Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter Plus Chocolate Recalls

What a sad why to start my holiday.

Yup I have a few recalls with chocolate to share with you all from the FDA announcements I receive every week so that I and you can be aware of any health issues that could affect us or our loved ones.  Starting today, I'm also going to share photos when I can to make the announcement easier for you to follow.


Urgent-Heartland Gourmet, LLC issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk in Gluten Free Baking Mixes

Contact
Consumers:
(800)735-6828

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 28, 2013 - Heartland Gourmet, LLC of Lincoln, NE is voluntarily recalling the following items because they may contain undeclared Milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to Milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix: Item # 2017 UPC Code 7376967020171 16 oz. Lot #0023065, best buy date of 12/2014 and distributed in March of 2013, and Lot # 0023007, best buy date of 10/2014 and distributed in February 2013.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookie Mix: Item # 1530 -UPC Code 737697015306 16 oz. Lot #0012289 – Best buy Date of 10/2014 and distributed in October of 2012; Lot #0022317 with a best buy date of 10/2014 and distributed in November of 2012; and Lot #0012341 with a best buy date of 01/2014 and distributed in December of 2012. .

Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix: Item # 2024 UPC Code 737697020249 15.4 oz. Lot #0073007. Best buy date of 09/2014 and distributed in January of 2013.

The Gluten Free Mixes were distributed in Minnesota, Texas, Indiana, Connecticut, North Carolina, California and Colorado through retail and fundraising. No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated after routine sample testing conducted by Canada showed products with "Dairy Free" labels tested positive for milk. Follow up testing conducted by the firm confirmed these products tested positive for milk. . Subsequent investigation indicates the problem was caused by a temporary breakdown in the company's production and packaging processes.

Consumers who have purchased these Gluten Free items are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-735-6828 between 9:00 am and 4:00 M-F.

-------

Lifestyle Evolution Inc. (LEI), Issues Allergy Alert -- Undeclared Milk in Lifestyle Evolution Inc.’s, NuGO FREE, NuGO Dark and NuGO Slim Non Dairy bars


Contact
Consumer:
1 -866-266-7623

Media:
Kara Flynn
202-821-3888

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 28, 2013 - Lifestyle Evolution Inc announces the voluntary recall of NuGO FREE, NuGO Dark and NuGO Slim Non Dairy bars Made BEFORE October 2012 because of the potential for undeclared milk.  Individuals with allergies to dairy run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume products containing milk protein.  Lactose intolerance is not a milk allergy and should not be confused with a milk protein allergy. Lifestyle Evolution’s voluntary recall is being conducted in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The products were distributed nationwide.

ONLY PRODUCT WITH BEST BY DATE OF 2013 IS SUBJECT TO RECALL. (i.e. 25 Dec 13)

PRODUCTS WITH 2014 BEST BY DATES ARE NOT SUBJECT TO RECALL. (i.e. 23 Feb 14)

Product Name UPC (box of 12) UPC (indiv Bar) has BEST BY DATE of
NuGO FREE Dark Chocolate Trail Mix 691535 45302 691535 45301 2013
NuGO FREE Dark Chocolate Crunch 691535 45102 691535 45101 2013
NuGO FREE Carrot Cake 691535 45502 691535 45501 2013
NuGO Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip 691535 52102 691535 52101 2013
NuGO Dark Mocha 691535 52302 691535 52301 2013
NuGO Dark Mint Chocolate Chip 691535 52502 691535 52501 2013
NuGO Dark Peanut Butter Cup 691535 52702 691535 52701 2013
NuGO Dark Pretzel 691535 52902 691535 50901 2013
NuGO Slim Crunchy Peanut butter 691535 20702 691535 20701 2013
NuGO Slim Espresso 691535 20902 691535 20901 2013

The recall was initiated out of an abundance of caution after testing revealed the possible presence of trace levels of milk protein in products that did not declare milk on the label. Corrective actions have been taken to address the problem.

There has been one report of an allergic reaction. Distributors and customers that have purchased these products directly will be notified by Lifestyle Evolution, Inc. regarding product return procedures. Consumers with questions should contact customer service 1-866-266-7623 between 8 am to 6 pm, EST Monday thru Friday.

LEI is dedicated to the health and safety of its consumers. Therefore, the company initiated this voluntary recall.  We apologize to our distributors and our customers and sincerely regret any inconvenience caused by this event.



