Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cereal Bars Variations

Once more, for only the second time thus far, your Chocolate Priestess has a recipe to share.  Actually it is two recipes, minor variations on a very simple cereal bar that was enriched and made special through the use of Guittard 55% Cacao squares.  Guittard sent me 4, 24 square pallets of their chocolate along with samples of their new candy bars in the very early spring.  I've reviewed the milk chocolate variety and then it because crazy hot and humid this summer.

We had a break from our 30+ days of continuous 90+ weather and I really wanted to make something.  The problem was that I knew the 90s were coming back and I feel so guilty when I heat up our house only to force the air conditioner to work harder.  So after thinking for a day, I decide to make cereal bars and since I've made this sort of treat many, many times, I decide to make it off the top of my head.

I had the ingredients readily available and in this photo you can see the four ingredients I used to make my peanut variety of cereal bars.  14oz box of Cheerios divided in two so 7oz each.  A 12oz jar of unsalted peanuts that I pulverized in the blender.  1 stick of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter". And the 55% Cacao chocolate from Guittard that I melted in the microwave.  The difference between the bars was the amount of chocolate and substituting mini marshmallows for the peanuts.

The chocolate comes in these squares and for the first peanut variation I used 8 squares.  I hope you can see that the squares have a cocoa pod on them which makes them so cute that it is almost sad to melt them.  I used the same bowl that I melted the "butter" and after 2 minutes and some stirring it was completely melted and smooth, no burning, not sticking at all.  Perfect.  When I switched to 12 squares instead of 8 for the marshmallow variety, it took a minute longer in the microwave but result in the same creamy, smooth chocolate.

The peanut variety was easy to make though the end result was more peanut taste than chocolate.  That really struck me as odd since I was 55% not milk chocolate but I think it was because there were actual peanuts pieces and that increased their flavor.  Making the marshmallow variation turned out to be an adventure in messiness as the photo begins to show part way through the mixing of all four ingredients.

The marshmallows had to be mixed in and they took up far more space than the peanuts did.  I did not melt the marshmallows at all so the bars have them and you could see them but we ate these up so far, I forgot to take final photos.  But back to the messy situation.  I didn't realize how much of a mess I made until I lifted up the mixer top.  Eek! My beautiful mixer!  My wonderful, tasty chocolate!  I cleaned it all up making sure the chocolate went in my tummy more than on the wash cloth.  I need the flash to get this but it wasn't this red in reality, very nice darker chocolate.

I placed both 9X13 glass pans (not greased) into the frig for an hour and then cut them.  I can say that a group of six people passed judgment and said they tasted good but yes, the peanut one had less chocolate flavor.

In short form, here are the recipes:

Peanut Chocolate Cheerios Bars
8 squares 55% Guittard chocolate melted
1 stick "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" melted
7oz plain Cheerios
12oz unsalted pulverized peanuts

Marshmallow Chocolate Cheerios Bars
12 squares 55% Guittard chocolate melted
1 stick "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" melted
7oz plain Cheerios
11oz bag of mini marshmallows

Mix ingredients together and spread in 9X13 inch pan, do not grease or line with anything.  Let set in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  The peanut bars will fall apart far more than the marshmallow ones.  These bars have no added sugar or salt.

Of the two cacao content cacao squares I've tried, both of them are amazing.  Not only do they taste great either immediately or even days after baking or candy making with them, but they each melt perfectly.  Guittard is the best chocolate I have found for my homemade treats.  While the price is higher than running to your grocery store, I believe it is worth every penny especially for holidays and special occasions.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Van's Signature Assortment, Part Two

Sisters and Brothers, today your Chocolate Priestess will reveal the second half of Van's Chocolate large Signature Assortment which I previously expounded upon back on July 24, 2010.  Again this came in a large box that you can see to the right.  In this Sacrament we'll look at their nut clusters and their truffles in both milk and dark chocolate varieties.

First we have the milk chocolate coconut piece along with a milk chocolate nut cluster. There are no pictures or guide for these so we'll see how well I can do guessing the nuts.  The Coconut is basically shredded and covered in milk chocolate and two mounds came in this box.  The coconut is a bit crunchy while the chocolate is creamy as with the previous milk chocolates.  The nut cluster looks like it is probably cashews from the shape of the nuts; two of them covered with milk chocolate. The cashews are slightly salted but mostly you get the nice nutty flavor with the creamy milk chocolate in this piece.  Both of these melted on my finger tips even in an air conditioned house so this is real chocolate, Sisters and Brothers.

