Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap into Chocolate in March

We get an extra day this year, today, Leap Day, so I tried to be clever with my title for this look ahead post for March 2012.

Easter is early this year but it still isn't until April so we have all of March ahead of us to celebrate with chocolate.  At this point we have three specific features lined up for you all from Old Time Candy, Taraluna, and Lindt R.S.V.P. and some filler features if no one else sends us more Easter specific products. If you know a chocolatier who does Easter or Passover or even Spring Equinox chocolates send them our way please.

What other dates could you celebrate with chocolate?  How about these?

March 6 = National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day -- anyone have a recipe?  I'd give it a try if you all sent me a recipe.

March 8 = National Peanut Cluster Day -- these are easy to make, I should try to make some, yes?

2nd Week of March = Chocolate Chip Cookie Week --I wonder how many blogs will have recipes that day?

March 14 = National Pi Day (often marked by eating circular foods like pie or pizza so you could make it chocolate too, why not, math geeks eat chocolate)

March 18 = National Oatmeal Cookie Day -- doesn't need chocolate but wouldn't it be better if you added some?

March 19 = National Chocolate Caramel Day -- hhhmmm.... I've never made chocolate caramel, have you?

3rd Week of March = American Chocolate Week -- so easy to celebrate here in the States but what about in other countries?  Sisters and Brothers, if you live elsewhere, where can you find American chocolate where you live?

March 24 = National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day -- I think we'll be covering these in a featured review earlier in the month if our Chocolate Fruit Acolyte gets a review to me

March 25 = International Waffle Day -- again, it doesn't have to be chocolate but it could be

March 26 = National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day -- but do we need more chocolate holidays in March?  We seem a bit busy to me.

March 28 = National Black Forrest Cake Day -- is chocolate plus a lot more

There you go, Sisters and Brothers, start planning your March chocolate today and let me know what those plans are.

Also please leave a comment on our post about the future of The Chocolate Cult.  We really, really need your feedback even if it is only to say "I like it as it is."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Cocoa Station" in Kirby's Epic Yarn

I haven't done a video review yet on the Chocolate Cult.  I've looked at books, TV shows, movies, even board games but not video games yet there are some that have chocolate in them or which are created around chocolate themes.  I have to finish that Chocolatier series!

Two weekends ago my husband came back from his lunch with his friends and from going shopping at Sam's Club.  Besides milk and a few other things we needed in bulk or at a slightly better price he also brought back two video games for our Wii.  I just looked at him but I was willing to try them IF we had other chores done first.  One of the games I can't yet do because of my arm -- dancing games where I hold the remote and flail around are a big no no if I want to get a full recovery here.  The other was I was suspicious about because I really dislike platform games.  (A platform game, for those who do not know, is one with a lot of jumping from one one ledge to another.)

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2010/11/2010giftguide4/
This platform game is Kirby's Epic Yarn, a highly rated game by the gaming industry.  At least my husband looks up rating before just spending money on game, huh?  Some of you may know the Kirby character as a pink blob that sucks enemies into himself to gain their abilities but in this game he is made of yarn, he can't suck anyone in because he has no air or lungs.  The game has a male voiceover that narrates things between levels and adventures.  His tone and the words really make it feel like it is geared toward kindergardeners but I'm curious to how well such a child could do on some of these levels.  Or maybe I'm just not very good at platform games? (Duh, this the great dislike for them!)

What does this have to do with chocolate?  The fourth land you open, "Treats Land", has one area called "Cocoa Station" that is all about chocolate in various forms.  Interestingly it does not have as much visible treats but they are all some time of chocolate or chocolate colored items.  The down side is that you are immediately turned into a train and you have to go through the game as a team meaning that I can easily mess things up and my husband gets grumpy I get frustrated.  I don't play games to get frustrated, do you?  There are no enemies attacking you but it is still very challenging because you have to navigate by drawing line every where.  No, it didn't allow my husband to only draw them, sigh.  Each level in an area has three objects you need to find. In this case a music disc (not chocolate specific really), an Choco Ottoman, and a Chocolate Bar.

Here's one reviewer's guide to this part of the game.  I choose to share this one because it was more straight forward review and not criticism.



I have to agree with many of the reviews for this level -- the train is difficult, the tracks are hard to draw straight, even my video game fanatic hubby struggled, being one thing was a bit boring, but also for "Cocoa Station" it really needed a lot more chocolate throughout. How about hot cocoa waterfalls or truffles you have to push around or some of the other chocolate items from other levels?  We haven't finished the game yet, but if I see any more chocolate levels I'll let you know.

