funny. Clearly Mr. Lockhorn has not fooled her. But underneath I see a dark commentary on our society. All around us we get the message in pop culture and commercials that chocolate will make us feel better, will curb our desires, and provide a lubricant for our relationships. We are rightly disturbed when alcohol or drugs are promoted in this fashion... cocoa is a drug, it does affect our minds.

Would I feel the same if Mr. Lockhorn brought flowers? That too is an attempt at bribery rather than dealing with the approaching conflict. But the difference is the potential for abuse. Mrs. Lockhorn is unlikely to eat the flowers but is she starts to associate eating chocolate, the amount increasing with the degree of pain she wants to overcome, she risks either gaining too much weight or denying herself other food that could be more healthy for her. By giving her chocolate, Mr. Lockhorn is sending the message that his immediate ease is more important than her long term health to him.

I would never, ever tell you not to use chocolate and cocoa, Sisters and Brothers, that very thought is anathema to me. When you read my closing words, the ones you see in every post, stop and think about what I'm writing. Chocolate is not a band aid for your emotional wounds. Chocolate is not a bribe to make your relationships function. Only you can heal your wounds and only by working together will that relationship thrive. Obviously the Lockhorns are not a model marriage so perhaps we can see here lesson for us all.

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.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gifts, Recalls, and Health Claims, Oh My

Your Chocolate Priestess received a lovely gift from a friend here in The Chocolate Cult -- a sample of chocolates from Aeschbach Chocolatier which is in Switzerland so I hope your can manage some German. I will review this selection later but it is safely stored for now.

There are two health issues that revealed themselves to me today as well that I want to share with you, Sisters and Brothers. First, the FDA has recalled Le Pain Quotidien-brand "Noir Belgian Dark Chocolate Spread" due to a labeling error because it does not list "milk" as an ingredient. Call me insensitive but I just assume most chocolate today have some dairy in them so I can't tell you to not buy this or return it, just use some common sense please.

Secondly, this article claims to reveal that dark chocolate has caffeine. Well, yes, it does, though not nearly as much as tea or coffee. Luckily the article compares it to other caffeine related products so you can see where it stands. My advice is to simply not eat dark chocolate before bedtime. Not just because of caffeine but for the fact that you probably do not need calories of any type before trying to sleep.

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.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dunkin' Donuts' Chocolate Options

On Friday morning, around 11:15am, your Chocolate Priestess went grocery shopping. One of our nearby huge supermarkets has a Dunkin' Donuts inside and so I stopped by to sample their chocolate donuts. A young man who introduced himself as "Nick" helped me, claiming proudly that he had made them all that morning. Let's see how well he and Dunkin' do in terms of offering us quality chocolate.

I got four products. A chocolate "Munckin" which is a donut hole that is ½ glazed, 1.5in diameter, very soft, very light devils food taste which means no real rush of cocoa in just one hole.

The second item I tried was their "Boston Kreme" with chocolate frosting. This is a plain yeast donut with chocolate frosting on the top covering about 40% of the donut which measures 3.5in diameter. It has a vanilla pudding like filling in about 70% of the inside which overwhelms the chocolate frosting flavor. Thus this is not really the best choice for the chocolate lover.

The third thing I tried was their "Double Chocolate Cake Donut" which is 3+in diameter with frosting on the top 40%. This was the most chocolaty tasting of this selection, a nice slightly bitter taste, not over powered by sweetness at all; this is the donut I’d buy again from Dunkin’ because it gives me most of what I’m looking for in a donut — soft, chocolate, not overly sweet, with a slight buzz potential.

The last donut was also good in terms of cocoa reactions. "Glazed Chocolate Donut" is also 3+in diameter with glazing over the entire piece. Again the chocolate flavor is very light though different from the Munkin, more bitter than sweat indicating a higher cocoa content than I expected, most of the sweetness is in the glaze.

If you want nutritional information about Dunkin' products check here and go to “About Us” tab. You have to know what the item you bought is called to check but I promise it will be eye opening 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.

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

Sunday, June 7, 2009

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

Next month, Sisters and Brothers, you Chocolate Priestess will give a bit of history on "National Ice Cream Month" but even though that hasn't arrived, I'm sure you've noticed some chocolate holidays related to ice cream all ready.

June 7th is "National Chocolate Ice Cream Day" in the USA. I couldn't find any information on what this particular date was chosen so I searched for some facts about the creation of chocolate ice cream. Still no luck so if you have any information on this, please make a comment and share it so I can add it to our Cult's database, Sisters and Brothers.

Since I cannot provide you with better history on chocolate ice cream, let me just offer a few personal observations. Chocolate ice cream is difficult to choose because the temperature required for the produce changes the flavor of the cocoa. The best chocolate ice cream I've found yet could not hold a candle to a decent piece of candy in terms of bitterness and buzz potential. The temperature also means your body reacts differently to the essence of the Sacred Substance so once again your senses will not be engaged in the same fashion.

