Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lindt Petits Desserts

Much like the Lindt box of chocolate I reviewed last week, this one also came from the chocolate basket I bought during a Lindt R.S.V.P. party I hosted.  This 7.05oz box of chocolates are called "Petits Desserts" and holds 21 pieces of chocolate in seven different varieties.  As you can see on the box though only five are pictured so the other two I had to figure out by elimination and comparison of the descriptions.

The three Lemon Tarts, three Creme Brulée, and three Tiramisu are not my favorit flavor combinations but they were well crafted, each allowing the chocolate to make it through the other flavors though the coffee in the Tiramisu was much stronger than I had hoped.  The three Millefeuille and the three Meringue are the other two pictured on the box.  The Meringue definitely has a meringue flavor and a crunch but the chocolate is the dominant flavor.  The Millefeuille may have nuts in it given the flavor I'd guess hazelnuts even though those are not listed in the ingredients so be careful if you have tree nut allergies.  That leaves two others to figure out.  The smooth half dome turns out to be the Brownie with hazelnut and walnut brownie truffle inside.  This means the bumpy one is the Macaroon with almond praline and biscuit pieces.

Of these seven varieties my favorite is definitely Meringue because it is the most chocolaty followed by the Brownie. My least favorite is easy to determine: the Tiramisu because it too much coffee flavor for me by far.

Have you ever had these petites desserts?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Small Heart Box Chocolates from Elmer

Even though we focus on products we are sent, sometimes we do regular product reviews for items you can find in many stores, just off the shelf chocolate, mass produced items, or cheap chocolate you might be tempted to buy.  Thus today we are going to look at at 2oz heart-shaped box from Elmer Chocolate that I found in our local Kroger last year after Valentine's Day.  I'm sure that Elmer Chocolate is still around and I'm betting their products haven't changed too much since I tried these back in February 2012.

The paper and plastic heart-shaped box was covered in plastic that once removed immediately released the fragrance of chocolate.  Inside were five pieces of candy -- three milk and two dark.  These are real chocolate with both cocoa mass and cocoa butter in them.   I have no idea what the flavors are but nothing on the ingredient's list looks bad so let's try it out starting with the upper left hand side and working our way around the box.

The first piece is a dark chocolate that is easily over powered by a very intensely orange cream center.  If the chocolate had been milk, I couldn't have tasted it at all I believe.  The second piece is very heavy and inside is a very brown sugar tasting soft caramel.  The third piece is a milk chocolate covered fudge treat that is very chewy.  Piece number four looks a lot like the milk chocolate caramel and it has the same heft to it but inside is a more strawberry flavored semi-liquid chocolate center. Finally the fifth piece is milk chocolate with a very sweet raspberry cream center.

There you go, not very expensive, fairly simple chocolate flavors that might work well for many folks out there as a starter treat for Valentine's Day but you'll want dinner and movie, too, because these are only slightly above average in terms of overall quality where sugar and other flavors are overpowering the chocolate itself.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tell Your Beloved It is Forever

Chocolate for the Spirit is an Indiana Artisan company that we looked at last month for the winter holidays but you know what else is a winter holiday here in the USA?  Valentine's Day.  In honor of that, let's look at their Forever Bar and how you can get that to give to your beloved for this fast approaching holiday; or for yourself since you need to love yourself, too.  Made with 68% Fortunato no. 4 cacao from Peru (a very rare white cacao bean) and wrapped in a red foil this could be a great treat for your beloved.

I can smell the dark cocoa essence as I unwrap the red foil.  What lays beneath is beautiful: a molded bar of chocolate with closed and opened cocoa pods lining it with rised edges.  The bar itself is 2oz and measures 1 7/8th inches across and 4 inches long, the depth varies because of the rised edges.  The ingredients are simple: cocoa mass, cane sugar, and cocoa butter, nothing artificial so you are giving your beloved the real deal like your feelings, maybe?  Taking a bite produces a soft snap and the chocolate begins to melt in my mouth.  There is a vanilla like flavor with a hint of something floral that turns to a very mild bitterness at the end.  Frankly I'd expect such a pure bar of this percentage of cacao to be more bitter so this might please someone whose preference is a bit lower at around the 55% level.

Chocolate for the Spirit is a great little company that is getting more and more media attention for the wonderful work they do. Made with rare and simple natural ingredients, this Forever Bar especially earns the title of Sacrament.  Julie, you've done it again!  Thank you for letting us share your creation in time for Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Can Chocolate Reform?