Anyone else out there play this game?  What did you think of this level?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

240 Sweet Hot Cocoa



You know that 240Sweet makes artisan marshmallows if you've been reading us for a while because we've done at least two features about their creations.  Now they have a new chocolate product that was perfectly timed for this backlash of cold weather where your Chocolate Priestess lives: Hot Cocoa Mix.  This is the "Ultra Rich Blend" that comes in an 8oz bag that looks exactly like the bags their artisan marshmallows come in when you order them.  As you can see it also came with a mug, this is the front and I'll show you the back at the end of today's Saturday Sacrament.




The mix has extra "bruté" cocoa powder, milk chocolate cocoa powder, chocolate chips (mini), chocolate shavings, powdered milk, powdered beet sugar, more chocolate shavings (?), Tahitian vanilla beans, cornstarch, and spices.  You can see the mini chips the shavings a bit in this photo to the left.




There was also this, which I'm not sure what it is but I took it out of the mix before adding water.  It could be a dried up vanilla bean and if it is, that alone is almost the cost of one bag of mix making this a very good deal for you, the buyer, but I'm not sure such a great deal for the company.




I followed the directions for making hot chocolate but found it to be very weak.  I ended up just mixing the bulk of the bag in with 5 cups of boiling water and that made an excellent rich, creamy, and incredibly chocolaty cup for breakfast.  The spices are very subtle so I can't say for certain what is in there but nothing "hot" in and of itself.  The directions on the bag also say you an make a fondue with hit but I didn't try that so I cannot evaluate it.  If you make it as I did it will also have a very strong slightly dark cocoa scent.  At the end of one mug I had a nice cocoa buzz as well, you know the feelings that rise up and make you feel a bit light headed as opposed to a sugar rush that speeds downward into your body.  As you can see it frothed up a bit even when I poured it from the bigger contained I mixed it in into the mug.  Now if I had only had some marshmallows to put it in too!


240Sweet adds to their impressive list of artisan marshmallows with this line of cocoa mixes.  The different chocolates involved and their ease of turning into a smooth drink make this "Ultra Rich Blend" a worthy Sacrament.  In fact, out of all the hot cocoa and hot chocolate mixes we've been sent for review since we started The Chocolate Cult back in February of 2009, this may be the best yet; of course I did it slightly different from the directions so keep that in mind.  I'm told that 240Sweet is having a bit of slow season right now so I know they'd be thrilled if you checked them out and dropped them line either with an order or at the very least to let him know what you think of their flavors.  Cocoa may be best in cold weather but it can be enjoyed year round, too, just like coffee or hot tea.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What Do You Want in 2012?

The end of February is fast approaching even if we get an extra day this year.  We have now been writing this blog for three years and your Chocolate Priestess thinks it is time to ask you, Sisters and Brothers, what you want us to talk about, research, or try in the future.

So please leave a comment and give your opinion.

You could say "more holiday reviews" or "more historical information" or "more book reviews" or several things.  You could suggest new features or tell us that a particular type of post is too boring for us to continue with.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents and Chocolate

A note from my contact at MARS reminded me that we named the American Heritage Chocolate as our best of 2011 and that chocolate has a long history in the USA.  So since today is Presidents' Day (or George Washington's Birthday) let's talk about chocolate and the presidents of the USA.


The first president, George Washington (1789-1797), apparently loved to have a warm chocolate cream with his breakfast according to an NPR report.  At this time from Central to North America and across Europe chocolate was primarily a drink. Primarily because we know that the Central American peoples also consumed it in other ways but still primarily as a drink.








Among the various artifacts from President number two, John Adams, at his home in Peacefield, is a chocolate pot.  Yes, just as you'd have different pots and even cups for coffee or tea, so too did people have different sets for chocolate.



The 3rd President, Thomas Jefferson, served two terms (1801-1809).  In 1785, he wrote a letter to John Adams (quoted on a multitude of historical and non-historical sites) that included this sentence about chocolate: "The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which is has in Spain."  Why would he make such a comparison?







Among the items listed for Abraham Lincoln's second Inaugural Dinner in 1965 listed chocolate on the menu as a drink, an ice cream flavor, one of the ornamental pyramids, and probably also in the "cakes & tarts" section as an ingredient of one or more of those listed.








Happy Presidents' Day and if you know of any more presidents connected to chocolate, let me know and we'll look it up for inclusion on a future date about another moment in history.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chocolate Spoons #1

Have you heard of chocolate spoons, Sisters and Brothers? They are also called chocolate coffee spoons or simply coffee spoons followed by a flavor since primarily they are marketed as a way to add some chocolate to a cup of coffee.  Since your Chocolate Priestess is not a coffee drinker I had never heard of these before I received two different sets of chocolate spoons (from two companies and two different brands) to do a featured review of for all of you.  Our first set comes via PastaCheese.com whose ad you can see in the right hand column.  Remember using the ads helps support us here on The Chocolate Cult allowing us to bring more great products and events to your attention.



