Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chocolate in July

July is "National Ice Cream Month" in the USA.  Beyond that there are oddly several more chocolate holidays in this next month.  I saw odd because July is hot and as we know chocolate keeps best under limited temperatures and in moisture controlled situations.  I've never lived anywhere that I could just leave out some chocolate for even a half an hour and not have it melt.  But if you want to find a way to celebrate with chocolate here are some options so mark your calendars and be prepared to share your celebrations with us all.

July 1 = "Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day"
July 7 = "Chocolate Day"
July 18 = "National Ice Cream Day"
July 28 = "National Chocolate Milk Day"
July 30 = "National Cheesecake Day"

Yes, I realize that three of these are not innately chocolate but really why would you not want to add chocolate to such a wonderful fun holiday?

On some of these days I'll be doing reviews while on others I'm going to talk about the history of the holiday or share a reflection of my own wonderful memories of a particular dessert or drink.  Keep tuning in during July because while it make be hot and humid, we don't stop worshiping with Chocolate around here.

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

Monday, June 28, 2010

International Chocolates Locally Found

Not far from your Chocolate Priestess's house, there is one of two branches of a local grocery store called Sahara Mart.  This particular branch opened within the past two years.  Normally we shop at our nearby Kroger or the Bloomingfoods because we are members of that coop.  However, after my birthday last year, I learned that I needed to check out Sahara Mart because several of the chocolate gifts I received came from there.  Today's post is going to be more photo essay than paragraphs as I give you a glimpse of what is available at this store.

This is the sign at night which is when we go shopping.  It's located along 3rd street as it approaching College Mall Road, a major traffic spot in our city but in the evenings, especially in the summers, it is very manageable in the evenings.

The building in which Sahara Mart is located used to be a furniture store so it had to undergo a lot of renovations to become what it is today.  One of the best features is surely the candy aisle which the next photos will show.

This is the western end of that aisle where we see a lot of bagged hard and non-chocolate candies from around the world.  If you look closely you can see some cocoa options there.

The next section we still have a few non-chocolate items but you'll see a lot of familiar and new chocolate products as well.

Bars, bars, bars of chocolate in this photo but if you look at the lower shelf you'll find spread, baking chips, and other products to help you make your own chocolate delights at home.

Even more bars of chocolate.  I think it would take me a year or more to try everything I've never had before and sadly that might cost a lot unless I look for sales that they have from time to time there.

Finally the end of the candy/chocolate aisle.  I have a friend who just calls this the chocolate aisle but as we saw there are non-chocolates here as well.

There is a four page flier that comes out once a week for Sahara Mart which is delivered in our local newspaper.  I always look to see if there is any chocolate on sale.  But really to find good buys and new treats I just like wandering and looking through this aisle, the end displays and the displays near the check out lanes.

Do you have a store like Sahara Mart in your town?  Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

More Angelic Chocolates

For our last Saturday Sacrament in May we looked at one half of the chocolates that The Chocolate Cult received from Island Angel Chocolates.  Today, one month later, we'll finish that review of the entire sample, all 24 flavors, they sent our way with the bottom 12 varieties on the bottom of the box they sent.  As with the first review these will not necessarily be covered in the order you see in the box so take a look at each photo that will accompany every two truffles your Chocolate Priestess describes in all five senses.  First though, these are the same size as the top layer of truffles was, approximately 0.75 inches on the bottom but rising 1.25 inches tall for a decent mouthful for chocolate and other flavors.  We'll start with the white chocolates, go to the milk chocolates then end with the dark varieties today.

The "Lavender Orange" has a powdered sugar like coating on it when I look at it then touch it.  It has a strong citrus scent but also a hint of lavender as well.  A bite reveals a very dough like covering on it with a creamy flavor and a grayish semi-solid center that strongly tastes of lavender and orange just as I'd expect.  But this is very cookie like in texture so not at all what I expect from a truffle.  The "Baily's" is a plain but very thinly covered white chocolate with a dusting of something that might be cocoa or cinnamon.  The dusting must be cocoa a bite into the thin white chocolate shell reveals by taste but also the milk chocolate, semi-solid center.  It tastes both chocolaty and like Baily's in one bite and creates a nice cooling sensation in my mouth.  A great balance for this flavor of truffle compared to several other Baily's flavored chocolates we've revealed thus far on these Sacraments.

The final two white chocolate covered truffles are the "Very Vanilla" that has drizzles of more white chocolate over it and the "Luscious Lemon" that has a dried piece of lemon on top of it.  The "Very Vanilla" has a very creamy and vanilla scent that is matched by the semi-soft center that is flecked with vanilla indicating just how real these flavors are like cream vanilla ice cream would be.  "Luscious Lemon" really doesn't have much of a scent through the white chocolate shell.  While there is no lemon scent the taste of the semi-solid white center is very strongly sour lemon which actually blends very well with the creamy chocolate.  Intense and it may make you pucker your lips a bit depending on your sensitivity to lemon.

