Wednesday, May 30, 2012

June 2012 Chocolate Planner

Today is your Chocolate Priestess' 20th Wedding Anniversary. If we find anything related to chocolate on our trip this week, I'll post about it in the future.  But while I'm away I know that some of you want to get a head start on planning your meals and treats for June 2012.  Here are some ideas of fun food holidays you could celebrate with chocolate.


June = National Dairy Month

1st Friday June = National Donut Day, that fall on June 1st this year!

June 2 = National Rocky Road Day -- a flavor combination I love but my hubby can't have because of tree nut allergies

June 7 = National Chocolate Ice Cream Day -- I'll point out that July is an entire month of ice cream celebrations, do we need other days?

June 11 = National German Chocolate Cake Day -- now is this German's chocolate as in the brand or just a cake made in Germany?

June 12 = National Peanut Butter Cookie Day -- in the USA adding chocolate is all the rage with peanut butter unless you are allergic.

June 16 = National Fudge Day -- I may try making fudge for this date though I have never made it outside of the late fall and winter time before

June 22 = National Chocolate Éclair Day -- you know what these need?  more chocolate, the lack of chocolate in a chocolate éclair is rather sad

June 24 = National Pralines Day -- these often have chocolate covering them

June 26 = National Chocolate Pudding Day -- I'm the only one in my house who likes pudding

June 30, 1971 = "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" movie along with The Willy Wonka Candy Factory company is released on this date.  We have a regular review about some of their current chocolate scheduled for this date.


If you have any other fun food holidays you think would go well with chocolate, let me know about them in a comment.  If you plan to celebrate or just appreciate our little chocolate on the calendar posts, let us know, too.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Captivating Toffees & Caramels

A new wonderful company has entrusted us here on The Chocolate Cult to reveal their products to you.  Carol Greenwald from Captivating Confections, Inc., sent us samples of their toffees and caramels to share with you all.  The caramels are in the smaller boxes, six pieces each in two flavors, and the toffees are in the bigger box also in two varieties.  Located in East Islip, New York, they made all of their treats by hand and their flavors vary by the season but also upon request for specific occasions.  Let's take a closer look at these offerings she sent us to reveal to you all.

Their website won't give you even a hint of the variety of caramels Captivating Confections makes but their Peanut Butter Banana is the year round variety you can find online.  This milk chocolate covered caramel varies in size, these are handmade, I expect this, but all are more than a quarter an inch thick.  There is a strong scent of peanut butter and milk chocolate when I bring one cool piece to my nose; perhaps an undercurrent of banana and some sweetness, too.  This isn't at all what I was expecting when I take a bite.  Instead of chewy or sticky caramel the inside is more creamy with a strong sweet peanut butter flavor and a much stronger banana essence than the scent suggested there would be.  What it reminds me of are those frozen banana on a stick treats but with a peanut butter flavor to them instead of the crunchy pieces on the outside.  In terms of caramel I just am not getting that but in terms of the chocolate, banana, and peanut butter those flavors are there, identifiable yet also blended well together.

Carol also sent me a Dark Chocolate Sea Salt caramel to try out as well and as you can see in this photo, I hope, the sea salt is visible on the top of the dark chocolate coating.  These two vary in size though my set seemed a bit larger than the previous variety over all.  This has a salty and deep chocolate scent, no hint of caramel.  It makes a snap when I take a bite and immediately my tongue is beset by the salt and the chocolate then a burst of tangy sweetness that fades back into the salt and the dark cocoa flavors.  The caramel isn't sticky or chewy, more firm but I can tell it is indeed a tangy style of caramel.  I actually like this a lot because until a traditional googy caramel I can take these with me and not worry so much about them melting and the dark chocolate is very strong even against the sweetness and the salt.

