Friday, July 31, 2009

Last Days of Chocolate Cult Contest

If you live within driving distance of Bloomington, Indiana, and you like chocolate and coconut, you need to apply for this position. Make sure you apply to the original notice HERE. Note: You have to scroll down because for some reason it shows up under this post instead of opening a new window in your browser.

At Noon Eastern time, on Monday, August 3, 2009, I will contact up to five qualifiers for the position of Chocolate Coconut Acolyte, a new official position in The Chocolate Cult. Anyone apply after that time will not be eligible.

Only you can determine what an acceptable driving distance is for the chance to meet with The Chocolate Priestess, sample gourmet chocolate coconut treats, and have your observations of revealed to the 100-200 people who visit this blog daily now at the end of our fifth month in existence. The trio of chocolates listed are supplemented by individual truffle and candies that only the winner will see.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Local Baked Goods & Cookbook Win

On another food blog, "Leanne in Wonderland" your Chocolate Priestess won a cookbook about cupcakes that you can see to the right here. Not all of the recipes are for chocolate though I'll point out that you can bake whatever you like and then decorate it. We have a birthday coming up and the birthday boy picked one of the designs for us to try -- sadly without chocolate so I'll review this book later when I make something chocolate from it.

In past entries I've revealed a few of the baked good available from my local food coop, Bloomingfoods. Today I want to talk about a few more in case local folks are looking for vegan, organic or simply coop chocolates to try this upcoming weekend. These three products were of very mixed quality though each item cost $2-3.

First, I got a piece of the chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. It looked beautiful as you can see to the left. This was a 0.17 pound slice of cake of 2.5X2.5X1.25in dimensions. The ganache alone is incredibly bitter tasting, so bitter that I literally grimaced. The cake itself tastes very cocoa but beyond that rather tasteless and pasty with brownie like texture. Together they created a lingering, unpleasant aftertaste that was deeply disappointing for such a pretty piece of cake.

The Tollhouse Cookie Sandwich with chocolate frosting was 3.5in diameter. It is made of two chocolate chip cookies with chocolate frosting layer between them. The frosting tastes very sugary and fluffy while the two cookies have that just slightly under baked quality that adds a bit of doughiness with little danger of contamination because they are actually baked to the appropriate temperature. There is a definite double buzz — light cocoa, medium level sugar. Honestly this was bit too sweet for my tastes the evening I have it so I shared it with the Milk Chocolate Acolyte. Following the Path for 6 of the 7 days in a week makes me less eager for sugars, and high fat content all of which this treat had in abundance.

Finally, and the best product of this trio, was the Flourless Chocolate Cookie
with finely chopped walnuts throughout it.Walnuts. It was big, measuring 4in across. It was also vegan with no animal products or by products on the ingredients list. It has a very dark bitter taste with an odd lingering after taste which becomes a bit too sour over time. The walnut taste though helped counter this a bit and I really love walnuts. The texture was more like a dense brownie than a cookie.

So baked goods from Bloomingfoods are really a hit and miss affair. I suggest getting only single servings like I did until you find things you like then invest in larger quantities.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, within driving distance to Bloomington, Indiana, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Longer Lasting Chocolate Gift

The White Chocolate Acolyte went to visit his family half way across the nation for five days. When your Chocolate Priestess picked him up from his long plane adventure, he said "I have a gift for you." Now of course I'm thinking it's something chocolate because there are few other things to get the head of The Chocolate Cult.

He got me this sign that you can see to the left. This sign is "something chocolate" because it mentions chocolate. This sign is also very appropriate since it refers to spiritual needs. It also refers to a very popular series of inspirational books all entitled "Chicken Soup for the (fill in the blank) Soul". The first book came out in the summer of 1993 according to the series official website. He got the sign at a local festival from a local artist in the hometown of the family member he was visiting so he support their local economy and didn't give money to big business.

I had a perfect spot for this sign in my kitchen. You see, Sisters and Brothers, I'm sure many of you may think I just consume chocolate non-stop. I have something chocolate perhaps two to three times a week (usually in the form of a fiber or breakfast bar or perhaps a glass of chocolate skim milk). I observe our Sacred Saturdays with both purposeful and pleasurable indulgence of chocolate. I keep the company offerings, gifts, and some products my household purchases itself in a corner shelf on two shelves until the item must be refrigerated. The wall about that cabinet was bare so I hung the sign there as you can see to the right.

Too much chocolate consumption not only can expand your waistline and tip the scales but it risks devaluing the physical, emotional, and spiritual use of cocoa by making it too common. You become used to the potential buzz and need more to get the same feelings. Yet if you consider yourself a chocoholic you know that you still crave it almost daily. Controlling your intake and giving yourself one day to indulge helps with those cravings. At least it has for me and since I've been following this advice myself, along with balanced meals and exercising one hour a day, five days a week, I've lost 1 pound a week since the start of the new year. I make no claim that you would have the same experience, I only witness to my own journey. By giving me this particular gift, the White Chocolate Acolyte showed he valued not just my chocolate desires but the Cult's goals of moderation and purposefulness. Supporting your loved one's life goals is a more valuable gift than even the finest and most expensive candy you can imagine.

So the next time you want to get something chocolate or give a chocolate gift remember that you don't always have to buy candy, cookies, drinks or other food items. There are many other things "chocolate" out there you can enjoy far longer than that candy bar will last. By thinking about your gift giving you are thinking about the person you are giving it to and that also fits into our Journey toward the Divine.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Only 5 days left to enter.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

National Milk Chocolate Day -- July 28, 2009

Another chocolate related day on the USA calendar, not an official holiday of any type so most likely this is one of hundreds of fun days started by various companies and communities in an effort to increase public awareness and consumption of their products. If the blatant commercialism of it does not bother you, Sisters and Brothers, eat some milk chocolate today and celebrate.

Your Chocolate Priestess and The Chocolate Cult does not discriminate against varieties of chocolate, if it is made from the cacao plant, we can consider it part of our faith. So what exactly makes a chocolate product "milk" instead of "dark" or "white"?

According to this article from Bon Appétit, to make milk chocolate you add dry milk, vanilla, sugar and some fat to "pure chocolate". This isn't a very clear definition. Further online research reveals that we are talking about the cocoa nib as the "pure chocolate" in the above description. The milk added replaces some of the chocolate liquor in the cocoa giving it a lighter and creamier cocoa flavor as well as a lighter color. (graphic from http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/3556/03hv2.jpg)

What qualifies as "milk chocolate" varies from region to region. In the USA, milk chocolate must keep 10% of the chocolate liquor but in Europe the rule is 25% cocoa solids. This explains why American and European chocolates called by the same label can taste quite different. The regulated line dividing milk from dark chocolate isn't wide -- USA the difference is only 5% while in Europe it is 10%.