The two dark chocolate nut clusters are less easy to identify by looking at them.  One seems to have a lot of nuts which at first glance appear to be peanuts halve perhaps.  However when I bite into it I discover these are really walnut halves that crunch as I chew, mixing their flavor with the deep bitterness of the dark chocolate that melts on my fingers again.  The other piece looks very smooth is a bit oddly shaped giving visual testament to their handmade quality.  This piece makes a loud snap when I take a bite right into a full almond.  There are basically two almond underneath the bitter chocolate and their flavor is unhindered by any added salt or sweetness which surprisingly allows them to overpower the darker chocolate.  Oddly none of these nut clusters really had a scent though the coconut (not really a nut) had a slightly sweet coconut essence when I raised it to my nose.

Now we'll move onto the truffles which are approximately 1.25 inches across and rise to about an inch in height making nice domes of chocolates.  The website has a few photos and descriptions that I read carefully through yet only three of the dark truffles are potentially identifiable so hold on, Sisters and Brothers, while we take this trip of discovery together.  Four of these are milk chocolate and four are dark chocolate so I'll divide these again into four pairs to reveal to you.

The milk chocolate are covered with colored drizzles of chocolate which often give a hint as to the flavor inside.  We'll start with the two that have a single color on them this lime green and salmon drizzle white chocolate.  The lime green stripped has a soft fruity scent through the milk chocolate.  This truffle bite open easily to reveal two layers inside.  The top is a fluffy white cream that has a sharp citrus flavor while the bottom is a light green caramel with a another citrus flavor.  I think this is a lemon-lime caramel cream truffle and it is good, blending smoothly into the milk chocolate and cooling my mouth down.  The salmon drizzled milk chocolate truffle has a fragrance I can't readily identify so I take a bite.  The truffle breaks apart easily with a soft sound to reveal a very creamy salmon center that is hard to describe really.  It isn't citrus nor is it spicy, it may be a very light cherry or a strawberry but it doesn't really scream out one identify to me.  It is good but I can't honestly state what flavor it is.

The next two milk chocolate truffles have two colors of drizzle on them both with a first layer of white chocolate and then two others.  The one with blue drizzle doesn't really have a scent.  Inside a thick shell that makes a soft snap when I take a bite is a purple, very grainy,indeed almost seedy center with a raspberry flavor.  I think this is actually raspberries lightly creamed in this center.  Usually raspberry truffles are more flavor or the seeds are removed but not this one!  The truffle with dark chocolate drizzle over the white has a coffee essence when I take a whiff of it.  Yes, inside is a light tan with brown flecks cream center that tastes like apple pie, with that tartness that you'd get from apples along with their sweetness and some cinnamon. A very unique flavor that you have to try to fully appreciate.

The dark chocolate truffles seem to fall more into the flavors that are pictured on Van's Chocolate website.  We'll see if I can match the photo or the description to three of these four truffles starting with this mostly plain one and one with a cross hatch of dark chocolate drizzle.  On the website the closest I see to the one with a zigzag pattern on top is the dark with a dark swirl so I'm wondering if this might be the Bittersweet Truffle with a different decorative flare.  It certainly smells very dark when I take a breath of it so I take a bite to find two layers inside.  The bottom is definitely a chocolate caramel while the top is a walnut flavored cream with what feels like little nut pieces on my tongue as I mush it around on the second bite.  I really like this because the dark cocoa explodes then is balanced by the sweetness and earthiness plus the texture is complex.  The other one must be the Semi-Sweet Truffle that is listed on their website if the description and the photo are correct.  Or not as a bite into it reveals a soft pinkish center with a fruity flavor that seems to be strawberry.

