Monday, November 30, 2009

Gelato Anytime

Your Chocolate Priestess mentioned gelato early this year after a time to the Chicago area and a wonderful little shop called Taviata where we got some plus a few other treats the chocolatier gave us and we bought.  I remember gelato from when I lived in Rome for two semesters or eight months if you like.  Finding it in the midwest was proving difficult and the tiny place that used to me in my town didn't last long.

That's why when I saw this gelato from Ciao Bella in my local coop, I had to get their chocolate flavor and give it a try.  Each flavor, there were about six in stock when I found this, had it's own color scheme and this stood out with purple, orange and white but it didn't scream chocolate.  It happened to be on sale making it about the average regular price for some thing like a Godiva or Ben & Jerry ice cream pint.  So far I've only seen this brand in the Bloomingfoods coop in Bloomington, Indiana, but perhaps you can find it elsewhere.

Each 1 pint container has four servings but be honest with yourself: How often do you make this sort of treat last four servings.  If you do then you are well versed in Moderation.  Frankly it is easier with gelato than other frozen chocolate treats.  Often the cocoa flavor is dulled by the cold but not gelato so the essence of the cocoa seems more intense and you can get a buzz faster.  You will get one faster on this because it tastes smooth, creamy, rich, and differently like darker chocolate.

Gelato is not dairy free however, this isn't sorbet, that is dairy and animal free so it's good for vegans.  This like most ice cream is good for vegetarians and the rest of us because other than dairy there is nothing else from an animal.  Dairy appears to be the only allegen in the flavor as well unless you count cocoa but then why are you reading The Chocolate Cult?

In terms of nutrition this lacks a bit behind ice cream in some categories such as fiber and protein but has less fat over if you are comparing it to regular or rich ice cream.  However, each serving, remember there are four in this container, has the following make up.  240 calories, 8g saturated fat, 45mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium, less than a gram of fiber, 20g sugars, 5g protein, and 10% of the daily Vitamin A, Calcium, and Iron an adult needs. 

Because of the intensity of the flavor, the price, and the Path, Sisters and Brothers, I made this last several evenings over a few months.  Economically I can't say that buying pints is ever the best choice but I wanted to try this for all of you.  Check out your own stores and let me know if Ciao Bella Gelato Company is selling near you.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Soft Center Truffles with the Spirit of Christmas

Our second box of assorted organic, fair-trade truffles from Taraluna is the red box of Sjaak's "Soft Centers," which includes another nine flavors, all different from the "Nuts & Chews" your Chocolate Priestess revealed in the previous Sacrament.  This box is the exact same price as the vegan version, and it also has two nuts listed on the ingredients, so be wary if you are allergic to nuts, dairy or peanuts.  Luckily this box has the pictures of the truffles on the back, so you can find the ones you want easily.

These truffles have a bit more variety in tems of shape, as you can see in this photograph.  The basic square and round truffles are supplemented by a nice seashell and bell shape piece.  Three types of organic chocolate are used, Dark, Milk, and White, and yes, they are all chocolate and are the first three ingredients listed.  As always, the samples I get from Taraluna are shipped in one of the most eco-friendly ways of any company I've seen.  So if fair trade, organic products, and the environment are concerns for you, please do check them out, because they are very conscious about the companies whose products they sell.  But you want to know about the truffles, Sisters and Brothers.

I'll go in order across the three rows to reveal these to you, with an insight from our Mocha Acolyte added in when I receive it.  Three pieces are listed as a serving size, with 270 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, 21 milligrams cholesterol, 13 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber (most likely in the dark chocolate), 18 g sugars, and 2 g protein, with 3% of the calcium, 5% of the Vitamin A and 7% of the iron an adult needs daily.  Don't eat these for health reasons and you won't be fooling yourself, but remember, indulgence in moderation and with a purpose, such as to celebrate a holiday or appreciate a gift, is fine; it's daily overindulgence that can become a real problem.

The first row contains a flavor combination I am well familiar with in the world of sandwiches, but not in the chocolate world: "Peanut Butter and Jelly."  This square piece, molded to resemble a present with a bow on top, measures just over 1 × 1 × 0.75 inches, and since the other pieces vary only slightly, I won't keep putting in the measurements.   It is a dark chocolate and has a nice deep scent of cocoa as well as a hint of jelly when I take a deep whiff of it.  The chocolate is cool and smooth and melts a bit after a few seconds in my fingers.  I take a bite and can see the semi-hard peanut butter center and strongly taste the peanut flavor, but where is the jelly?  A second bite reveals a thin layer of jelly at the top, though I can't identify the flavor other than a general fruitiness.  A look through the ingredients does not help, since the only fruits I see listed are raspberry and blueberry.

The next truffle is "Mocha Creme" and our new Mocha Acolyte tells me that it is: ""

The final truffle in the top row is a "Dark Butter Creme," which is a half globe of dark chocolate with raised matching drizzles of chocolate over the top and sides.  It starts to melt in my fingers as I take a whiff of its dark scent, which makes my eyes flutter a bit.  Inside is a semi-solid dark chocolate cream, and together with the ganache shell it creates a very mild buzz that I imagine would build up if I ate these quickly, which you know I will not do, Sisters and Brothers, so I can reveal each flavor in its full glory without crossing the essences of one truffle to another.  One thing I do want to mention is that the scent changed after I took a bite — the inside cream is more bitter than I expected both in flavor and smell; it tickles my nose a bit, making this more interesting to eat than you might suspect a cream truffle could be.

The next three truffles have some white chocolate with them.  The seashell one is about 1/3 white chocolate on the ganache covering, the center one has a light green dyed leaf design, and the the final one has a nice white spiral on the top.  I want to start with the seashell because it reminds me of another brand of chocolates I'm sure many of you have seen: GuyLian.  I won't compare this Sjaaks to those, because although I got some as a present, I haven't had the opportunity to try them yet — I just haven't had the time yet, and I feel I must lead by example, practicing Moderation and Purposefulness for you all.  I know, you just started playing the world's small violin in empathy for me.

The seashell is a "French Vanilla Creme," and it has scents of both the bitter dark chocolate and the smooth white chocolate along with a very strong fragrance of vanilla as I just hold it in my hand and take a breath of it.  Inside is a solid white chocolate cream that almost overwhelms the dark chocolate of most of the outer shell, which is very thin compared to the other pieces I've revealed thus far today.  I think white chocolate lovers will like this truffle better than those who want the darker cocoa, but it is an excellent white chocolate.

The next truffle is "Green Tea Creme," and has the leaf on the top that I mentioned earlier; it's the central piece in the above picture.  I can smell the tea along with the milk chocolate coating on this half globe chocolate.  Inside is a sort of grayish solid cream with a very light cocoa flavor but also oddly not much of a tea flavor.  Now, of course, green tea should taste different from black tea, but if I didn't know this was supposed to be tea, I'd think this was just a light milk chocolate truffle, frankly, that melts on your fingers or in your mouth if you let it sit for more than a few seconds.

