Saturday, September 30, 2017

Berry Delicious Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Berry Delicious Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Today I'm sharing the wonderful Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips from Enjoy Life. This is our final of the current set of feature articles about Enjoy Life. We've looked at other baking chips, individual chocolate chips bags, and snack bars from them. I had to go to a pitch-in or potluck party this month and I asked my colleagues if they had a request for what I should bring: They said "chocolate". This gave an excuse to craft a new recipe using these baking chips and a few other ingredients I had on hand at home. The final cookie was yummy and came in at around 130 calories a cookie. Keep reading if you'd like to learn about these Berry Delicious Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. Ingredient marked by * are one I received from from a company in the past and am still using today. Enjoy Life sent me a 10 ounce bag of their Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips in exchange for a fair and honest article; no other form of compensation was received for this essay and recipe.

Berry Delicious Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
By TammyJo Eckhart, PhD


3/4 C Margarine at room temperature

1/2 C SPLENDA Sugar Blend*

9 T Egg Whites

1 T Real Vanilla Extract*

2.25 C Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats

1.75 C Whole Wheat Flour

1.5 tsp baking soda

Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips
1/2 tsp salt

10 oz bag of Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips*

1 3.5 oz bag of Fresh Gourmet Dried Blueberries and Dried Cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly spray baking sheet(s) with non-stick spray.

2. Cut margarine into smaller pieces and place it and the SPLENDA into a stand-up mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.

3. Add in egg whites and vanilla extract and beat until well blended.

4. In a separate bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, and salt.

5. Spoon in the dry ingredients as you let the mixer blend it into the wet ingredients. The resulting dough will be slightly stiff but still sticky.

6. Add in the dried fruit and mini chips and fold these throughout the dough.

7. Using a cookie scoop, place the dough on the prepared cookie sheet. Then press the dough lightly down with your fingers to flatten them out a bit. Depending on the size of your cookie scoop, you could get between 24-48 cookies. I got 45 cookies.

8. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies look golden.

Bottoms of Berry Delicious Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

9. Remove cookies immediately from the baking sheet and put on either paper to cool or a wire rack. Note that a rack might let pieces of the cookies fall through or stick to it. I always just use an opened up paper grocery bag like my mother did.

10. Let them cool a bit then enjoy. the blend of slightly bitter chocolate with the tart of the cranberries and the sweet of the blueberries and dough was wonderful. The different textures are also very interesting.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Zamora! The Newest Askinosie Single-Origin Chocolate Bar

Askinosie Zamora 72% Bar
It isn't often that a socially minded chocolate brand comes out with a new product. When you care about the land that sustains the cocoa trees and the people who care for and harvest from those trees, developing a new products requires more forethought than just what added flavors or new shapes might inspire consumers to give it a try. If all you are really doing is a new shape -- square versus circular -- or a new added flavor or ingredient -- caramel to a plain chocolate bar -- you spend a lot of time on marketing research as well as in the kitchens or labs. But if you are looking for a new source of cocoa beans and you want to partner with the people who make it, you have to not only interview then but let them get to know and trust you. That process takes time. Thus I was thrilled when Askinosie Chocolate announced their first new bar in seven years. Today we are going to look at the Zamora 72% bar. I will include the normal full sensory descriptions as well as information about the bar, how and why it was created, and which cocoa farming community is benefiting from the production and sell of this product. I was sent two of the 3 ounce bars to try out in exchange for this feature article; no other form of compensation was received.

Zamora 72% Bar from Askinosie
The bars coming in paper that you can see in our first photo and this one as well. They are further in a plastic sleeve that I cut open. Immediately the scent of darker chocolate greeted my nose. As you may recall, Your Chocolate Priestess is a fan of darker chocolate. This comes in at 72% of the ingredients are chocolate liquor or mass. In fact this bar is just three ingredients: cocoa beans of the Arriba Nacional variety, organic cane sugar, and cocoa butter. This means that the bar is also vegan and gluten free but it is also certified Kosher as well. This is as pure as your chocolate gets unless you want to go real dark and no have sugar or a sweetener at all, Sisters and Brothers, and I don't think most of us what that in a bar we eat. Each of these 3 oz bars are two servings (9 squares) but with such pure dark chocolate I generally don't even want let alone need a full serving to get a cocoa rush. I let the first square I break off just melt on my tongue. Yes their is a bitterness to it but as I let it melt I also get a sweetness that is a bit like raisins. The melted chocolate is thick and has a bit of a fudgy texture to it. While the wrapper suggests a mocha flavor I luckily do not get that because I'm not a coffee fan at all. Instead there is an intense earthiness to the flavor. The cocoa buzz begins in my head as the single square finishes melting and the world around me seems brighter and I feel more relaxed. This is better than any painkillers you can buy over the counter or from a doctor. I take a water break and a few minutes to clear my mouth before biting and chewing the next square. The chocolate is quiet, not at all what I'm expecting. It is smooth and creamy as I chew it, the intensity of the raisin like sweetness is more intense as it the bitterness; ah, there is a bit of mocha edge. I'll let the other squares melt in my mouth then.