We can have a much wider range of what we call "dark chocolate" in both regions when compared to "milk chocolate". So when someone says "I like milk chocolate" you have a good idea of what tastes they like on these two continents but if they say "I like dark chocolate" you just can't be sure.

What is more interesting than this is the fact that the two regions definitions do not overlap really so you need to know if you are talking to someone who like European or American chocolate. "Milk Chocolate" in Europe covers good range of what is called "Dark Chocolate" in the States. Since this is an American "holiday", look for chocolate with 10% liquor only and have just a little bit.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. You now have less than a week to enter this contest so if you live within driving distance of Bloomington, Indiana, give it a shot.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kroger Chocolate Chip Muffins

A while back, your Chocolate Priestess revealed the Double Chocolate Muffins from Kroger to you all. This Chocolate Chip Muffin to your right is their other offering in this category that might be of interest to you, Sisters and Brothers. As you can see they come in two forms: with chocolate drizzle on top or without. Frankly the drizzle adds only a small amount of flavor.

Just like the previous variety of muffins, these are crusty on the top but inside very moist with a good texture that you would expect from such a baked good. I got these in the little paper bags they have so that I could easily recycle the container. The chips themselves are semi-sweet so with both a bite of bitterness and a tang of sweetness in their mini pieces. There are a lot chips in each muffin throughout it so you are not lacking for chips.

These are very sweet compared to the Double Chocolate ones and frankly do not provide a choco rush so much as a sugar spike. What is the difference? To me, cocoa products create a tingling that begins in the mouth and moves up through the sinus into the mind, you can feel your head becoming lighter. Sugar starts deeper in the body’s core and spreads through my limbs only coming to rest in my head with a dull ache. I’m sure other find the sugar reaction more pleasant but I prefer a balance between the two or a more chocolate sensation to my body and mind.

The result is that the Chocolate Chip Muffin is not something I can strongly recommend for The Chocolate Cult. Is it a good muffin? It’s decent for it’s price but the sugar buzz far outweighs the cocoa rush when you eat it. Given that these have basically the same nutritional information as the Double Chocolate Muffins, it must be a matter of how much cocoa and the type of cocoa in each that creates the different physical reactions.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Attention UK Female Readers -- New Chocolate Study

A while back, your Chocolate Priestess told you about a study involving chocolate. Here is a new study that is looking for women of a particular type for a study about chocolate and its effects on the heart. You can see articles here and here and here about it.

Note: you need to be menopausal but under age 75 and have type 2 diabetes. They only need 40 volunteers and you must be able to commit to a year. As with any medical tests don't jump blindly on board but consider all the risks and read any documentation very carefully. The study is being sponsored by the University of East Anglia and you can see a video by them about this study here. The University is near Norwich City and travel expenses are only covered for a certain distance.

In a few years I hope to be able to reveal what this study finds to you all but given it is only a small study, I'll be very cautious about the findings. As with all such studies it will take years of repeated testing to find any solid evidence.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, July 25, 2009

While your Chocolate Priestess focuses on the five senses in these weekly Sacraments, she never forgets The Chocolate Cult's goal of using chocolate purposefully and in moderation. Thus I always highlight issues of fair trade, environmental awareness, and labor rights as well when the company that makes an offering has something either positive or particularly negative in those areas. Taraluna is a retailer that offered us several products to review, and today I will reveal one of these to you — the one on the upper right hand side.

The numerous products came with a minimum of packaging, even in the warm months, and as you can see, Sisters and Brothers, while they were wrapped as gifts as several offerings have been, they were wrapped with recycled and simple paper. This is part of the company's overall policy of supporting what are often called progressive attitudes toward workers and the planet. I spoke with them several times, and I can say that they are consistent in their message. Because of this the chocolate they sell is created by Sjaak's, which is also devoted to fair trade and sustainable practices, but since the chocolatier didn't send me these offerings, I'm going to focus on what Taraluna offers.

While Taraluna offers a wide range of products, we are interested in their organic chocolates. Today I'm going to examine their 9-count organic vegan truffle collection, which you can find here on their website. Something qualifies as vegan when it contains no animal products, which this package's list of ingredients confirms. It also has no wheat or grain products, which may be important for those of you who have allergies of that nature.

To this point, the only vegan offerings The Chocolate Cult has had the opportunity to reveal have been cookies, and they have been hit-or-miss in terms of taste and potential cocoa buzz. This might surprise some of you, Sisters and Brothers, but just because a product is vegan does not mean it is saturated fat free; indeed, three pieces of these truffles give you 16 grams of this, which is 80% of your daily allowance according to US national health recommendations. So be informed and read your nutritional labels instead of simply assuming you are eating healthy when you eat vegan products in abundance.

The box I received had only three distinct flavors instead of the variety listed on the website, so call or email ahead and ask which flavors you are going to get; I'm sure they would be happy to talk with you before you purchase. This box contains extra dark chocolate, raspberry, and mocha flavors — the back of the box lists them with photos, so they are easily identified, which I greatly appreciate. Let's explore what these taste like and how they can affect our body, mind and soul together, Sisters and Brothers.

I begin with a fresh mouth, a focused mind and a clean cool glass of water near me to help me cleanse between samples. The gold box has a simple stretchy ribbon on it that slips off and two taped sides that I cut with scissors. When I open the box I smell dark cocoa and raspberry primarily, but leaning down I can also smell the coffee. Each truffle is 1.25 inches in diameter and about 0.9 inches tall. They are dark in color because they are all dark chocolate, though I do not know the percentage of cocoa in each. There is a bit of packaging wastefulness in the box with the inner plastic tray, but compared to all those overpackaged products out there this seems minor.