The final two dark truffles include one with a white and milk chocolate drizzle pattern on top.  This one does not match a photo or description on the chocolatier's website but it has another coffee like scent.  Inside a very thick shell are large pieces of coconut ad walnut pieces as well.  I'm sure our Chocolate Coconut Acolyte could give you a better view but I had no idea this would have coconut in it.  The very last truffle has this blue drizzle again and I have to suspect it will have the seedy raspberry center like the milk chocolate truffle with the same blue coloring though that did have a white drizzle as well.  This does have a raspberry fragrance so I take a bite which makes a snap because of the thick shell.  Inside is a creamy raspberry center free from any seeds which balances out the bitterness of the cocoa very nicely.

Thank you, Van's Chocolates for sharing this Signature Collection with us.  Sisters and Brothers you should check them out and look into their wonderful handcrafted chocolates.  These collections come in 1, 1.5, 2, 3 and 5 pound boxes!  These could last you or a loved one a long, delicious time but it will be an adventure since even the photos and descriptions on the website didn't seem to match what I bit into.  If you live in North Carolina you need to make the drive and find them in Hendersonville.  Remember to come back every Saturday and during the week before you go out and buy anything chocolate.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thank an American Female Chocolatier Today

Today, August 26th, is "Women's Equality Day" here in the United States.  Earlier this week marked the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment which freed the right to vote from the constraints of gender or biological sex.

As a group, women are not equals to men in America yet.  As a group women are paid less in part because we still gender careers and social expectations which urges girls and boys to differ on their education and the resulting jobs they can get.  As a group women are more judged by their physical looks then by their earning though unfortunately men are becoming increasingly judged by their looks but still expected to bring in the bacon.  The list of unequal laws and social expectations could go on and on with negatives and positives for both sexes.

There one area where women and men can be equal: Chocolatiers.

Making chocolate is not dependent on one's gender or sex.  Making chocolate is part art and part science, a matter of patience and creativity.  It is a brave person who can jump into the business of chocolate when the price for cocoa raises and fall sometimes dramatically and where competition can be fierce in a world where too many of us think about price over quality.

Today, Sisters and Brothers, please salute the American women who make chocolate.  Either go and buy some of her products or send her a "thank you" note if you'd have enjoyed her creations in the past.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sensory Explorations of Chocolate

A follower of The Chocolate Cult sent your Priestess a link to an article on a site called CHOW.   Here is the article if you want to look at it.

However as "new" as this article would like to make it's approach seem, we here in The Chocolate Cult know that every "Sacrament" that is revealed is always looked it in all five senses whether I'm doing it or an acolyte is working on this particular chocolate.

Sometimes these reviews read like romances to quote one chocolatier who sent us products.  Sometimes they read like nightmares and you want to rinse out your mouth though you aren't the ones eating or drinking the particular treat in question.  That's the point of doing the full sensory reviews: to honestly and objectively give you the reader information that you can use before you go buy that next cocoa delight.

Since this approach is time consuming and because we want to offer those chocolatiers who submit products for review something special, we only use all five senses for the "Sacrament" category that happen every Saturday and sometimes on special occasions. 

Now is the time to speak back, Sisters and Brothers.  Do you like the full sensory approach?  What do you like best?  What isn't working well?  Have you adopted this slowed down approach we use here in The Chocolate Cult for your own consumption of cocoa products?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

National Waffle Day Chocolate Comparison

Today is "National Waffle Day" which marks the date that the first U.S.A patent for a waffle iron granted in 1869 to one Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York.   His was a device that was used in coal stoves to make the baked good by rotating it within a metal griddle with a closed lid within the hot stove.  What separates a waffle from a pancake is that the waffle is made between two layers of metal and not flipped in the open air as a pancake would be.  Pancakes may go back as far as the 1300s to Greece where there are reports of a similar product being produced though that appears to be a savory and not a sweet dish as it completely used today.

Of course you can make either a sweet or savory dish by adding chocolate to your waffle mix or topping it with chocolate treats.  I've reviewed a mini baking chip in the past that I used to make waffles but today your Chocolate Priestess wants to compare two easily made waffle treats that you can find in a wide number of locations.  I found both of these in our local Super Target store when they were on sale back in June 2010.