Askinosie Zamora Bar Label
The beans come from Zamora in the Amazonia region of southeastern Ecuador. According to the International Cocoa Organization, Ecuador is the 5th largest producer of cocoa beans. Some news articles in the past few years have argued that the region may produce some of the best cocoa beans in the world. One reason may be that cooperative farming communities have been gaining ground there in the past couple of decades compared to the huge plantations elsewhere. The Shuar tribe have been cocoa farmers for almost 8000 years! The woman on the wrapper is Monica Guaman who is the lead farmer partner who works with Askinosie. Her family has their own farm and she head a cocoa coop in their village, called APEOSAE. The coop cultivates the trees, harvest them, and ferments them using wooden boxes and the sun. The beans are lightly roasted then conched for a short time to before the product is ready to be used by Askinosie. The area does not only produce cocoa beans but also coffee, lime, mandarin, plantains, and other foods.That gives them more economic flexibility and stability.

Askinosie has done it again! They earn Sacrament Worthy Status with the 72% Dark Chocolate Bar from Zamora, Amazonia.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Organic Improves Sheila G's Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle

We've tried and loved a lot of different varieties of Sheila G's Brownie Brittle here on The Chocolate Cult over the past few years. In general the difference in flavor between their regular and organic versions of the same variety has been minimal. Today we finally get to try out their Organic version of Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle. The organic ingredients account for every one on the packages list with these few exceptions: sea salt, baking soda, natural flavor, and water. To be blunt I'm not sure how you'd qualify sea salt or water as organic. Baking soda is mined as Sodium bicarbonate and then is processed with another chemical so it can't be organic. As for natural flavor... it is derived from another ingredient and without more information I can't say where it would be considered organic or not but since all of the ingredients that have flavors are organic, it might be just not legally speaking. We were sent two 5 ounce bags of this product directly from Sheila G's headquarters to test out and write about in a fair and as objective fashion as possible; no other form of compensation was received.

As you can see it looks very much like the previous chocolate chip version we covered here. The scent when I opened the bag was very dark, it really made me eager to try it out. Individually eat piece's fragrance isn't very intense. The darker chips stand out against the lighter brittle and the amount of them varies per piece. When I place a piece on my mouth, there is a sweetness but also a strong cocoa edge. It crunches with each bite and the intensity of the chocolate increases with each bite but it never gets bitterly dark. This was pretty additive to eat. It didn't need a dip or spread, in fact I'd hesitate to add anything to it. The intensity may reflect a generally more dark tasting natures of organic cocoas and unsweetened chocolate which this has. It also has organic cocoa butter This also reminded me a lot of the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt version we wrote about here but without the saltiness.

If you have not yet tried Organic Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle from Sheila G's, you need to do so. This is Sacrament Worthy. Great job, Sheila G!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

In Honor of Milton Hershey's Birthday

Hershey's Cookie Layer Crunch Bar, Caramel variety
I'm sure many of you have heard of Hershey. In the USA this is the chocolate brand that many of us grew up with. The company bears the name of its founder, Milton S. Hershey and today, September 13, back in 1857, he was born in Derry Township, Pennsylvania. In honor of this American candy and chocolate icon, I'm going to look at a relative new Hershey product I got to try through my Kroger membership card in the form of a Freebie. Even though this post is also to honor the man himself, I won't be anything other than honest about my experience with this product. Kroger and Hershey had no idea their freebie would turn into this article so, of course, no other form of compensation was received either.