Just like there is a standard caramel you can always find on their website, there are five toffee varieties you can see online but Captivating Confections offers seasonal varieties as well.  The first up is the Teri's Toffee that is topped by hazelnuts that you can easily see in this photograph.  The toffees are broken into pieces making them easier to eat and I've flipped a few over in the photo to show you the bottom as well as the dark chocolate on the top.  This has a sweet scent plus a bit of the dark chocolate's essence and it makes a very loud snap when I take a bite.  The hazelnuts have a subtle flavor and crunch to them.  By itself the dark chocolate have a good buzz potential to it but it is almost overwhelmed by the buttery toffee on the bottom layer that lingers long after the first bite is consumed.  This is basically what I have come to expect from chocolate covered toffee really so for toffee, this ranks as well as several others we've tried.  If you want more of the chocolate flavor, place that side down on your tongue but the sweet tang of the toffee is going to be the last essence regardless.

Last but not least is the S'more's Toffee that Carol sent us that has a milk chocolate top with mini-marshmallows and a graham cracker bottom layer that I hope you can see in the pieces I've flipped for the photo.  The cracker layer is a bit thicker than the milk chocolate but not by much and the marshmallows seem fairly evenly placed over the chocolate layer.  This has a very slight scent over all, a hint of the milk chocolate, some graham cracker sweetness and flour and a hint of that cornstarch that covers marshmallows.  On closer examination I can see three layers, a toffee layer is between the chocolate and the graham crackers and this definitely comes out when I take a bite.  There is a very some sound and the cracker layer crumbles into my mouth to leave the tang of the toffee dominant.  The milk chocolate and the marshmallows are there but again over whelmed by the toffee.  Still if you close your eyes and focus on your mouth you can get the sense of a candied up s'more treat.

These are unique chocolate treats that are made with great ingredients by a very nice lady.  Of these four, the Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Caramel was my hands down favorite because the chocolate was the strongest here.  One of the neatest aspects of the toffee is that I could see the cracker base for them and that reminded me of how I've made homemade toffee myself, confirming that these are indeed made by hand and actually making me wonder if I could try to copy the s'mores idea for August... but that's getting away from the treats themselves.  They make a lot of other chocolate treats and we'll see more of Captivating Confections later in the year because they are the first company to get on board for our 4th Annual Halloween Treat Challenge so that event is off to a great start.  Check them out and let us know if you've tried their creations yourself.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Birthday of Joseph Rowntree

1
In 1836, on this day, Joseph Rowntree was born.  Who is he and why is he important to us here on The Chocolate Cult?  Where to begin?

He was born into a Quaker family and thus he had a duty to run a profitable but also very fair business.  He joined his brother in 1869 and by 1875 Joseph as describing "himself as a cocoa manufacturer". (2)

Joseph continued in this firm until 1923 when he finally retired leaving behind a legacy of cocoa and chocolate products as well as a community focus that was common to Quaker chocolatiers of this period.  Today three trust funds carry out his charitable work and another has been added later in the company's life.

Rowntree continued to make chocolate throughout the 20th century and merged with Mackintosh's in 1969.  By 1988 it was acquired by Nestlé after a contentious fight with another company.  Only a few products today are manufactured using the Rowntree name.  Just like the Vanhouten cocoas, these products are primarily available in Europe, but especially in the UK.  I hope some of our UK readers let us know if they've had any Rowntree chocolate items.

1: Image from JRHT
2: Information from the Rowntree Society

Saturday, May 19, 2012

4 More Chocolate Bars from Taraluna

Taraluna holds a special place in our hearts because they embrace the ideals of fair trade, female empowerment, and organic chocolate by choosing only quality products to sell in their online shop.  They do not have very much chocolate in the catalog and it changes with the seasons but they always have bars from Sjaak's.  We've looked at some of these bars in the past but today we're going to look at four more chocolate bars that they sell.  Reminder: This is a retail feature so we won't spend as much time describing the bars below as we would if Sjaak's sent them to us for a feature.


