Sunday, February 24, 2013

February 2013 Chocolate Related Recalls

Sisters and Brothers, sadly I  have one chocolate related food recall in the USA to make known to you.  While the beVita products are so worldwide, this recall only affects the USA and Puerto Rico.  To be blunt, I'd check it out regardless of where I live.

Mondelēz Global LLC Conducts Nationwide Voluntary Recall of belVita Breakfast Biscuit Apple Cinnamon and Chocolate Varieties in the U.S. and Puerto Rico

Contact Consumer: 1-877-799-5633

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 21, 2013 - Mondelēz Global LLC announced today a nationwide voluntary recall in the United States, including Puerto Rico, of the belVita Breakfast Biscuit product, Apple Cinnamon and Chocolate varieties, following notification from a third-party supplier, due to the possible presence of fragments of flexible metal mesh caused by a faulty screen at their facility. The following product is being recalled:

Description Retail UPC Best When Used By Dates

belVita Breakfast Biscuit, Chocolate Variety, 1.76 oz 0 44000 03192 3 21 Jan 13 – 29 Sep 13 (bottom of package)

belVita Breakfast Biscuit, Chocolate Variety, 8.8 oz 0 44000 03194 7 21 Jan 13 – 29 Sep 13 (top of package)

belVita Breakfast Biscuit, Chocolate Variety, 14.08 oz 0 44000 03163 3 16 May 13 – 13 Sep 13 (side of package)

belVita Breakfast Biscuit, Apple Cinnamon Variety, 1.76 oz 0 44000 02824 4 8 Oct 12 – 2 Sep 13 (bottom of package)

belVita Breakfast Biscuit, Apple Cinnamon Variety, 8.8 oz 0 44000 02825 1 8 Oct 12 – 2 Sep 13 (top of package)

This recall is limited exclusively to the belVita Breakfast Biscuit, Apple Cinnamon and Chocolate varieties, manufactured and sold in the United States, including Puerto Rico. No other belVita product is included in this recall.

Consumers who have this product should not eat it and should discard any products they may have. Consumers can contact the company at 1-877-799-5633, 24 hours a day to get more information about the recall, and Consumer Relations specialists are available Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. The company has received a limited number of consumer contacts related to this product, and is issuing the recall as a precaution.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chocolate that Reforms

We've featured Italian chocolates in the past but the wonderful folks at Beviamo not only help the rest of the world experience Italian chocolates but they are part of a the Dolci Liberta project out of the Busto Arsizio Prison near Milan that we had an interview about last month.   So today let's try some of the creations made through this program by looking at four bags of the chocolates they turn out.  Sisters and Brothers, I was aided in this review by Renee, our Fruit Acolyte who has other interests beyond fruit; she was also available to help me and I greatly appreciate it. Note: We're having camera difficulties here so I used my cellphone and I apologize for the images; I got some help with two of the photos and those lack the "light sunshine haze" of the others.  Check out the links to see the company's images please.

Hazelnut Cocoa Truffles are coated with cocoa powder making them quite different from the other three varieties we have to look at today.  They have a light, sweet scent to them that surprised us since they appear to be dark chocolate.  Biting into one products a sharp snap because the hazelnut inside is firm and tastes unsalted but very intense.  The initial and final flavors were the chocolate with the hazelnut's essence building with each chew. The chocolate was surprisingly sweet more like a milk chocolate versus a darker variety.

Pistacho with White Chocolate have a sort of greenish yellow tint to the white chocolate coating and when you pick one up you can feel a slightly bumpy texture.  Renee commented: It isn't a pretty chocolate.  There is no scent until you bite one in half and then you get a pistacho and cream mixture. There was very little scent when a piece was bitten in half and no crunchiness at all, the pistachos were very moist and very strong.  Again none of the saltiness we generally expect in our nuts in the USA but that isn't a bad thing, just a different experience.  The pistachos were so strong that they overwhelmed the white chocolate completely.

Coffee Beans with Dark Chocolate have a shiny and dark chocolate fondant covering them yet they did have a light cocoa scent.  The coffee's scent was revealed upon biting into one.  The coffee flavor is the first one you encounter with a surprisingly mild chocolate aftertaste that quickly disappears behind the powerful coffee essence.  The bitterness of the coffee bean built up with more and more dark cocoa flavor until it began a bit overbearing in terms of bitterness.  If you like expresso you'll love this if you don't then eat only a couple at a time.

And last but not least Mixed Hazelnut Truffles that have white, milk, and dark chocolate covered nuts. As with the previous hazelnut truffles in this offering these are unsalted and very firm, making a wonderful crunchy sound with every chew.  The white chocolate are very creamy with a strong vanilla flavor that is almost immediately buried by the hazelnuts.  The milk chocolate has a creamy scent and strong vanilla flavors while the intensity of the of the hazelnut reflected the size of the hazelnut since the thickness of the chocolate was approximately the same for the ones we tried.  The dark chocolate was rare in our bag, only two of them in fact as you can see in the photo I hope.  Oddly this truffle has no scent until we bite into it.  Also very strangely it seems to have a waxy texture not like any of the others that we tried.  However once we take a bit the burst of bitter chocolate is immediate and it builds dramatically mixing with the hazelnut.  This is certainly the most chocolatey but a touch too bitter for Renee and right on the edge for me.