Before we get to the bar let's look back at Milton S. Hershey. What is interesting about Hershey in light of the product I'll be talking about later, is that he started in the candy business making caramels (Lancaster Caramel Company) so we shouldn't be surprised that in their candy today they often include caramel. Yet today we think of chocolate when we think of Hershey so how did that happen? Hershey went to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and there he saw how chocolate was made. In 1900 he sold his successful caramel company and focused on chocolate, particularly milk chocolate. By 1905 he had his first Hershey Chocolate Company factory up and running.

From: By unknown (original image); Centpacrr (derivative image) - Hershey Community Archives (original image), Public Domain,

Unwrapped Hershey's Caramel Cookie Layer Crunch Bar
Now let's look at Hershey's Caramel Cookie Layer Crunch Bar. It looks a bit like a regular Hershey's milk chocolate bar with the sectioned pieces all bearing the Hershey's logo but it is much thicker and as you can see inside is a lot of caramel and some solid pieces (probably the cookie crunch part of the bar). The sections break apart fairly easily and also very quietly. Where's the crunch? The crunch happens when I bite into a section but primarily chewy it is both crunchy and sticky. The chocolate is the standard Hershey's milk chocolate, the cookies pieces while crunchy don't add that much flavor, and the caramel is primarily sweet, not tangy or buttery. This is a candy bar so I'm not surprised that it has 200 calories, half of these from fat and 19 grams of sugars.

As a candy bar this is okay but it doesn't impress me, I'm not pulled to seek it out again. Have you had one? What did you think about this newer Hershey treat?

Online Articles Consulted for this Post:

1: article

2: The Hershey Story

3: Hershey

4: Wikipedia

Monday, September 11, 2017

10 for 10 Years Makes Chocolate Walk Tradition

For 10 years the Brown County Humane Society has been inviting pet lovers and chocolate lovers to come together to help support their operations with a November event called "Chocolate Walk." For nine of those ten years, I've been going with between 1-8 other people, walking the full length over the course of a few hours, eating a lot of different chocolatey treats, and telling you all about it. But there are 10 businesses in Nashville, Indiana, that have been a spot on the map, put forth their own time, money, and many times their own chocolate creations. Today I'm going to list them and give you a few memories I have of them on the Chocolate Walk. If you have memories of your own, please do leave a comment and let us know. If you don't have your tickets, get them because they will sell out!

Hob Nob Corner Restaurant

The Candy Emporium

Nashville Fudge Kitchen

Carmel Corn Cottage

Common Grounds
Nashville Candy Store

Artist Colony Inn

Bone Appetit

Jack and Jill's Nut Shop
Ice Cream Cottage on the Right

Ice Cream Cottage is also a sponsor this year. They've won the "Best" vote for several years as well. And they deserve those "bests" because you get so many choices of treats when you are there from ice creams to hot cocoa to cookies or brownies in past years.

In another note, Crystal Jeffries of Forever Sweet is once more the official chocolatier for the event. I wonder if she'll have cupcakes again

Sunday, September 10, 2017

ShopRite Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips Recalled

Just one recall to share with you today, the second Sunday of September, 2017.


ShopRite Real Chocolate Chips, Semi-Sweet

Wakefern Food Corp. has initiated a voluntary recall of its ShopRite brand Semi-Sweet Real Chocolate Chips. The chips were sold in 24 oz. bags bearing a UPC bar code of 041190 02668 and Best if Used By dates of April 11, 2019 and April 12, 2019.

The recall was issued because the package may contain milk chocolate chips, and milk is not declared in the ingredient statement. No illnesses have been reported but people who are allergic to milk could experience an allergic reaction if they consume the chips. No other package sizes or date codes are being recalled.

“Customers who purchased the chocolate chips may return them for an immediate refund or replacement,” said Karen Meleta, vice president of Consumer and Corporate Communications for Wakefern. “People who are not allergic to milk and those who are not concerned about consuming dairy ingredients may choose not to return the product as it is otherwise safe to eat,” she added.

The product was sold in ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer and other retail stores located throughout the Northeast. Wakefern has contacted ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer Price Plus Club customers who have purchased this product to alert them to the recall.