We'll start with the Milk Chocolate with Almond Butter bar one of several organic chocolate bars that Taraluna sells.  So many things can be turned into "butter" but almonds are a more direct variant on peanut butter though if you are allergic to tree nuts, you don't want this.  You can tell this is almond from the flavor but otherwise is has the same texture as peanut butter and blends well with the milk chocolate. Word of caution: almond butters do not last as long as peanut butters in my experience so prepare to eat this sooner than the next bar.

Next let's try the Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter bar as a comparison to our first chocolate bar today; you can select from several organic chocolate bars online at Taraluna.  This looks almost identical to the previous almond butter bar but it has a strong roasted peanut scent.  For our readers outside America you may wonder "what's up with all the peanut butter?" Well, it grows very well around here and some time back a very smart scientist, George Washington Carver, discovered a lot of uses for this little legume or bean.  We've been crazy about it since then but it is an acquired taste. Unlike the almond though this creamy center overwhelms the milk chocolate.

Then I got a bit of help with the Raspberry Truffle bar. Normally I'd ask our Fruit Acolyte but our Milk Chocolate Acolyte loves raspberries while he is still quite picky about them and since I could get in touch with him faster, here's what he has to say: This is more a dark chocolate raspberry meaning that the raspberry is a sweet taste between the dark chocolate bitterness and the sugar that I can taste, too.  Not a jelly just a thin paste like raspberry layer in a fudgelike center.

Finally the Dark Chocolate with Creamy Caramel bar so we are ending on the deepest cocoa flavor possible. This is one of the vegan bars you can select in Taraluna's online catalog.  The other three bars all had semi-solid, creamy centers in some form but this is a caramel that oozed out as soon as I broke off two pieces as  you can see in the photo.  The caramel is very sweet not tangy but it in no way overpowers the dark chocolate.  This is my favorite bar of this foursome that we were sent.

There we are.  More great fair trade and organic chocolate options you can get from Taraluna while you support small businesses and women around the world.  Why would you not want to check out all of the neat things that Taraluna has to offer?  They always earn a right to be called a Worthy Retailer if you are looking for great Sacrament choices you can enjoy with a happy conscious.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Birthday of Coenraad Johannes van Houten

#1
Today is the birthday (1801) of the man who created the process that resulted in "Dutch cocoa," by treating cocoa mass with alkaline salts to reduce the natural bitterness without adding sugar or milk so we get a cocoa powder we can use.

According to the official Vanhouten website, Coenraad Johannes van Houten also invented the cocoa pressing method not just added salts to create a better dry cocoa that the average person then could use at home to make a chocolate drink.  He did all of this back in 1828, decades before names like Fry, Lindt, and Cadbury would start to lay claim to large stakes in the growing chocolate market.

Other historical sources challenge the official claim that he invented both the cocoa press and the Dutch process saying that instead his father, Casparus van Houten Sr., patented this machine in 1828 the forgot to renew his patent, making the machine available to anyone to use in 1838.   One would think that such conflicting claims would be easy to sort out but not given the information I have available to me.

Of course, the one problem with Dutch cocoa is that you must use baking powder not baking soda in it since the baking powder will not work with a neutral pH that the van Houten process creates.  If you keep that in mind, you can use it for almost anything and indeed it is used for a wide range of products. Many historians I looked at credit this process with a opening up of chocolate for a much wider audience in the first half of the 19th century making it easier to use at home and also more palatable to more people.

So if you use Dutch cocoa today for baking or ice cream making or other other activity, say a special thank you to Coenraad Johannes van Houten, too, because his idea helped the development of chocolate Europe wide and thus world wide.

Vanhouten continued as an independent cocoa company until 1971, the start of a series of takeovers that resulted in their products, all cocoa drink mixes, being created under the auspices of the Barry Callebaut Group.  These products are available in several European countries so I hope our European readers will tell us what they think of them.

#1 Photo found at Find a Grave


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Old Time Candy Part 4

This is it!  Part 4 of our features on Old Time Candy  because they were so generous when they sent us the 4.5 pound "Chocolate Lovers Collection."  Only eight bars remain but I hope these stir up as many memories at the first 28 we've looked over the previous three months.  Since the last feature of this shop was right after Easter, I cut back and only did 8 bars so that means I have 10 to reveal to you all today -- their chocolate nature and a bit about their history.