I'll start with the mocha flavor first, which is capped with a cocoa-dusted coffee bean. I breathe in the scent deeply and can only just smell the coffee within. The ganache, which is smooth to my fingertips, breaks with a snap as I bite off a corner to reveal a fairly firm center. At first chocolate is all I can taste, but with each bite more and more bitter coffee flavor is revealed to my tongue. There is an immediate wave from my mouth through my head, and this is only 1/6th of the truffle I've tried so far. Now that it is bitten into, the coffee scent is stronger as well. I take another corner and let it melt in my mouth, which downplays the coffee flavor by an enormous amount until I can't tell it is anything other than dark chocolate. So if you love coffee, chew this truffle to release each layer of flavor, and make sure you savor the bite with the bean for an extra kick. Each subsequent bite will build up the coffee flavor as well as increase the buzz. Whether this reaction is mostly cocoa or coffee may be revealed in the following two flavors. The aftertaste of the coffee and chocolate is very powerful, lasting many minutes and requiring a thorough cleansing of my mouth and throat before I can move to another piece or risk crossing the flavors.

The raspberry piece has red dusting on top and a very strong fruit scent that hits me before I even bring it close to my nose. Licking the dusting is not a pleasant experience; it is very sour in taste, so don't do that, Sisters and Brothers. Unfortunately the dusting continues to taste sour when I bite through the thick ganache with a gentle snapping sound. Inside is a lighter toned semi-solid chocolate center. Oddly the raspberry flavor isn't very strong as I chew 1/6th of the truffle, and this sour dusting really interferes with any chocolate or raspberry flavor the candy may have. So I bite the bottom, taking as little of the red decoration as possible, which improves the fruit and cocoa flavors a good deal. To be honest the dusting's intense and unexpected flavor ruins this piece for me, but luckily it only lasts in my mouth a short time. If you like sourness, I think you will adore this particular type of truffle far more than I do. The truffle without the dusting is great and provides a nice buzz.

I tackle the extra dark truffle next, which has a dusting of moderately sized flakes of cocoa, confirmed by licking what I guess is milk chocolate on top. There is a strong dark cocoa scent when I bring the candy to my nose and breathe in. Again there is a soft snap when I bite through the ganache to reveal an almost equally dark softer center. With each bite the bitterness of the chocolate increases, but it has a creamy texture to it that sort of eases the intensity. Once more it only takes one bite for a rushing sensation through my head to happen. Letting it melt in my mouth increases the cocoa sensation and rush, so I recommend you let it melt, which takes about a minute to achieve. This is my favorite of these three flavors.

Flavors are tricky. Each of us, Sisters and Brothers, has our preferences and dislikes, even aversions. All three had nice texture and buzz potential as well as a good cocoa flavor. Only you can determine which flavors you like, and since I'm sure Sjaak's changes flavors, what you can get from Taraluna will probably change over the course of the year, so contact them before you buy and make the best choice for your taste buds.

Considering the quality of the truffles and their social/economic policies, I have to say that these vegan truffles from Taraluna are a worthy choice as a Saturday Sacrament. Just try out different flavors and see what works for you best, and use them in moderation to assist you on your Path toward the Divine or as a wonderful socially-conscious reward.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. In nine days I will choose the finalists for this contest and move on to stage two for acolyte position.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mars News July 2009

Mars is the biggest chocolate manufacturer in the USA and a leader in world chocolate products. Today, your Chocolate Priestess wants to reveal a few interesting pieces of information that have appeared in the news.

First, if you visit this website on Friday mornings (9am Eastern time) you may be able to get a coupon for a free candy bar. I say may because each day there is a limited number of coupons they send out. I used one to the the Snickers Dark that I talked about at the beginning of July.

Second, I informed you, Sisters and Brothers, about Mars moving toward more ecologically sound practices. A few news reports confirm they are moving in this direction by increasing their plans to purchase sustainably grown cacao. They plan to purchase certified cocoa which means it will meet certain standards and require the farmers to use certain practices. Before you get too happy, this other article reveals that this big plan to get certified chocolate has a set date: 2020.

WHAT!? 11 years from now? This is the best they can do? I don't believe so. And if you believe they can speed up their plan to buy more sustainably farmed cocoa visit Mars and let them know what you think here. Then let us know at The Chocolate Cult what you told them please.

The good news is that two big American companies are moving, slowly but at least there is movement toward better agricultural and social practices.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

News About Hershey

Hershey is the second biggest chocolatier in the USA and one of the leading chocolate manufacturers in the world. Many of you, Sisters and Brothers, probably use their products at least once a year. Thus your Chocolate Priestess wanted to share some bits of news about the company.

First, they are closing their online store. Currently they are offering 25% off until July 31, 2009 there last day. Through the online store you can get a lot of neat items such as a chocolate card shaped like a computer which I considered getting for the Milk Chocolate Acolyte. However be forewarned that since it is the summer the costs for shipping is high. About $16 for just that one product when I looked into buying. Needless to say, that greatly out weighed any price cut.

Second, even though Hershey is reporting higher profits they are cutting product lines and closing their online store. This makes little sense to me. Perhaps one of you can explain it to me. True cutting products that aren't making you a lot of money is logical but I've read repeatedly that premium chocolates are selling well. If that isn't true for Hershey does that say something about the quality of their products versus other premium chocolates? The premium chocolates in question are the Starbucks line and the Cacao Reserves line.

How did they increase profits? In part by raising prices 10% in August 2008. Another factor has been the price of cacao which we have seen in The Chocolate can rise and fall but over all has fallen since the start of 2009. Finally they have increased their advertising campaigns including pushing their products much harder overseas. Hershey makes decent low priced chocolate and in hard times it can be a product that people turn to though they still lag behind Mars. Tomorrow I'll share some news about Mars, the #1 chocolate maker in the USA.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Only 11 more days to toss your cap into the ring for this position.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Chocolate Breakfast Choice from Fiber One

As you know, Sisters and Brothers, chocolate and cocoa can only be part of a healthy diet and one form of assistance on your Path. As your Chocolate Priestess part of my duty is to reveal the variety of chocolate you might use either on a weekly or daily basis. This morning I want to talk about Fiber One Chocolate Fudge Toaster Pastries. Much like other toaster pastries you do not need a toaster but in this case using one will result in a slightly melted inside that is different taste and texture than eating it right from the box.

The first thing to note is that the "Nutrition Facts" are for one pastry but they come in silver foil wrappers containing two pastries. Since these are not a moist product it does you no harm to eat only one at a time but depending on how much you eat and how much you do during your normal day it probably wouldn't hurt you to eat both. Each one contains 1.5g saturated fat and no transfat or cholesterol. It does have 150mg sodium, 140mg potassium, 5g dietary fiber, 16g sugars, 4g protein, and 6% of your daily iron. Not as nutritional as the Fiber One cereal bars I've previously looked at but better than the average Pop Tart. For those with allergies, it has wheat, milk and soy in it.

