Saturday, December 3, 2016

Color Your Candy Dreams

If are you finally starting to think about gifts for the winter holidays consider non-food chocolate related items that can give joy for far more time than a box of chocolate could. You might be shocked that I, Your Chocolate Priestess, would say such a thing remember our mantra -- Moderation and Purposefulness when it comes to chocolate. We've looked at many non-food and non-drink products in the past but today we're venturing into coloring books. I'm betting that right now in your life you have a friend or family member, perhaps your partner, who is into adult coloring. Today we're going to look Sweet Dreams: A Caboodle of Candy by Donna Linder. This is a coloring book geared toward adult colorists though there is nothing about the topic (sweet treats) that would require one to be an adult to enjoy coloring the pages. The artist sent me an ebook copy of her creation so that I could examine it, color pages from it, and then reveal it to all of our readers on The Chocolate Cult; no other form of compensation was received in exchange for this article and a review on Amazon.com.

The book in either physical or ebook format includes 29 images of candy and baked goodies for you to color as you like. While it doesn't matter in an ebook format, the author assures me that the physical book has only one image per page. If you recall we interviewed her and shared that interview with you all on Wednesday. Most of the pages are mandalas, a circular shape with repeated patterns, but a few are not. Many of the candies in the images would not normally be chocolate but you can color them however you wish. Personally I wish a lot of chocolate so my browns got a full workout when I colored some of these pages. I used gel pens, markers, crayons, brush pens, and even a sharpie or two. Remember to put a blank page under the one you are coloring if you use sharpies and some very wet gel pens. Would you like to see a couple of the pages I colored?

This is the first one, page 9 is combination candies and pastries, cupcakes in this case. I made both the cake and the frosting on them chocolatey in this case but everything else more hard candies though not traditional colors.


The second one is page 23 all truffles! I made this in four tones then color coded the marks as truffle makers often do whether or not the chocolate is dark, milk, semi-sweet, or white.


If this coloring book looks like something you'd like or a loved one would like, follow the link below to find your own copy of it. I really liked it and had hours of fun with it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

She Designs Calorie Free Candy Fantasies

Have you heard about Adult Coloring? Maybe some of you do it. It doesn't require an age (other than being 18+) and it is open to any gender, sex, race, ethnic group, and skill level. Coloring books can be dollar shop bargain or very expensive books tied to popular artists or pop culture phenomenon. Today we're going to meet Donna Linder, an artist whose first coloring book, Sweet Dreams: A Caboodle of Candy, has chocolates you can color and enjoy without worrying about calories. As always in our interviews, italics are the words of the individual we spoke with.

Donna Linder, Artist having fun1
Before you created Sweet Dreams: A Caboodle of Candy, what were you doing?

I was (and still am) working as a sleep tech at my local hospital.  I'm passionate about art (and candy!) but the medical field will always be my first love

Do you have formal training as an artist or is this raw talent that we're seeing in this coloring book?

I have no formal training. In fact, I flunked almost every art class I had to take throughout school. I was pretty much considered hopeless by the time I reached college!

You choose candy as the subject of this coloring book, why that topic?

Candy has always been one of my biggest comfort foods.  The bright colors, patterned wrappers, and textures appeal to me very much. Even just looking at the candy store displays makes me happy.  :)
  
When I first started Sweet Dreams, there were only one or two food-themed coloring books out there, so my initial motivation for this was to fulfill a need within myself. I got a lot of support from friends and family and it gave me the courage to take this a step further and share my art with others. 

Because this is The Chocolate Cult, we have to ask: Do you like chocolate? If so, what type is your favorite? Milk, Semi-sweet, Dark, Unsweetened, or White?

I LOVE chocolate!  Semi-sweet and Dark are my favorites, although any chocolate that's nice and cold right from the fridge will do the trick for me.  :)

Many adult coloring books are double-sided but I'm pleased that yours is single-sided. That requires more pages however and probably more cost to you to create the book. Why did you decide to go with one image per page?

It's the preferred style for most colorists, I wanted to create a book that people would enjoy and not have to worry about bleeding through.  Plus, I got to discover all the awesome candy-related quotes that I used to take up space on the opposite side of the pages.  

I notice that most of the images in the coloring book are mandala in style. Why does that particular layout appeal to you as the artist?

I love the symmetry and repetitive pattern that goes along with mandala style art; it creates the opportunity for a lot of variations, or some peaceful repetition. No matter how a person chooses to color a mandala, it will look like it was designed just for that style.  

Did you create the candy in your images from your imagination or did you have models that you used?

I had a lot of very delicious models! I knew what I wanted the candy to look like, but converting it from my head to the page was a challenge.  There were several trips to corner store for candy that nobody could eat until I had gotten the picture to look like I wanted it to.  

I see that this coloring book is on Amazon.com but were else could our readers buy your book?