The spoons are another product from Slitti whose chocolate we've looked at before, just in the past month I believe.  The box is rather elegant I think though the label is a bit busy but then you know exactly what you are getting from it.  The spoons are larger than what the label shows; a rarity because I am often disappointed by the size of the chocolates compared to the images we see on the boxes or websites or catalogues.




The 1.76oz box has six spoons in all as you can see here to the left.  These are dark chocolate fondente, 60% cacao, and covered with bitter cocoa powder of 24-26% cacao.  It also has sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla -- no dairy, no soy, these are naturally vegan and allergen free unless you are allergic to our Sacred Substance but then I'm not sure why you'd be reading this post.  There are two other varieties of these spoons -- vanilla and hazelnut.





I tested these with five other people -- sharing chocolate = moderation of what we eat + a purpose -- and everyone liked them a lot.  All agreed that the cocoa dusting got on our fingers.  The spoons also have a bit of heft to them.  These are 4.5 inches long and 0.25 inches thick at their narrowest point (the spoon head) and 0.5 inches thick at the end of the handle.




Not as large as your average spoon you might use to stir coffee or hot chocolate with but if you wait until those are cool enough to drink you can do a bit of stirring with them.  The point is that they will melt and as they do they crank up the chocolate level of whatever you are drinking.  The group tried it with several varieties but I used the French Vanilla hot chocolate because it has a very strong vanilla flavor and a weak chocolate one so I could gauge how the spoon changes the flavor.  Advice: As you stir the spoon will break apart at some point from the motion and the heat.  Use another spoon to continue stirring -- no not another chocolate one a regular spoon -- to make sure it all gets melted and blended into your hot drink.  I noticed that once melted it darkened the color of my French Vanilla cocoa considerably.  It also increased the cocoa scent a good deal because it really didn't have much of a chocolaty fragrance before.  Taking a sip turned into taking a bit swallow because now the chocolate was on an even keel with the vanilla.  Those who had more chocolaty flavors to begin with told me that it made it darker and even creamier which surprised given that there is no dairy or soy.  All six of us to tried these really enjoyed using them and thought the flavor was excellent.  This Slitti chocolate spoons are a worthy Sacrament to enjoy on a chilly morning or cold evening.

These Slitti Coffee Spoons Chocolate were invented in 1993 by Chef Andrea Slitti.  While he may have geared them toward coffee drinkers, they can add chocolate to almost any thing warm enough to melt them.  They aren't solid enough to eat a more solid food with but on their own they have a nice dark kick to them though we'd all agree they were ideal in a hot beverage.  We have another set of chocolate spoons to look at a bit later, I hope the weather stays cool enough for it with all the holiday features we've had, and we'll have to compare those to these form Slitti so keep checking back for our reviews every week.  If you want to check these chocolate spoons out yourself, and I do urge you to do so, Sisters and Brothers, don't forget that we have a special deal from PastaCheese.com just for The Chocolate Cult that you can see below.

286891_$10 off $75 Order - Chocolate Cult

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Choco Celebrations 2012

So tonight, or yesterday evening since I bet most will see this on the 15th, I made a lot of treats for my Valentines -- I have two!  Ok, I made two of the three things that I had out for us of a dessert nature.

The first was this cake and a dozen cupcakes -- not chocolate, per request.  Frankly why do I love this boy when he isn't terribly fond of chocolate? Oh, yes, cause we never have to compete for the chocolate!  No, that's just a reason I discovered long after I'd fallen in love.  The cake in the center is just a sort-of heart shape, the cake fluffed up a bit much in the baking, with vanilla frosting and red sugar sprinkles. The cupcakes are the same flavor but on nine of them I tried this Lucky brand edible decoration sheet. Nine?  Why would you make cupcake decorations in a set of nine?  I mean, come on, you make usually 12-24 cupcakes, don't you?  So I had to use the last of my cinnamon drops on the left over three.

Then I set out a bowl (heart shaped of course) of the Hershey's Valentine's Mix that I bought at the same time as the edible decoration sheet.  I ate none of these.  Really, I ate none of them. I also ate none of the cake or cupcakes but that's not too surprising given their white/vanilla nature.  With all of the higher end chocolates I've been revealing to you all for Valentine's Day why would I even buy this bag?  To be blunt, I had a coupon that made this free so I thought I'd get it.  I think the guys ate a few pieces and then I put them away. Normally I try to focus our junk and sweet food consumption to Saturday -- thus the creation of the Saturday Sacrament, sisters and brothers.

I did finally make something chocolate.  Remember that chocolate heart box from Taraluna that I reviewed?  I saved the chocolate box and used the two heart pieces as bowls. Then starting last night I followed the directions for our new ice cream maker.  The last one we were sent to review was an utter failure.  This one I earned via the various surveys I filled out but I was hoping it would at least work. Now it makes a soft serve variety and it worked. It worked!  Check it out.  That's my bowl with ice cream.  I actually ate only 2/3 of the ice cream I made for myself and gave the other 1/3 to my hubby who wanted more.  You have to make it one serving at a time but dang this machine thinks you should eat a lot.  The chocolate bowl is made by Sjaak's so it was very creamy and also highly vanilla in flavor plus very cold from the ice cream which itself was very chocolate intense in flavor.