The piece with a spiral of white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate shell is a "Blueberry Creme," a flavor I've never had with chocolate, though I have had cream and blueberries before as either a breakfast or dessert item.  The piece has the bitter cocoa along with a tart berry scent when I hold it up to my nose, and I'm intrigued.  While I don't find blueberries and chocolate together all that often, I've made a few desserts with the combination and always liked them, though you have to balance the essences well or one easily overpowers the other.  This is an interesting flavor dance when I take a bite.  At first it is only the bitterness of the shell and the semi-hard center, then in a few seconds a burst of the blueberry tart and sweetness that fades into a good blend with the cocoa.  It also feels as if there are little berry pieces or something as I let it melt on my tongue, but they are very tiny.  This chocolate is a very nice surprise and convinces me that chocolatiers need to do more with blueberries and less with raspberries, which seem to be everywhere, including a truffle I'll soon reveal today.

The final tier of truffles has a nut flavor, a bell-shaped piece which is actually molded to resemble a windmill, and a   half globe dusted with red sugar.  Together I think they made a nice picture.  While I just registered a mild complaint about the frequency of raspberries in chocolates, this first piece is a "Pistachio Butter Creme," and that nut is another ingredient that appears over and over again in the samples I am receiving.  It is not my favorite nut at all; I would never choose to buy anything containing pistachios when I could get pecans, walnuts or cashews instead, but the the pistachio seems increasingly popular for chocolatiers.  If anyone reading this knows why, please let me know, because I'd love to learn, Sisters and Brothers.

Because of his nut allergy I can't share this with the Milk Chocolate Acolyte as I'm doing with most of the pieces I've mentioned today — again, Moderation.  On the top of this milk chocolate globe is a very light dusting of nuts with one decent sized piece.  All I can smell is a light cocoa scent, and this isn't as strong a milk chocolate fragance as I got from the "Peanut Butter and Jelly" or the "Green Tea Creme," suggesting this truffle has the lowest cocoa content of the milk chocolates I have revealed so far today.  Inside is a semi-soft, light green cream that has a light pistachio and white chocolate flavor that drowns out that of the milk chocolate shell.  Again, for the white chocolate lovers reading, this is an excellent choice for you, though you wouldn't guess that from looking at it.

The bell-shaped piece, "Soft Creamy Caramel," has a windmill on it, perhaps referring to Dutch cocoa, but I'm not sure.  It does have a different smell than the previous dark chocolate truffles in this box, a sort of toned-down bitterness to my nose.  It looks so cute that I have to make myself take a bite.  The coating is very thick, especially on the bottom, and it snaps lightly when I take a bite to reveal very sweet caramel, which oozes out.  "Wonderful" is the first word that pops into my head.  The caramel itself has a very light tangy flavor that is also very sweet and mixes well with the lighter bitter chocolate.  I have to say this is my favorite piece in this collection.  A box of nothing but these and "Blueberry Cremes" would make my week with a delightful traditional flavor and a wonderful new taste.

The last truffle is a "Raspberry Cream with Raspberry Bites," and it has a light dusting of red sugar or powder on it.  It has a very strong raspberry scent to it that blends well with the dark chocolate coating.  Honestly, I'm getting a bit tired of all the raspberry flavors, Sisters and Brothers.  There are so many types of fruit out there — not all are great with chocolate, that is true — but a little variety is nice, or even a return to strawberry, which as you know can be amazing with chocolate of all varieties.  But I'll set aside my tiredness with this flavor and take a bite just for all of you — the things the Chocolate Priestess must do.  The bite reveals a semi-hard chocolate center that explodes with tartness from the raspberry; the dusting on top is even more sour on my tongue. Taking a bite with less of this powder decreases the tartness dramatically, so unless you like it very tart, I suggest you eat it from the bottom.  The actual raspberry flavor is mild, and I don't find anything I'd call a "bite" of raspberry, unless it is that powder, which I do not like.

Once again, Taraluna offers us good quality products from Sjaak's that we know are fair trade and organic at a reasonable price.  The red Christmas box has a good variety of flavors, several of them new, but also classic flavors that should offer something to almost anyone on your list.  And remember, if you order today, Sunday or Monday (that's through November 30, 2009) you can use the code "Gobble15" to get 15% off the price on purchases.  This is true for all their merchandise, not just the chocolates.  Thank you, Taraluna, for sending The Chocolate Cult more of your products to reveal to the world.

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Winner will choose Chocolate

Your Chocolate Priestess received an email late this afternoon telling her that she won a contest for a gift certificate to an online retailer through the Foodie Blog Roll that she is a member of.  I was very pleasantly surprised.

You know, Sisters and Brothers, what I plan to do with this gift certificate from, don't you?  Yup, I'll be getting chocolates I've never had before.

Why does this matter to all of you?

I'll then do a full five sensory article about it all in an upcoming Sacrament. 

Thanks, Foodie Blog Roll.  This sounds like it could be both very yummy and very cool for all of us in The Chocolate Cult.

Chocolate Lacking in Mrs. Freshley Buddy Bars

In a previous review of a Mrs. Freshley product, your Chocolate Priestess mentioned that for the price it was an excellent product.  If you want to find that review, please use the search tool I've placed on the side bar.  Not all products a company makes are good nor are they a good value for the price.  Sadly the "Buddy Bars" is one of those disappointments, Sisters and Brothers.  Let me reveal why I was disappointed so  you can make your own decisions.

I find these Mrs. Freshley products in both the dollar store and the grocery stores in my area. Considering how Little Debbie products have skyrocketed in price over the past year, we wanted to see if this was a good substitute for my family when they want a sweet but portable snack.  Personally, since I'm on this Path now I eat one of these once to try it for all of you, Sisters and Brothers, and let the rest of my family eat the others; in fact, often since these come in two piece packets, I eat only one or part of one.  Remember: Moderation and Purposefulness.

This is very important in the case of these "Buddy Bars" because one serving is one bar but they come packaged in pairs so be very aware of that fact when you look at these nutritional values.  Each bar contains 140 calories, 3.5g saturated fat, 75mg sodium, less than 1g fiber, 11g sugars, 2g protein and only 2% of the daily iron an adult needs.  Nutritionally, this is not so great.  The bars measure 4.5 X 1.15 X 0.75 inches and have a rised hatch pattern on the top reflecting what treats of this variety traditionally look like.  I'm not sure who decided they must look like this, but every brand I've ever found has this exact same look with varying degrees of darkness to the chocolate surrounding the wafers and slight differences in size.

When I open up the plastic sheaf, the primary scent is a strong peanut butter one without much chocolate.  Peanut butter is the second ingredient while cocoa is the seventh, last on the list of “less than 2%” items that make up this product including wheat and soy if those are allergy concerns for you.  The bars feel cool in my fingers and start to melt a bit.  Biting in, I find it to be slightly crunchy.  I can see four wafers and three peanut butter cream layers.  All I honestly taste is the peanut butter, the cocoa is very weak, so weak that even letting it melt in my mouth only intensities the peanut flavor more.  If I didn’t know this should taste like chocolate, it would not register at all as such a treat.  Therefore, not a great product for 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.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009 from The Chocolate Cult

Sisters and Brothers who are in the USA, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving this 2009.