Eggo are probably familiar to you.  They are generally so-so waffles that you can pop in your toaster and make, good for kids who want to make their own breakfast, good for a quick breakfast when your family wants waffles and you don't want to get the iron out to make them yourself.  They have a chocolate chip variety in a 12.3oz box that contains 10 waffles.  Every two waffles equals one serving with 210 calories made of 2.5g saturated fat, 15mg cholesterol, 380mg sodium, 50mg potassium, 1g fiber, 9g sugars, and 4g protein.  Eggos also brag that they contain 10 vitamins and minerals ranging from 10-20% of the daily amounts you need of each particular one.

You can make these in three different ways: toaster, oven or toaster oven.  I prefer the oven myself because they all get fairly evenly baked; I don't have a toaster oven so I can't say how evenly they would bake in that.  I actually baked them frozen for twice the amount of time recommended, flipping them over at the five minute mark and baking for another full five minutes.  The chocolate here tastes sweeter than a semi-sweet and is made from cocoa and chocolate.  As you can see in the photo, you can see the chips in the waffles themselves.  The problem is that these get hard very quickly.   You either need syrup or butter to make them less tough unless you eat them right away.  Alone they aren't terribly sweet or terribly bitter, just a generic flavor really.  They cannot compare to the waffles I make my family.

I didn't know this until I saw it on the nearby shelf, but Smucker's also makes a frozen waffle called "Snack'n Waffles" that have a chocolate chip variety.  A 2oz box costs as much as the Eggo box which is 10X bigger and contains 4 waffles.  Each one has 220 calories with 3g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, 230mg sodium, 2g fiber, 15g sugars, 5g protein with 2% vitamin A and calcium along with 4% of the iron you need each day.  In a serving to serving comparison, Eggos are better for you but how did their taste compare?

I made these exactly as I did the Eggos, in the oven, so the comparison would be fair.  In terms of our senses, taste included, these Smucker's waffles are larger, about twice as thick, but smaller in turns of radius.  They have a lot of sugar in them and so you don't need to add extra unless you are really a sugar fiend.  They are easily held in your hand to eat if you like and very, very sweet with a hint of bitterness when you find a chocolate chip.  You can see these chips as easily as with the Eggos.  Overall these tasted better to my entire family.  Ultimately it comes down to taste versus nutrition but remember you'll need to add syrup to the Eggo to have an equal comparison between the two.

If waffles are not enough of a reason to celebrate, today is also "Vesuvius Day" marking the 79 CE explosion of that volcano which buried three Roman cities in a matter of hours.   Hhmmm.... I wonder if I could find a way to combine both holidays next year?  An edible volcano made of waffles?  What do you all think?

Sources Used for this Post:
Mr. Breakfast
Holiday Insights

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eco Friendly Plates Save Cacao

For a second week in a row, our Saturday Sacrament is not about chocolate itself but about other kitchen items that can be used with chocolate.  Our focus today is on a new type of disposable plate that you might chose to use for picnics or for big gatherings when using washable dishes seems overwhelming.  Remember every piece of trash we throw away could limit the land that can be used for cacao in the future.  While our human population is expanding, the size of the planet is not.  In fact, we seem to be damaging the land over and over so that the land we could use for all forms of agriculture might be decreasing as well.  Let's face it, cacao versus most other food plants, our Sacred Substance may lose out.

These palm leaf plates come in 10 different shapes but Max Foods sent your Chocolate Priestess two shapes.  The large palm leaf square measure about 9 inches across with a usable bottom of 6.5 inches across.  As you can see in this photograph, this large square plate compares very well with an average dinner plate in terms of the amount of food it will hold, in this case a very simple meal for my family.

The large plates' sides slope down for 1.75 inches making it capable of holding a bit of sauce.  However, any liquid or sticky substance will get into the groves of these plates so if you are used to getting every last big of sauce or ketchup or whatever off your plate, that will not work with these particular plates.  I think these plates work best for fairly dry and finger foods.

The plates are quite stable.  Here we see a rectangular one that measures 9.25 by 6.25 with a usable base of 7 by 3.75 inches.  The sides slope down 1.5 inches so again you have a bit of room for anything that might be liquid, in this case ice cream melting.  The thickness of the plates held the cold of the ice cream very well and these two scoops melted far more slowly than they would have in one of my bowls or plates that I use daily.