Only two of the truffles on this bottom layer appear to be milk chocolate: "Curry Please" which has gold slimmers over the drizzle and "Banana Rum" which has chocolate jimmie sprinkled over it.  "Curry Please" has a definite curry scent and a soft snap from the thick milk chocolate shell reveals a yellow-green semi-soft center flecked with spices. I'm not a big fan of curry but I think if you like curry you should give this a try.  "Banana Rum" has almost no fragrance beyond milk chocolate but inside a thinner shell I find a semi-solid milk chocolate center with a very light banana and rum flavor.  It takes two bites to get the full flavors going and they mix fairly well with the milk chocolate that is creamy and yet has a gentle bitterness.

Now we'll turn our attention to the six dark chocolate truffles on the bottom layer from Island Angel Chocolates.  We'll start with the "Orange of the Night" which has sort of mango colored drizzle on the top and the "Amore Amaretto" which has white drizzle on it.  "Orange of the Night" has a dark chocolate scent, no real hint of citrus even. The thick shell snaps fairly loudly and then crunches as I take a bite.  Inside is a dark, bitter semi-solid center that melts into an intense orange that folds back into the chocolate again.  Wonderful is the only word I can use to describe this as I enjoy it.  "Amore Amaretto" has an almond scent and a dark chocolate scent before I bite through the thick shell with a snap.  Inside is a very dark and bitter semi-solid center that starts off with the almond liquor flavor but quickly turns entirely dark cocoa in nature.

The "Definitely Dark" is just that with the same drizzled on top of it while "Dark Cocoa Dusted" is more French style with the heavy layer of cocoa over it.  Both have a simple, dark cocoa scent to them though obviously the dusted one makes a mess on my finger tips that I am forced to lick off.  I'm surprised that this rather medium thickness shell on the "Definitely Dark" makes such a loud snap when I take a bite.  Inside is a semi-soft dark center that is deeply intense and bitter and packs a tiny buzz after only one bite.  "Dark Cocoa Dusted" is not French because under the cocoa powder is a moderately thick shell that snaps when I take a bite.  Compared to the previous piece this is more bitter and makes me pucker a bit.  Not a treat for anyone who does not love very dark chocolate, you are now warned or enticed depending on your opinion of darkest cocoa.  As you know, your Chocolate Priestess loves it dark but this pushes even my edges of too intense.

We'll finish off this bottom layer of truffles with the "Espresso Elegance" topped by a plain coffee bean and "Rappin Raspberry" that has red crystals dusted over the top.  "Espresso Elegance" has a coffee scent to it through the medium shell that makes a soft snap when I take a bite.  Inside is a semi-solid dark chocolate with an enough stronger espresso fragrance and taste that almost overpowers the chocolate.  Coffee lovers shouldn't mind that too much but I couldn't get this to our Mocha Acolyte for his opinion since he now lives several states away.   "Rappin Raspberry" has both a deep chocolate and a strong raspberry scent.  The shell is fairly thick and makes a crunch when I take a bite. In the creamy yet bitter dark truffle center there is a strong raspberry tartness with a tiny seedlike texture that may suggest this is from real fruit pulp not just juice.

If the two dozen flavors from Island Angel Chocolates sound great to you, and I hope they do read half as wonderful as they tasted to me, you need to go check them out this Sacrament worthy treats.  If you are near Langley, WA, check them out in person and linger over their varieties in store but even if you aren't, these shipped very well and kept very well even though this review was pre-written a good month or two before this Saturday Sacrament was posted.  These will last you a while and be a delightful mouthful for as many days as you are willing to practice Moderation.

Island Angel is also making a change to a new store name and line of products and you can check them out at this Facebook link.  Their new website should be Sweet Mona's starting in July.

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

Friday, June 25, 2010

National Chocolate Pudding Day is Tomorrow

Tomorrow, June 26, is "National Chocolate Pudding Day".  Since tomorrow is also our Sacred Day and no chocolatier sent me pudding in any form, today will have to be the day we address this fun food holiday, Sisters and Brothers.

I grew up with the instant and cooked variety of puddings that my mom bought in tiny boxes then finished making at home.  In your Chocolate Priestess's she's the only one who likes pudding at all so making it seems rather pointless.  Instead I buy it in single serving packs generally when it is on sale and I have a coupon and then it can last for a month or more without my being concerned about it spoiling.  Not only should chocolate never be allowed to spoil but to do so also wastes money.

There aren't that many brands of pudding out there in my regional supermarkets and stores.  Jello is, of course, the big player around here and their offerings have a lot of variety ranging from sugar free to fat free to regular plus many different flavors.  I get coupons for a few other brands in my local newspaper and I'm sure I'll review puddings as I encounter them but I just never think to order them in a restaurant and haven't recently had the desire to consume them.  But today I made an appointment to get some pudding and tried it.