Saturday, March 30, 2013

Askinosie CollaBARation Bars

Askinosie Chocolate is not only knows where their cocoa beans come from but CollaBARation Bars.
they also make sure the farmers who grow those beans get some of the profits to improve their communities and their futures.  A while back they sent us early samples of a new type of product but as often happens without a clear date to feature them this featured review fell back and back and back as holidays and specific requests took priority.  So finally this featured review gets to go live and we'll look at some of their 3oz

They sent us two bars and two samples of other bars including their Dark Chocolate + Coffee, Dark Chocolate + Malted Milk, Dark Milk Chocolate + Black Licorice, and El Rustico bars.  One of our volunteers tested the coffee bar while another helped me with the other four bars.

The El Rustico Bar was one of the smaller samples we were sent.  It has sugar crystals and vanilla beans along with the 70% cacao; both sugar and cacao are from the Philippines. Made in a more traditional, meaning ancient Mesoamerican way, without couching this has a more grainy texture once I took a bite.  This results in a lot of snap and crunch, a lot of happy noise while you try it.  You can see the darker sugar crystals on the back but not the front.  It isn't bitter so much as grainy with a hint, just a hint of vanilla sharpness.  While I understand the desire to harken back to the "Mexican" traditions I just didn't really enjoy this one very much primarily because of the texture.

Another sample is the Dark Chocolate + Black Licorice Bar that also has sugar
and cacao from the Philippines while the licorice comes from Sweden.  At 62% cacao this isn't as dark as the previous bar the licorice reminds me of the Colonial American chocolate we had.  The front of the bar looks like the others, 12 sections, but on the bar you can see pieces of black licorice and the sugar crystals.  It has a strong licorice scent with a good dark chocolate fragrance beneath it.  It is very crunchy and stays crunchy with each chew though the licorice pieces are a touch chewy.  The degree of licorice and chocolate you get depends on how you put it in your mouth.  Front side down on your tongue and the slightly bitter chocolate dominates; the sugar crystal and licorice side down though almost overcomes the cocoa essence but not quite.  The salty taste really didn't come forward until I had a second square of it.  I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this and how quickly a cocoa and a sugar rush built up after just one square section.

Tanzania is the home for the 60% cacao chocolate, the malted milk, and the sugar in this Dark Chocolate + Malted Milk Bar.  This full sized sample surprisingly has only a dark cocoa fragrance, no hint of malt no matter how many deep breaths of it I take.  It makes a soft snap when I break off a piece.  It has a very smooth yet dark flavor with milky sub-taste and a light malt undertone that increases if you let a piece melt in your mouth.  The malt level is much lower than I expected from the name of the bar and I wish it were a bit stronger frankly.  It is good just more a dark and milk chocolate mixture than really malt.

The Dark Chocolate + Coffee Bar was tested by Charles.  The chocolate and sugar comes from the Philippines while the Intelligentsia Coffee is a German product of single origin coffee beans though from where I'm not certain.  Charles says this about the bar: This chocolate has a great feel and look.  Nicely separated into bite-size squares it, it holds its shape when held between your fingers, feeling smooth and not melting.  Wonderfully aromatic cocoa scent with a hint of coffee.  Having had Intelligentsia coffee in Chicago, I was excited to try this chocolate.  A square popped in the mouth stays whole and smooth, rubbing the tongue, until chewed, then the rich cocoa explodes into full flavor.  As the dark richness subsides, after notes of coffee, cinnamon and an obscure floral taste.  Also the chocolate holds not a bit of graininess.  The coffee controls the intense bitterness for such a high percent of cocoa.  Adding to the smooth elegant mix of tastes.  Would likely be nice paired with a port - a roommate tried some grappa after a bite and found it added even more complexity to the overall experience which to all of us was very satisfying. The company's dedication to the one origin cocoa and coffee beans and to their world outlook was quite ecologically pleasing and savvy. 

I couldn't have written that last sentence better and with that fact in mind, over all these CollaBARation bars are very a very good idea and at least two of them are excellent -- Coffee and Black Licorice and thus earn a Sacramental status here on The Chocolate Cult.  Have you had a chance to try these bars from Askinosie Chocolate?  If so please leave a comment and let us know what you thought about them.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Recall March 24, 2013

Another recalled related to chocolate this week.