Sisters and Brothers, the Dolci Liberta project is very intriguing and I hope they are able to continue to help the inmates by offering them the skills and experience while making chocolate.  The resulting chocolate is very Italian, as you might expect, and if you haven't tried it, you should at least once. Right now you can order them online outside of Europe but the company is looking for partners in the USA to expand their offerings into more of the world.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Book Review: Chocolate Chocolate Moons

 As we have a bit of a break before our next big candy holiday, Easter that is where I live, let's take a break from chocolate food and drink all together and look at a book that involves chocolate. Chocolate Chocolate Moons by Jackie Kingon is a comedic science fiction tale about weight, space travel, and the love of chocolate.

Comedic fiction is a genre entirely of its own. To judge it you really have to ask yourself: Did this make you laugh. The short answer for me was YES! A lot of chuckles escaped me while I was reading this book.

 Let me give you some basic background without spoiling anything. Our main character is Molly Marbles, a college student at the start of the book, who wins the chance to study on the moon where her weight isn't going to be as much of a problem as it is on Earth. This problem is never shown to be medical or physical but more emotional because even this story is set far in the future overweight people are still deeply frowned upon. Molly's favorite candy is called chocolate moons but she loves them so much that she likes to double the chocolate in the name. These treats show up time and again in the story as we follow Molly through school into her life as mother and wife and then further as our everyday heroine must become a detective to save the solar system from corporate greed.

The book is promoted in part as a mystery but the amount of mystery in this story is a bit difficult to grasp if you not used to reading funny fiction because the viewpoint and narrative elements are confused, I believe on purpose.  Frankly I found that I enjoyed it far more by not trying to figure out what was going on and just flowing with the amusing names of people and places as I followed Molly through her world that stretches well beyond the Earth and moon out into the rest of the colonized solar system.

Some folks might find the characters complete confusion over history unbelievable but I think that's the point.  I have a great difficulty grasping how my own college level history students can say and write some of the things they do at times but they do have strange ideas about the past especially anything more than two decades in the past.

In a way this novel is also about serious current issues of health, body image, social pressure, reliance on corporate produced food, and the need for the average person to stand up for what is right. But unless you are a fan of the comedic genre you may find yourself overwhelmed and thinking too much space travel, history, and agriculture. Just let it go and enough the ride to paraphrase Mystery Science Theater 3000. To get your own copies and check out other opinions use the links in this article.


Monday, February 11, 2013

National Peppermint Patty Day

Peppermint patties... those are nice, even the one family member who doesn't like chocolate very much loves peppermint patties.  They are almost always dark chocolate, aren't they, Sisters and Brothers?  As you can see though, a patty shape isn't the only one that can combine peppermint and dark chocolate.  So as a "we won't limited here on The Chocolate Cult" shout out today, we're going to review the Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Peppermint bar.

One of the things I like about the Ritter bars are that you can break them up before unwrapping them.  They are all 3.5oz and have 16 squares in them that you can feel even through said covering.  As you can see I broke it up a bit here.  I got this bar with a gift certification to a local mart that has an excellent chocolate selection in it, much of it from other countries; Ritter Sport is a product from Germany.

The dark chocolate has a nice bitter edge to it and the peppermint inside is soft and gives that cooling burst when I bite.  I do do bite into each square so I get the maximum flavors and make it last longer.  As you can see above this soft peppermint center really fills out the squares so that even if you break fairly carefully as I did, it might try to escape.  Each bar has three servings so this isn't the most healthy snack or treat in terms of saturated fat and sugars but it has no sodium and no cholesterol.  While it may be February when this posts, I find treats like this are most welcomed in the warmest months of the year because they do create that cooling sensation even if peppermint is more associated with holidays such as Christmas.  When do you like your dark chocolate and peppermint, Sisters and Brothers?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Darker Lindt Chocolate Fondue

I know, I know, we just did a fondue not long ago but this one is different, darker. Just in time for you to get these ingredients so you can celebrate National Chocolate Fondue Day on February 5th.  Now no matter how you do it, fondue is a lot of calories by itself and then when you add in the food you dip into it, even more.  So make this a few times a year treat.  We do a chocolate fondue maybe 3-4 times a year.  Why is this on my mine?  Well, I've signed up with WebMD to help keep track of my food and drink consumption, help me be more mindful of all the food I eat, not just the chocolate I eat.  Luckily as always I have volunteers who help me with these reviews.