What could I find? Jello, but at least it was a mixed pack with both milk chocolate cups and a layered dark-milk-dark chocolate in the same four pack.  This was the regular variety and while it tasted good, in general I try fat free or no added sugar when I buy something like this.  Hey, it's for a "holiday" right?  I can treat myself a bit.

I want you to do the same and then leave a comment telling me what you found and whether or not you'd buy that product or flavor again.  If you made your own, please let me know about that as well.

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chocolate Éclairs are Difficult?

June 22, today, is "National Chocolate Éclair Day" here on the fun chocolate calendar we are creating over the years drawing upon many, many printed and online sources.  This day honoring a French creation with the addition of our Sacred Substance has an unknown history.  If you know anything at all about when this fun food holiday began or who created it, please leave a note with a link in the comments, Sisters and Brothers.

Your Chocolate Priestess has never made homemade éclairs before, let alone chocolate ones because she's heard it is difficult and because frankly it is often borderline too warm to use the oven where she lives.  Today, it's supposed to be over 90 degrees again and humid.  So what I need from all of you is feedback on whether or not making chocolate éclairs is indeed difficult.

Where do you get your recipes for your chocolate éclairs?  Do you put chocolate inside them as well as on the top?  Could you add chocolate to the pastry itself to make it even more chocolaty or would that upset the creation of the fine product? How long will a homemade éclair last in your house?  What type of chocolate -- white, milk, dark -- works best for these?

If you give me the information then next year I can find the courage to try to make my own and share the success or failure with you all.

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

Monday, June 21, 2010

E-Course to Learn Budget Cooking & Shopping

A few years ago, your Chocolate Priestess started to take more control over food in her life.  It is so easy to buy unhealthy food because it is cheap or fast but in the long run that can have much more expensive consequences for your body and mind.  As you know from reading my posts, I am concerned not just with your taste buds but also your wallet and your conscious when you purchase or use chocolate.

While not exclusive to chocolate, this e-course, A Peasant's Feast, will help you learn how to make the balance I try to maintain in my own household with fewer mistakes and far less time than it took me to learn.  The course is all online so if you are buy you can take it from home but you will still get questions answered by the teacher, Kimi Harris who has this to say about the course:

     In a nutshell, this class will have two purposes. First, to share the basis principles of a nourishing, healthy diet, secondly to share how I do that on a budget. I've found that many people desire to eat well, but feel they can only eat well on a rich man's budget. This ecourse is all about showing how the we can eat good food on a reasonable budget.

      This is a thirteen week class (a baker's dozen) discussing extensively what to shop for, how to save, and how to cook. We will be discussing what to buy and how to save on poultry, beef, and seafood. I will be teaching how to sprout, soak grains, and how to make sourdough bread and homemade yogurt. I will teach the students how to stretch one pound of beef into a meal for many, how to stretch one single chicken into several meals, and how to stretch high quality seafood. They will learn how to make their own salad dressings, how to lacto-ferment vegetables, the benefits of making your own chicken broth, and how to menu plan.

     By the end, students should have a firm foundation of what to shop for, where to find good local food, and how to prepare it. To read more extensively about what each week will bring go here. Another important part of the ecourse is the forum where people have the ability to both discuss with each other that week's topic, and also interact with me and ask questions. This gives me the opportunity to help trouble shoot any issues they are having."

     The course costs less than ten dollars a week for enrollment and she is making payment plans available as well. Don't wait to sign up if you are interested as registration for the class ends June 27th!

For more information please check the online description of the course's week by week topics and goals.  Remember every dollar you can save on other food can go toward Chocolate!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Great Promise from New Chocolatier

Months ago, your Chocolate Priestess made a fine in a small South Dakota city called Watertown. The find was a place called Sweet Memories and I found it while looking for another store a friend of ours found online.  Sweet Memories does not currently have a website, only a Facebook account though I hope that changes soon.

The store inside was rather elegant looking and I could see their kitchen from the show room though the nice lady working there didn't agree to be included in our pictures.  The owner, Randy Schliesman had only had the store since the fall of 2009 so they are a very new chocolatier.  Inside a bought a few items I revealed to you all back on April 16, 2010 and now I'll feature what they gave to The Chocolate Cult in today's Saturday Sacrament.

They gave me four samples of the truffles and fudge they make.  The "Tiger Fudge" is two tones which I hope you can see in this photograph.   It has a chocolate and peanut butter fragrance and I'm betting that is what this is, two flavors of fudge layered together not mixed as you might imagine chocolate peanut butter fudge to be.  When I take a bite I find nuts it the chocolate part of the fudge itself and the lighter layer is more buttery than peanuty though I still get a peanut flavor.  The nuts add crunchyness that you don't expect in fudge making this unique.  Very rich as fudge should be and I have to strongly recommend you try some.