There isn't much information on when Hershey's took their standard milk chocolate bar and added almonds to it but I was able to find a date on their official website: 1908. Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds then came out not long after the original bar around the turn of the century. But why almonds, why not cashews or peanuts?  I couldn't discover the answers.  Now Hershey gets a negative rap from a lot of gourmet chocolate lovers but in comparison to other mainstream chocolate candy bars, it actually does fairly well with both chocolate and cocoa butter with no added oils beyond what the almonds are roasted in.  While it isn't as pure as many gourmet bars, it certainly has a strong milk chocolate flavor.  In a candy box for chocolate lovers, this bar makes the grade easily.

Sometimes candy bars are really not so much new as renamed and tweeked by companies. This was the case with the Baby Ruth, a renamed Kandy Kake bar from the Curtiss Candy Company in 1921.  Name after the famous baseball player or a Curtiss child, who can be certain, but the roasted peanuts and their flavor really does invoke baseball memories in some folks. Today this candy bar is made by Nestlé after Nabisco sold the rights to the Curtiss products to them in 1990.  These have very little cacao products in them, only cocoa shows up way down on the ingredient list so immediately this wouldn't quality it as chocolate lover's anything here on The Chocolate Cult. When you eat it the chocolaty coating is more waxy than cocoa and with the peanuts and corn syrup/sugar sticky stuff really dominating the experience.

The next year in 1922, the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Company created a nonpareil that later in that decade turned into the Sno-Caps candy you see most often at movie theaters. Currently they are made by Nestlé and they can now be found in some stores as well as in the theaters.  When you dump these out of the box about 10% or so of the white sugar balls fall off of the semi-sweet chips; these are basically semi-sweet chocolate chips dipped in sugar spheres, right?  But the chocolate is the first of the ingredients with both chocolate and cocoa butter listed and other than milk fats no other dairy.  The chocolate is nice, it has a decent kick to it but the sugar balls, I don't know, they seem a bit too much for me; more of those can fall off as far as I'm concerned but this candy does deserve a place in this gift box.  I'll have to keep these in mind for decorating, too, maybe for Christmas.

A year later, in 1923, the Curtiss Candy Company created the Butterfinger candy bar and it, too, is now made by Nestlé.  Supposedly it the name was part of a contest the Curtiss Candy Company ran to name the new bar and it referred to a clumsy person, you know a "butterfinger" who drops everything.  The only cacao related ingredient on this label is cocoa and it well down the line after corn syrup, sugar, ground roasted peanuts, and palm oil.  By simply standards this can't be a serious part of any chocolate lover's selection.  I'll confess that if these are an treat that is available, I'll get it if it's free, I might buy it for Halloween, but I never get it for chocolate but that inside that is sort of peanut and tangy sweetness that gets more and more sticky as you chew.

That same year, 1923, Mars created the Milky Way bar, the first huge success from the company since their creation in 1911 as a kitchen industry. Mars remains in the same family hands as it started and they now have several varieties of Milk Way to choose from but we have the nougat and caramel variety today though that was not the original flavor when it started; it was malted!  Now it's chocolate, caramel, and nougat made from cocoa butter, chocolate, and cocoa in that order on the ingredient list plus a lot of sugars, palm oil, malted barley (not enough for me to taste malt, what about you?), and other added ingredients.  With some of the other candy bars we're looking at today, the chocolate just cannot compete with all that sugar but Milky Way tastes like chocolate, milk chocolate to be sure, but it still tastes like chocolate.  It should be in the Chocolate Lover's box without a doubt.