Amazon and Createspace are the only two places the book is available currently. I also have an Etsy Store (GoddessLaughs Designs) for digital/printable/singles. 

What has been the biggest hurdle you've had to jump in order to get an adult coloring book published?

Gathering the courage to actually publish was my biggest issue.  I was so afraid that people were going to look at this book and think it was a crappy product or of crappy quality.  

This was your first adult coloring book. Do you have plans for more?

I have a darker/creepier book called After Midnight in the works and I've got the very beginnings of a cocktail themed book (hopefully).



Monday, November 28, 2016

Chocolate Cyber Monday Deals!

Let's help each other other today, Chocolate Lovers!

In the comments let us all know about Cyber Monday Chocolate Deals you've learned about.

I'll share some that I know. You'll have to find the website in another window but these are the coupons I know about for today.







I don't expect images in your comments but this is the one time you can provide coupon information and links in the comments without my deleting them to let's help each other out!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hot Gift that is Sweet to Give or Receive

240Sweet is a hot little company, literally and figuratively. We have featured their gourmet marshmallows many times here. Their creations are award winning, their chefs award winning. Today I want to share a hot gift you might want to give to your loved from 240Sweet -- Hot Chocolate Gift Set which is new for 2016. Furthermore, 240Sweet is offering a special coupon for readers of The Chocolate Cult but you have to keep reading to learn what that is after our full feature article today. Get in a comforty setting and get ready to try out their decadent hot chocolate and gourmet marshmallows with us. 240Sweet set me the decadent hot chocolate mix along with two types of their gourmet marshmallows (bourbon brown sugar and sugar cookie) in exchange for an honest feature article about their product.

Let's look at the marshmallows and the hot chocolate on their own first because when you add marshmallows to hot chocolate it does affect the flavor of both. Both of the bags have 10 petite gourmet marshmallows in them and as you'll see they vary in size. The bags unfortunately are not resealable so if you don't plan to use them right away have a bag or container of your own; based on previous experience I recommend using them within a week or so after you open them.

240Sweet Bourbon Brown vs Sugar Cookie

We'll start with the Bourbon Brown Sugar Marshmallows that you can see in our previous photo is slightly tan in color. There is a solid bourbon scent  but no alcohol sting in either fragrance or taste. There is a sweetness that builds with each chew and lingers for minutes afterward.



Next we tried the Sugar Cookie Marshmallows on their own, they are very white and have white edible sugar pearls on the top of them. These smell just like sugar, simple, basic, sweet. The vanilla burst of flavor when I take a bite is unexpected and intense but it really does make this taste like a sugar cookie. The pearls add crunch but I don't think that they add much flavor; I wonder if they will melt in the hot chocolate... let's find out!


Of course, given that this is The Chocolate Cult our real focus is on the Decadent Hot Chocolate mix. The instructions on the back label of the bag read "Whisk 4 Tbs of mix into 1 cup of boiling milk for 3 minutes." I measured out the mix and it is approximately 5 servings worth per these instructions. (there are also fondue directions but I didn't do both) Note: In my household we only use skim milk. Alone it is still creamy, a touch dark, and no other flavors, a good basic foundation.


What happens when you add the marshmallows to the hot chocolate?

When we added the sugar cookie marshmallows. The marshmallows get soft very quickly especially if you cut them up but they do not melt very quickly at all, you have to keep stirring them to get them to melt. The sugar pearls did not melt so if you don't swallow them you will find them at the bottom of your mug; I thought taking a photo of that was a bit icky so here you have them floating in the hot chocolate but you can see the pearls right there.. These marshmallows add a lot of sweetness to it but also butteriness: it is like dunking a sugar cookie into hot cocoa one of my testers declared with a grin.


Finally we added the bourbon brown sugar marshmallows. The first thing I notice is that the bourbon fragrance gets stronger and stronger as the marshmallows melt, something I did not notice with the sugar cookie variety. The intensity of the marshmallows remains very bourbon if you try one before they thoroughly melt. Again stir to make them melt faster. The intensity of flavor change to the hot chocolate depends on how many of the marshmallows you use -- one is a slight change, two is balanced, three is a bit too much. I didn't like these as much as the sugar cookie marshmallows in terms of what they added to the hot chocolate foundation. And yes, if you spotted, it this was my 240Sweet mug I got a few years ago which I still have and still use.





The flavors of gourmet marshmallows changes often at 240Sweet so I haven't linked to these products specifically. You just have to check them out and see what is currently available.

Here is the exclusive discount code for
$10 off the Peppermint Hot Chocolate Kit
Coupon Code: thechocolatecult

It is true that the kit in this offer doesn't include the same gourmet marshmallows that we tested for you today, but it still has the same decadent hot chocolate mix. We've had enough of 240Sweet's varieties of marshmallows to know the ones in this kit are very likely to be good.

So who out there is going to check out this offer for a holiday gift or treat for yourself?