Of all the fruits we've tried covered with or added to chocolate, Pomegrante isn't unique but it is very rare.  This milk chocolate truffle is about an inch and a quarter across as are the other two I'll reveal and is fairly hefty in my fingers. Inside the thick shell that is noiseless to bite I find a thick, semi-soft white chocolate center with a fruity taste that builds up over time.  The balance is delicate and I have to wonder what it would taste like with a darker ganache on the outside.  This truffle really only smelled very lightly of chocolate as well so I'm thinking this may be a lower cocoa content type of milk chocolate.

The dark chocolate enrobed truffle has sparkly orange flecks on it marking it as the "Orange" flavor.  You know I'm always surprised that orange isn't used more since I think that citrus flavor goes great with the bitterness of darker cocoa. This has a strong dark chocolate scent.  The dark chocolate center is very firm and the outer shell makes a sharp snap when I take a bite to find it.  The taste of orange is very light, like with the pomegrante and builds up over time though not quite enough to fully balance the deepness of the dark cocoa bitterness.  The result is a definite slight buzz that we often look for here in The Chocolate Cult so I have to say this is a good choice for us.

The one next to the "Orange" is a white chocolate "Mint" truffle with light green drizzle on the top.  This has a minty tone to the creamy, milky scent when I take a whiff of it.  It bites easily to reveal a very surprising center of a firm dark chocolate center with a strong yet well balanced minty taste.  This has the cocoa rush but also a cooling effect on my mouth so this is another great truffle.

They may be new, but Sweet Memories is doing chocolate right in several beautiful forms from the flowers and molds I looked at in the April review to their fudge and truffles from today.   If you are in the area of Watertown, South Dakota, you need to stop in and check them out.  They have a Facebook presence as well but no website as yet.  But I have to agree with the motto on the wall in this photo: "chocolate, everyday" just remember to do it in moderation.

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another Boxed Chocolate Option for Father's Day

Whitman's Samplers have been around for a long, long time.  One of the coolest things about them is that in the lid of the box they have vague shapes that represent the compartments that the candy sits in as you can see in this photo.  This lets you know what you are putting into your mouth before you do.  Your Chocolate Priestess has memories of eating these samplers with her parents and picking through them for the varieties she wanted while Daddy ate the others.  So in honor of that memory, and because I found this "Dark Chocolates" sampler on sale in our local CVS recently, I'm going to reveal it to you in time for you to go out at the last minute for your Father's Day shopping.

This 12oz box is normally $10 but on sale I got it for $6 so I could easily buy Dad a few other things plus a nice card.  (I didn't, by the way, I sent him something from a small chocolatier who lives very close to their hometown.)  The box has 15 compartments for chocolate and two layers of the candies.  Only two of these the Toffee Chip is repeated so you get 14 different varieties and with 2-4 pieces of each.  The nutritional information is a bit difficult to decipher because it says "4 pieces" equals a serving but I think they probably mean four compartments of chocolate equals a serving.  That has 220 calories made up of 7g saturated ft, 5mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 2g fiber, 22g sugars, 2g protein, 2% vitamin A and calcium, and 6% of the iron you need daily.  The very first ingredient on the list is chocolate so I have high hopes for this box.

As you can see these are neatly laid out so it is easy to use the lid to determine the flavors.  Starting at the upper left and going across the top we have: Coconut, Peanuts, Caramel, Almonds, and Chocolate Whip.  In the second row we get: Pecan/English Walnut Cluster, Molasses Chew, Messenger Boy which is a solid dark chocolate piece, Almond Nougat, and Cashew Cluster.  The third row includes a Chocolate Truffle, Toffee Chip, Cherry Cordial, another Toffee Chip, and a Vermont Fudge.

The chocolate is nicely bitter and dark like I was hoping and it melts in my fingers suggesting it is purer than what I was expecting from such a big company's candies.  The combinations that should be chewy are chewy, while those that should be crunchy were crunchy with each bite.  My favorite was the Chocolate Whip because it was simple and very chocolaty yet tasted light and airy.  I have to be honest, Sisters and Brother, and confess I didn't bother with either the Coconut or the Cherry Cordial so others will have to give their input on that.  Over all I was greatly pleased with this selection and I think it's a very good mass produced choice for any gift you might be rushing to buy.

So if you think your father would like a little dark chocolate and he enjoys most of these flavors, this Whitman Sampler might be your salvation at this late date before Father's Day.  What he doesn't like, I'm sure your mother will.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chocolate Oblivion

Your Chocolate Priestess is very lucky to live about half a mile from an amazing little bakehouse and cafe called The Scholar's Inn Bakehouse that she visits at least once a month with some female friends. Over the months she's had some great chocolate treats from them as well as some duds. This is not one of the duds.