1937 saw the birth of the Rolo, that little chocolate covered caramel candy we use as BINGO markers for our annual holiday party in my house.  Originally made by Mackintosh's, an Edwardian candy company dating back to 1890, today they are made by Hershey's today under a licensing agreement since 1969 in the USA but by Nestlé in other locations.  Talk about a complicated business arrangement, huh?  Just shows you how interconnected all these corporations can be.  But back to the Rolo candies. Lets be honest here, I don't like these for the chocolate but for the caramel because when you eat them you can't really taste the chocolate because the cocoa butter and chocolate it has is just overwhelmed by the sugars and added ingredients.  This would not be one of my top ten chocolate lovers candy by long shot.

When you think of chocolate, you probably do not think of Necco but in 1938 they introduced the Sky Bar using an interesting sky writing campaign and they continue to make it to this day.  This is a candy bar I've only had once before and it is very unique.  It is like four separate milk chocolate bars in one with fillings of caramel, vanilla, peanut butter, and fudge.  The insides are not as clear as on the label.  The vanilla or whiter center, the third from the left in my photo is the stickiest and the most liquid.  The peanut butter and caramel looked identical to me and frankly didn't taste that different, the peanut flavor only comes out after several chews.  Of course the fudge center has the greatest chocolaty essence.  There is both chocolate liquor and cocoa butter here but also a lot of sugars and added oils and dairy as well.  For contents it qualifies as chocolate but in terms of chocolate it is very sweet and creamy, definitely more for sugar and milk chocolate lovers than for anyone else.

1940 saw the invention of the York Peppermint Patty for the York Cone Company which only produced the candy for a very limited market.  In 1972 the Peter Paul company acquired the product and introduced it nationwide.  Peter Paul in turn merged with Cadbury Schweppes and that mega candy company was bought out by Hershey in 1988.  I love these things because their combination of darker flavored chocolate and peppermint is just so well balanced.  The chocolate here has chocolate (mass/liquor), cocoa, and cocoa butter, all three of the basic cacao products you can find in chocolate or chocolaty items so this definitely fits with theme of the gift box for both ingredients and flavor though personally I'd be happier with less corn syrup in it.

Junior Mints were introduced in 1949 by the James O. Welch Company and named after a popular Broadway show called "Junior Miss" which ran from 1941 to 1943 in three different theaters.  The candy has been made by four companies with the last acquisition in 1993 by Tootsie Roll Industries which continues to make them today.  If you look at the ingredients list it seems a lot like the Sno-Caps but with sugar before the semi-sweet chocolate as well as no milk fats and the peppermint oil.  I don't think these are as good as the previous chocolate-peppermint candy but the chocolate fights fairly well against the sugar and peppermint.  With both chocolate and cocoa butter here at a prominent place on the label this fits in the Chocolate Lover's Box well.

Finding a history for the Farao chocolate "quality sticks" proved very challenging. Did these chocolate sticks come out at the same time as the all sugar sticks commonly referred to as candy cigarettes?  They are made by Pieterman Chocolate in Holland today so I went to their website and I had to get a pdf about the products and sort though that information which told me nothing of historical value.  Geesh!  So I sent them an email asking for some basic historical information.  I haven't heard back yet by the due date of this Saturday Sacrament.  Loo at the photo, these are 2.5 inches long pieces of "chocolate" made only with cocoa powder and a lot of sugar and added oils, really really not what I'd say should be part of any chocolate lovers's anything just by ingredients alone.   They are waxy tasting and feeling, but have a chocolaty flavor to them.  Morally?  Call them "quality sticks" all you like but these are basically a candy cigarette, wouldn't you say, Sisters and Brothers?  I wouldn't give these to kids but as an adult if I'm role-playing in a game they can be a bit of fun to use just like the all sugar variety.  Oddly I couldn't find these on the Old Time Candy website at all even though they sent these to me in this Chocolate Lover's box.

When I started this I didn't realize how many of these bars are connected by their companies and years but a bit of digging around on the Internet at company sites and other resources revealed some information I had no hint of either from my own personal history or the candy rumor mills.  Let me know about your own history with these ten treats we're looked at today please.