They taste a lot like chocolate fudge especially if you do toast them which makes the center a bit melted and slightly chewy. The flavor is far more cocoa than sugar and if you over toast it, it will burn. It is very dry so you will need a drink when you eat it but you can also eat it on the go. The cocoa is a bit bitter so a child may not like it as much as an adult but I thought it was a nice occasional treat to give myself for breakfast. And that is one of the keys for me on my journey -- Variety so that I'm not bored and tempted to over eat or eat things which are not as balanced as other choices.

These are slightly more expensive than Pop Tarts but I find coupons in our local newspaper often and I wait until it goes on sale. These don't go stale or spoil quickly so you can just buy them under certain conditions and store them for later use.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chocolate & Pesticides

Your Chocolate Priestess discusses issues concerning the environment, labor concerns, and health from time to time in The Chocolate Cult. Each time I try to use logic and research to present you, Sisters and Brothers, with enough information to make a good decision about what to eat and what to purchase. Right now I'm torn by the evidence concerning pesticides which this article says may be used more often on the Ivory Coast as a way to combat some of the many problems cocoa farmers can face.

We need to be aware of this problem and it's potential solutions for several reasons. First, the Ivory Coast produces the most cocoa so it supplies the most raw materials for all of those chocolate candies, cookies, cakes, drinks, etc. This means that if they increase pesticide use it will very likely affect what you buy and use.

Second, insects can wreck havoc on a crop and they can invade a large region thus devastating millions of acres and millions of tons of products. This, of course, will cause prices to rise but it can also result in hunger though probably not in relationship to cocoa since for most people it isn't a major food group in their diet.

Third, there are serious concerns about what pesticides do to the plants and to the creatures that eat them. Obviously it kills or repeals the insects but what about us higher up on the food chain? While the USA regulates which pesticides can be used, other nations will have other rules and yet we live in a global supermarket where can choose products from around the world often without being aware of where ingredients come from.






(Image from http://www.pesticidewatch.eu/?page=food accessed July 21, 2009)




Fourth, alternatives to pesticides had a mixed record of effectiveness and productivity. For the small organic farmer in the USA and the wealthier consumer, this may not be an issue but for agribusinesses and other consumers price and the tonnage of crops harvested may be a serious concern. The most natural way of dealing with unwanted predators, if you must do something, is to introduce something to hunt them but you have to be careful about what you introduce or you can upset an ecosystem.

Growing up in the America's farmland I know how important these decisions are to farmers. Most do not make the decisions lightly and most are interested not just in this year's crop but future generations of farmers and their crops. Do nothing and have less product to sell. Do something and there will be consequences beyond increased production.

So I'm torn about pesticides. Educate yourself, seek out information, and make the choice which you feel will help you find the Sacred Substance to help you on your journey toward the Divine.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Godiva Gift #1

Chocolate, Sisters and Brothers, is one part of your Chocolate Priestess's life, a method she uses to become more in-tune with her senses and thus with the Divine. Chocolate is not her own life nor should it be yours. Balance in all things is important to have a good, healthy existence. One of the other things I do is that sometimes I run role-playing at conventions for people interested in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other forms of speculative literature. If that interests you, you may check out the other aspects of my life here.

For us in the Chocolate Cult there was a delightful overlap between chocolate and RPGs over the July 4th weekend. One of the people who enjoyed the game I ran offered me this lovely little box the next day. The hotel our convention was at had a Godiva Chocolatier shop in it and I had visited to look around the day before and the Milk Chocolate Acolyte purchased a gift there for me which I'll write about probably next week.

This wonderful young man, his convention name as "Rune" offered this to me and asked me to open it in front of him. So I did and found this cute little ice cream truffle cone inside. It brought tears to my eyes not because of the candy itself but because someone took the time to think about what might be a good gift for me. This recalls a few posts I've made here in The Chocolate Cult about gift giving. The purposeful thought behind the gift coupled with it's size which easily fit into a program of moderation, meant more to me than the actual gift though as you'll soon read, the ice cream truffle was quite nice.

The truffle is actually two mint chocolate truffles set bottom to bottom then covered with mint green ganache. Thus when I bit into it I found two layers of ganache and then a grayish green soft truffle center. It tastes and felt very much like a mint ice cream, smooth and almost melting with a little chill to my mouth. The top of the mini cone is covered in a milk chocolate ganache as well and frankly is the only tasting part of the cone which is a lot like cardboard.

I want to thank "Rune" for this perfect gift and promise him that if that convention wants me back, I will certainly be running a new game and I hope you came back for it.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Only 14 more days so don't put off applying.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dean's Offerings


As you may recall, Sisters and Brothers, your Chocolate Priestess reviewed the chocolate variety of Dean's Over the Moon milk a few weeks ago. In my search for healthier chocolate milk which tastes good I wasn't finding much that didn't have a lot of fat or which didn't cost a lot.

On Friday I received three, yes three, coupons for FREE half gallons of their products so I will be reviewing them in depth in a forthcoming Saturday Sacrament.

Just a note that there are only 15 more days until I pick the finalists for the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte on our first contest.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, July 18, 2009

When your Chocolate Priestess receives offerings to reveal on The Chocolate Cult, she always considers the holistic nature of the offering. I received three products from Intentional Chocolate, and their production is positive on many levels. First, they were packaged without excess materials, and all the padding used was recycled. Second, their products do not have preservatives or lab created additives. For my American readers, the chocolate is from Hawaii, so it's American cocoa being used. Finally, they have a business philosophy that might appeal to many of you, Sisters and Brothers.

Let's start with this final point first before I move on to the Caramels they sent me, the box pictured to the left. Intentional Chocolate marries scientific research with Buddhist philosophy, claiming to instill good intentions into each piece, or, to quote them directly: “Whoever consumes this chocolate will manifest optimal health and functioning at physical, emotional and mental levels, and in particular will enjoy an increased sense of energy, vigor and well-being for the benefit of all beings.”

The caramels come in boxes of 6 pieces measuring 1.375 × 1 ×0.375 inches. 3 pieces are one serving, and this is not a low fat food — 6 g of saturated fat and 147 calories. For Saturday Sacraments and in moderation, though, these things should not matter to much for us, Sisters and Brothers. Each piece has the Intentional Chocolate symbol of a mediating person on the top, as you can see in the close-up to the right below. This symbol is on all of their products, though shapes of each chocolate vary by type. The slick paper sleeve slips off easily to reveal a simple tan box which has only one layer of padding on top and six individual brown paper cups to hold each caramel. The scent of dark chocolate wafts up to hit my nose and intrigue me the moment I remove the padding. Frankly I think the symbol is very cute, and the shape, as you can see, is not a simple rectangle.