The plates have a bit of a vinegar scent when I first opened up the box but that went away in a few days of them setting in my cabinets.  The scent did not transfer to any of the food I used, not even pizza though the oils from it did sink a bit into the plates.  Here you see another good use for the rectangular plates as they hold one slice of pizza and some breadsticks and sauce, note I kept the sauce in its plastic cup so I wouldn't lose any of it.  But the oils from the pizza I was very fine with the plate soaking up because then a touch less went into me.

Reheating things in the microwave warped the plates a bit as I hope you can see in this photo.  While paper plates wouldn't warp, they'd soak up far too much liquid and leave potential stains in the microwave or on your table or lap unless you use multiple plates.  Cheap plastic plates would also warp and I've even seen them melt in the microwave.

Just because I could, I decided to see how easily these plates caught on fire.  Why?  Well, I could see folks using these around camp fires and since I don't composite and I can't test that, I thought this might be a fun test to try for you all. Finally how often do I get to set things on fire for you all, Sisters and Brothers?  For safety reasons, I did this test outside with another person, the White Chocolate Acolyte to be precise, taking the photos for me, and with the water hose turned on to put things out quickly.  Remember: Be very careful with fire!  I need not have worried so much.  It didn't catch on fire.  I applied the flame to it for about a minute and no catching what so ever.  It didn't catch on the inside as you see in the photo nor on the edges.  That's more than what you can say for paper plates or plastic ones!

Normally we use stonewear plates that we rewash over and over for our big parties.  We got large dinner plates and huge bowls over a decade ago and are still using them.  These palm plates might be washable but given their organic nature and the grooves in them, I wouldn't use them for different people and that could prove to be a hassle.  These palm leaf plates comes in a range of color because palm leaves are this way.  The prices vary from 78¢ a plate to $1.34 per plate; the largest the quantity, the lower the price.  For a fancier party that you still don't want to pull out the china for, these are more upscale looking than paper or plastic plates.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nabisco 100 Cal Chocolate Treats

I don't know about the stores where you shop, Sisters and Brothers, but my local grocery stores, the big chains, the small chain and the coop, rarely have their healthiest offerings on sale.  Generally it's the big names or the fatty foods I find with the best sales.  Recently when your Chocolate Priestess went shopping at her neighborhood Kroger she found some 100 calorie pack treats from Nabisco.

Both of these were the same price but the Pretzels had six bags while the Fudge Petites only had five bags.   No, they were not the same size because the Pretzels weighed in at 0.78oz a bag while the others were only 0.74oz a bag.  Nutritionally how that 100 calories is reached varied as well.

Pretzels: 2g saturated fat, 160mg sodium, 40mg potassium, 7g sugars and 2g protein.

Fudge Petites: 2.5g saturated fat, 100mg sodium, 35mg potassium, >1g fiber, 8g sugars, and 1g protein.

Neither are particularly good or bad nutrition-wise.

In terms of flavor and looks, they are pretty much what you'd hope for given their names and the pictures on the box and bag though how much you get is very little.

The Mister Salty Pretzels about an inch across and as you can see are simple, round pretzels.  The Fudge Petites are these 1.1 inch across shells that are chocolate cookie on one side and white frosting on the other.  The white is not chocolate by the way.  For a quick snack or a safe treat these could be a good deal but you'll have control yourself to using only one bag at a time or you undermine the entire reason for buying these which is portion control.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Double Ice Cream Maker

Once again the nice people at CSNStores.com contacted your Chocolate Priestess about teaming up with us to promote some of their products.  While a bathroom sink isn't really something that relates very well to chocolate, their range of stores includes a lot of items that can be used to create or enjoy our Sacred Substance.  Since they contacted me in July, National Ice Cream Month here in the USA I looked for something to do with ice cream that fit in the budget they set.  I found this "Total Chef Deluxe Double Treat Ice Cream Maker" for $30.

The product arrived in a box simply wrapped in bubble wrap.  That was weird.  The last product I received came in it's own box, inside a shipping box.  Does this product not have it's own box?  It turned out that this machine didn't work at all.  We look at the battery compartment and saw that the contacts were bent. But CSN has great customer service and they quickly replaced the first one with a second one that arrived in the same fashion.  I wasn't very hopeful at this point.