FDA Warns Consumers Not to Eat Certain ProtiDiet High Protein Chocolate Dream Bars Manufactured by Pro-Amino International, Inc., Quebec, Canada
03/18/2013 05:20 PM EDT

Pro-Amino International Inc. is recalling protein bars which may contain Salmonella. The product is the ProtiDiet High Protein Chocolate Dream Bar, sold in 210 gram (7.4 oz.) packages, 7 bars per package, bearing UPC 6 21498 42238 1, lot code CR 18 13B, and Best Before date of 2015-08.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Still Chilly? How about some Choffy?

We've looked at two varieties of Choffy, a hot chocolate beverage you create and drink like you would a cup of coffee, in the past.  Another Choffy seller, Megan Schultz, sent us La Espanola variety that is designed especially for coffee drinkers. Neither of our Mocha Acolytes have a French Press, the ideal way to make the Choffy, so one of our Chocolate and Alcohol Acolytes agreed to test this out.  Today I want to share the test results from Elizabeth who put a lot of effort into the testing trying it three different ways.  I've put together her notes and included her photos for you all.

Elizabeth tried it three different ways: with Sweet-n-Low, with Sugar-Free Italian Sweet Cream, and with Chocolate Carmel Creamer.  Each time the product had a nutty smell and was a bit more watery compared to grocery store types of hot chocolate.  When she only added the Sweet-n-low the drink was a little bitter but was just like drinking dark chocolate.  When she added the chocolate carmel creamer the dark chocolate taste was strong but not bitter.  And when she added the sugar-free Italian sweet creamer the drink had a nice chocolate aftertaste.  Over all she liked it though it would have been better if it were less watery but having used the previous samples myself from Choffy I know that you can improve that by simply adding less water when you brew it.  Elizabeth told me that she would also use this product again because it was very relaxing and enjoyable to use.

If you agree with Elizabeth, Sisters and Brothers, and La Espanola variety sounds good to you, contact Megan Schultz and she can set you up with some of the product.  I am amazed that Elizabeth was able to try this three different ways on three separate occasions with only one sample.  It demonstrates that you can get three servings from one sample imagine what you'd get from a 12oz bag?


Friday, March 22, 2013

Two Reese Easter Treats

Easter is a bit earlier this year than last, falling on March 31, 2013 for the Western traditions which is what I follow myself, Sisters and Brothers.  Today let's look at some of the Easter treats you can find with the Reese's brand on them. One is a rehash of a previous review, I can give products a second chance when I feel like it, and one is a product I've had before but haven't talked about here yet.

Now for some of you who were my friends way back when we started our Cult at the end of February 2009, this next product will seem familiar to you: Reese's Reester Bunnies.  At that time you'll recall I did not like them at all because they were too sickly sweet.  The handful of people who read the blog at that time, told me "I agree" when they met me in person.  Let's face it, we all start off with mostly our friends, right.  But I wanted to give these another shot because they are still around so maybe they've changed?

Nutritionally these are identical to the 2009 version but something has definitely changed.  The milk chocolate is stronger flavor and the peanut butter has a more roasted, less sweet essence as well.  Maybe someone at Reese's read us or listened to those of you who agreed but these are actually good, these are now something I could see myself buying for a friend or for fun like their eggs that come out this time of year.

Good job on improving your product, Reese!

A similar product from Reese is their mini Easter Eggs that come in a 12-pack. This if these as small egg-shaped peanut butter mixture with milk chocolate around them.   I just saw these last year but they might have been out for a while and I just didn't notice.  As you can see these are wrapped in blue, green, purple, and hot pink foil to give them a sort of Easter color scheme.

While the bunny above was an improvement these Eggs were a disappointment. The peanut butter is just like the other product on today's review but the milk chocolate is waxy.  How waxy?  It not only tastes waxy and feels waxy in your mouth and to your fingers but it also looks a bit waxy, dull yet with a hint of shine that seems unnatural.

An improvement and miss then as our final evaluation.  Really how difficult is to to make this product in the same quality just in different shapes and sizes?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Brach's Barely Covered Bunnies

Brach's is an old name in candy dating back to 1904 in Chicago.  Normally when I think of Brach's I think of caramels, the treat that began their fame.  But they also make some chocolate related products especially for the holidays.  This Easter I wanted to look at their Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Rabbits that I found last year post Easter 2012.  Made with cocoa butter and chocolate liquor, these certainly have chocolate in that milk chocolate coating but it is enough to compete with the marshmallow?