Darker Creamy Chocolate Fondue

2 3.5oz 70% Smooth Dark bars from Lindt
1 3.5 Extra Creamy Milk bar from Lindt
10oz whipping cream


Break your bars into pieces when the cream slowly heats up in your fondue appliance on the simmer setting.  Using a plastic spatula stirring in two or three pieces of the chocolate at a time, adding more pieces as they smooth out.  When it has all melted, turn up the heat to the next setting and keep stirring for about two minutes.  Turn the heat back down between the keep warm and simmer setting and enjoy!  Left overs can be covered and reheated within a week.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Latest Chocolate Pre-History News

Every now and then I share a health study with you all and try to point out questions we should ask before we accept the hype that inevitably happens as candy makers jump on the bandwagon and try to use skewed results to sell more products.  Today I want to share a different type of scientific study with you all: a look into the pre-history of chocolate presented in this article from the The American Association for the Advancement of Science, "Triple A-S" (AAAS) that one of our Acolytes, Rene, brought to my attention.

As you hopefully know chocolate seems to have developed first in Mesoamerica where the cacao trees grew naturally. Recently the wife and husband team of Dorothy and William Washburn announced that they has found theobromine and caffeine in bowls from an 8th century ce village in Utah.  If their assumption that this is chocolate proves correct this would radically change the standard pre-history of the Southwestern United States as well as the understanding of either trade or the movement of people between the Americas.

However while reading this article and the reservations about the findings from other scholars I notice no one is mentioning this concern: Theobromine and caffeine are not found only in chocolate.  So simply finding these two chemicals does not mean you have found chocolate.  In fact tea, three types of holly berries, guarana berry, and kola nut all contain both of these chemicals. However of these only only cacao and possibly holly berries are native to the Americas so it is a fair assumption to think they may have found evidence of cacao beans at this site.

We'll have to wait and see what further research reveals.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Small Whitman's Heart

Last week we looked at an easily found box of chocolates so today with only 10 days until Valentine's Day 2013, let's look at a similar option from Whitman.  I'm sure my American readers are familiar with Whitman's samplers of chocolate but this one was wrapped in red plastic when I found it last year post the holiday and tried it. Again, just like with last week I doubt this company has changed much and I'm betting this is still quite easy to find so I pre-wrote over 11 months ago for you all, Sisters and Brothers.  This 3.24oz box lists coconut so I'll see which that is though I didn't give it to our Chocolate Coconut or Chocolate Fruit Acolytes to try for you all so it won't be much more than "this one is coconut."  This one also has both chocolate mass and cocoa butter as well as many more ingredients on the label.

We'll start on the upper left side and go counterclockwise as we did last week for this regular review.  The fist piece is a caramel fudge inside the milk chocolate, the tang builds up and blends fairly well with the creamy chocolate.  The next piece is very similar but with a more chocolaty cream center.  The third piece, at the tip of the heart, seems to be a marshmallow center, it has a sweet vanilla flavor and is very fluffy.  The square piece turns out to be a very sticky and thick caramel sticks to my teeth as I enjoy it; this one is a jaw workout but not in a bad way.  The solo dark piece must be the coconut, right?  Yes, I was right, blah so disappointing for your Chocolate Priestess since she does not like coconut.  The final piece has a delivery man carrying a chocolate box we only dream about, one as big as his body, and it creamy milk chocolate.

In comparison to last week's chocolate box, this is slightly better because the chocolate holds its own much better compared to the other flavors.  You also get more chocolate at the same price.  So between these two general products, I'd go with this one but again only as one of several treats for Valentine's Day.  You can also recycle this box because it is made of just cardboard not unmarked plastic except fo the tray inside.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Valentine's Treats With Homemade Touch

Remember the delights I made with Kane Candy cups before Christmas?  Well my plan was to use another of their chocolate dessert cups, heart shaped with both to make a little treat in honor of Valentine's Day or any romantic event in your life.

Now that I've caught up with family emergencies (my mother's death on her 65th wedding anniversary) I can update this post.  As you can see on the left the box comes with four heart shaped cups made of white and dark chocolate as well as white and dark chocolate curls.  Don't put anything too warm or hot in these but otherwise only your imagination and the tastes of those to whom you are serving this should limit you.

I wanted to do something with a "new" treat I discovered at a local Jiffy Treat: their Delite product that has 8 calories per ounce.  I got enough for one ounce of this frozen concoction to be put into each of the cups.  In this photo you can see the chocolate variety that I've spooned inside.

Then I added 1 tablespoon of fat free whipped topping and the curls as you can see in this photo.  In total each of these has 115 calories so really an easy sweet treat.  In my mouth I think this Delite produce has a unpleasant aftertaste if you have more than one ounce of it but the cups themselves practically melt in your mouth and have a strong enough milk chocolate flavor (from the combined white and dark chocolate) that it easily overpowers any negative from the frozen filling.

Check out the other Kane Candy cups.  I'm told they are coming out with two more shapes so perhaps we'll be lucky enough to be sent these to review for you all.

So how did you end up celebrating your Valentine's Day?

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