This machine has several parts and accessories that came with it.  First it has the two compartments that you put 1-2 different flavors in. The top part has two plastic combs that stir the mixture and window you can slide back to examine the ice cream through without stopping the process.  It has a little booklet with instructions and some recipes which I followed.  A scoop designed to fit into the bowls and a shaker for 4 different toppings you might want to put on your ice cream.

The first time, in keeping with healthier eating I want my family to do, I tried the fat free recipes.  I had darker cocoa so the chocolate would be darker and I used cinnamon in place of other flavors for the second flavor but otherwise I followed the direction exactly as printed.  Here you can see the two flavors in the bowls.

The trick with this maker is that it uses batteries that slip into the side of the machine.  Note the curve of the machine and the compartment.  This made it very difficult to get the batteries into and incredibly hard to get them out when the process was finished.    Ultimately the batteries jiggled around so much that they lost their position and the machine would stop.  I used cotton balls to hold them in place and the machine kept going at least until the internal thermometer told it to stop.

That I had to go to this length to get the machine to work is a huge disappointment.  The reason you get an ice cream maker is so you can have homemade treats without having to make it really by hand.  Think of the hour plus of hand cranking you'd normal do with an old fashioned ice cream maker.

You place the machine into your freezer where it will gauge the temperature and stop mixing at a certain point.  It is supposed to turn for 10 seconds then rest for 10 seconds and repeat this process until that temperature is reached.

With the fat free recipes this temperature was reached when the products were really in the milk shake phrase of freezing.  I hope you can see that in this photo.  Shakes are good but these were not supposed to be shakes and given the shape of the bowls the product needed to be scooped out, it could not be poured without mixing the two flavors together.

I thought that maybe it was the fat free recipes at fault so I tried the regular recipes a week later.  The difference is really the milk product you use.  In the fat free you use skim or low fat half and half.  In regular you use heavy cream and regular half and half as you see in this photo.

Changing to the regular recipes did help a bit but the mixer stopped churning before the ice cream was truly solid.  This photo shows the mixture after the blades stopped turning. No, you can't restart them once they stop because that would entail getting the product warm enough to restart them and you want cold ice cream, right?

But you also want ice cream that is smooth which means the ice crystals have not formed so large that they are obvious in the treat.  As this photo shows the product melted very quickly because so much of it was ice crystals instead of creamy, smooth ice cream.  It also tasted a bit off as well.  Texture and scent are a huge part our of food enjoyment as human beings. If one or two of our senses are offended, the entire experience can be ruined.

While I can't recommend this particular machine, the CSNStores.com site called Cookware.com has a lot of ice cream related products you might want to check out.  Just remember: Sometimes something can be too cheap to be much good just as sometimes products are very over priced.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

209th Birthday of John Cadbury

Sisters and Brothers, your Chocolate Priestess is sure you've heard the name Cadbury in association with chocolate.  I know that if you are in the UK you are very familiar with this brand of chocolate.  The Milk Chocolate Acolyte has a "Forgotten English" daily calendar by Jeffrey Kacirk which marked today, August 12, as the birthday of English chocolatier John Cadbury (1801-1889).  Using that calendar as a jumping off point, I went searching for more information because I think an important figure in the popularization of chocolate deserves to acknowledged here in The Chocolate Cult.

Born in Birmingham, Cadbury was a Quaker who saw the rise in alcohol as a serious social threat.  Unlike other activists who focused on changing laws, delivering fire and brimstone lectures, or turning to the media to show the horror of drunkenness, Cadbury wanted to provide an alternative: chocolate drinks.

Chocolate-houses were all over Europe by the end of the 17th century so one more small grocery store in 1824 that also served chocolate drinks might have seemed foolish.  Drinking chocolate was the principle way that cocoa was consumed for many, many decades so how did Cadbury become so huge? 

Cadbury choose to open his shop next to his father's business in a wealthy part of the city.  This gave him family support but also reached out to those who had the money and power to appreciate good products.  By 1831 the business focused on chocolate and within 16 years there was a factory producing chocolate products to be sold under the Cadbury  name.  However, business turned sour and it took the next generation, John's sons George and Richard to turn things around and making their family business into a giant. 

You might recall, Sisters and Brothers, that last year Cadbury was bought out by an American company and this created all sorts ill-feelings in the UK.  The reason is that the business has been run under the ideals of Quaker beliefs.  Cadbury was well-known for its charitable works and fair labor practices something some of my UK readers have told me they worry will change.  Only time will tell if that is true.