As you can see in this photo the chocolate coating is not very thick at all.  While there is a bunny shape to the marshmallow and thus the coating, my hopes are not great for any actual chocolate flavor no matter what the ingredient list.  The chocolate is thickest on the bottom of this 3 inch long fluffy thing and there it has the greatest cocoa essence.  The first flavor is indeed the chocolate but it very quickly fades into the utter sweetness of the marshmallow.  Great for marshmallow lovers perhaps but honestly not for anyone who even likes chocolate.


The coating really needs to be thicker, at least twice what it is, to be a decent chocolate treat for Easter. Skip these and find another marshmallow egg for your Easter baskets if you want chocolate and if you want marshmallow why bother with this at all?  Just get marshmallows, I saw some Easter shaped ones in our local grocery just last week in pastel colors, too.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Best Chocolate in Town Bar Trio

It has been a while since we've seen products from the The Best Chocolate in Town, a wonderful shop in Indianapolis.  We got so busy here on The Chocolate Cult after they gave us samples that this review kept being put off going live.  So let's look at this trio of bars from them and see if they might make a good gift in your Easter baskets.

The first bar is our only milk chocolate sample, their Milk Chocolate and Roasted Corn.  The chocolate has a slightly creamy fragrance but the cocoa is equally there.  The chocolate continues to be creamy and chocolaty and it melts in your mouth. The large roasted yellow corn kernels are crunchy then become a bit chewy as you continue to bite.  At first I was concerned this wouldn't taste good but actually the corn is much like nuts in texture and an interesting mild blend with the chocolate.  It is better than you might think form the name.


The Dark Chocolate and Pistachio bar is next and it has more than the big words on the label say, look closer and in a smaller font you'll see "with dried cherries."  This is an interesting choice because the cherries ideally will be slightly tart but sweet and the dark chocolate to be a touch bitter both of these should curb the intensity of pistachos.  The principle scent is dark cocoa but the pistacho is there.  Unfortunately the cherries are separate from the nuts and thus their unique flavors are less likely to blend unless you take a big bite.  Take a big bite because the blending of crunchy, creamy, and chewy textures along the flavors bitter, sweet, and sharp is well worth the effort even for a non-pistacho fan like me.

Finally we have a Dark Chocolate and Smoked Almonds "with smoked paprika" in the smaller print.  The spice cuts through the chocolate in terms of scent so I take a bite wondering if it will overpower in terms of flavor as well.  The dark has a darker essence than the previous bar or perhaps just less flavors to compete.  The nuts are crunchy but the paprika doesn't really show up until a hit a part the chocolate where it seems to have soaked into that particular whole almond more.  This isn't bad just a bit of a jolt when I ate that section.

Three unique chocolate bars from The Best Chocolate in Town. Sadly they don't have their own page on the website.  What do you think, Sisters and Brothers?  Have any of our readers in Indy had these?  If so please do leave us a comment and let us know what you thought about them.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Russell Stover Bunnies

Russell Stover is best known for their boxes of decent mixed chocolates that you can give to someone when you don't want to spend a lot of money.  Now they have a variety of bunnies for Easter, too.  We'll look at four -- Peanut Butter milk chocolate, Peanut Butter white chocolate, Milk Chocolate, and Marshmallow -- as you are counting down to the holiday.

We'll start with one of the two smaller bunnies, the peanut butter covered with milk chocolate coming in at 1.5oz and measuring 2.25 X 3.75 X 0.75 inches at the little dear's greatest reaches.  There isn't much peanut butter here for such a prominently displayed name.  The ears and head our solid milk chocolate.  The body finally has peanut butter in it but it rather dull, neither roasted or sweet tasting.  Basically a disappointment, find another peanut butter bunny covered in milk chocolate and skip this one.

The marshmallow bunny's photo is from assets.farmandfleet's website; I had one and I don't know what happened to it... argh.  As you can see the chocolate does indeed cover the entire bunny and just like the above the ears and head are solid while the marshmallow is more in the body.  For marshmallow lovers this may be a disappointment but the milk chocolate balanced well if you alternate with the solid part and the filled sections, otherwise it can be a bit sweet.

Another peanut butter filled Easter bunny from Russell Stover is the White Chocolate one at 3oz.  Yes, this is indeed white chocolate made with cocoa butter not some substitute that you will find in the cheaper brands.  He is 5 inches at his longest and 3 inches at his width with a 0.75 inch thickness at the neck section with the ribbon I hope you can make out.  Turning him over I see a few dots of peanut butter showing through.  The ears are simply white chocolate, the peanut butter is in the head and body.  This is a strongly vanilla white chocolate but also a touch waxy.  When you get to the peanut butter is tastes slightly salty but also intensely creamy because of the white chocolate.  While this type of chocolate isn't my favorite, this bunny works for the average white chocolate and peanut butter lover because it is very balanced in flavors unlike the milk chocolate counterpart.