What chocolatey adventure did you have yesterday, Sisters and Brothers?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chocolate! Chocolate! 2012 Review

Yesterday as a pre-Valentine's Day treat for myself and my hubby we went to Chocolate! Chocolate! for the second time.  Last year had been our first time and some of you may remember I did a photo review of the event afterwards.  Today I'm doing the same thing.

This event benefits the Brown County Humane Society here in Indiana and it the organization that puts on the Chocolate Walk that we attend as a group each year in November.  This event's chocolate is made by the organizations volunteers and was in the The Seasons Lodge in Nashville, Indiana, up in the conference building at the top of the hill just like last year.  We got there a bit before it opened and others were all ready waiting in line. I noticed that there were not many pre-sales when I collected our tickets but over the course of 2.5 hours that we were there, I saw at least 250 people walk through the doors.  We took our time and as you'll see I ate so much I needed to take that time.  Plus we were hoping that there might be B&B auction items but the only thing close was one place and it had to be used by the end of March -- we have our 20th anniversary at the end of May so we are looking for ways to celebrate without breaking the bank.  But back to Chocolate! Chocolate!

Row of Treats Display Tables


The layout was excellent this year with most of the treats along one wall but on tables that were turned a bit so it made a very good display.  The flow of traffic and the amount of tables then were both greatly improved.  Don't let this photo fool you; I took my photos early so I'd have better shots but it got packed.












Here are some close ups of some of the treats on the table.  Notice how items were presented on the table but also on raised displays.

Table One's Selection




















 These dipped cherries just really caught my eye so I took a photo of them with my new cellphone that has a camera.  This means I'll be taking more "live" photos for you all in the future if you think these turned out all right.
Dipped Cherries in two colors























One display table was in the center again and this one had nothing but mini-cupcakes of a fairly wide range of flavors.  Each obviously had chocolate either in the cake or the frosting. 
















I admit that I let my Moderation go to the side for this event but at least I did spread it out for 2.5 hours, right?  No, I pigged out.  So let me show you what I got.  I had only three of the mini-cupcakes and you can see them here.














Between this first plate and my second, my husband told me that his tree nuts allergy had been triggered by something he ate.  Now we try to be very careful with that but one of the challenges of an event like this is that the person who made the treat may not be there to answer your questions and not every ingredient in a recipe is in the name.  Each treat did have a name tag.










We got him some ice cream, I didn't have any myself, we were trying to not eat or drink the same items so we could compare without eating even more, and that seemed to help for some reason.


Hhmmm...... I don't like these photos.  They look much blurrier than they did on the cellphone or on my computer.  Is blogspot degrading the photos?  Anyone else having this problem?

Anyway that was this year's Chocolate! Chocolate! and for an organization that had to euthanize less than 2% of the animals they try to find homes for in 2011, I think it is an excellent organization to support.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Old Time Candy Part 1

This is the first of a four part featured review for our friends at Old Time Candy.  An online store that specializes in keeping candy favorites from the past century plus around for us all to enjoy.  Let's face it, healthy or not, a good habit or not, many of us associate a more carefree attitude about candy with our childhoods.  We got these at holidays, for rewards, at parties, sometimes just because our parents wanted to quiet us down in the store. For some of us this was a daily or weekly treat; for others candy was really limited to special occasions.  The folks from Old Time Candy sent us a 4.5 pound box of their "Chocolate Lovers Box"  and inside were 38 different chocolate candy bar treats. That is way to much to cover in one, two, or even three features so we're spreading them out to four.  What I want to see from you, Sisters and Brothers, are comments about the candy we look at each time -- your memories of it, whether you hated that brand or not, as well as any helpful advice you might have for the Old Time Candy business, any bars or treats you notice missing from their inventory when you check out their website.  Since this is retailer we won't be so focused on the full sensory experience of the bars as as much as the background of them and if they are truly deserve to be in the "Chocolate Lovers Box."

So let's dig into this huge box and look our first set of treats.  How to choose what to reveal today?  First, I went through the entire box and determined I would need the help of at least two Acolytes -- Coconut and Fruit specialists.  Three of the treats had fruit and three have coconut so that left me with 32 candy bars to choose today's 10 from.  I could choose the top ten that I didn't separate out for our volunteers, I could randomly pull ten from the box, I could even use Old Time Candy's website to organize them chronologically.  In general I try to be very well organized and my background is in history so instead of going with what is comfortable for me, researching and planning I decided to take a risk that I hope will turn out well, Sisters and Brothers.  I'm going to dump them out and then ask one of our Acolytes pull out ten randomly, put those in a bag and pull them out randomly as well.  This is over a week's work of writing for today's review -- Moderation and Purposefulness after all -- but that's the magic of the Internet, I can add to today's post as the days go on.   To the left you see the ten we picked all together so now let's look at them one at a time.