So today if you can find something from Cadbury, eat and say a thank to John Cadbury for this work that lives on today.

Sources Used:
    Bibliography Dictionary
    Visit Birmingham
    Archives Hub
    Leader Values

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tickets Available for Chocolate Walk 2010

Last year the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte and I went to Nashville Indiana to participate in their annual Chocolate Walk for the Brown County Humane Society which works to help pet owners and to find owners for pets.  The vent will happen on Saturday, November 13 from 10am to 5pm.

This is an excellent charity to support because they have a very high "out alive" rate which means they are saving animals daily.  The cost of a ticket is $15 and currently there are 31 companies in Nashville participating.  For that $15 you get to walk around the lovely artist colony plus sample a lot of varieties and forms of chocolate  Look under "Pilgrimages" label to see the long review I did of last year's event.

Price's will rise on October 31 and last year they sold out on tickets so don't delay.

There are also three hotels and cabin rental serves offering special packages for this event for anyone who wants to travel a bit.  These are the Cornerstone Inn, the Moondance Vacation Homes, and the Hotel Nashville.

Once more if you are planning to go, let us know ASAP and we can arrange a carpool I'm certain from your Chocolate Priestess home to the event and spend a long time enjoy chocolate and each others' company.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Microwave S'mores

Today is "National S'mores Day" and so to celebrate I wanted to treat my family to s'mores.  There are a few problems with my plan however.  We don't go camping.  Your Chocolate Priestess's allergies are so bad that this is just not possible let alone the fact that my family hates the idea of being without their precious internet connections.  We do have two fireplaces but they need repairs that are costly so we've never been able to use them.

I had a coupon back in June for all the necessary ingredients to make s'mores so I after looking for a microwave recipe we could try I bought those at our local Kroger when they were also on sale. Remember, saving money doesn't make you cheap, Sisters and Brothers, it gives you more money to spend on more chocolate!  You'll notice in the photo that I used all brand name products but you don't have to.  Generic versions would work as well and you can always upgrade your S'mores by using better chocolate though personally for a treat like this, where the marshmallow and crackers are such a big part of the taste, I think it is a bit of a waste of higher quality chocolates.

The recipe for S'mores was right on the Jet-Puffed package but I modified it a bit by cutting the marshmallows in half as you can see in this photo.  I did this for two reasons.  First, it provided a more stable platform for the top layer of crackers which you do not put on for the microwaving.  Second, it helped spread the marshmallows out more evenly over the chocolate layer.  I put these two at a time in the microwave on high for 20 seconds.  We have a fairly powerful microwave so yours may take more or less time.  The marshmallows did puff up about 25% of their size.

Removing them immediately I pushed the top cracker down and forced the marshmallow to squish out over the chocolate which wasn't very melty yet. As I let the warm marshmallows sit, the chocolate layer started to melt more.  In fact at one point when I ate one, a piece of chocolate fell off the cracker and I had to catch it on a finger.  After so many handmade, small batch, and gourmet chocolates, I can't say that I'm impressed by these simply Hershey bars. But for S'mores, they make them taste just like I remember from my Girl Scout and camping days of childhood.

Let me know, Sisters and Brothers, if you celebrated this fun food holiday and how you did so.  If you are old enough and want to do something alcoholic for the holiday, try this post from Kate's Kitchen.

Monday, August 9, 2010

National S'mores Day

Tomorrow is "National S'mores Day" another fun holiday that uses chocolate and gives us, Sisters and Brothers, a reason to indulge in our Sacred Substance.  The "S'more" may go back to the Girl Scouts in the 1920s according to several online sources but none provided great documentation for these claims.  As to who declared this a "holiday" I could find no evidence either.

Today I'm going to talk about two options for S'mores that you could use if you didn't want to make the traditional S'mores tomorrow.  But tomorrow I'm going to talk about how you can get close to that traditional kind even if you aren't out camping and you don't have a open flame.

One option comes from a fellow blogger who has this idea I have to share with you all.  "How-To Baker" has a creative "S'more Cupcake" you should check HERE.  If we hadn't had cupcakes this past weekend for a birthday and it was cooler, I might have tried this recipe myself.  Let him know that you found his blog via The Chocolate Cult when you go visit him please.