For those of you who are not Americans, and your Chocolate Priestess can see that we have readers around the globe, I wish you a wonderful holiday season as well because I know for most of us there were be several important holidays over the next month or two.

While Thanksgiving is not normally a time when you think of chocolate, spicy and savory desserts tend to dominant the menu, I'm betting there will be one or two things at the restaurant my family and some friends are going to today and I know there will be chocolate here because I plan to try a new hot chocolate recipe later.

I hope you will indulge me today, Sisters and Brothers, and let me list a few things I'm thankful for as I reflect back on 2009.  I'm going to steer away from the traditional list involving family and friends and deities and focus on unexpected things I discovered this year.

I'm thankful that I started The Chocolate Cult.  Starting this Journey has helped me understand and appreciate chocolate and use it more positively in my life.  A wonderful side effect has been that I've lost 30 pounds this year and as you can tell from my photos, losing weight is not a bad idea for me.  I believe that my changing my attitude and relationship toward Chocolate has been a huge help in this matter and I've talked about that before in greater depth.  Let me say though that I have NOT been on a diet.  I've been restructuring how I relate to food and use it and how I exercise and listen to my body -- with degrees of success.  Seeing that scale in my doctor's office twice a year and getting comments from people only encourages me to continue but the goal is to have a healthy relationship with food and my body.  Chocolate has always been a huge part of my life so I'm very thankful that doing The Chocolate Cult has helped me develop a healthier attitude.

I'm thankful for all of you readers.  I'm thankful for those who have commented and especially thankful for those of you who have commented multiple times.  You give me feedback which encourages me to ask more questions, do more research, and just keep writing.  Please keep commenting and reading and let your friends know about ut.

I'm thankful for my Acolytes be they family members who began with me or those who applied for and won positions.  Mavido deserves a big "thank you" for not only her time and effort in revealing chocolate and coconut to us all but also for promoting The Chocolate Cult in various ways.  I have gotten to know her fairly well over these months and I am honored she chose to join us with her service.

I'm thankful for the companies who have sent products to The Chocolate Cult.  We only began at the end of February.  Most companies I reach out to ignore me but I'm going to list those who have trusted us enough to reveal their products to all of you reading today. Other companies have contacted me saying they are sending products, but this list is of those who have in chronological order. If you contact them, please let them know you saw them on The Chocolate Cult.

 Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate
Tru Chocolate
Cow Girl Chocolate
Cerreta Fine Chocolates
Theo Chocolates
Montana Tom's Chocolate Factory
Burst's Chocolates
Krause's Chocolates
Monica's Chocolates
Wiseman House Fine Chocolates
Emily's Chocolates
Seattle Chocolate Company
Intrigue Chocolate Company
Intentional Chocolate
Anna Shea
The Protein Bakery
Alternative Baking Co.
Donnelly Chocolates
Enstrom's Chocolate
Astor Chocolates
CBC Chocolates
Dean's Over the Moon
The Candy Dish
Bubble Chocolate
Nashville Toffee Company
Equal Exchange
The Cookie Sandwich Company
Aequare Fine Chocolates

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday and holiday season wherever you are.  Please continue to read and to comment here in 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.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vegan Truffles from Taraluna

Sisters and Brothers, I wasn't going to do a Special Sacrament midweek right now but then I received a notice of some special discounts and one of your Brothers has been asking me about vegan options.  As your Chocolate Priestess it is my duty not just to reveal information to you but to respond to your needs.  Cacao-Me, these are the vegan truffles you may be looking for.

The gold box in this picture is the vegan offering from Taraluna.  It has nine different "nuts & chews" truffles.  The cover of the boxes may be different from what is shown but the chocolates, created by Sjaak’s, should be the same quality as what I’ve revealing today.  Each has pictures and flavor titles on the back; not the best place for such information but at least they both have it so you can’t be unpleasantly surprised.  I think I prefer the list in the front cover or a separate booklet myself so I don’t have to keep tipping over the box.  Just so you all know: I did not eat these in one sitting or even one day but spread them out over a few days.

Working on this red, Vegan box with me is both our Chocolate Coconut and our Mocha Acolyte since the upper left hand corner had a coconut while the lower left hand had a coffee flavor candy.  As I get their reports in, I will add to this Sacrament so if coconut and coffee are important flavors for you, you will want to check this Sacrament in the future.  The rest, seven truffles, I tried myself and why shouldn’t I since they are all darker chocolate and such have interesting textures and sounds to share with me.

Here is what Mavido, our Chocolate Coconut Acolyte said about the coconut truffle: "This is a small truffle, measuring 1" square by 3/4" tall and weighing in at 1/2 ounce.  The dark chocolate coating is slightly waxy to the touch and doesn't seem to want to melt despite holding in it my fingers for over a minute.  The chocolate scent is not really apparent until I bring it close to my nose, then it becomes stronger.  There is also another scent here that I can't identify but don't find to be particularly appealing.  I'm expecting a crunch as I take my first bite but instead, my teeth sink softly through the chocolate to the interior which was made of a very chewy caramel.  The center didn't have the usual butter/sugar flavor that I expected.  In fact, it didn't really have much flavor at all and I realize that I've found the source of the not so pleasant scent I detected earlier.  As I let one bite slowly melt in my mouth, I find the chocolate ganache to be slightly bitter, which is not uncharacteristic in dark chocolate, but once it's gone, there's no real flavor left.  No caramel and definitely no coconut.  In fact the only coconut in this piece seems to be the few flakes of dried coconut that adorn the top of the candy.  I suppose that this would be a good choice of chocolate for those who enjoy a vegan diet, but the blah caramel and the lack of any coconut flavor left me a little disappointed.”  While that was disappointing to read as well, Mavido has provided use with the measurements for these truffles so I won’t keep repeating that information.

I’m not a huge fan of every type of nut but I do love most of them especially walnuts, pecans and cashews and this red box has all of these plus some other such as the one I'll start with, Sisters and Brothers.  The “Pistachio Caramel” has a big nut on the top of it but only a dark chocolate smell to it.  Inside is a soft chocolate caramel and no pistachios at all so if you don’t like this type of nut, just eat around it, if you do, make sure you include it in the bite for it’s crunch and unique nutty taste.

The "Pecan Caramel" has far fewer pecan pieces on the top of it than it shows on the picture on the back of the box.  Inside it is a soft center again, lighter chocolate flavor this time and the other nuts are on the top of it.  This is very odd because I’d think for vegans you’d want a lot of nuts in your truffles to add some variety and textures but I’m not a vegan so what do I honestly know?  I know this tastes basically like the Pistachio version and that is disappointing.