Now that we've covered the selection of chocolate candy over the past century, Sisters and Brothers, what do you think of Old Time Candy?  Have you checked them out?  Found a favorite from your childhood is missing? Have you tried something new or placed an order for those treats you hoped you get when you were 12?  I want to know.


507984_OldTimeCandy.com-Banner-300x250

Friday, May 11, 2012

National Eat What You Want Day is Today!

Today is "National Eat What You Want Day" and I have one question for all of you, Sisters and Brothers?

What are you eating in honor of this day?

I want to see a lot of comments on this post letting me know your ideas.

We are having something rare for our house: steak.  In keeping with this Cult's traditions I plan to season it with cocoa as well as other traditional spices.  With it we will have roasted potatoes, carrots, and either garlic bread or a focaccia bread. Sadly I can't have wine on one of my current medications for my arm problem.

Tell me, what are you going to eat today?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chocolate Recalls May 6, 2012

From our U.S. Food & Drug Administration, another set of recalls that might affect chocolate lovers.  Please pay close attention to the products and check out the official links.


04/25/2012 09:48 PM EDT

Krispak, Inc. of Grand Rapids, MI is voluntarily recalling 16 cases of GFS Hostess Candy Mix 8-48 oz packages due to a potential mis-pack, resulting in undeclared allergens. A small number of cases of GFS Hostess Candy Mix were inadvertently put into GFS Chocolate Sprinkles packages.



Photo from FDA
04/26/2012 06:46 PM EDT

Café-Tasse S.A. is voluntarily recalling its 1.58 oz. Café-Tasse Noir (Dark) Belgian chocolate bar with best before date of "15 SEPT 2013" because it may contain undeclared traces of milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.


Photo from Sears.com
05/05/2012 05:22 PM EDT

FunFresh Foods, Inc. of San Clemente, California in consultation with the FDA is voluntarily recalling a single lot of its 6 ounce packages of FunFresh Foods™ World Berries™ Organic “Cacao Nibs” because they may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria (E. Coli O157:H7).  E. coli O157:H7 causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cero's Truffles Revealed

"National Truffle Day" was back on the second of May but I had to choose -- brownies on "National Brownie Day" or these before their fun food holiday.  Since the brownies came to us first, it only seemed fair to schedule them first.  Plus let's be blunt: isn't any day a good day for truffles if they are well-made?  Cero's Candies has been around for a long time but the current owners are not only maintaining the traditions but introducing new delights.  They sent us two items, a chocolate covered bacon we'll feature in September for "National Bacon Day" and this 9-count box of truffles.  Both of these featured reviews were pre-written because Cero's Candies does not use preservatives in their chocolates.

The box of truffles is one of the many chocolate assortments that Cero's Candies sells.  Their 9-count truffle assortment includes a beautiful collection of their work and Pam and Darcy who own and operate the shop included a list of these truffles.  As you know, I'm a big fan of knowing what I'm about to eat because I believe that the serious food allergies many of our readers have could be solved if all chocolatiers labeled their products and listed their ingredients better.  We're going to look at these one at a time starting in the upper left hand and going left to right through the box.  I had help from two other people while I tasted these over the course of a few days so I'll mention their opinions when they arose.  Ready, Sisters and Brothers?

Our first piece is not really a truffle but a "Vanilla Marshmallow," gourmet marshmallow dipped in dark chocolate. This is not quite a 1.25 X 1.25 square, it is a bit tilted but it is 0.75 inches thick.  I like the drizzles of dark chocolate over the top but I think the other specks might just be from other pieces in the box since the photo guide does not show anything like that and these flecks fall off easily when I try to take a good sniff.  I do smell the dark chocolate but also a definite marshmallow and vanilla fragrance as well.  This turns out to be a good 4-bite treat.  The inside is sticky and soft, the flavor very vanilla not strongly sugar which I really liked.  The chocolate is thick and bitter, a fairly high cacao percentage I'm betting.  The bitterness lingers and blends well with the vanilla but the chocolate is the dominant flavor as I think it should be.  To practice Moderation, I shared half of this but my assistant wasn't as impressed.  He wanted a more traditional marshmallow flavor but I actually preferred the stronger vanilla here because it made it more unique without competing sweetness.  This was my second favorite piece from this box.