We start with a candy bar from the 1920s, 1925 to be exact, mr. Goodbar that has a bright yellow wrapper.  This Hershey's candy bar peanuts so that might be an allergy concern for many of you out there.  Today this has chocolate and cocoa butter in though very little cocoa butter compared to all of the other fats and oils that were a few years ago as cocoa prices rose.  As you can see, the peanuts are large pieces and quite visible, their fragrance is very strong; the number of peanuts was increased in the mid-90s.  The chocolate is a milk chocolate but there is not enough of it compared to the amount of peanuts to be labeled a milk chocolate candy bar, only a bar with chocolate and peanuts.  The flavor is very much peanuts but there is a creamy chocolate flavor as well though I think it's a touch waxy probably from the added oils and fats.

A rival of Hershey's is MARS and they introduced our next candy bar in 1932 labeling it the 3 Musketeers.  Originally this came in three pieces with three flavors thus the name; cocoa powder is much farther down on the ingredients' list but at least it is there.  Today the name of the bar makes little sense but it has become so popular over the decades that it would be difficult to change it.  The very first ingredient is milk chocolate with sugar, chocolate, and cocoa butter as the first three ingredients that make it up.  Today the big selling point of this candy bar is that is has less fat than other bars of the same size but let's think about how much air is in here that makes it light and fluffy.  Are we getting the same amount of chocolate or less or is the difference in how this is made?  The outer shell of milk chocolate is a bit waxy but I've always enjoyed the fluffy inside a lot; actually the fluff is a bit chewy when I stop and think about it for this review.  If you choose this over another candy bar and save some calories in the process, you know you aren't getting fake chocolate or only cocoa powder so I think you may be making a good choice for a treat.  Be aware that 2 Musketeer bars tend to go stale quickly, even when wrapped securely and stored properly so eat them as soon as possible so don't buy a bunch at once unless you are going to share.

Pearson's Candy Company started in 1909 but they didn't originally make the BUN bar; that was a Clark Bar America product from the 1950s that Pearson's acquired in 1998.  This is the Maple and Roasted Peanuts variety in a 1.75oz bar.  This is a circular bar, not square or rectangular like most chocolate bars are.  This is indeed a chocolate bar because of the amount of chocolate that is made from cocoa butter and chocolate liquor along with sugar and milk to make it milk chocolate.  It is approximately 3.5 inches across.  It looks like something you or I could make by melting chocolate and mixing peanut in with it then laying out scoop or spoonfuls to solidify.  This also has soy protein in case you have allergies to soy.  Inside the chocolate and peanuts is actually a nougat like center that has the maple flavor.  I'm not sure how to make that so what looks to be a simple make at home treat is actually more complicated.  Overall I found it to be very sweet but I'm sure some of you have had this, Sisters and Brothers, so what do you think of the Maple & Roasted Peanuts BUN bar?

If you recall, our January 5, 2012, post compared two candy bars and our next for for the Chocolate Lovers Collection is one of these.  Instead of repeating our comments from a post just a little over a month back, let's look more at the chocolate contents and the history of the candy bar.  The Heath bar is now made by Hershey but they didn't acquire it until 1996.  Originally it was made by L.S. Heath in 1914 then by Leaf, Inc. in 1989.  This changing of hands is fairly common in the candy industry I'm learning.  Making a product is one thing, selling it and making a profit is another matter all together.  While one product may sell well others in a company's portfolio many fail and drag the entire operation down over time.  At other times companies may split up when the creator dies and leaves an inheritance to several children.  Companies can also just decide to sell off specific brands to make capital for other products.  Of course, as in the case of Leaf, Inc, a bigger company and simply swallow up another way through stock trades and other maneuvers.  The result is that Hershey now has two very similar products.  The Heath bar's first ingredient is milk chocolate and it does use cocoa butter though I also see palm oil though not under the chocolate listing.

Have you heard of Annabelle's before?  I hadn't before I saw that this Rocky Road bar was the next to be revealed for today's Sacrament.  Annabelle Candy Company was founded in 1950 and this particular bar was the first one they created and successfully marketed right from the start.  The first ingredient listed is milk chocolate but looking at it the bulk seems to be marshmallows.  There are also cashews and malted milk crunch both of which do not seem to number much and are all on the top of the chocolate layer.  The marshmallow is really the primary flavor here though surprisingly not as sweet as I imagined it would be.  The chocolate does come back after the marshmallow and the cashew flavor is there even if the crunch is disappointing.  A very unique bar that I'm glad I got to try out though I wish the nuts, crunch, and chocolate was more intense compared to the marshmallow.