I can't recommend chocolate ice cream for a Sacrament for this reason but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. On hot days, when you feel warm, and when you crave dairy, chocolate ice cream can the proper choice if you consume it in moderation. Just make sure you consider the nutritional panel and limit the quantity you consume. Let each bite melt in your mouth and appreciate what chocolate taste you can. I plan to do so with a very small single serving of later today when the temperatures have been in the 1980s for a while, I might even split it with a friend so we can share the joy of chocolate and the cool of ice cream together.

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, June 6, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, June 6, 2009

Seattle Chocolates sent your Chocolate Priestess two types of products to try, as you can see in this photo from several weeks back. They sent nine of their 2.5-oz. bars, which I will review later, and what I thought were 1-oz. bars called “Chick Chocolates.” Turns out these aren’t bars at all, but little packs of three individually wrapped candies, which I have chosen to reveal this time. Each package of “Chick Chocolates” is designed to show a “chick” when you place two of them side by side, and each “chick” has a personality that is reflected in the type of chocolate and treats her candy is made of.

The profits from “Survivor Chick” candies go toward breast cancer research, so that might be something to consider, Sisters and Brothers, if you are looking for chocolate treats for yourself or as gifts. They come wrapped in very light pink Mylar, which is very easy to open. The candies inside are a dark chocolate shell over white chocolate with raspberries, and the raspberry scent comes through when you open it up and take a sniff. All of the pieces are 1.25 × 0.75 × 0.6 inches in size, so they are easily biteable, but I’m going to try each in two bites to give you the full sensory picture. The first bite makes a soft snap to reveal a pink, thick center that tastes strongly of raspberry. Letting the second bite melt mixes the flavors together, along with the gritty texture, which is a good sign that this isn’t just added raspberry juice but real crushed raspberries mixed with the white chocolate. This “Chick” does it all — the bitterness of the dark chocolate, which provides a decent rush by the second bite, the sweetness of the white chocolate mixed with the tartness of the fruit, good scent, interesting texture, and even a little sound when you first bite or as you chew.

Nutty Chick” candies are milk chocolate with almonds and toffee. They come in orange Mylar that untwists easily. There is a less sweet scent that might be the toffee when I breathe it in after opening it. It makes a loud snap when I bite but has only a hint of toffee or almond flavor; I see no pieces of either in the firm internal chocolate. Letting it melt releases more of the almond/toffee flavor, but the primary essence is the chocolate, which creates a mild rush.

Strong Chick” candies are milk chocolate and are wrapped in a light olive-green Mylar. The scent of the chocolate is strong even when first unwrapped. It makes a very solid snap when I bite into it, and the inside isn’t much softer. Just holding it in my mouth takes a lot of willpower, because this is very good-tasting milk chocolate that will give a slight buzz if you wait a few minutes to let it slowly melt.

Extreme Chick” candies are dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. They come in a fuchsia pink Mylar wrapper and have a very strong dark chocolate fragrance when opened. Nibs, as I have mentioned before, come from a part of the cocoa bean that is often ignored, and they can provide a kick to your senses, so lets see if that is the case here. Oh yes, immediate mini rush as it melts and I chew. The initial bite is hard, and it creates a loud snap, while each successive bite crunches with the nibs inside — yes, they are near the top, right under the shell and above a firm dark center. Melting the chocolate off leaves the nibs, which are very bitter, so unless you like that bitterness, just chew it. I happen to like that intensity myself.

All-natural ingredients are part of each “Chick Chocolate,” which means there is no waxy texture or taste, a common problem with many mainstream candies you can buy today. These are more expensive than what you can grab in the checkout aisle in the grocery store, but even one piece can satisfy your craving for some time if you eat it purposely and slowly so as to get the full range of sensation. Ultimately, given that candy bars in my local area run 85¢, this could be a better buy for the quality and effects on your mind, soul, and body.

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 this post from the eastern half of the Midwest, don’t forget The Chocolate Cult’s first CONTEST.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Brownie from Bloomingfoods

Yesterday your Chocolate Priestess stopped by her local food co-op of which she has been a member for almost 12 years. I did not have a very good eating yesterday, yes, even I falter in the path every now and them, but this time it was more because I became so busy that I forgot to eat lunch. By the time I went with a friend, we were both hungry.

I waited in the bakery at Bloomingfoods while his sandwich was made and I started looking at their single serving homemade dessert offerings. I looked at everything chocolate, considered the ingredients, the size, the price and after all of that, I choose a 0.24lb "Decadent Pecan Brownie" for $2.16. No artificial ingredients but no nutritional label on the package either so I had to guess that it might be as many calories as I could have for a normal lunch. I am not saying, Sisters and Brothers, that this was the best choice, I am encouraging you to substitute a brownie for a meal, but I must lead you honestly so I hope you can learn from me.