Next is a caramel dipped in milk chocolate and looking at it and the other pieces in the box I can see a clear difference between the milk and dark chocolate Cero's makes.  This, too, has acquired some of the flecks from other chocolates in the box a check of the photo guide tells me.  This 1 by 1 by 0.75 inch piece looks smaller than most of the others in the box.  It has a strong tangy scent mixed with a creamy cocoa fragrance.  The milk chocolate shell is relatively thin over a very thick yet not particularly sticky caramel that is more tangy than sweet.  The tangy is a better balance to the creamy milk chocolate and makes this more chocolaty than it might have been with too much sweetness though the caramel is the primary flavor.  I wonder if a darker chocolate would have fared better against this caramel.

A lemon cream dipped in dark chocolate finishes off the top row in this box.  This is a mostly round truffle of 1 inch diameter but the top clearly has extra layers of dark chocolate giving it a off-tilt hat look.  The dark chocolate is the only scent but it starts to melt so quickly in my fingers that I must take a bite. Inside is a very soft and very lightly yellow center under a think top and thin sides that collapse when I take a bite.  The lemon is both sweet and tart at the same time, a very smooth texture that covers the bitter chocolate at first but then fade to leave our Sacrament Chocolate the final essence.  Until other creams which can be easily too sweet and overwhelm the chocolate, this is light enough and the chocolate bitter enough to be a good balance that I really and surprisingly enjoyed more than I thought I might.

The second row first features a "Chipotle Chili Truffle" covered in dark chocolate.  This also looks like a small round piece with a very pretty printed pattern on the top in tannish tones.  It is actually about an inch in diameter so not as small as it seems, I think the roundness makes it look smaller than the more square and half sphere pieces in this box.  This has a dark chocolate scent only and immediately started to melt in my assistant taster's fingers.  The thin shell cracks easily when he took a bite but the dark chocolate was more smooth than bitter, more on the semi-sweet side.  It took a few seconds for the chili's kick to start and even then it was more mild than many chili chocolates we've had in the past.  The two flavor blended smoothly making this a great introduction to spicy chocolates for someone who is not that familiar with them.

The most lovely piece in the collection is the green central chocolate.  This "Persian Truffle" also has the longest list of ingredients of all of the chocolates in this box: cumin, cardamom, Vietnamese cinnamon, pomegranate, tangerine, saffron, rose petals, with crushed pistachios and almonds.  The problem with complexity in food is that it can overwhelm but my assistant taster says this was not the case here.  The pistachios and dark chocolate were the only scents he could make out.  In the dark chocolate shell itself, the dark chocolate was the flavor while the center, a soft creamy colored confection, has the spices, fruits and nuts in them.  The nuts added a bit of texture but overall it was almost buttery chocolate flavor that blended well with the added ingredients without drowning them out.  He said it was both unique and complex but in a very good way.

"Passion Fruit Truffle" is the final chocolate in this second row and it milk chocolate inside and out.  This is a 1.25 diameter base mountain shaped chocolate that is a good inch tall, you can see the reddish dipping pattern over it in our photo.  This has a creamy cocoa scent with something vague fruity underneath the cool milk chocolate.  Inside is a milk chocolate semi-solid center with a strong tangy tart flavor. The center is also a bit sticky and there seems to be small pockets of passion fruit jelly in it as well that add an extra burst of tartness to the creamy chocolate.  I've had passion fruit and chocolate before and this is good blend of the two though the fruit flavor here lingers on much longer than the chocolate.  Not surprisingly I think I might prefer a darker percentage of chocolate because this lingering flavor was a touch annoying even fifteen minutes later.