This is a piece of the flourless cake that the Bakehouse offers called “Chocolate Oblivion”. It smells like a cross between fudge and brownies and if this photo is clear enough you can even see the layers — the top a ganache over a fudgy layer over a brownie like lower 2/3 of this. The lovely top has white feathery patterns on the darker ganache that I hope are also visible. This piece is 4.5 inches long and 1.5 inches thick and begins with a 2.5 inch across slice that of course narrows since this is a triangular shape. The piece has a lot of heft to it which seems very common in flourless cakes since they do not have a lot of air mixed in with them since they lack and yeast to make them rise. It tastes and feels amazing in my mouth. Exactly like a piece of fudge and brownie mixed together, delightfully bitter with a touch of sweet, providing a strong cocoa rush up my head and into my mind and soul from the very first bite. I cannot recommend this too strongly.  If you live anywhere near Bloomington, Indiana, you need to try this cake.

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

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Daily Chocolate

TCHO may not be a name you know except in big cities but it is one you should know.  They sent The Chocolate Cult three samples to reveal to you as part of our Sacraments so today your Chocolate Priestess will look at their "TCHO-A-Day" product that came in a 14-day supply.  This review was exactly two weeks in the making so that I sampled it as it is supposed to be use, daily, to see if it satisfied all our sensory criteria as well as was enough to satisfy any chocolate craving I might have had that day.

There are actually four flavors in this 14-day supply.  Each is 1.5 by 1.5 inch square that is short of a quarter of an inch thick for a total of 8g or 18oz of chocolate.  While the names suggest different flavors these are matter of the cacao itself, which as I hope you recall, Sisters and Brothers, can have a wide range of essences based on the soil in which it is grown and the conditions under which it is cultivated.  There is soy lecithin here if that is a concern for anyone and possible traces the labels say for nuts or milk probably because of other candies they make in the same plant.

The "Chocolaty" variety is 70% Ghana cocoa and comes in a dark brown wrapper.  Four pieces come in this 14-day selection.  It has an interesting pattern grooved into the top that resembles something I've seen in math or science classes.  It has a nice dark, earthy scent to it and feels cool in my finger tips.  There are between 2-3 bites in this piece and if you chew it the bitterness has an almost vanilla taste reflecting the vanilla beans in it.  Letting it melt in my mouth dulls the bitterness but heightens the vanilla at first though the bitterness returns as an aftertaste.  My mind feels the cocoa expanding it as I finish this piece and I'm filled with satisfaction.

The "Citrus" squares come in the yellow wrappers and are made of 67% cacao from Madagascar.  This has a slightly difference cocoa fragrance and I can't be sure if I'm imagining it may be a citrus scent based on the color of the wrapper and the name of flavor or if it really has one.  The square itself looks identical as you can see.  The flavor has a sharp edge to it, a touch of sweetness that the previous square did not.  The ingredients list is identical so this must be due to the where the cocoa beans were grown.  As we've mentioned on this blog numerous times, Sisters and Brothers, the soil and conditions under which cocoa beans and the ingredients added to them to create chocolate greatly impact the flavor and texture of the Sacred Substance.  I like this just as much as the previous and fact the difference in the taste to be very intriguing.

In an orange wrapper I find the "Fruity" flavor that is 68% cacao from Peru.  It has a nice dark scent and the same look as the previous two pieces.  This does have a slightly fruity flavor that isn't the same as the previous flavor, more berry-like perhaps, with a touch of sweetness that turns to tartness at the end of a bite blending with the bitterness of the cocoa itself to make a very delicious and definitely unique essence.  It sort of makes my tongue tingle a bit and feel cooler.  I'm not completely sure why but it brings a smile to my face as this sensation and the aftertaste lingers for ten minutes or more.

Finally the 65% cacao variety from Ecuador is called "Nutty" and is encased in a light brown wrapper.  Even though this is 5% less cacao than the "Chocolaty" it really doesn't smell any different or look any different.  Let's face it, these are all in the very healthy category of dark chocolate.  Even though this square is identical to the others it tastes quite different.  A very bitter almost dry flavor that makes my mouth water as I chew it.  The "nutty" flavor isn't really there so much as a general earthyness to it.  Oddly this tastes like it has more cacao than the others even though I know it does not.  Simple chocolate that only grows more bitter with each bite or as you let it melt on your tongue so for the darkness chocolate lover out there, like me!

I actually sent "TCHO-A-Day" to one of our mothers and a grandmother back in May because it fit with what both of them wanted: small amount of chocolate per day and variety plus it was very reasonably priced.  Then we sent the same thing to our dad for Father's Day for the same reasons.  Add into that the fact that they support fair labor practices around the world and are organic this certainly qualifies as a Worthy Sacrament.  Once a day?  Practice Moderation and I'm sure you can have this just once a day.

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

Friday, June 11, 2010

Monster Pancakes?

You're heard of monster cookies, right, Sisters and Brothers?  Nice big cookies with several types of additional ingredients often including chocolate chips, candy pieces, maybe nuts or peanuts and sometimes even some fruit.  I found this mix in our local Target and decided to give the idea of a monster pancake or waffle a try.  Here's how that turned out.