The scent only intensifies as I bring one piece to my nose. The darkness of the chocolate is apparent, though I can't find information about what percentage of darkness we are talking about. The chocolate feels smooth and not waxy in my fingertips as I lift it to my mouth to take a first bite. The top and sides break easily, but the bottom is thicker and makes a gentle crunch between my teeth. The caramel inside is dark gold and very soft, semi-liquid in nature, and it tastes not so much sweet as it does tangy, reminding me a bit of molasses. The bitterness of the chocolate with this caramel is a unique flavor that I haven't had yet in a potential Sacrament. It takes very good, the tang helping the bitterness linger longer but preventing it from becoming unpleasant.

The second bite I let melt in my mouth, the caramel mushing out as the chocolate structure collapses. Doing this makes the tang of the caramel the dominant flavor, though the bitterness of the chocolate is still present. Both bites have created a mild buzz that rises from my mouth and through my sinuses into my mind, making my eyes feel like they are opening wider. I can take that rush and channel it into my thoughts by closing my eyes and breathing deeply and slowly, adding a extra element to meditation, Sisters and Brothers.

Do I feel the intentional thoughts the company tries to instill as I eat it? I can't honestly say that I do, but as with all drugs — remember, chocolate is a drug — you can utilize it to help you focus your mind or to escape your worries. Ultimately it is your intention that determines how the product works for you. I do like the idea that the company cares, and if that matters to you, if you appreciate their mission, and if their higher price isn't an issue for your wallet, this is a worthy Sacrament to support from Intentional Chocolate.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult. You have only 16 more days until the finalists are chosen for this official position.

Friday, July 17, 2009

30th Anniversary Cheesecake

Last Friday, your Chocolate Priestess reviewed one of the two pieces of cheesecake she brought home from The Cheesecake Factory in Indianapolis at the Keystone Crossing Mall. Today I'll look at the other piece in case you, Sisters and Brothers, are thinking of going out to eat at some point this weekend.

As you can see in the picture to the left they have a big selection of cheesecakes to choose from. I got the “30th Anniversary” type Which seems to be about 20% larger than the “Chocolate Mousse” piece I talked about last week. There were two "downsides" to this hugeness. First, the take away container was larger but it was recyclable in my city so I certainly did that. Secondly, I had to split it with the Milk Chocolate Acolyte who protested weakly at being force fed more cheesecake.

The cake, picture to the right, came with another dollop of whipped cream, same non-taste a before and a huge dollop of very cocoa tasting frosting on the top of it. The cake itself has seven layers. It begins with a moist brownie-like layer, a chocolate cream layer, a traditional cheesecake layer and another chocolate cream layer. Then it repeats ending on the traditional cheesecake layer with a cross hatch pattern of chocolate drizzle. The edge is a chocolate ganache with large flecks of chocolate. This is so big that you can’t get all seven layers in one bite.

The layers that I can eat in one bite, about 3-4 of them, blend very well together. The chocolates are very rich and slightly bitter while the cheesecake is smooth and sweet. Alone each layer is a bit too intense — the chocolate too bitter, especially the flecks on the side crust, the cheesecake too creamy but together they are compliment and assistant each other. The cocoa though does outweigh the other flavors so I definitely feel this qualifies as a chocolate dessert. The whipped cream was unnecessary in my opinion since it really didn’t add any tastes. The dollop of frosting on top is also unnecessary and in fact a bit overwhelming. I just didn’t eat either dollop beyond two bites to test them and see how they mixed with the cake itself.

This was a truly decadent dessert and I’m going to recommend that you share it with a friend so that you can practice moderation and save some money. After their huge meals you might not even have room for a full piece yourself.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Speculation to Fuel Chocolate Prices?

My American Sisters and Brothers may remember gasoline prices last year which were approaching almost double the price currently in the summer of 2009. Those prices did not reflect a serious decrease in supply or a sudden jump in demand so much as a fear that there would not be enough gasoline for the world. It's called "speculation" and I hope most of you have seen its effects on worldwide markets.

This article about cocoa caught my eye yesterday and made me think back to the summer of 2008. Prices on raw sugar, cocoa and coffee rose because fear that El Nino may demand crops. There has been no damage, this is merely speculation that such may occur and thus the prices rise. To learn more about El Nino visit the link I provided above. (Graphic from http://www.gho-englisch.de/Archive/2006/Jul_06/el_nino.jpg, accessed 07/16/09)

Your Chocolate Priestess has written before on why prices of chocolate rise -- disease and insect damage to crops on a wide scale, increased demand for chocolate, increased demand for higher quality or specific types of chocolate, more ecologically sound practices, and different labor practices. Those are reflections of what is happening at any moment in the chain of chocolate manufacturing and consumption. But this price increase because of El Nino is pure speculation.

You may think such speculation is merely the price to pay for free markets. You may think it is unfair and needs to be regulated. I'm not here to tell you what to believe, but I am here to get you a heads up and help you think about all the factors that go into the price you pay for that chocolate bar or chocolate ice cream or chocolate drink you plan on having today.

Remember as consumers you have the right to be heard and to decide where and how to spend your money. As a follower of The Chocolate Cult you have a duty to let chocolatiers know why you are making the decisions you are and encourage everyone to follow the Path through moderation and purposefulness.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

80% Dark Chocolate Benefits

As you know, Sisters and Brothers, your Chocolate Priestess keeps her eyes and ears open to health claims about the Sacred Substance and she does not let her desire rule her reason in these matters. There was another article today on the health benefits of darker chocolate that you might find interesting and which I'll delve into a bit for you.

First, what I'm noticing in all these reports are that we are talking about dark chocolate, not your Hershey's 65% but 80% and above in terms of health benefits. While I will never speak poorly about anyone in The Chocolate Cult who prefers to worship with milk or white chocolate, the simple fact is that these have no proven health benefits. Use them for pleasure and to help you along your Path toward greater connection with the Divine but know it is not the healthiest choice for your body.

Secondly, as we here say in The Chocolate Cult, the emphasis is on moderation. Now in most studies I've seen this means 3oz of this darker chocolate a day. Many candy bars are 2-3oz but most are not dark enough. Something that is good about the linked article above is that he lists a few products that qualify but I want to do a bit more for you, Sisters and Brothers, and look them up so you can find them or order them.