Not long ago I found out about a program in Italy where chocolate is used in a prison system among certain inmates and the result is a chocolate company that might be teaching men skills that could improve their lives once they have done their time.

How may years have you been in the chocolate industry, Mike?

The DL project started in 2010. Beviamo is a wholesaler of the best Italian products which includes chocolate and confectionary. We have been doing this since 2011.

Do you yourself craft chocolates or are you presenting the artisans who work with it?

We work with the producers to get the products into the right stores, food halls etc in the UK and are a fairly new business but we feel we have the best brands from Italy.

Mike, would you tell us a bit about this "Sweet Freedom" or Dolci Liberta project your company has been apart of in Italy?

We met DL at a chocolate show in London when we were going to see Bonajuto (our main chocolate brand). They wanted to work with us so Cristiano my business partner went to visit them in Milan, in the prison. There were journalists from BBC and UK newspapers, representing the UK. There will be some articles soon that I will send to you.

Who came up with the idea to work with prisoners?

Dolce Liberta' is a high profile project which meets all the criteria of good manufacturing process whilst also being a high quality social project. Dolci Liberta’ is a project set up by Sport & Spettacolo Holding Spa. The company brings together people from the world of sport and entertainment, entrepreneurs and professionals, who hold a common objective to make high profile investments and to add value to society. Sport & Spettacolo Holding Spa’s core values are based on respecting, as well as investing in, people and their surroundings.

Was there any resistance to this project from either the prison officials or the city itself?

It was actually a relief for the officials and guards seeing that the number of the guards used to look after these 25-30 prisoners is definitely lower than the normal, we are talking about 4-5 guards at the maximum. It is beneficial for Busto Arsizio too, because they can gain recognition in national newspapers and tv not just in Italy but around the  world.

What were the criteria the prisoners had to meet in order to join the project?

They must have at least 2-3 years of time to spend in jail to have the time to follow the formation course and become trained properly by professional chefs. The most important selection is obviously about the well behaviour kept throughout the time spent in prison before been selected and trained.

How many years has the project been going on now?

Started at the end of 2010.

Have any of the prisoners finished their sentences and put the skills and experience they've learned during the project toward careers in chocolate or the food industry?

A reasonable percentage of them after the sentence started a new life and some of them have been employed by cooperatives specialised in the reintegration of unlucky people. The most important aspect is that, seeing that the majority of the prisoners never worked before going into jail, after the period spent following this project and after been released, have started considering the life under another point of view. Even the recidivism has been statistically cut down in prisoners who followed this project.

Do you think this project could be repeated in other prison systems in other countries?

It requires time, patience, willpower and support by the governments and local institutions, but in theory yes.

Where there any unforeseen challenges this project have?

The only little issue they have is the fact that during the hot summer months, from june until august, the production is reduced. The other big challenge was to let people understand the project and getting rid of the understandable prejudices of thinking about who was the real producers of these fantastic delicacies.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of this project for your company?

Beviamo are delighted to be working closely with DL and we fully support this project and believe it is valuable to give things back to society and give people a 2nd chance in life, so yes we are very happy.

Is there a website where people could order the chocolates your project creates?

Our website has some of the products on that can be ordered directly. We want to work with chocolate distributors in the US if you can assist us with that.

There you have it, Sisters and Brothers.  While the program is too new to really judge how well it might be working outside of the structured life inside a prison, we'll soon be able to review the products they make and share that with you all.

To see images you can check out this article "Busto Arsizio" or this one "Dolci Liberta: An Inside Story" since both authors actually had a chance to check out the program first hand.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Recalls involving Chocolate, 1.21.2013

Sisters and Brothers, here are the latest USA recalls of products involving chocolate that I thought you might want to be aware of.  Go to the title linked pages to get more details.

Boba Direct Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk in BD Flavored Powders
01/15/2013 04:37 PM EST

Boba Direct (BD) announced the voluntary recall of the following BD Flavored Powders: Almond, Avocado, Banana, Blueberry, Café Latte, Cherry, Chocolate, Coconut, Honeydew, Lavender, Lychee, Mango, Matcha Green Tea, Milk Tea, Passionfruit, Peppermint, Pineapple, Red Bean, Strawberry, Taro, Vanilla and Watermelon in the 2.2 lb. plastic bags because of the incorrect label failing to declare milk as the source of sodium caseinate and lactose.  Individuals with allergies to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.