Hershey's was America's first big chocolate company and their first big product was the simple milk chocolate bar in 1900.  Even today it is pretty simple: milk chocolate made of sugar, milk, chocolate, cocoa butter, with some other ingredients to preserve it and make it more creamy.  This is the bar I grew up with and for many of our American readers I'm sure this is the case as well.  Today after almost three years of trying a wider variety of chocolate from three continents, I can say that the Milk Chocolate Hershey's bar disappoints.  It has a bit of a waxy flavor, I can tell they used vanillin not vanila, and the cocoa content just isn't as great as other milk chocolate bars I've had.  Eating one today means it pales when compare to others but this certainly not the worst chocolate bar on the market by a long shot.  Still great for smore's if you want to make them on the cheaper side but make sure you are using chocolate, still a simple product that most folks can enjoy.

Instead of being completely random for the next bar because it three Hershey's bars were in this 10 bar group, I've purposely picked the Hershey's Special Dark bar which came out in 1980 long before the dark chocolate health volley of studies we've seen in the past few years.  But while it is darker than the previous bar, it is only 45% cacao well below what the studies show as healthy and well below what most of us would consider a dark chocolate bar.  It still has milk in it though it is the last ingredient on the label.   Look at our photo. The Milk Chocolate bar is on the right hand side in the last column where you can see the Special Dark is mostly definitely darker in color.  This makes a crisp sound when you bite, it has more of a cocoa taste, is less creamy but still fairly sweet.  Nutritionally it is slightly better but overall not as good as if you cranked up the cacao content to at least 60%.

For the heck of it, let's lay out the three Hershey's bars we've looked at today so you can see the difference in color below.  mr. Goodbar on the left, the milk chocolate in the middle then on the right the dark bar.  See the difference, Sisters and Brothers?

mr Goodbar, Milk Chocolate, Special Dark

That leaves us with the three final bars for this month's look at Old Time Candy's Chocolate Lovers Collection.  One of these is probably very familiar to many of you: The Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  These have an interesting history.  H. B. Reese worked for Hershey but left that company to establish his own candy business with cup in 1928.  These were his best sellers and eventually the Reese company made nothing else.  After his death, the Hershey company acquired the Reese company in 1963.  So Reese is actually part of the Hershey corporation but is maintained separately perhaps because of labor differences (non-union versus union) several sites I researched suggested.  The very first ingredient on the label is milk chocolate made with both cocoa butter and chocolate. While there are preservatives there are no artificial flavors listed so when you take a bite you get the milk chocolate and peanut butter plus all their sugars, milk, soy lecithin, and salt.  I loved these growing up and I still do today though I think my homemade version of these is a bit healthier and even taster since I make it with dark chocolate which brings out the chocolate strongly while this candy bar's chocolate fades in comparison to the peanut butter.

Who out there among you, Sisters and Brothers, remember the Clark Bar?   I don't think I've ever had one though I have heard of them.  The story of the Clark Bar is the story of candy companies created, bought out, recreated and purchased by others again as the economics of candy sells varied over the 20th century until it is owned by New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) today.  A decent history of them would be a post in and of itself.   Let me just say that the Clark Bar appears to have been created in 1916 and was included in WWI rations according to several sources.  What I hope our photo will show is that this is a milk chocolate covered crispy layered treat which is very sweet because it not only has sugar and corn syrup but also molasses and other sugars as well as peanuts. There is also soy lecithin, corn flour, and coconut oil in case any one has allergies to these ingredients.  It has a very unique flavor because of the molasses but the milk chocolate is very weak.

We'll end with another candy bar I've never had before but also one that I've never heard of before this huge box arrived at my house: The Mountain Bar from Brown & Haley in 1915.  Brown & Haley is probably best known now for their ROCA toffee candy but they still make all three varieties of Mountain Bar; we have the vanilla or original version here.  This looks a bit like a mountain at 2 inches diameter and rising 1 inch high for 1.6 oz of candy.  Sadly the only cacao product in the bar is cocoa powder which appears as the fourth ingredient on the wrapper.  It has soy lecithin, egg albumen, peanuts, and milk for those of you with allergy concerns.  The inside is solid mixture of cocoa and peanuts over a white vanilla flavored solid yet sticky center.  It tastes more cocoay than I expected it to and the various flavors blended very well together.  It is a real mouthful however no matter how big of a bite I took.

So there you have it, the first 10 treats inside this Chocolate Lovers Collection from Old Time Candy.  Some we can find fairly readily today but others are difficult to track down unless you live in specific regions.  Some were heavily chocolate while others were lacking in terms of our Sacred Substanced.  What would you do for those that bring back a few sweet memories to you?