The Lindt "Excellence" series has three bars on their website -- 85%, 90% and 99%.

Ecco Bella is a "health" company that uses "natural" products but their website does not list chocolates on it. A further search for the product listed in the Huffington Post article found this but I can't confirm it's 80% of better dark chocolate so I'll just search for darker chocolates and see what I can find for you all.

Please if you know of an 80% or better dark chocolate folks can buy, please add a comment to that effect. If you are chocolatier who makes such things, please consider sending a product for review here.

VitalChoice has some 80% products -- Organic Extra Dark, Equal Exchange Organic bars, Grand Cru Dark Chocolate bars
Lake Champlain has one variety.
Blanxart has a bar of the same level of darkness.

But these are difficult to find. You can't just walk into your local grocery and pick them up. Either you go into a specialty store or order them online. One way to make these products more available is to ask your local stores to carry them. Another way is to write to the big commercial manufacturers and ask them to start making 80% dark products in 3oz sizes. Writing a handwritten or typed letter is always best for these sorts of appeals though emails are OK and phone calls are great, too.

Please let me know of other products that might make this list.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Aeschbach Gift Review

A friend of your Chocolate Priestess whom I’ll call “Cindy” was in Europe recently and when she returned she gave me this wonderful little box of “Elegance” chocolates from Aeschbach Chocolatier, a Swiss business she got directly from their store.

I want to review the four pieces inside today under a new Chocolate Cult heading “Gifts”. Any gifts of chocolate I receive I will reveal under this heading to all of you, Sisters and Brothers.

In the picture you can see the pretty little squares. The one with flecks of white seems to be a hazelnut flavor that reminds me of Nutella. It is a firm solid piece of milk chocolate with crunching bits in it.

I suspect the piece with an Aztec like figure on it may be a spicy chocolate. Indeed even the scent has a kick to it when I take in a whiff. The dark ganache hides a softer equally dark center that isn’t very spicy so I wonder where the smell came from. Over the four bites I made this piece last, each piece is about 1.25X1.25X.5 inches, a very, very mild kick builds up but this is no where near the spiciness I’ve had from American chocolatiers.

The crest shaped piece, still the same basic dimensions, has what I think is a coffee bean on the top and a light coffee scent. Biting in reveals a dark roasted coffee flavor and a strong scent as well. For Europeans this probably isn’t as strong as it to me since I’m not a coffee drinker personally.

Finally I try the trio colored piece which is surrounded by milk chocolate on the sides and bottom. Again there is that hazelnut flavor when I bite into the darker layer. That nutty flavor is missing when I taste the white edge but sadly I can’t get to the center very easily though I do try. Taking a bite of all three layers creates a slightly nutty, smooth, and a touch tangy flavor in my mouth.

Thank you, Cindy, for sharing this with your Chocolate Priestess. I hope you continue to read The Chocolate Cult and enjoy chocolate in your own life.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Limited Godiva Recall

It is ironic today, Sisters and Brothers, that as your Chocolate Priestess was going to talk about a gift of Godiva products she recently received that I saw notice of a recall involving some of their products.

Specifically, two boxes of products sold for Valentine's and Mother's Day, the "G Collection". Visiting the Godiva website I don't see mention of this voluntary recall so I recommend calling your local or regional store to make sure before you bring a product back -- terrible to burn gasoline and your time to find out they won't take the product back. A further search of their website does not reveal what this "G Collection" looks like so I'm sorry, Sisters and Brothers, but I can't help you determine which products this is.

Though honestly do any of you have left over candy from either Mother's Day or Valentine's?

This is a recall which relates to another recall involving the Plainview Milk Cooperative. Most chocolatiers rely upon other companies for the ingredients they use in making their products and this is a good example of the connectivity between businesses. Remember whenever you buy a product you are supporting not just that business who label is on the item but also everyone down the line who supplies them in some fashion.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ghirardelli "Duet" Bar

At 30z for under $2, your Chocolate Priestess thought she'd give this bar a try last weekend. It's one of a series of "Luxe Milk" bars the Ghirardelli company has put out. In general they create good chocolate that proves a decent buzz for a reasonable price that the average follower of The Chocolate Cult can afford. Does this "Duet" live up to that reputation?

The packaging claims this will be a "creamy milk chocolate" paired with a "rich dark chocolate". First thing to note is that there are 2 servings in this bar so eating one bar will equal 16g saturated fat or 82% of what you should not go over each day. The outer paper wrapped opens easily but the inner gold foil is sealed tightly and I have to work to get it to rip completely open. Inside are 8 1.5in squares of chocolate with the expected Ghirardelli seal embossed on top.

The top layer, about 80% of each piece, is milk chocolate leaving about 20% dark on the bottom. Trying it from top and bottom both emphasises that sides chocolate but overall the milk chocolate wins out in terms of flavor. Both frankly are very creamy and rich, the dark isn't terribly bitter at all. But it certain provided a buzz that even the Milk Chocolate Acolyte could feel.

Given the amount of saturate fat this is a product to share with several people or to have only rarely if you insist on eating it all. For the price it was an excellent buy for those using Sacred Substance in their lives.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, July 11, 2009

Your Chocolate Priestess received two samples from Enstrom's Toffee — a dark chocolate sample, seen on the left below, and a milk chocolate sample, seen on the right below. Each box had a pound, 16 entire ounces, of product inside, so this is a huge offering, and I must find someone to share it with after I've revealed its nature to you. The type of chocolate is indicated by the color of the slip on label — darker brown for dark chocolate, and lighter for the milk variety. The Chocolate Cult has been offered toffees before as potential Saturday Sacraments, and as with those, our question must be: Is this chocolate enough to be a Sacrament?






Inside the two boxes the toffee looks very much the same. The top and bottom of each piece is coated with crushed almonds. Under that is a thin layer of the appropriate chocolate. Sandwiched between these is a thick toffee with almond pieces in it. At the risk of repeating myself, a word of caution: real toffee is made from almonds, so if you have a nut allergy, avoid it. Luckily the toffees are in pieces, so I don't have to try to bite off a section.