Belmont Confections Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Peanuts in "Dymatize Nutrition, Elite Gourmet Bars" (Cookies & Cream and Fudge Brownie)
01/15/2013 08:03 PM EST

Belmont Confections Inc. is recalling Dymatize Nutrition Elite Gourmet Cookies & Cream bars and Dymatize Nutrition Elite Gourmet Fudge Brownie bars in both the 1.5oz and 3oz packages because they may contain undeclared peanuts. Belmont became aware of the problem via a complaint to the distributor Dymatize Inc.

That's it for today.

Eat safe, eat Chocolate!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Humor + Chocolate = Valentine's Day Cards

Valentine's Day is only a short time away, Sisters and Brothers.  Beyond all the candy you could give your sweetheart how about a card that mentions or shows chocolate? What?  You think it might be too much of a tease?  So give them chocolate, too.  The funny folks from Noble Works Cards sent us three of their Valentine's Day selections to show to you all today.

The first card is the least heterosexual in nature of the three.  The speaker and the person on the card is clearly female, stuck in the 1940s/50s.  Inside you can have the blank version like I received or one with words but the words are not gendered.  Therefore I think this would work well for a women to give to a male or female partner.  Mine came with a white envelope.

The other two are more gendered.  The first shows that men like their chocolate, too, which I know 100% is correct given not only the men in my life but the ones who leave comments here.  It is about a 50/50 split on The Chocolate Cult between men and women leaving comments, in fact, men have been more likely to enter our giveaways than women.  Go figure.  Now back to this card.  Inside it says: Nothing could be sweeter than you! Happy Valentine's Day and shows the woman tossing the empty box over the man and turning away.  OUCH! Guys if you get chocolate for a woman and know you might eat it, get another box for yourself and avoid this problem.  It came with a white envelope, too.

The last card for Valentine's Day that we were sent had a red envelope and the most risqué message and image yet I think.  What do you think?  See still not very risqué and still poking fun at men.  *frown*  I live in a very different world from this one but maybe the card will strike you as both funny and true.  Inside it reads simply: Happy Valentine's Day.  Who would give or receive this card?  Perhaps two female friends who like to joke about the men in their lives?  I just don't see most men offering this up but perhaps one of the many men who do read The Chocolate Cult might speak up and explain why and when they would give such a card.

Noble Works Cards offers some funny and sexy cards for your funny and sexy partner.  Who would you give such a silly Valentine's Day card to, Sisters and Brothers?

Remember also that Noble Works Cards is also offering all of you, Sisters and Brothers, a special offer: put “choco” in as coupon and you'll get for 35% off orders until Valentine's Day.  With cards under $3 that means you can get them for under two bucks!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Little Lindt Luxury

Last spring I hosted a Lindt R.S.V.P. chocolate party and bought myself a huge basket of goodies.  As I go through these I'll review various items for all of you but since these were not sent to us don't expect a detailed, full-sensory or links to where you can purchase it yourself.  You'll need to do some digging to discover those details.

This item is the Swiss Luxury Collection, a 4.9oz gold box with 14 pieces inside of it and I hope you can see in this photo. Of these 14 pieces, six are copies while two are unique.  In order: Amande Croquante, two Coeur a l'Orange, another Amande Croquante, Pointe de Chocolat, Carré de Stacciatella, another Pointe de Chocolat, Dragon Noir, two Macchiato, another Dragon Noir, Caramelita, Perle de Cacao, and another Caramelita.

Amande Croquante is good if you like milk and white chocolate with almonds.  The orange in the Coeur a l'Orange has a very marmalade flavor to it and I really liked the dark chocolate with it.  The Pointe de Chocolat has an unexpected caramel flavor that doesn't match the dark and light milk chocolate description. The sole Carré de Stacciatella is very pretty to look at and tastes like cookies and cream in vanilla ice cream.  The Dragon Noir has hazelnut giandja (something I've defined for you all in a previous post) that gives the fudgy dark chocolate a good sweetness.  I gave someone else the Macchiato and they said it wasn't too strong in terms of coffee but I still had no desire to try it.  The Caramelita has both a tangy and a sweet caramel that almost overwhelms the dark chocolate.  Finally the single Perle de Cacao in the box is a very creamy dark chocolate with a bit of crunch especially on top.