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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentine's Wrap Up 2012

Sisters and Brothers, Valentine's Day is only six days away now so I thought it would be a good time to recap the features we've done and get  your feedback on them.  I really do want your feedback!





Who can forget the beautiful box of chocolates from Chocolats du CaliBressan?
















Or our features on the Slitti Collection -- Part 1 and Part 2?












Lindt had that excellent Dark Chocolate Selection that while not specific to Valentine's Day is a great way to treat the one you love.











If you wanted chocolate without the calories we had options, too, such as the indi chocolate lip balms.










But I think my favorite has to be the Sjaak's Chocolate Heart from Taraluna because I am indeed using that heart as ice cream dishes for homemade ice cream for my sweetheart on the special day.








So which of these five featured products did you enjoy reading about more, Sisters and Brothers?  Did you buy any of them?  Why not?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chocolate Recalls for 2/5/12

As happens all too often here on Sundays, I feel it is my duty to you all, Sisters and Brothers, to pass along any food or drink recalls from the U.S. Food $ Drug Administration that are related to chocolate.  There are only two today and not of them seem to be related to Valentine's Day -- go back and look over our Sacraments since the beginning of the year to see some good and not so good options for Valentine's Day and if you buy you could be helping to support The Chocolate Cult and allow me to continue to bring you chocolate news, chocolate thoughts, and full sensory reviews.


01/30/2012 10:54 AM EST


Walgreen Co. is voluntarily recalling certain lots of 13-oz. Walgreens Chocolate-Covered Raisins because the packages may contain Walgreens Bridge Mix with peanut, almond and soy ingredients. The error occurred when Walgreens Bridge Mix was mistakenly packaged with the Walgreens Chocolate-Covered Raisin labeling.
. For detailed information pertaining to this Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts message, please click the link at the beginning of this bulletin.


01/31/2012 05:26 PM EST


How Sweet It Is Fudge and Candy Company Inc. is recalling / correcting its 32 count packages of Peanut Butter Buckeye and Peanut Butter Smoothie because they do contain undeclared milk allergens. People who have allergies to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.
. For detailed information pertaining to this Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts message, please click the link at the beginning of this bulletin.





Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lindt Dark Chocolate Selection

Lindt has a special R.S.V.P. Program where you can find speciality products from them year around.  One of their consultants, Amy Sue, sent us several samples of these items and today I want to reveal the "Dark Chocolate Selection" while you still have time to order it before Valentine's Day, now a mere 10 days away, Sisters and Brothers.  There are 14 pieces in this 5.11 oz collection with a total of six different varieties of chocolates, one of them has a milk chocolate shell.  However there is no guidebook included nor a map inside; I couldn't even find an online listing of the various chocolate Lindt offers in these gift boxes so we'll be flying entirely blind in terms of the pieces.  There is a huge down side to this for anyone giving gifts or receiving them -- how can you be certain about allergens?  True, tree nuts, coffee, milk, soy, all sorts of potential allergens are listed on the ingredients but which pieces have these?  For your Chocolate Priestess this means I have to try them all and I cannot turn to our Acolytes for advice and assistance until after the fact.

We'll start with the upper left piece of chocolate then work our way across and back to the left to start the second line of chocolates. Remember, Sisters and Brothers, Moderation and Purposefulness so your Chocolate Priestess did not eat this entire box but instead shared nine pieces, eating only five of these and giving one (two actually) to one of our Mocha Acolytes.  While I'm disappointed that this box does not list the type of each piece, helping to avoid both allergy and taste problems, it is good that there are 2-3 pieces per type with the exception of one.  Why does that please me? Much easier to share and thus much easier to follow our principles for using our Sacred Substance.  I know this is always a challenge with great chocolate so having multiple pieces of the same variety makes it easy to share.

Our first piece is one of the trio of rounded dark chocolates.  Around the edge these words flow: "Lindt & Sprüngli Maitre Chocolatier Suisse Depuis 1845" while inside is their logo which is a dragon.  The diameter of the base is 1 1/8th inch but the top is only 1 inch so it gentle slopes inward while standing 5/8th of an inch tall.  This has a solid dark cocoa scent when I bring it to my nose.  Taking a bite, the thick shell makes only a soft sound and reveals a semi-soft center that has a burst of hazelnut flavor to it.  The nut mixes well with the darker chocolate, neither dominating the piece but the hazelnut is still strong enough that if you don't like that particular nut you'll probably want to avoid it.  With tree nuts, this is a chocolate I could not share with my own husband who has severe allergies.  I'll have to find others to share with I guess.  Any volunteers reading this?