Finally the solid milk chocolate bunny is up for review.  the same size as the previous bunny this seems lighter in my hands though it is not.  Nothing but gently creamy milk chocolate here at a reasonable price so a good choice for you Easter baskets this year or any year until they change the recipe or ratio of ingredients.


You can buy an Easter basket all ready made, many of you probably do, but if you make your own as I do for my family every year, you get exactly what they want and you can control the amount and quality of the goodies inside.  I just reuse the baskets, too, so it's a win-win for us.  I'm still building ours for this 2013 celebration as well as planning on making a cute chick cake.

What are you Easter plans?

Monday, March 11, 2013

One Reason Chocolate Prices Rose

Sisters and Brothers, while I always want you to have excellent chocolate that will not harm your body or soul, I also know that every one of us has to think about how much money this piece of candy, this drink, or this cookie might cost.  If you've wondered what contributes to the cost of chocolate and why fine chocolate can seem beyond your wallet, you might want to check out this article from Confectionary News.com.

While the price fixing investigation and trial seem finished in Germany, ongoing investigations are happening in Canada and the USA.  Many of the companies involved may not be familiar to you by name but all of them are big players in the chocolate world and if they indeed price fixed it would have raised prices worldwide.

I'm not saying that all company joint efforts are necessarily a bad thing.  In the past many companies of banded together to oppose slave labor on cocoa farmers and today more and more companies are working together to pursue fair trade and substainable agricultural practices.

Cooperation can be good for the consumer, for the world, but far too often the only "good" big businesses cooperating does is for their CEOs wallets.

Also a recall notice that I just became aware of:


See’s Candies, Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on 1.7oz Divinity Egg with Walnuts, code L.A.D. 102/13
Contact
Consumer
1-800-789-7337

Media
Susan Pasarow / Christina Wong / Lydia You / Rosa Muniz
Murphy O’Brien Public Relations
310-453-2539
sees@murphyobrien.com


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -February 28 , 2013 - See’s Candies, Inc. of San Francisco, Calif., is recalling one code of 1.7 ounce Divinity Easter Egg with Walnuts, because some boxes labeled Divinity with Walnuts may actually contain Peanut Butter Eggs. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product. The total number of boxes produced that may contain peanut butter is 64 of a run of 2,048 Divinity with Walnuts Eggs.

The product was distributed to See’s shops in Arizona, California, Nevada, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

The product is sold individually in boxes labeled See’s Candies Divinity With Walnuts, 1.7 oz. The only code affected by this recall is L.A.D. 102/13, and is visible on the inside back of the box, through the cellophane window.

There is no reported allergen reaction or illness attributed to this product.

Concerned consumers should return the product or the receipt to any See’s Candies Shop or the location where it was purchased for a full refund or exchange. Any consumers with questions about this recall should also contact See’s Consumer Affairs at 1-800-789-7337.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

$50 Gift Card Giveway for Steak, Seafood, and Chocolate!

Using RANDOM.ORG our winner from the comments below and on our FB for this giveaway is: Carolsue Anderson who entered a total of three times making her more likely to win.  She has been contacted with her gift card code.  Thank you to everyone and the Certified Steak and Seafood Company for their gift card through the Foodie Blogroll.

Your Chocolate Priestess recently received a $50 gift card from the Certified Steak and Seafood Company via The Chocolate Cult's membership in Foodie Blogroll.  I used this to order one of the desserts they sell as well as a set of steaks and a lot of high quality hamburgers.  Today I'd like to take you through my experience of ordering and using some of this food to help celebrate Valentine's Day over a week ago.

I ordered the one purely chocolate dessert the company sells, Triple Chocolate Cake.  They also have a cheesecake selection but it had only a few chocolate pieces and tree nuts so that wasn't as acceptable as this choice.  The cake is large and I made sure we cut it into 16 pieces so I could use the nutritional information on the box most accurately.  It was actually a challenge to cut it into so many pieces but I had help. The first thing I noticed about the cake is that it was simply packed in a box inside the bigger box with dry ice and individually wrapped hamburgers, steaks, and even a free pack of fancy albacore tuna.