I think this could be a great gift to give any Lindt lover you know.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Coconut Haystack Candy Recall

Island Delights Voluntarily Recalls Island Delights Coconut Haystack Candy Due to Undeclared Milk

Gregory Miller or Ann Crall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Seville, OH - January 9, 2013 - Island Delights, Inc. today recalled 492 Bags of its Coconut Haystack Candy due to mislabeling and undeclared allergens. This was discovered during an audit from the Ohio Department of Agriculture on January 7, 2013. The Coconut Haystack Candy contains milk that is not declared on the product label. People who have allergies to milk run the risk of an allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The recalled units were distributed to retail stores and through mail orders in the states of AZ, CA, FL, MA, MN, MS, NC, NY, SC, TX, VA, WA & WY between January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. No other products are involved.

The mislabeled product can be identified as follows:

Name Size Lot UPC Code
Maple Coconut Haystacks 2 oz. 13410400.02 0 19694 19020 1
Maple Coconut Haystacks 4 oz. 13410400.04 0 19694 19040 9
Maple Coconut Haystacks 8 oz. 13410400.08 0 19694 19080 5
Maple Coconut Haystack 2 lb. 13410402.00 no bar code
Chocolate/Almond Coconut Haystacks 2 oz. 13413100.02 0 19694 71020 1
Chocolate/Almond Coconut Haystacks 4 oz. 13413100.04 0 19694 71040 9
Chocolate/Almond Coconut Haystacks 8 oz. 13413100.08 0 19694 71080 5
Chocolate/Almond Coconut Haystacks 2 lb. 13413102.00 no bar code
Coffee Coconut Haystacks 2 oz. 13411300.02 0 19694 60020 5
Coffee Coconut Haystacks 4 oz. 13411300.04 0 19694 60040 3
Coffee Coconut Haystacks 8 oz. 13411300.08 0 19694 60080 9
Almond Coconut Haystacks 8 oz. 13413000.02 0 19694 70020 2
Almond Coconut Haystacks 4 oz. 13413000.04 0 19694 70040 0
Almond Coconut Haystacks 8 oz. 13413000.08 0 19694 70080 6
Almond Coconut Haystacks 2 lb. 13413002.00 no bar code

The company has received no reports of adverse reactions or illnesses due to the consumption of this product.

The Food and Drug Administration has been notified of this voluntary recall.

Island Delight is committed to producing safe, quality food products that customers can enjoy at home every day. Customers may return affected product to the retailer where it was purchased for full refund or call Gregory Miller or Ann Crall at 1- 800-866-887-4100, M-F 9:00am-5:00pm EST.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Little Chocolate Help for your Diet

Did you make a promise to yourself or others, Sisters and Brothers, to get healthier in 2013?  Perhaps to move more or to eat less or to be more aware of what you are eating.  I received this full box of South Beach Diet Protein Fit Chocolate flavor Cereal Bars through the Amazon Vine program.  Since I had to review it there, Sisters and Brothers, I thought I might review it for you all as well, in fuller descriptive fashion.  The box claims this has a "New! Improved Taste" and I hope so because to be blunt; I haven't been impressed or even pleased with the previous chocolate varieties of this brand. I took these photos with my phone so they are not as good as most of our photos are.  If South Beach Diet wants to send me a product directly, then I can set things up at home with the better camera.

There are five bars in a box so depending on how you use them, meal replacement or snack, they'll last you less than a week.  If it is for meal replacement this would save you money but will it actually be enough to hold you over?  I ate one for lunch on a few days and one for breakfast on other days as I tested these out.  Let's see if I still wanted to snake after these.  These are protein bars and the idea behind eating more protein is in part to maintain or built muscle but also to curb hunger since it takes your body longer to digest.  Normally I eat fiber bars but these have only 3 grams of fiber versus 9 grams protein and two grains of fat.

The first thing that pleased me about these bars was the strong dark cocoa scent that came out as soon as the package was opened.   The cocoa appears to be throughout the cereal pieces and there is a triple drizzle of chocolate on top.  There is a definite taste of soy here and I personally think this hurts the cocoa flavor, indeed a bitter and soy flavor is the last one in my mouth from these.  The cocoa is undeniably dark because it literally dries my mouth out making me drink more water; not a bad thing to drink more water but not a pleasant chocolate experience either.   It is crunchy with each bite and the cocoa and throughout but the chocolate just cannot overcome the soy.  If you like soy, great, this will work for you, but if not, you won't find these very satisfying.