For the next chocolate I can sense through the dark cocoa scent  a strong caramel tang when I take in a whiff of these. A bit more narrow than a traditional tear drop at 1 5/8 inches long, 0.75 inches at the widest part, and 5/8 inch tall at the greatest rise, the caramel colored drop is definitely tear drop shaped. To confirm both the color and my nose, the word "Caramel" is written on this drop at the top.  The dark shell makes a good snap when I take a bite. Inside this is far more complex than I imagined with two layers -- a solid milk chocolate on the bottom with an slowly oozing tangy caramel on the top.  The tear drop itself tastes a bit more like butterscotch than caramel though they can taste similar depending on the butter content of the caramel.  In all this one piece then offers four distinctive flavors that do not blend together much and thus maintain their individual natures that do work well leaving the darker chocolate as the final flavor in my mouth.

The heart-shaped pieces with the golden flecks also have a bit of a caramel like fragrance but I think they might be something else, perhaps butterscotch?  Butterscotch is one of the ingredients listed so something must be this flavor and the hearts have a define caramel or butterscotch tang to their scent.  Scent can be difficult to identify and as we've revealed time and again, Sisters and Brothers, it can also not be indictive of the actual intensity of flavor so let's take a bite of this 5/8 inch thick heart.   The dark shell is very thick and makes a good snap when I take a bite but inside it has only a half layer of caramel like material that has a very strong, darker orange flavor, almost like a blood orange perhaps.  Blood orange, orange, and bitter orange are all listed in the ingredients but I can't determine the difference in this one heart.  The wider part is over an inch wide and has much more of the orange semi-liquid substance in it.  The orange is very strong but at the end the dark chocolate wins out in my mouth.

That does it for our trios so we move now to the duo of these cup-like shaped dark pieces with visible crunchy pieces on the top along with a dot of white.  They kind of look like little pies, don't they, Sisters and Brothers?  Much like piece, the bottom is slightly smaller in diameter than the top, 7/8 versus 1.25 inches.  This is the tallest chocolate in the box at 0.75 inches.  The scent is more dark chocolate but the white dot makes a strong creamy fragrance.  The top is very crunchy and thick which makes a loud snap when I bite into it as well as a continuous crunch as I chew.  The inside is this thick almost jelly like center with a flavor that is sweet.  But the darker crunchy top's essence is what lingers in my mouth so I can enjoy this unusual flavor that turns out to be plum according to the ingredients label.  If I've had a chocolate plum before it has been a long, long time ago so this is a very rare experience that I enjoyed.

There is one solo piece in this collection and it does not look like dark chocolate at all but milk chocolate instead.  Shaped like a tear drop with one dark drop on top, I'm very curious as to what this might be in a Dark Chocolate Selection.  I hope you can tell in the photo but the outside of this piece is two layer -- the milk chocolate on the top with the dark drop but also the base is darker chocolate.  The body of the chocolate is 0.5 inches but the drop is another 0.25 inches added that while it is just a touch over 1.5 inches long with a width of just short of one inch as well.  On the bottom "Lindt" is etched over and over into the darker chocolate but there is no way my camera is good enough to show that to you all.  This has another hazelnut scent to it mingled with the dark and mik chocolate but I have not idea what is inside until I take a bite which makes a soft snap.  The inside is very solid and makes a crunch as I chew though I can't see any crispy pieces in it. The first flavor is a subtle milk chocolate, then a definitie hazelnut that blends into a darker bitterness.  The drop on top is a dark crunchy almost wafer like treat; yes, I bit it off separately so I could report it to you all, Sisters and Brothers.  This is a cookie like chocolate and there are both wafer and biscuit cookies listed on the ingredients on the back of the box so this must be where there were hiding.

Our sixth and final piece from this box is the only one that I and one of our Mocha Acolytes, Tim, could determine was a coffee flavor.  I got to hang out with him this past week so we spent some time looking through the box.  You see, Sisters and Brothers, both coffee and cappuccino crisps were listed on the ingredients so I knew there had to be one piece but possibly two with coffee.  Only this one had any coffee scent to it.  The dark chocolate triangle also has the milk chocolate topper that looks like a coffee bean so we thought this was a good guess as the mocha piece.  Here is Tim's opinion: I expected a soft center but it did not have one.  The crisps inside give a pleasant crunch and change of texture that mimics a coffee bean's texture and sound.  The coffee flavor is stronger than the chocolate and reminds me of a mocha drink.  These triangles have 1 inch sides and rise to a height of over half an inch.  You could easily make this three bites and enjoy the textures and flavor that Tim described or just pop one into your mouth but slow is generally better for enjoying our Sacred Substance.

While there may be R.S.V.P. Program consultants in your area, I hope all of you will contact Amy Sue since she was so gracious to send us these samples.  And there are more to come your way, too, as the 2012 rolls along.  Keep checking back in with us and let us know if you find a consultant in your area or if you order from Amy Sue.  She has been a delightful contact for us on The Chocolate Cult to work with.  This Dark Chocolate Selection earns status as a worthy Sacrament for Valentine's Day if you keep in mind the allergens that we've tried to reveal to you.

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