The “Nugget” looks like it has something nutlike covered by the dark chocolate ganache over the entire truffle.  Inside is a traditional caramel  that is sticky and tangy and stretches as you try to take a clean bite; wonderful.  The nut on top is a peanut, unsalted I believe, and it doesn’t add much to the flavor to be blunt because the soft caramel was excellent on it’s own.

Our Mocha Acolyte, davebearin, never replied to us and for that I apologize. From now on, I will require my testers to be with me when they try treat.

The “Almond Crunch” is a little oddly shaped, not a square and not a round, it’s in the upper right hand corner of this photo or the #2 truffle in the first photo of today’s Revelation.  This is a very crunchy truffle with a hard center and two solid almonds inside.  It has an intense almond flavor and a strong vanilla flavor as well, both of which overwhelm the dark cocoa.  Definitely makes a crunch with chew but I’m not terribly pleased by the flavor combinations for some reason.

The “Cashew Cluster” is also oddly shaped though it has fitted itself to the little cup in the box on it’s lower half, this is the center lower piece in the original picture or the lower left hand piece in the previous photo.  This is a very hard piece, solid all the way through with piece of cashews throughout.  It is very chocolaty, so much so that it blocks most of the nut flavor though not it’s texture or crunch.  Let the chocolate melt to get more of the cashew taste but know this will increase the buzz potential a great deal as well.

I look forward to these last two caramels given the earlier “Nugget” which pleased me a lot.  The first is a “Peanut Caramel” which confusions me since isn’t that basically what the “Nugget” was?  This has a mostly smooth surface with one raised ridge of chocolate across it or the fourth piece in the box.  Strangely it does not look or smell as dark as the previous pieces are but then “dark chocolate” covers a very wide range of cocoa content and we know that not all are created equal nor do they taste the same.  Inside is as soft chocolate and peanut buttery caramel with tiny pieces of nuts.  It is a lot like some organic and vegan versions of peanut butter cups I’ve had in the past.

The “Chocolate Caramel” piece has a few raised ridges of chocolate along it’s top and a nice dark fragrance to it.  Inside is a semi-soft chocolate caramel that has a light malt flavor to it for some reason.  It’s good but not as tangy as I want from a caramel though it has a cocoa kick to it in every bite.

Overall the chocolate tastes a bit different than non-vegan chocolate does and I’m not sure how to describe it.  While I am a fan of darker chocolate and as I point out repeatedly the health benefit only begin with 70% or above, there is an bitterness here that isn’t as comfortable as I find even in 93% dark chocolate that includes dairy instead of soy which I think has a very different taste.  Of course, if you are vegan then you are used to and like that soy taste and I think you will really like this selection from Taraluna.  More than that, they are offering a special deal right now.  If you order today, November 25, 2009, and use the code "Gobble25" you can save 25% off the product prices; if you want until Black Friday, November 27, 2009, you can use "Gobble20" to get a 20% discount and then from Saturday the 28th to Monday the 30th you can use "Gobble15" to save 15%.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Help with Exercise the Chocolate Way

As suggested on the purple, not blue as my photo suggests, wrapper, I ate this Myoplex Lite bar within 30 minutes after my 60 minute bike ride I do 5 times a week.  I wanted to see if it made me feel any different at all.  Now I know that a much better test of this product would be to use it for at least a month but the company didn't send this to me and I don't buy more than one sample if I must buy a product to reveal to you, Sisters and Brothers.

The bar itself measures 3.5 X 2 X 0.75 inches so it is a good sized product.  It has a total of 190 calories, 3g saturated fat, less than 5mg cholesterol, 320mg sodium, 240mg potassium, 5g fiber, 10g sugars, 15g protein.  19 minerals and vitamins ranging from 20-70% of an adult’s daily needs are also included.  You can tell immediately that it is focused on protein to help with your workout because muscles burns more fat and calories and higher levels of muscles will give your body a leaned look over all.  Compared to some other exercise bars that also focus on protein this is very balanced nutritionally.

The primary scent when I open it is peanut with just a hint of cocoa even though as you can see there is a chocolate layer and chocolate drizzle on top.  Less that 2% of the ingredients though contain cocoa which automatically makes this unacceptable to The Chocolate Cult since we must be concerned first and foremost with the Sacred Substance isn't that correct, Sisters and Brothers.

But let me talk about what it tastes like for those of you not primarily concerned with chocolate but only chocolate flavoring or something to help you with your exercise goals. The top is crunchy and the entire thing is sweet and peanut buttery but not very chocolaty in flavor.  After chewing for a while the tastes turn a bit sour, it’s very odd and it lingers a while.  Frankly I didn't feel any different after eating this post exercise.  The result then of taste, nutritional values, and price means that Myoplex Lite is not a bar I’ll be buying again.

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why Cocoa Smuggling Matters

It has been a while, Sisters and Brothers, since your Chocolate Priestess remarked upon the Sacred Substance in the news outside of health claims since those are increasing at a rapid pace it seems and being misused and misreported in an effort to increase all chocolate sales regardless of their actual healthiness.  Today I want to look at crime related to cocoa.

Most of the world's chocolate is produced in only a few nations, most of them quite poor by comparison with Europe and North America even though cocoa's price is at an all time high and going higher ever week it seems.  Some nations try to control the production of cocoa on a national scale, while others allow capitalism to rule, but many others do a combination of these approaches, allowing independent or corporate growers but regulating the industry to varying degrees.

One reason regulation is important because cacao plants can be infested with insects as well as targeted by molds, fungi and diseases all of which decrease production and cut into profits.  Cross contamination of different cacao varieties as well as any intruder can be brought in by human or vehicle contact.  Regulation can help nations guard their borders, their farmers and their economies by controlling what comes into the land and limiting some cross contamination though I think only a fool would believe you could control everything, Sisters and Brothers.

I first became aware of smuggling as a real problem back in August but I've been busy with Revelations, Piligrimages, and talking to all of you, that I haven't had time to do more research and write about it here.  It turns out this was a good thing because there have been many developments.  First, the problem is spreading as both cacao growers and cocoa thieves clash in Ghana, Togo, and the Ivory Coast.  Notice these three nations which have repeated shown up in the news in 2009 about cocoa smuggling are all located along the coastline of the Gulf of Guinea in western Africa.

I'm sure that cocoa smuggling happens in other areas of the world as well but Ghana's problems are so large that their government has taken several steps to try and deal with it including more regulation and tougher laws but farmers complain repeated in the dozens and dozens of articles I read that these are not enforced.  There is also talk of trying to raise the prices of cocoa further to curb smuggling though that might help with internal smuggling I don't think it will help curb it from outside the nation.  It is an important concern for Ghana since it is the second largest cocoa producing nation in the world behind the Ivory Coast whichis also have problems with smuggling.