At this time post the holidays, you may be looking to cut out some excess weight or just get back into a food routine.  Bars like this claim to help you lose weight but ultimately if they don't satisfy your need for nutrients and your desire for food and drink, they won't work.  I just didn't enjoy these at all. Some folks may be able to stick to a 'diet' out of pure willpower but I want to enjoy my life, all of it, and taste and texture are not something I'm willing to sacrifice.  I find keeping track of what I eat to be a great way to remind myself about nutrition and improve my body but these just would make me sad and increase the temptation to eat something else.

How about you, Sisters and Brother?  Are you willing to eat or drink something you don't enjoy in hopes it might help you lose weight?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chocolate Related Recall for first weekend of January 2013

Well, we aren't even a full week into 2013 and we have recalls to share with you all about chocolate related products in the USA.  Luckily it is only one product from one company this time and not dozens as dozens as we were plagued with last quarter.

Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Tree Nuts in Food Club Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix

Consumer Contact Number:
618-826-2361 ext. 3283 or 3035

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 3, 2013 - Gilster-Mary Lee of Chester, Illinois is voluntarily recalling one lot of Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix because it contains cartons containing undeclared walnuts. (Wrong packaging/cartons were used that do not declare walnuts). People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to walnuts run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The only brand involved is Food Club Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix packaged in cases of 12/21.5oz. Cartons have a Best By date of NOV 28 13 D02 (UPC# 36800-13486). This Best By date code is located on the corrugated case AND on the top flap of the carton. Consumers should return the product to the store or discard it.

The product was distributed to Abingdon, VA. Warehouse on December 5, 2012.

Gilster-Mary Lee became aware of the mis-packaging during an internal review. Investigation indicated that during this production run walnut brownie cartons were inadvertently exchanged with plain Chocolate Chunk Brownie cartons. No illnesses have been reported in connection with this recall.

For questions, consumers can call Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. at 618-826-2361 ext. 3283 or 3035, 8:00am to 4:30pm CST.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Universal Letter-Writing Week with Cocoa Paper

The week of January 8th through the 14th seems to be the Universal Letter Writing week; "seems" because I only found it mentioned a few places and they weren't specific to which year was being discussed.  Normally a week long fun holiday is labeled as the first, second, third, or fourth week of a month so if any of you know more specific information for this holiday, Sisters and Brothers, let me know in a comment.  In honor of this week I wanted to do our final feature review for Cocoa Paper looking at their stationary, cards, and gift tags, all items you could write a letter, long or short, to someone on.

Let's start with these tags that could either be gift tags or product tags as the sample we were given are.  If you are a company these can be printed for your products and you fill in specific information on the back by hand.  If you got these plain or with only an image on the cover you could use them as gift tags.  Now a lot of writing can be put on these so let's move to the next larger sample you might use this week.

These 3X3 inch cards come in packs of six and you can select two designs or I'm sure make your own.  We were sent four of these in four different chocolate related designs.  They are blank on the inside and the envelop also has a chocolate piece on the back flap.  Please note that these do not have an adhesive on the envelops so you'll have to glue or simply fold inside to seal them.

The larger cards are almost 5X5 inches and these do not appear to come in packs, only individual pieces as far as I can see on the website but I'm sure Cocoa Paper would work with you if you wanted to place a larger order.  I really liked the chocolate eating woman on the card in the upper left hand side.  This card could hold a lot more in it in terms of writing for this week of expressing yourself by letter.  The envelops will need to be sealed in some fashion once more.

The next set of cards may be another size of greeting card or they may be part of a stationary set.  At around 4X6 inches, they offer slightly less space than the previous cards but in a more traditional card form here in the USA.  Again you'll need to glue or seal the envelops yourself with these.  I note that right now as this review is going live, the stationary sets are on sale so if you think these might be good gifts or good for yourself, now is the time to buy.

Finally I get to the sheet of paper you can write much longer letters on for your friends and family this week.  These with the cards above are best purchased as a stationary set, not the ones currently on sale but frankly of the same price.  There are six different chocolate designs you can select from for these and they come in a nice cocoa paper box that we've reviewed before here.

The next time you want to write a letter by hand, send a card, or tag a gift, you now know that you can do so while you help support cocoa farmers by turning to Cocoa Paper.  We thank them again for their wonderfully useable paper, their designable nature, and their support for the substance we all love, Chocolate!  This company once more earns Sacrament status.

Who are you letter writing to this week?  I think I should try to find time to write to my grandma and my mother again.

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