The label slips off, and the white box top comes off easily, revealing that the inner section is wrapped in plastic. Using scissors I cut that off, then I break the gold seal on the dark brown paper covering the toffee. Probably from shipping, there are some little bits of toffee that fall out when I open this paper wrapping. Inside is the product, seen to your left. Leave the brown paper in the brown lower box, or your product will come tumbling out — trust your Chocolate Priestess on this one, please; let me make the errors on this Path so you can avoid them, Sisters and Brothers. Now I need to wait and let the toffee warm up a bit, because I've kept the boxes in the fridge since I got them, as the company recommended. Right now, still quite cold, they don't smell like much, but I'm betting that will change as they adjust to room temperature. A short time later, when the toffee is at room temperature, it has a very, very light scent of butteryness and almonds — in other words, it smells like toffee.

I'll start with the milk chocolate variety. The bite crunches as I take it and then continues to crunch as I chew; the buttery and almond flavors are dominant, with only a very light milk chocolate flavor mixed with that of the crushed almonds on top. I let the next bite sit in my mouth, which releases each essence slowly, bringing out the buttery and nutty flavors even more strongly. For the final bite I focus on the different textures of the firm toffee: the smooth chocolate, the powdery topping, and the crunchy nut pieces.

After cleansing my palate and waiting 15 minutes, as I do between any two types of chocolate The Chocolate Cult is offered, I assay the dark chocolate variety next. The bitterness of the darker chocolate can just be tasted here, which gives this variety more of a chocolate quality than the milk version. Otherwise, eating this is identical to the toffee from the other box, right down to the toffee's sticking to the tops of my teeth.

These are not low-fat treats, Sisters and Brothers. Each box has about 11 servings in it, and, again according to the website, each serving has 220 calories, 7 g saturated fat, 0 transfat, 25 mg cholesterol, 75 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 15 g sugars, and 3 g protein. That means that you should not eat an entire box in one day — indeed, I recommend you spread it out over more than a week, or share it with several friends, as I am planning to do.

According to the literature on the website, the company has been around for 60 years and has been run by three generations of the Enstrom family. Their toffees are also certified kosher, for those who follow Jewish laws in food matters. While there is not enough chocolate here to be a Saturday Sacrament, Enstrom's is an excellent toffee product that you can enjoy on other days or for special occasions. I note that they do also sell chocolates, and perhaps in the future I can reveal those to you all 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.

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute; apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions published on The Chocolate Cult.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cheesecake Factory #1 Review

One of the chocolates your Chocolate Priestess enjoyed over the Fourth of July weekend was a slice of cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. For those of you unfamiliar with it, let me share some of my photos and one slice with you.

I went there with the Milk Chocolate Acolyte whom you can see checking us into the restaurant to your right (I'm on the left outside the doors). We met up with two other couples inside and three of us had cheesecake -- I was sadly the only one to try one of their chocolate varieties but I got an extra piece I'll try this upcoming weekend to share with you all.

First thing to know about this restaurant is that the servings are HUGE as are the cheesecake slices. We had breakfast and then around 5pm we went to the place but still we were very, very full and we did not get anything other than a main course and dessert. The place is always very busy even in this economy and I think their cheesecake choices, which number over two dozen, many of them chocolate in type, is a big reason they are so busy.

I tried the "Chocolate Mousse" cheesecake first. It came with a big dollop of whipped cream on the side that really didn't taste like anything to be honest. Frankly I think you don't need this whipped cream at all because the slices are huge as you see below.


This "Chocolate Mousse" had three layers of cocoa goodness in it. First a dark, bitter crust on the bottom. The bulk of the dessert is a smooth and creamy,semi-sweet chocolate cheesecake that provided a good punch of cocoa rush. The top is a lopsided bittersweet chocolate mousse. All three flavors blended well and definitely made my eyes roll, my mouth water, and my body relax. It was topped with another smaller dollop of whipped cream with chocolate shavings that tasted like the shavings. There was a lingering bittersweet aftertaste so if you don't like that type of chocolate, this is not the slice for you.

The Cheesecake Factor is currently in 34 USA states and the District of Columbia. There are only two restaurants in the state I live in, both in the capital, so we only get there maybe once a year. When we do, I have never been disappointed by the cheesecake I choose. Next week I'll share what I thought of their "30th Anniversary" variety of cheesecake.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Moment of Silence

Sisters and Brothers, I'm sure you heard what your Chocolate Priestess heard last night. A man working in a chocolate factory died after falling into a vat of chocolate. This is the most trustworthy report about this accident I could find as of this morning and this BBC report has a small video clip. I don't want to go into details because this is all over the news. Instead let's take a few moments of silence to consider this event and send positive thoughts for Mr. Smith's family, friends, and co-workers.



I have written a few times about sustainable agriculture and the fair treatment of workers in cacao production. This tragic accident shows that even under good conditions making chocolate is a manufacturing process and as such carries risks. Whether these risks are in big companies that produce tons of chocolate a day or a homemade shop that creates a few batches of treats, you can get injured during the process. To honor those who do the work to make us our Sacraments and our daily servings of cocoa infused foods and drinks, today just send out a thank you before you take a bite. If it's someone you can speak to directly, thank them personally for giving you the opportunity to use the Sacred Substance today.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Freshëns Summer Option for Chocolate

This past weekend, your Chocolate Priestess and the Milk Chocolate Acolyte tried two products from Freshëns which serves frozen yogurt products which claim to be particularly healthy. We didn't try any of their specific healthy products but even their regular shakes and malts and cones are supposed to be better than regular ice cream or frozen yogurt. For us, it was a matter of taste to combat some heat and humidity.


I had a Micro Blast which is frozen yogurt with a mix-in. Normally they make it with vanilla yogurt and add chocolate but for no extra charge the server made mine from chocolate. I choose cookie dough, made to be eaten this way so no health risks, as my mix in. I liked the bitter chocolate flavor of the chocolate with the firmness and sweetness of the cookie dough and these almost over came the sour yogurt taste that I'm not terribly fond of.

I got the Milk Chocolate Acolyte an Oreo Milkshake or yogurt shake as the case may be. He really liked his shake. He said it only had a very light sour yogurt taste and that the Oreo pieces were very tiny but tasted exactly as expected.

I really liked that the regular size felt big to me, I didn't feel like I needed or wanted a large quantity. Also I was pleased to see the claim on both cups that they were made of 100% recycled materials and were 100% compostable; the company calls these "ecotainers" which is either cute or silly depending on how much you like the products in them. I thought it was a cute name.