You as consumers should be worried about smuggling for a couple of reasons.  First, smuggling is a crime and do you think it is part of our Path here in The Chocolate Cult to encourage or support criminal activities? Of course not, we want honorable companies to produce the chocolates we use.  Second, smuggled cocoa has no chain of production which means we can't know for certain where it comes from or how it is produced.  Not only may it be produced by slave labor or under terrible farming conditions, but it may not be the quality you honestly want and need from cocoa.  Finally, if none of that moves you, consider the cost in terms of your hard earned money, Sisters and Brothers.  Some reports I've seen this year place the increased price of cocoa attributed to smuggling as high as 30%.  30%, that's 30¢ more per dollar that you are paying to cover the costs of smuggling through greater regulation, increased law enforcement, destroyed cocoa product when it is discovered by inspectors and police, and simply economic lose to the nations and growers that produce it.

Sadly there is not much that we can do about smuggling.  While companies can certify that they don't use child labor, protect fair trade, or use ecological friendlier methods, there is little certification for buying non-smuggling cocoa.  My best advice is to try and stick with companies that can make these other claims because they are more aware of where their ingredients come from and there is less room for smuggled product to introduce itself into the process. You can also buy from farmer owned and created chocolatiers and I have Revealed some of those to you here and will continue to do so on the "Sacraments" both Saturday and Special label.

I know, you just want to enjoy your chocolate but think of how much better quality your chocolate will be, how much lower the price, if we are concerned with and urge nations to do more about cocoa smuggling world wide.  Every little bit you and I do, can have a great impact if we just stop and think for a few seconds before buying that next treat.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Truffles Choices for Gift Giving

Sisters and Brothers, today we return to our friends at Astor Chocolates and a wonderful truffle gift box that you can purchase in a wide variety of prices and sizes.  It takes a while to get through large samples when companies send them, and each piece of a truffle assortment really must be revealed on its own, or your Chocolate Priestess cannot live by our motto of Moderation and Purposefulness.

Inside this delightful round box I found a collection of ten truffles. Unfortunately it did not come with a listing of flavors, but the folks at Astor sent me a list when I sent them back this photograph.  Now, I've heard repeatedly from chocolatiers that they want people to be surprised, but given the increasing number of food allergies, I really have to say I prefer the collections with clear listings.  I'm going to reveal these to you in a clockwise fashion and end with the central pieces, adding a few photos to give you some closeups every few pieces. As always, what you will be reading in a few minutes took me hours to compose, since I eat these in the same way that I preach — slowly, attuning my sense to the experience, and sharing it with all of you.  So get ready for a morning of truffles.

This first group of five truffles contains a coffee one, so I set that aside for our new Acolyte, who is picking up his items tomorrow and will need to just jump right in.  The first piece I try has light blue curved lines drawn all over its top, and according to the list, this should be a dark chocolate caramel.  All of the pieces are just over 1 inch by 1 inch in size; even the more traditional truffle half-globe pieces are over 1/2 inch tall.  This piece has a deep dark chocolate scent to it and more darkness inside along with a nice tangy caramel flavor, even though I only see and feel a soft chocolatey center.  Often caramel truffles just ooze out a yellow caramel center, but in this piece the flavors have been thoroughly combined and nothing escapes, so I can focus on the mild cocoa rush this creates and not on trying to avoid getting caramel on my fingers or shirt.  The shell makes a soft snap and feels cool and smooth to my touch.  The blue lines are just an edible ink transfer, but other truffles look like they will provide more textures to enjoy.

The next piece is a milk chocolate hazelnut, and as you can see, the lumps on this half globe certainly suggest some nice nut pieces inside.  The scent is basically milk chocolate, so I take a good bite.  Inside is a much lighter colored center topped with hazelnuts.  The center tastes exactly as I'd hoped from a combination like these nuts and the Sacred Substance, though the nuts' flavor and saltiness overwhelm the cocoa by the second bite.  A great truffle if you love this flavor combination, which I know many of you do, Sisters and Brothers.

The third piece is a dark chocolate again, and it has a very interesting top that I wish I could show you more closely.  It has two crossed lines offset to one side, almost marking it with an "X," and it looks ridged like leather might; it even feels like good leather might under my fingers.  It has a simple, strong dark chocolate fragrance when I take a good whiff of it.  Inside the shell is a slightly lighter center that has a bit of a spicy flavor to it, which I am not expecting.  It isn't unpleasant — it isn't too hot but rather more savory tasting, so this might just be the chocolate itself, since I can't clearly identify another essence.  The buzz is immediate with this piece, telling me this is a high cocoa content.

The next piece should be something called "Vendome milk chocolate," so I go do a bit of research while I wait for the previous truffles to leave my system.  Without consulting with Astor Chocolates, I discover that Vandome is a city in northwest France known for its chocolates, though a simple Google search isn't telling me what exactly makes their cocoa products particularly noteworthy.  Let's see if your Chocolate Priestess can figure it out, then.  The top looks a bit tortoiseshell-like with etched rectangles on it, and it has a clear milk chocolate scent.  The inside is crunchy and a bit nutty, with a hint of hazelnut, but not nearly as much as the earlier piece, so it lets the chocolate shine through.  In the Google search a Nutella-like flavor was mentioned in connection to Vandome, so perhaps this is the connection here.  This is more subtle, and if you want a stronger cocoa taste this is the better piece.  However, I do think this has nuts, so be careful if you have allergies.

I'll put in the Mocha Acolyte's impressions of the dark coffee flavor once he's had a chance to work.

The second set of five truffles from the Signature collection also contains an assortment of milk and dark chocolates, which I tried to capture by getting closer for a photograph.  Hey, my photos aren't perfect, but I think you get an honest appraisal this way without all the food posing that professionals use to make things look their best, which sometimes leads to disappointment when you get the product.  We'll start on the upper left side and go across, then move to the lower left side and go across, which will continue the order in which the truffles were originally arranged in the box.

The first piece has raised ridges of milk chocolate on its otherwise smooth surface and a very strong cocoa scent for this type of confection.  Biting into it, I encounter a sort of sugar coating over the soft milk chocolate center that makes a soft crunch with each chew.  I can even see that dusting of sugar around the outside under the hard shell.  The sugar does not overwhelm the cocoa at all but explains the intensity of the cocoa, since this may be the only place where sugar is added to this truffle.  The flavor is unique and a bit tricky to explain, going from cocoa to sweet and back to cocoa again; I like it a lot, and I am very surprised by what was inside this simple looking piece.

This sugar surrounded piece is followed by a dark truffle topped with crystals of sea salt that have a yellowish or orangish tint to them.  Sea salts do come in a variety of colors depending on where they are collected, and they can even taste different.  The crystals give this truffle's dark scent a definite salty edge when I take good sniff of it.  The chocolate itself is smooth and very dark, cool to my fingers, and has an unexpected weight to it, making me curious about what is inside.  A pink, soft center with a fruity flavor is revealed when I bite, but I didn't think the raspberry flavors would come until the center pieces, according to the flavor list from Astor.  I think this might be a strawberry center, though the combination of fruit, salt and dark chocolate make it difficult to be certain.  A touch too much salt, I think, and that is not uncommon in this new "sea salt" trend I'm noticing in gourmet chocolates.