The third row begins with the "Saigon Cinnamon Truffle" that has both milk and dark chocolate ganache under a dark shell.  This is a 1.25 diameter, one-half inch half-sphere with a beautiful copper colored wave over the top.  There was a light cinnamon scent but mostly a darker chocolate hit my nose when I took a whiff.  It was very smooth in my fingers but also melted very quickly.  The inside was darker than I thought it might be and had a stronger cinnamon scent.  The spice was a touch more on the hot side of cinnamon but it was diffused throughout the odd semi-soft center that was both bitter and creamy at the same time, clearly the two chocolates were there and blended but not so much I couldn't taste them both.  That made this very unique for cinnamon chocolates we've had in the past.   This was my favorite in the box.

A "Lavender Truffle" has swirls of purple on the top that I hope my camera can show well enough for you all, Sisters and Brothers; yup, only a hint along the edges of the building swirl -- that's fairly close to what it looks like.  Unlike the other darker chocolate, the lavender makes it way through the chocolate and I can smell it as well when I take enough a light sniff.  The base is about 1 1/5th inch across and as you can see it swirls up almost like a temple from the ancient Near East to rise 0.75 inches tall.  Inside the thick shell that makes the first sound of the entire box, soft but still there, is a very bitter and increasingly lavender semi-solid center which is also a touch grainy in texture. While the lavender is strong and builds at first it later recedes and leaves the dark bitterness as the flavor wonderful flavor.

Last but not least is a "Strawberry Champagne Truffle" that has a white chocolate ganache inside but dark chocolate covering.  This is another very round truffle about 1 inch across.  The sugar crystals have a tendency to flake off if you hold it too long but the chocolate also melts quickly.  Remember, the purer the chocolate, the faster it will melt at our body temperature so this is a good thing in terms of eating it.  Much like the previous truffle, the strawberry comes through the dark chocolate but it has that champagne edge to the scent as well.  The shell is very soft as is the like reddish pink center that isn't so much creamy as it is more like a mashed up strawberry's texture. The strawberry's tart and sweetness is there as is a good kick from the champagne; I think I can almost feel bubbles because this tastes so much like strawberry bubbly should.  The bitter chocolate is quickly overcome by the center and yet at the end it returns and blends very nicely into the alcoholic fruit essence.  This was my third favorite piece in the box.

We'll see Cero's Candies again as promised when we give their chocolate covered bacon a feature later in the year.  The prices at Cero's Candies are incredibly reasonable,   If you are anywhere near their 1108 E Douglas shop in Wichita, Kansas, you must stop in and buy something.  The down side is that they won't do mail-order except November through April but since I know our features are re-read over and over, I wanted to make sure you all knew about their chocolates because I found them to indeed be a "bit of happiness in every bite" as their motto claims.  Since they are a small woman-owned business in the heart of America that is using quality ingredients to make wonderful combinations of flavors, I give them a Worthy Sacrament title today.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nutella Lawsuit

Nutella, so many of us have used it and you can find recipes using it all over the place.  I'm the only one in my family who can use it, you've seen my regular review of it in the past I'm sure, so I don't buy it often but I do buy it maybe 2-3 times a year when I have a coupon and it is on sale.

Have you heard about this lawsuit against Nutella?  No?  Then you should check it out here.  I get a lot of news from Huff Post because it tends more toward my personal political leanings but they still have good news.  This lawsuit is about misleading nutritional claims and is valid in California and then the rest of the USA, too, for a certain time period only.

Read this information carefully to figure out if you can file a claim and how to do so.  This is time-limited so check it out today.  You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to be able to see the documents you'll need to use.

I used the online form myself and filed for 4 jars, I may have bought 5 but I know for certain I bought 4 jars just in the last two years.  If I need to provide receipts I'd rather not over estimate.  The form didn't ask for receipts but who knows what they might ask for later.

Now that this information is in your hands, I want to know what you think about this issue involving Nutella.

Do you pay that much attention to the ingredients and nutritional information when you buy such a product?

Do you think that commercials are by and large truthful?


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