First, there were two options for preparation on the directions.  The pancakes show in the photo on the box with a lot of added candy pieces or waffles. In my house I'm the waffle maker while the Milk Chocolate Acolyte makes the pancakes.  It was an early Saturday morning and I was the one up so I chose the waffle recipe.

The directions were very easy to follow and I made the entire box since we are three big eating adults in this family and it was our Saturday which is our "eat what you like" day so we can eat very carefully during the week -- or that is our ideal any way.  I wanted to show you the mixed up product because this where you see how the candy pieces started to melt a bit just from mixing.  You can't see them but this also included peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips and peanut butter drops.

The finished waffles numbered six huge ones, probably could have made seven easily but how do you divide that between three people?    Note that you can't see all those added pieces very well though every now and again you seen a colored stain or a spot that is darker.  We ate these with some light marble syrup though you could eat them without.  Over all we weren't impressed for two different reasons.  First the raisins just were ... weird, their texture was a surprise every time we encountered them and they added an unnecessary sweetness we thought.  Secondary the peanut drops and peanuts themselves were almost unnoticeable.

So for my family, I could make something with items we just like -- bananas and cinnamon perhaps for one of us and chocolate and peanut pieces for the other two. Wait, that's a lot of work, I'd have to clean the waffle maker between that and then someone's waffles would get cold.  Drat!  I guess we'll stick with simple waffles for now until one of us is gone and I can make special waffle for just two of us.  I'll let you know how that goes when I try it.

What type of things do you add to your waffles to make them a bit more special?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Russell Stover Truffle Gift Box

Normally we associate chocolate with gifts for women but the simple fact is as the men who follow, read and enter contests on The Chocolate Cult demonstrate our Sacred Substance has universal appeal not limited by biological sex.  Father's Day is approaching fast in the USA and your Chocolate Priestess has gifts of chocolate sent out to her two fathers.  Others of you might not have thought this far ahead though and very soon ordering online will get more expensive if you want him to have his chocolate by Sunday, June 20, 2010.  Add into the fact that ordering now in the summer generally entails extra shipping fees and you might want to look in your local area for good cocoa gifts.

If you really put things off you can find decent, nicely boxed in most stores these days.  Russell Stover generally has good quality chocolates and today and next week I'm going to look at two options from them that I found on sale in our local CVS of all places!  This is just their truffle collection in a 12oz box that includes seven different truffle combinations that aren't particularly complicated and thus should fit the palate of most folks who just like chocolate pure and simple.

Three pieces is one serving with 240 calories, 9g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 1g fiber, 24g sugars, 2g protein, 2% vitamin A, 4% calcium, and 6% of the daily iron your body may need.  So not the world's healthiest but if you can trust your Dad to eat it in moderation, or better yet, show him how to eat it in moderation or share with you, it's a holiday, celebrate!

There is one white chocolate truffle dusted with cocoa but inside is a dark, creamy and heavily vanilla flavors center.  There are three milk chocolate truffles -- the one with jimmies has a deep, dark center but the plain milk one has dark slightly fruity center while the one with white stripes across it has another very vanilla white center.  The three darker truffles include one with milk chocolate lines that has a dark, fruity and yet vanilla center, one covered with jimmies that has a fruity and lighter textured center of dark chocolate, and finally a plain dark piece that has a white vanilla center hidden under it.

So simple yet pleasing combinations for a reasonable price.  I notice there are often coupons in our local paper for Russell Stover gift boxes near holidays so check your paper, too. Tune in next week when I'll look at another option from this company in time for Father's Day or any other event you can think of.

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

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chocolate Syrup Winner Announced

Our winner of the Santa Cruz Organic Chocolate Syrup is: Cacao-Me!

I will contact  him and let him know so I can get his address to ship this out to him later this week.

Thank you everyone who entered.

Keep spreading the word about The Chocolate Cult.

Monday, June 7, 2010

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

Today, June 7th, is "National Chocolate Ice Cream Day".  Your Chocolate Priestess wants to review a store brand ice cream choice that is as good as the more expensive brand names available in our area of the woods -- South Central Indiana.  Kroger has a lot of brands ranging from the "Value" which tends to be poor quality at cut throat prices to the "President's Selection" that tends to be high quality for just a bit less than the brand names.  Between those is just the general Kroger brand and our Milk Chocolate Acolyte bought a 1.5qt container of their "Deluxe Ice Cream" in the "Chocolate Paradise" flavor.