The next piece is "Tiramisu," and here I run into a potential conflict.  We have a new Mocha Acolyte, but while tiramisu has coffee as one of its principal ingredients, I actually like the flavor, so, since he has so much to do already, I'm going to test this one; I'll make the sacrifice for you all.  The piece is graced with raised spirals on top and has a nice cream and cocoa smell with a hint of coffee.  Inside is a light tan colored solid cream center with a flavor that is more sugar and cream, though there is a coffee essence much like the hint in the fragrance.  This piece makes me think that restaurants and bakeries that don't add cocoa to their tiramisu are missing out on a great idea.

The first of the two center raspberry truffles is a milk chocolate with little bumps on top that remind me of the quilted cushioning on mattresses or pillows.  There is a raspberry scent to it along with the milk chocolate.  It is very soft inside and seems to have two layers.  The top is a chocolate cream, while the bottom is a raspberry jelly that is surprisingly sweet and not sour, as I often find raspberries to be.  The result is an interesting taste and texture in my mouth without the tiny seeds that also often accompany raspberries.

The final truffle is a dark chocolate with a red ink transfer in an almost bricklike pattern.  Like its milk chocolate companion, its fruit scent emerges along with the chocolate scent before I even take a bite.  Inside it is exactly like the milk chocolate version, but with the bitterness of darker chocolate.  So if you like raspberries, these are two very nice truffles for you to enjoy.

If this sounded good to you or you think it might sound good to someone this holiday season, I note that on the Astor website you can now get the Signature collection in a variety of sizes: a seven piece version for under $10 here, this circular 10-piece collection (or a Trio of them for under $40) here, or if you don't like the circular box you can go more traditional and rectangular here.  Whatever you decide, buy soon so you don't get caught in the holiday rush.  I'm already getting party invitations and planning our own celebration, and it isn't even Thanksgiving yet!

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chocolate Walk 2009 Part 4

Today is the final section of your Chocolate Priestess's report on the Chocolate Walk she and the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte went to this past weekend on November 14, 2009.  Please do leave comments on this report and let me know if you have any questions.

We stopped at the Artist Colony shops, which I covered in Part 3, and assessed our time, energy, and apetite.  Now you may think that free chocolate related samples from 30 places is great until you actually are walking, getting them, and eating them.  We knew we had to keep going on this Pilgrimage and those never supposed to be easy but push your physically and spiritually, but we reasoned if we could, we'd wait to eat the rest of the samples later.

We walked west on Franklin Street to find the Daily Grind and this was my second unpleasant experience of the Walk.  By 3pm the city was packed with people and wherever we went we encountered groups of walkers, shoppers, and tourists.  I understand that people who arrived late were confused and store/restaurant owners were getting tired.  While our venture into the coffee house was fine, a mother and her daughter, clearly late comers and unsure of what to do made an error, had to be sent back to get their check card marked but there more oddly were rather loudly told "you can't sit inside, that's against the rules".   Most other places had some sort of seating arraignment either inside or outside and while the event over all could have used more seating, it worked particularly well before the crowds built up.  I looked through the walk booklet and saw no such rules.  Therefore I have to wonder what made this shop owner react this way and I can tell you his public chastising of this mom and kid didn't make a positive impression on me.  All of this fuss for three chocolate covered coffee beans I'll let the new Mocha Acolyte tell me about.

We went a bit south into Calvin Place and found Schwab's Fudge, who offered us Sacraments before, had set out a table with samples of their Jack Daniels fudge.  Since I'd all ready revealed that I did not get another sample.  I simply did not need it and I was exercise our values of Moderation and Purposefulness by choosing to not consume it again.  The product as you may recall is amazing.  This is a photogarph of the store's sign so you can find it but they did a wise thing by setting their samples outside.  The weather permitted it and this freed the store space to focus on sales to consumers I saw walking in and out.  We also did a quick run to a candle store nearby.

Further along Franklin we came to Fine Line Rustics/CafĂ© Interlude in Franklin Square. Nashville is full of these little shop collectives which can be confusing to first timers but the map helped a lot as did the big numbered signs for the event.  The Third Tier Cakery was the chocolatier inside and they offered two truffle samples: chocolate peanut butter (I had) and white raspberry (mavido had).  The volutneers inside were very friendly and the store was delightful as was the cat outside but we had to keep moving along.

We went south two blocks to Washington Street and then headed east to hit the #9 location: Nashville Fudge Kitchen, another chocolatier you may remember, Sisters and Brothers, from my Labor Day weekend adventure and reviews.  They have a wide selection of fudge and offered hand-dipped caramels by this time in the day which were very soft and chew by the time I got it home as well as tangy and chocolaty.  They also have a ton of flavored popcorn as well.

The last three locations were in the Coachlight Square area beteween Van Buren, Washington, and Schoolhouse Lane.  The first was another Bloomington import: the Chocolate Emporium which I used to visit monthly when I had meetings downdown.  They had tiny gold-foil wrapped truffles that were very dark and packed an immediate buzz when I tried it later.  This was by the Bone Appetit store that has dog treats including safe "chocolate" ones for your pets.  Sorry, I didn't get a photograph here though I cannot honestly remember why I didn't take one.

Our next top was at Chateau Thomas which is primarily a winery, wine tasting view.  They had live music and didn't mind us stopping to listen, enjoy  the samples from the Story Inn, a flourless chocolate torte, and use their facility.  The musicians were two men playing guitars and a young girl playing a mean fiddle so this was a pleasant stop that could of lured us to end our journey but we had one more location to visit just across the open courtyard.

Holy Cow is a steakhouse, a rather large one, and I can't say anything about it because I've never eaten there.  It was large inside and we had to go through it to find the Chocolate Walk offering which was a peanut butter truffle again and not the Grandma's Chocolate Chip Cookie listed in the booklet.  The offering tasted good but this highlights a reoccurring problem during the Walk: the booklet was out of sync with the chocolatiers at least 25% of the time.

Now it was after 4pm and we headed back to mavido's car and back to my place to relax before she headed to her own home.  I pushed through and ate the sample I brought home so I could report on them for you all.  Then, quite honestly, I didn't crave chocolate for a few days.  The event was fun and it earned a lot of money for the Brown County Humane Society.  Mavido and I hope we can do it again next year and we hope a few of you will join us.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mocha Acolyte is Chosen

By default but certainly not without skill, davebearin has won the right to become The Chocolate Cult's new Chocolate Coffee Acolyte or the Mocha Acoltye if he wishes it to be called that.

Here is his winning essay: "Chocolate and coffee already have much in common. Both are exotic things which through familiarity have become commonplace. Both come in a broad range of presentations, from simple to sophisticated, prosaic to profound. Moreover, both substances have highly nuanced flavors that - depending on their preparation - can be bright, dark, bitter, sweet, anywhere in between - or perhaps some delectable combination of several such things. Either treat on its own can be a delight, but combining them creates a complex counterpoint which done properly can be even more compelling than the sum of the considerable individual charms. These are flavors which seem fully capable of romancing one another, a worthy match.