Customer questions or concerns about the recall can be directed to 1-800-ShopRite (1-800-746-7748) Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fuel Up September

Another product from PROBAR® today, this time from their Fuel line which are energy bars designed to get you through the afternoon without turning to junk food, too much coffee, or energy drinks. Of course since these bars are competing with the food and drinks many of us turn to as the afternoon drags on at home and work, it is fair to consider the nutritional information so we'll be including that with our full sensory review. The only Fuel flavor with chocolate is the Coconut Dream so the testing and most of the review was written by our Chocolate Coconut Acolyte, Lisa. PROBAR® sent us this free bar in exchange for an objective and honest article; no other form of compensation was received.

Lisa's experience of the Coconut Dream Fuel bar is as follows with some nutritional information inserted by your Chocolate Priestess. Opening the wrapper I don't detect any predominant scent and the bar is very soft and moist but not sticky.  Looking closely I can't really identify any particular ingredient other than nuts of some sort.  Date paste is the first ingredient on the list which explains the high sugar content (22 grams of sugar) and the lack of chocolate or coconut scent. [Other nutritional values include 3 grams saturated fat, 6 grams dietary fiber, and 3 grams protein.] Chocolate chips are listed second [on the ingredients label] but the dates overpower all the other flavors.  Almonds and cashews add a nice crunch. The chia seeds aren't visible but I like chia so I'm glad they're included. While this may be a good bar for a quick energy fix, I can't recommend it if you're looking for either chocolate or coconut in your energy bar.

As with the other products from PROBAR® you can order the Fuel line in 12 packs of a single flavor. While the Coconut Dream is the only one with chocolate, the other four flavors are also dessert themed -- Apple Pie, Blueberry Pie, Carrot Cake, and Cherry Pie. If you have had any of these five flavors of PROBAR® Fuel, please leave us a comment and let us know what you think about the bars.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

World Coconut Day Is Unreal

I bet you never thought we'd get back to more Unreal Candy,  huh? This is the wonder of the internet and publishing online: we can test samples months and months ahead of time, write up our articles and then release them at a specific date. Today is World Coconut Day, a fun food holiday created by the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC). So today we are going to look at Unreal Dark Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter Cups which I've seen in a blue bag containing 9 of them. Now I know some of you who have been reading for a while are concerned because I, Your Chocolate Priestess, has made it clear that she is not a fan of coconut. No fears, if it turned out that I couldn't objectively judge this product I shared it with 7 others who gave me their opinions. Back near Halloween 2016, Unreal through the Tryazon program sent me this bag of treats to test out, write about, and share with others; no other form of compensation was received in exchange for this honest review.

I have only seen this product in the 8 piece blue bag that I was sent; I haven't seen this in stores around me. As you can see below each individual wrapped cup has the silver wrapper we've come to associate with Unreal and the "Unreal" logo in the same color as the bag itself. This cup is the same size as the others -- 1.5 inches across and 0.25 inches thick clocking in at 80 calories but this time it has 50% fair trade certified ingredients including sunflower if that is an allergic issue for you. This includes desiccated coconut so I'm a bit concerned because what I don't like about coconut is not just flavor but the texture. That said, this is dark chocolate and there still should be peanut butter so how bad can it be?  I made a promise to you and to myself to try things made of chocolate so I try this one. The scent is not as strongly chocolate as with their other dark cups that I've tried; the chocolate coating feels less firm in my fingers as well though it does start melting very quickly. The cups makes a soft sound when I take a bite and then a light crunch as I chew. The inside is creamy and peanut buttery and quickly that flavor overtakes the initial coconut flavor as well as the texture of the shredded coconut meat. I don't find it yucky just not as wonderful as their dark chocolate peanut butter cups. What did coconut lovers I shared it with think of the cups?

The seven people I shared these with were very split in their opinions. For those, like me, who aren't big fans of coconut the flavor seemed very intense. Since I really coconut and I didn't find it too intense this was just a reminder that each person will have a unique experience with any type of food or drink. For those who like or love coconut, the flavor was "subtle" and "good" and they liked the blending of the peanut butter, coconut, and dark chocolate. Everyone appreciated that these were only 80 calories and 5 grams of sugar but agreed that each cup was much smaller than a traditional peanut butter cup.

Now you tell me, Sisters and Brothers. Have you found these and given them a try? What did you think about them? If you haven't found them, will you try to find them now?

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