Now these aren't as cheap as we can get similar products at our local ice cream shops but there were two factors that contributed to the price difference. One is that this was in a big mall in a much bigger city so I think the prices are just higher. The second is claims of healthiness. I don't why healthy food must cost more but it routinely does. I should think that as a community we would want each other to be healthy and thus make better food cost less and charge more for the junk stuff.

Here's a shout out to all companies, producers and sellers -- Price the healthy food better so we can all benefit.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dean's "Over the Moon" Milk

Your Chocolate Priestess still gets chocolate cravings. While I am firmly on this Path, temptation is always there after 39 years of using chocolate as an emotional cure all and being told by family, society, and businesses that I should want it all the time. Sometimes the cravings are quite strong and when that happens I have to find ways to practice Moderation and Purposefulness when it comes to the Sacred Substance.

One I do this is by substitution of one product for a chocolate version such as milk. Since I normally drink skim milk, I want a fat free or skim version of chocolate milk. As I mentioned a few weeks ago this is becoming difficult in my local stores. Even the Nesquick I was using once a month seems to have disappeared from the shops I used to find it regularly.

I found this last week: Dean's "Over the Moon" in half gallon cartoons. It was on sale and I had a coupon so I got a gallon for $3, more than the plain skim milk but far less than the single serving "low fat" varieties.

It tastes just great to me, providing a very low level buzz and satisfying that craving I get a few days each month in a healthier way than eating a candy bar would be. A 8oz serving, measuring your glasses to see what you are drinking, has less fat (0g), calories (150), cholesterol (5mg), and sugars (25g) than 2% chocolate milk but more of those categories than skim milk. It also has more protein (11g) than either version.

Something I really like about Dean's, Sisters and Brothers, is that they claim they do not get their products from farmers who use artificial growth hormones. I tried the organic milk for two years, frankly found no health benefits for me personally but instead a sharp rise in our grocery bills. Dean's is more expensive than the store brand of milk and some other big brands but not 50-100% more expensive as is the case with organic milk in my area.

I'm not going to replace the glass of milk I have at lunch and dinner with "Over the Moon" every meal but for a few days every month when I get certain cravings, I will strongly consider it and be on the look out for more coupons and sales.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. Don't put it off until the last minute, apply now and earn a chance to get free chocolate, one-on-one time with the Chocolate Priestess, and your opinions on The Chocolate Cult.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Viruses & Chocolate

Your Chocolate Priestess saw a very short article today about a virus threatening crops on the Ivory Coast which is where a good part of the world's cacao plants are grown and thus a good deal of the world's chocolate originally comes from. However this article is far too short, Sisters and Brothers, so I did a bit of research for all of you.

First, viruses in general are not a new threat to cacao and cocoa production. I found scientific journal mentions of studies into this as far back as the early 20th century. All living things, animals or plants, have a risk of viral or bacterial infection, it happens all the time and usually some of any affected species will be immune so the their kind survives though it make undergo changes in form or in the case of food items taste.

Second, I think the original article is probably referring to the latest viral outbreak that I found referenced in the 2006 BBC report. This "swollen shoot virus" has not destroyed the production of cacao yet, the farmer's battles continue after three years which demonstrate how such infection work. The rates and reach of any contagion comes and goes. As recent outbreak of human illness indicate even when we think we have "beat" a virus or bacteria it can come back when we let our sense of hygiene and awareness down. Same thing for farmers and thus for cocoa growers.

Third, the Ivory Coast isn't the only area affected, other parts of Africa have been infected. This does mean that the potential problem is much wider spread than the original article that attracted my attention suggests. The virus seems to be transmitted by insects and as climate changes insects will move to survive so I expect the problem to spread further.

Now, I do not want to distress you, Sisters and Brothers, but in case such things interest you, you can find more photographs of other threats to cacao plants here at this link. Frankly, there are at least three other diseases that are threatening large losses in cocoa production than this "swollen shoot virus".

Don't panic yet, but do be aware of what is happening as the world's climate changes and new virus or bacteria develop or spread. All of this effects the production of cacao and that affect everyone of us in The Chocolate Cult. Either the quality of chocolate will go down or the prices will rise and it is likely that both will happen in our future. Use this as a call to think again about where that chocolate you are eating today came from and to make wiser choices about what you buy.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST. For those of you putting off applying, we've had one very good application so you best get to writing and putting your name forward or risk losing this wonderful job forever.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, July 4, 2009

Today your Chocolate Priestess is sitting in a hotel room at another convention, but since I am on this Path to the Divine I must keep my Saturday Sacrament. Helping me do that today is an offering from Astor Chocolate, who sent me five different products to reveal to you all. Today I’ll be utilizing the first of these, their Nouveau Truffles, which are a hazelnut truffle that comes in two types: White and milk chocolate. The box they came in is lovely, as you can see to your left here, and below you can see how the wrapped truffles are displayed.

The silver foil ones are the white chocolate, and the gold foil are the milk chocolate. The foils unwrap easily, and when they do a light scent of chocolate is released. Normally I expect truffles to be half spheres or spherical in shape, but if you look to your right you’ll see that these are faceted like gems in a hexagonal pattern that measures 1.25 inches across and 0.75 in. high.

The very unique form of these is appealing to me, Sisters and Brothers, and I’m enticed to spend a few moments just studying them. As I do that I’m also allowing myself more time to breathe in their scent, and I realize something else. Much of the time I don’t think that white chocolate smells much like its milk or dark cousins -- the cocoa content is simply too low -- but these have a definite cocoa aroma feathered with the underlying hazelnut.

I bite into the white truffle first -- remember, the silver one -- and inside I find a firm milk chocolate center heavily flavored by the hazelnuts. I don’t actually feel any nuts themselves, but the next bite I let melt in my mouth to check. It takes a long time, at least two minutes, for this good bite to melt, and this allows the chocolate and hazelnuts to blend well together.

The milk chocolate has the same center when I bite into it, and interestingly it tastes sweeter than the white chocolate version, which I do not expect at all and which gives this a very different but very pleasant flavor. While the white chocolate complimented the nuttiness, this milk chocolate lingers more and pushes the flavor into a deeper nuttiness.

Both the Nouveau Truffles from Astor Chocolate taste great, but if you are allergic to nuts stay away from them. The products on the Astor website change with the season, and you can buy according to holidays, types or prices, which I think is always useful in a tight economy. I spoke with the owner, Meir, on the telephone and in email several times. His company is a family affair, and you can taste their pride and love in these truffles. I’m looking forward to trying their other products in the future, so stay tuned to read more.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST.

Matched Content Ads