To the Chocolate Coffee Acolyte falls the difficult yet honorable task of making sure these wonders are each appreciated with the proper perspective. Too often, people regard chocolate as a simple tasty indulgence, with little respect shown to its powerful chemical contributions to mood and well-being. Too often, coffee is respected for its caffeine punch alone, its flavor a secondary consideration. Balance of flavor, balance of perspective - these are key to understanding the marvelous duet that coffee and chocolate provide."

I will contact him tomorrow and we will meet up so he can begin his witnessing sooner than I had hoped.

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

Chocolate Walk 2009 Part 3

Considering it took mavido and I about six hours to do this walk in a nice slow, purposeful, enjoying each moment, spreading the message of the event and of The Chocolate Cult as we went, I think a four part series isn't too much to ask you, Sisters and Brothers, to read.  So today is the third post about that wonderful previous Saturday.  Armed with the booklet, our buttons and the check off list for the merchants and chocolatiers participating, we found ourselves with 18 of the 30 locations to go.

The next half of this journey would involved a span of only three blocks but still a good half of Nashville's length to finish.  We turned and continued on the south side of Main Street to find four more shops.  Just beyond the intersecond of Van Buren and Main Street we met the greatest patience tester of the Pilgrimage: A very, very crowded restaurant with a poorly laid out plan for this walk.  The Hobnob Corner Restaurant was packed, there was a line outside that we waited in for at least ten minutes while folks kept asking "Is this for the restaurant or  the walk?"  There in lay the problem: there was no one around to direct traffic.  I got so frustrated and the area so crowded that I didn't take a picture.  To be honest, once we got inside, the marble brownie samples were deeply disappointing -- dry, not evenly marbled, definitely not worth the wait on a pure dessert level.

We moved on to Miller's Ice Cream House and got there ahead of the crowd to get our "Teeny Tiny Chocolate Heaven Sundae".  This was made with chocolate ice cream not merely with chocolate syrup as is common in sundaes though  it had the sryup too.  It has some M&M pieces, a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry.  It was great, the ice cream had a nice dark quality balanced by the sweetness of the cream, candies, and syrup.  Trying to leave was a bit of a challenge since there were dozens of people along the hallway we entered and the door out from the little sitting area we enjoyed this treat in was marked for emergencies only.  If you want to find this, look for this sign along Main Street.

Ah, you remember The Candy Dish I hope.  They were featured here back after Labor Day on The Chocolate Cult.  They took were packed inside so I didn't have an opportunity to check in with the shop's owner who had offered us a Sacramental selection earlier.  They gave out 1 of 5 choices, the largest selection from the entire Walk, and I had the dark pecan turtle which was great.  My most memorial moment of this walk came from a little boy ahead of us who said, and I paraphrase, "Oh, candy, I don't want to leave here."

Stop #22 as you can see in this photo was Eucalyptus Tree, a espresso dessert bar coupled with a home decoration/furniture shop.  Inside they offered nice hot chocolates, not coffee as the listing in the booklet suggested by its name.  It was good but not as good as what we had at Common Grounds.  The store did have a huge and varied selection of wind chimes outside and I learned that out Chocolate Coconut Acolyte has a bit of a collection of these which my father does as well.   Unfortunately given my hip we had to move slow so in the interests of making through the entire Pilgrimage we didn't really have time to shop.  Maybe next year.

We turned south a block to a selection of stores in an area called "Antique Alley" that I am familar with because of the next stop: For Bare Feet where I always stop when we are in Nashville to see what fun socks I can replenish.  Sadly there was a sign saying that a medical emergency meant Cream & Sugar, the chocolatier listed, could not be there so we moved on to Nature's Cabin which was a small shop that was offering molded chocolates in a variety of shapes.  They said they were thinking of carrying the products and had especially ordered them for the walk.  The store smelled great with all it's handmade soaps.

A block further East we found Jack & Jill Nut shop.  This was a large shop for Nashville and had a ton of both nuts and fudges.  It looked like they had had a few different samples, the booklet listed three offerings, but when we were there only one: chocolate fudge which as very sweet and sugary, with chocolate a lower taste.  But that is very common for fudge if you are familiar with it and in that sense this was perfectly fine fudge oddly with no nuts.

Across the street was another store I visited back on the 2009 Labor Day weekend so you are familiar with it as a product review essay: Nashville Candy Store.  Now I was worried because as you may remember, Sisters and Brothers, it was a teeny tiny store just packed inside a mini-mall area along Van Buren.  They did a very smart thing.  On a table outside the store but in that mini-mall they had a table with samples, the list checker, and the treat giver.  This made things move smoothly as the crowds we noticed around us grew and grew.  They had three types of fudge so I had one I had not had before while mavido had another variety that I had previously reviewed.  Then we moved on to the last set of three locations before I end this third part of my Pilgrimage report.

The first store in this trio we tried was Carol's Crafts which is a large store packed with high end decorative items.  In the center of the store they offered chocolate hello dollies which are fancier no bake cookies with a nice tang to them from the butterscotch chips that graced it.  While Christmas was the dominant theme throughout Nashville, many stores also offered staples as did this shop.  I'd love to return some time to look around more but we needed to keep going.

Not far away is a business that I have stayed and eaten at in the past, Artists Colony Inn & Restaurant.  Outside the main entrance they had a table set up and were giving out tiny samples of their June's Chocolate Sheet Cake which was incredibly sweet tasting.  I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by all the sugar in the walk, more sugar than chocolate in many cases makes me feel tired not energized so while we looked for a way to the second floor across the way, mavido and I discussed collecting the samples but trying them a bit later, maybe after getting home.  It was approaching 2:30pm by then and my hip was wearing on me.

Luckily we found an elevator and this is important.  Nashville, Indiana, is a delightful place but like much of Indiana not terrible wheelchair or handicap friendly as I learn whenever my mother visits or now when I'm injured.  The elevator went right up to the next stop on the Pilgrimage, Kiss the Cook.  They also had their Chocolate Walk samples set outside the store proper.  They offered malt balls they were considering offering in the store and asked for feedback.  Here is mine: This was exactly as I'd expect a malt ball to be, nothing special really so price it accordingly because you'll have lots of competition in this category of treat.  These went into my purse for later consumption so the above opinion was formed back in the comfort of my home.

Tomorrow I will offer Part 4 of this Pilgrimage report with seven more locations to visit as well as announce the finalists for the position of Mocha or Chocolate Coffee Acolyte.  Look under "Contests" if you wish to apply for that official position in 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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chocolate Walk 2009 Part 2

Where did your Chocolate Priestess leave off her report on our Pilgrimage to the Nashville Chocolate Walk?  Ah, yes, at the pizzeria where we paused for lunch and to plan.  As you can see in this photo I hope, the map showed locations all over the place so we had to plan fairly carefully to make sure we could get to all the locations while moving at a safe pace.  Of course the traffic, both vehicle and foot, increased in the afternoon as well providing more to negotiate around.