The brownie itself was about 2.5X1.5in and had a light grayish chocolate color with at least ten full sized half pieces of pecans. The cocoa scent was clearly there as was the nut when I brought it to my lips. It was not too moist and not brittle or crumbly at all, it tasted almost perfect. Since I ate it slowly with only water, it satisfied any craving I was feeling for calories or chocolate. It was a good choice but next time I'll limit myself to Saturday when I indulge myself.

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.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Massachusetts, Blood, and Chocolate

Sisters and Brothers in Massachusetts, read up!

A read an article this morning that says that this month you if you donate blood you can get a coupon for free chocolate dipped strawberries from Edible Arrangements. You must donate via the American Red Cross in Massachusetts to qualify and you must go to Edible Arrangements to use your coupon. I've provided links to both so you can make your own arrangements. Your Chocolate Priestess called the main office of Edible Arrangements to confirm the offer is only valid in Massachusetts though they have over 800 stores in five countries or regions.

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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

CBC Chocolates, Spezzatino Magazine & Cookbook Contest

Today, your Chocolate Priestess received two offerings from CBC Chocolates. Their assorted wine truffle box and a sample of their "brew series" chocolates. I will reveal these in the next few Saturdays.

In other news, I was interviewed this morning Spezzatino Magazine for their future issue on chocolate. The interviewer was great and we got to talk about social and personal awareness concerning eating and using chocolate which you all know is important to me. Please check them and CBC out today.

In other news, I wanted to pass along a link to another contest some of you might be interested: Cookie cookbook. This is from a Foodbuzz buddy of mine.

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.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

National Rocky Road Day

June 2, 2009, is "National Rocky Road Day" in the USA. This is one of many fun, and I suspect business created, holidays that populate any number of annual lists. Sisters and Brothers, your Chocolate Priestess will only mention those that relate directly or indirectly to chocolate. If you wish to mark these dates by using the Sacred Substance in some fashion please make sure your cocoa product relates strongly to the day and that you use it in moderation, paying attention to all your senses as you do so.

Dreyer's Ice Cream claims parentship of Rocky Road ice cream in 1929 by William Dreyer. Another ice cream and candy manufacturer, Fentons, claims it had a "rocky road" candy bar that it was all ready mixing into it's frozen dairy treat when Dreyer "borrowed" the idea. As often happens in food history, figuring out the true origins is difficult at best so I mention both claims here for you each to weigh.

That original flavor consisted of milk chocolate ice cream, almonds, and marshmallows but today some ice creams calling themselves "rocky road" use vanilla ice cream and pieces of chocolate. Frankly, Sisters and Brothers, if you decide to honor today by eating some Rocky Road ice cream choose which ever gives your senses the greatest satisfaction.

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.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chapman's Chocolate Terrine

Chapman's is one of the nicer and slightly pricier restaurants in Bloomingon, Indiana. Your Chocolate Priestess goes there only for holidays and celebrations and has never been disappointed whether it was the Thanksgiving buffet or entrees for an anniversary or graduation... until now.

Part of my duty to you, Sisters and Brothers, is to reveal the chocolate offerings of places I go and thus I noted two chocolate desserts on their menu Saturday evening around 7:45pm. One was a chocolate bread pudding which you may recall I had the previous Saturday at Uptown Cafe so I wanted something different. I asked our server which of these were considered a signature or Chapman's speciality and she indicated the "Chocolate Terrine with Raspberry Coulis and Creme Anglaise" which cost $7 so the Milk Chocolate Acolyte and I said we'd share.

What arrived were three slices of frozen mousse (the terrine) of 1.5 by 1.5 inches less than half an inch in width, laid decoratively on a white cream with raspberry swirled through it. Our immediate reaction was "This is all there is for $7?" but we thought the taste might be so wonderful that it made up for the serving size.

You know I am always honest with you, Sisters and Brothers, even if a company sends me a product for free and courts by phone call or emails or in person, I will describe as best I can what their offering looks, smells, tastes, feel, and sound like so you can make wiser choices. I will certainly be bluntly honest about those things I buy.

The mousse was good but that's all it was: good. I really think I could have done that and frankly done it with more cocoa and thus a buzz but even after eating half this dessert there was no chocolate kick we should be able to get from quality products. The cream and raspberry sauce was a nice blend with the very, very slight cocoa taste of the mousse. In fact, this sauce was good on it's own though not $7 good. In fact, for $7 I expected a lot more in terms of size and my senses being enticed.

"Chocolate Terrine with Raspberry Coulis and Creme Anglaise" is not a dessert I will be ordering again. If we go back, as we very well may because the entrees are good and the atmosphere lovely, I'll try the bread pudding instead.

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.

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