1/2 cup is the serving amount, this picture is more than that, Sisters and Brothers, so when you buy a bigger container to save money remember you may be eating more than a serving's worth of something.   One serving, 1/2 cup, has 150 calories, 4g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, 65mg sodium, 150mg potassium, 1g fiber, 14g sugars, 3g protein, 2% Vitamin C, 4% each of Vitamin A and Iron, and 10% of the daily calcium you need.  Yeah... this is why your Chocolate Priestess buys "light" or "fat free" or "sugar free" ice cream because I bet this photo has 2.5 or more servings in it. OUCH!  For a once to twice a week treat, not a problem really, but this is not something you'd want every day though I've seen much less healthy products.

It tastes very creamy and chocolaty and I'm using that word on purpose since the only chocolate is processed cocoa.  Must be a lot of it since it had a nice slightly bitter taste.   I let my ice cream sit for a while and then stir it up but the photo is of just the ice cream.  I call it "ice cream soup" after my father who did this plus added milk!  That makes it too liquidity for me personally.

So how do you like to enjoy your chocolate ice cream?  How do you intend to celebrate today?  Homemade or store bought?  Cone or bowl?  Scooped, soft served, or do you make "ice cream soup" too?

Don' forget our giveaway to win a free bottle of organic chocolate syrup ends soon so go to this post and enter now!

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

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chocolate Syrup for All of Us

"National Ice Cream Day" is just two days away on June 7th.  While we here in The Chocolate Cult might prefer our ice cream to have chocolate in it there are other options: Chocolate on ice cream.  One such possibility comes from Santa Cruz Organic and today your Chocolate Priestess wants to reveal their Chocolate Flavored Syrup that they sent us with you all.

Ah, but there is more.  They sent us two identical 15.5oz bottles so we also have a giveway/contest where you can win your own bottle.

To enter follow these steps:

1.  You must be a public Follower of The Chocolate Cult either through blogspot, Facebook, or Networked Blogs.  I do check this each time so if you joined for the last contest then left us you must rejoin -- honestly why would you leave your Sisters and Brothers in Cocoa behind?  You can join in either of those three ways linked to on the left hand side of this blog. 

2.  You must leave a comment below by Noon Eastern Time on Tuesday, June 8, 2010.  Your comment simply needs to to say what sounded best to you about this syrup so you'll need to read the full review as well as a statement verifying that you do live in the lower 48 States of the USA --  I'm shipping this bottle myself and that's what I can afford at this time.

3.  Finally you need to make certain that your listing as a follower includes a way for me to contact you directly by private email. If you win and I can't contact you, I'll move on to the next person in line.

The order of your comments will determine your number for the random drawing so the first person to comment will be #1, the fourth person will be #4 and so forth.  The winner will be chosen using this random number generator.

Now for our review.  The syrup is certified organic by the USDA and manufactured in an eco-friendly fashion as certified by Green-e-org.    It also happens to be vegan though that isn't on the label if you look at the ingredients.  The second ingredient is cocoa while the first is "invert sugar" which means it is a mixture of equal parts of glucose and fructose which is naturally found in fruits though which fruit I don't know.  It would explain the overall very sweet taste this syrup has.  2Tbsp has 110 calories, 15mg sodium, 1g fiber, 24g sugars, 1g protein, 2% of the calcium you need and 6% of the iron you need daily.

We tried this syrup in two ways.

First, we tried it on ice cream which is the most common way you're likely to use chocolate syrup during the hot summer months.  I needed to shake it well first because some initially some sugarly, lightly brown liquid came out of the container -- that isn't a negative on the product just a comment on how all syrup is but I have to give it a try.  We tried it unheated though there are microwave directions on the bottle -- it was still in the mid-80s when we had this, no way we needed it heated!  It came out thick and very fudgy in texture and had a nice solid cocoa scent to it.  We controlled our portion size by using this cute ice cream cone shaped bowls and cookies and cream ice cream since it has chocolate in it but frankly not enough.  As you can see the syrup was a very dark almost black color that nicely contrasted with the ice cream.  It added a needed extra kick of chocolate to our treat and we all loved it, it wasn't too sweet just a nice blend of cocoa bitter and sugar.  It even stuck to our spoons and the bowls because it was so wonderfully thick.

Second, as a mix in with milk to see how well it could make chocolate milk.  It mixed very well even though after an over night in the frig made it even thicker.  I didn't measure it other than with my eyes so I can't say how much I tried.  The milk took on a sweet scent and did indeed turn light brown.  The syrup stayed mixed very well even an half an hour later so it gets high marks for that quality.  However, the sweetness I mentioned with the ice cream really explored in cold milk and it made this overwhelmingly sugary.  So my advice is to stick with this as an ice cream topping heated, cold or room temp.

If this Santa Cruz Organic syrup sounds like it might meet your needs for organic, vegan, microwaveable, and chocolaty, give Santa Cruz Organic a look.  And remember to follow the instructions to win your own bottle to try.  The contest will be decided in just a few days, so enter now!