 We headed north two blocks then turned back east for two blocks until we found #28 on the list: Common Grounds which is a coffee and tea bar.  There were two choices here a tart or hot chocolate and to since most of the walk involved cakes or candies, mavido and I both got the drink, hers was plain but I had a touch of whipped cream on mine.  I needed a spoon frankly but instead just let the cream melt after attempts to lick it up failed and made me laugh too much.  We sat outside and sipped the drink which was dark tasting but not too bitter and just hot enough to melt that cream and require we take a few minutes to talk about what may turn into a rushed holiday season here since several companies who have contacted me about sending samples to reveal to you, Sisters and Brothers, seem to be putting it off until December.

South across the street we found the next stop, Caramel Corn Cottage which was a small little store filled with caramel corn including the tiny sample bags of chocolate flavored variety that was great tasting, just like popped corn dipped quickly in chocolate.  We sat outside and started chatting with some folks who did this walk last year.  They told us about an indoor event in February in the same community though I think for a different cause.  Unfortunately that likely is very close to the Week of Chocolate in my own town that I am trying to volunteer for; I need to phone them because they are not responding to emails.

The next two locations were in the same area as you can see in this photograph.  #29 is Ice Cream Cottage where we both got the Tootsie soft serve ice cream.  It tasted exactly like a Tootsie roll in terms of chocolate and waxiness which is what I had hoped given the name.  This area has a lot of seating in it as well as an artificial stream you can go panning in for gems or minerals for a fee.  There were at least a half dozen people, mostly kids, I saw doing just that while we were there.

Inside Iris Garden Gallery, Hotel Nashville was giving out samples of it's Chocolate Suicide Cake as well as information about the hotel.  I took this picture just because they had it laid out nicely.  For those Sisters and Brothers who wished you could come and join us but who live more than a nice day trip away, there are plenty of hotels, B&Bs, cabins and rentals in Nashville.  Hopefully next year the Chocolate Walk might add more information about accommodations especially if they offer any deals during the walk as we heard rumors about during our Pilgimage.

Nashville, Indiana, offers a wide range  of the arts since it was and still is to a large degree an artist colony.  This includes painting, textiles and fabric arts, wood and pottery, and leather goods too because I have never been to Nashville and not seen bikers in the area.  Pitbull Leather was #26 on the walk's map so we went over and found a rep from Xochai, one of those "healthy chocolate" companies that praises the health benefits of cacoa over anything like taste, texture, smell, sound or what it looks like.  The result is a dark chocolate that we know from studies can have health benefits but frankly wasn't very tasty on the end of medium sized pretzel sticks.

Then we headed east again on Main Street to get a store we had missed on our first leg, Touch of Silver, Gold and Old is a large jewelry and precious decorative items store.  I had to take this photo because they had a chocolate theme in their window display featuring dolls from an old "I Love Lucy" episode some of you may be familiar with where she and Ethel attempt to work in a chocolate factory.

The store  had both a chocolatier and a live entertainer, the bigger locations sometimes had both.  The chocolatier was from Bloomington again, Angel B's whom you may recall I've discussed in relationship to a birthday gift.  They gave out six layer little cakes (Opera Cakes) where two of the layers were chocolate; it tasted good but not really chocolaty over all but they looked beautiful and eating them gave us a break to listen to the music.

I'll report more tomorrow, Sisters and Brothers, so make sure you check back in and let your friends know so they can enjoy this journey as well.  Heather, the person I spoke with about the Chocolate Walk, told me that they ended up selling out of tickets, all 1000 of them by the end of the day.  Because of all the wonderful sponsors and store participation, that means the Brown County Humane Society earned between $15,000 and $20,000 for their operations.  It also means that next year, if you want to join us, you'll need to get tickets early so you don't miss out.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oh My Cocoa!

"Oh My Cocoa!" were the first words uttered by your Chocolate Priestess last night when she tried Wiseman House's Sipping Chocolate for the first time.  While I wanted to write more about our first Pilgrimage I was so thrilled by this drink that I had to share it with you, Sisters and Brothers.

The name Wiseman House should be familiar to you since they submitted four different offerings to The Chocolate Cult and this is the third I've revealed.  Their signature collection was revealed in May 2009 and their toffee back in September 2009.  This 16oz box of Sipping Chocolate is therefore the third revelationship from Wiseman House and the final one will be revealed through the witnessing of our future Chocolate Coffee or Mocha Acolyte, remember you only have until Thursday, November 19, 2009, to apply for this official position so check under "Contests" for how to enter.

Inside this box are three different types of solid chocolate pieces as  you can see in this picture.  Notice how they vary by color and size both.  The scene is difficult to describe because each type has a unique fragrance and they blended together, rising up to tempt me as soon as I cut open the sealed plastic bag.  The three types of chocolate are: Belgian dark chocolate, American milk Chocolate, and Venezualen chocolate none of which contain any artificial ingredients.

The instructions for making the sipping chocolate are very simply and yet they require your attention.  You add one cup boiling water to one cup of the chocolate, 1:1 ratio!  I wanted to see how much volume of chocolate was in this 16oz so I measured while I put 3 cups of water in a kettle to boil.  Volume and weight are not the same thing and in this case 16oz of chocolates was about 3 cups in volume or the same amount of water I'd be adding since this was for my entire household to enjoy.

Every now and then, we do "science" in our kitchen and that's what we did when the Milk Chocolate Acolyte slowly added the boiling water to the chocolates while I whisked it .  I made sure to whisk slowly and scrap the chocolate from the sides as I did so. As you can see the melting of the three chocolates make a nice rich color which smelled almost like melted chocolate.  It poured thickly into cups, the box recommend Espresso cups and we soon discovered why.

This is very intense and rich chocolate.  The first words out of my mouth were "Oh, My Cocoa!" and my eyes immediately rolled back in my head and my body shuddered with ecstasy.  The chocolate buzz built up rapidly, flooding my mind, unchallenged by any sugar or fat reaction because this was purer chocolate with less of those added ingredients than most chocolate beverages I've ever had.  Now I thought one of the hot cocoas I had on the Pilgrimage was excellent but this Wiseman House Sipping Chocolate blew that away.  If this is too intense for you as the directions say to mix it, as long as  you add in boiling water you can tone it down until it's like the finest hot cocoa you may have ever had.  Even then it was too much for the White Chocolate Acolyte so this isn't to everyone's taste.

Let me be very clear: This is Intense.  You do not need large quantities of it and if you insist on drinking a lot of it you will be flying which may be your choice if you using the Sacred Substance to heighten your body-mind-soul connection.  There is nothing wrong with soaring with the aid of Cocoa but make sure you are in a safe place to do that and have water and a place to safely sit and process it all when you finally come down.  Don't rush yourself whatever you do, enjoy it and use it to relax.  Please do check out Wiseman House again to see how they can help you do just that.

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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