The second option is to buy something s'morish such as Pop Tarts' s'more variety.   Currently Pop Tarts come in 27 flavors according to the box.  I bought these on sale at our local Kroger when I had a coupon, big surprise, huh?  I have one more review of another variety later this week coming up but I wanted to give you this option in time for our fun food holiday tomorrow.  Here is my BIG PET PEEVE with Pop Tarts: One pastry = 1 serving but they come two pastries to a foil wrapper.  We hear constantly that we need to watch our diets and yet it feels like the mass produced food industry is really trying to make that hard for all of us.  How many of you grew up eating just one pastry and leaving the other in the foil wrapper?  On those very rare mornings when we had such products in my mother's house, she looked at them and assumed that two was the proper serving.  I'm not saying we need to increase packaging but geesh do something that doesn't send such mixed signals please.

So one pastry, you see two here, don't you, has 200 calories.  Inside you can see it has sections of chocolaty goo and marshmallowy goo in a grahman cracker tasting shell with a chocolaty glaze.  The chocolate here is real chocolate so we aren't cheated on that level.  Those 200 calories are made of 1.5g saturated fat, 210mg sodium, <1g fiber, 19g sugars, 3g protein with 6 different vitamins and minerals.  How does it taste?  First, it does taste like a graham cracker and the marshmallow tastes as it should.  The googy chocolate inside is a bit sweeter than I'm used to for S'mores but it does taste like chocolate.  Overall it was a nice treat but definitely not a favorite from the Pop Tart folks in terms of chocolatyness.

Tomorrow we'll look at using your microwave to make S'mores but today let me know if you plan to celebrate or if you go camping and make S'mores as part of your outdoor fun.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mocha Satisfaction

One of the very first chocolatiers to submit their products to The Chocolate Cult was Wiseman House Chocolates by sending us three products.  Two were reviewed by your own Chocolate Priestess in 2009 but one needed an more discerning palate and so we handed it over to our Mocha Acolyte who then moved a bit too far away.  He has finished with his final review for us all and I want to send him off with a bang by featuring a solo review by him.  Without further words, here is his review of their Mocha Crunch.

Mocha Acolyte Says: "Don't be fooled by the modest packaging. This understated brown foil bag contains treasure. Upon opening the package, a delightful aroma of cocoa greets the nose. A deeper whiff reveals coffee notes blended with wonderful subtlety into the aroma of sweet dark chocolate. The olfactory prelude promises wonderful things to come.

The bite-size pieces are cut into attractive rhomboid shapes. Their surface has a matte look with a light powdery dusting of cocoa. Visually, these are diamonds-in-the-rough. The same textural oddity is evident to the hand as well - a slight but pleasing graininess.

Inside the mouth, however, the rough-finished texture quickly gives way to an amazingly well-realized blend of smoothness and crunch. The chocolate melts quickly into creamy goodness, whereas the grittier ground coffee beans give this mocha treat real punch. The flavor is just as harmonious - the dark chocolate and crunchy coffee are in perfect balance.

It should be noted that these pack a definite sugar rush, and are very sweet. The more complex bitter notes of both the coffee and the chocolate are still there, but one must dig for them a bit, letting the initial sweet burst of sugar pass the palate before savoring the darker elements. The aftertaste allows these tastes to emerge somewhat, but let there be no doubt - these are candies, and not shy about it. Those who prefer for coffee and cocoa to feature their bitter notes in a stronger manner may be quite disappointed. For my own palate - as a coffee lover who also has a definite sweet tooth - the flavor was exquisite.

I think I could easily eat a whole bag in one sitting, because they are simply that tasty - but there is no need to do so, because they are also so rich and satisfying that just a few made a nice treat.

Wiseman House Mocha Crunch successfully fulfills both my chocolate and coffee cravings, and I heartily recommend it to mocha lovers unafraid of sweeter pleasures."

With that, I hope all of you will check out Wiseman House Chocolates.  We have another person willing to take on the mantel of Mocha Acolyte but to davebearin we say, when we are together again, we will visit a chocolate or coffee shop and indulge.

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