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

Friday, June 4, 2010

Metaphysical Oreos

I'm sure many of my American readers will be familiar with the ice cream shop called Dairy Queen and their "Blizzard" treats.  The first was merely vanilla ice cream with crushed Oreos in it.  Now you can get a lot of different combinations and mix-in trend can be found in most ice cream stores as well as in the freezer section of your local grocery store.  Your Chocolate Priestess found a bag of Oreo Blizzard Creme cookies at her local Kroger on sale so she decided to give them a try.

I took these to a science fiction convention with me and laid them out on the table as I was selling books. Yup, your Chocolate Priestess is a published author as well, Sisters and Brothers.  There are 21 cookies or three rows of seven in one bag.  Two cookies equal one serving which has 140 calories, 2g saturated fat, 115mg sodium, 45mg potassium, less than 1g fiber, 13g sugars, 1g protein, and 6% of the daily iron you need.  Healthy, not so much but also not a bad treat if you eat only two of them.

Everyone who tried them, including me, really liked them.  Obviously these are not ice cream but just the normal creamy filling with pieces of Oreo cookie inside.  That's what makes this metaphysical -- you are eating an Oreo inside of an Oreo!  I hope you can see the cookie bits in the photo, the closer view was too blurry to share with you all.  These are more crunchy than a normal Oreo but otherwise taste and smell pretty much the same.  If you look on the ingredient list you'll see cocoa listed but also artificial chocolate flavor so in terms of The Chocolate Cult -- disappointing.

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

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Versatile Chocolate Liquor Cups

June is the most common month for weddings in the USA.  Chocolate is making an appearance in weddings around the world.  I thought this would be a great time to reveal a special product from our friends at Astor Chocolate to you all not only for weddings but for other special events you might be considering.  We've looked at other chocolate products that they sell as edible containers before but today your Chocolate Priestess wants to offer her opinion of their Chocolate Liqueur Cups and ideas for how versatile they can actually be.

There are a dozen of these cups partially encased in gold foil wrappers on the bottom in each box.  I found the foil very useful for serving them because it gave a way for my guests to hold them and nibble on them and eat/drink from them without getting chocolate on their fingers.  These are made with semi-sweet chocolate and no artificial ingredients but they qualify as PARVE if that is important to your celebrations this summer, fall or during the upcoming winter.  Each one has about 28 calories, 1.1g saturated fat, and 2.4g of sugars.  While the serving size is seven cups I can't imagine anyone needing or wanting that many because these pack a big chocolate buzz and if you use them with liqueurs then another type of punch as well.

There is no reason why you need to limit these to alcohol however.  We didn't because frankly I wanted to serve these during a get together where alcohol wasn't appropriate and I wanted to just offer my guests a little treat.  I came up with a plan that I wasn't sure would work but honestly didn't see why it wouldn't.  On hand I had a pint of orange sherbet, these cups, and some chocolate jimmies or sprinkles.  I hoped I could find a way to put the sherbet in the cups and then I'd just use the sprinkles for decoration.   It turned out that letting the sherbet set for a few minutes made it more malleable and easy to put into the cups using a regular teaspoon.  I filled them full and then sprinkled them thoroughly. Then placed them back in the freezer until my guests were ready.  In total it only took about 20 minutes to get everything out, the cups filled and them back in the freezer.

While these cups are made to withstand alcohol they held up well in the freezer and in fact held the coolness so the frozen treat was able to remain on our table for a half an hour before they started to melt again.  This might not be what Astor intended these Chocolate Liqueur Cups to be used for my all of my guests loved the combination of the darker chocolate with the orange sherbet and commented on how handy they were to eat and how pretty they looked.  So think outside the box and don't let the title of something dictate how you use it if you are confident in your skills to experiment.  Even minor ideas can have a big impact on your guests and so many things taste great with chocolate that you really must give it a try.

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

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chocolate In June, Mark Your Calendars

June has several chocolate "holidays" that we can celebrate here in The Chocolate Cult, Sisters and Brothers.  Some are straight forward in their use of our Sacred Substance while others we can use for our own purposes.  So you can celebrate all month long, make note of these dates.  If you know of others, please let a comment and let me know so we can add it to our collective knowledge base and not miss an opportunity to glorify Cacao whenever possible.

June is "National Dairy Month" and we know that at least two types of Chocolate -- White and Milk -- use dairy.

June 2 is "National Rocky Road Day".  One of the principle component of this flavor is chocolate.

June 7 is "National Chocolate Ice Cream Day" and you can be certain a review of some brand of this will be reviewed that day.

June 22 is "National Chocolate Éclair Day" and I'll try to find a new bakery to sample a product from for you all.

June 26 is "National Chocolate Pudding Day" will likely feature a review of either homemade pudding or something simple and easily found in a grocery store.  Let me know which you'd prefer.

July is "National Ice Cream Month" and preparation for that, our first Saturday Sacrament this June will also be a contest where followers of The Chocolate Cult can win a bottle of vegan chocolate syrup.  So if you want to win that, check us out and sign up to win on this coming Saturday.

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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