The burgers and steak had instruction on how to prepare them but the cake and tuna did not; I know how to use the cake but the tuna, well, we don't generally have something this fancy in my house.  The only probably the packing created with the cake is that the lovely chocolate curls you'll see on their website were completely crushed making it less pretty than I had hoped it would be.

When you go to unpack this have gloves because the dry ice makes everything cold, super cold and it will burn you.  I'm completely serious here, put on some gloves before you start unwrapping things.  You'll want to thaw the cake in the refrigerator as well as the meat.  I put the steaks and cake in the frig the day before I wanted to use them to make sure I could on Valentine's Day.

The cake itself is very rich and the nutritional information suggests that you cut it into 12 pieces at least. Once the cake was thawed fully it gave off a nice strong cocoa fragrance.  The cake parts were moist but not overly so,  which the fudgy layer between then was deeply chocolaty in nature.  It was a challenge to eat a full bite with all the layers so I tended to take smaller bites. I shared this with a total of seven people making it easier for me to get enough that it satisfied without pigging out.

We are also hosting a GIVEAWAY for a $50 Gift Card to Certified Steak and Seafood Company.  You don't have to buy this chocolate cake you could spend it on steaks, or shrimp, or cheesecake, or lobster or anything on their website that you like.  Sometimes they offer free shipping if you order a certain amount so look for that.  They only ship to Canada and the USA, including Hawaii by the way.

How do you win?

Leave a comment below stating what product you's spend your $50 gift card on.

Make sure that you have an email address listed for your ID so I can contact you if you wish.  If I can't contact you, then I'll chose another winner.

To earn extra entries, join our Facebook community page and leave a comment stating what product you'd spend your $50 gift card on.

Since this is a big giveaway I need to see at least 20 different people enter so spread the word about the giveaway.

This giveaway will end on Noon (Eastern Time) on Friday, March 15, 2013.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Recalls to Start off February 2013

Sisters and Brothers another chocolate product has been recalled and so as part of my duty to you all I bring you news of them U.S.A.'s FDA.  Remember that while recalls are only for the USA usually if you use these products elsewhere you might want to look into them and see if your own nations have similar recalls in effect.


Zachary Confections, Inc. Announces Recall of Zachary Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Eggs due to Possible Contamination and Possible Health Risk
02/27/2013 06:50 PM EST

Zachary Confections, Inc., today announced a voluntary recall of certain production lots of its Zachary Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Eggs because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Zachary Confections, Inc. has issued a further statement here.

Updated information here.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Easter Delights from Williams-Sonoma

As you may notice, Sisters and Brothers, we have been hosting a few ads for Williams-Sonoma for some time but the company finally followed through and sent us a $50 gift card to use on anything we wanted to write about here for you all.  With Easter approaching I thought looking at their chocolate exclusives for the holiday might be a good idea.  We ordered three different items which you can see here in this photo.  Let's take a look at each of these.

The Chocolate Truffle-filled Eggs came in a bag and are a bit like idealized robin eggs in a light blue color.  There are three types of chocolate here: white, milk, and bittersweet covered with a candy shell.  These are flavored with Marc de Champagne and amaretto-kirsch distillates but I don't think it is enough to make these non-child-friendly.  These are all cocoa butter and chocolate liquor candies with milk and soy added.  These are almost an inch long but seem very light in my hand.  The candy coating is cool and smooth and there is a light scent of the distillates as well as sugar.  The chocolate is layered like this: milk and bittersweet center, covered with white chocolate, and then the candy shell.  The alcohol flavor is very intense, it actually overpowers the chocolates and burns a bit and that might make these more appropriate for adults than little kids.

The six piece set of Bunny Truffles included three milk and three dark chocolate with a caramel filling. These are made with cocoa butter and cocoa mass with milk and soy in case you have any allergies to wary of.  They are identical but you can easily see one is dark and one is milk; I hope that shows in the photo, Sisters and Brothers.  They are 1 3/8th inches long and half an inch thick.  The milk chocolate bunny has a tangy sweet creamy scent and it makes a soft snap when I take a bite.  Immediately my mouth is struck by creamy chocolate and then buttery caramel that almost flows out.  The dark chocolate bunny's chocolate fragrance makes it through the tangy sweetness and it makes a louder snap when I bite it in half.  The mix of the buttery caramel and the dark chocolate has this sharply bitter edge at first that fades into a sweeter cocoa and butter taste over a short amount of time.  I really these a lot; you need to get these, Sisters and Brothers.

The Mâché Easter Egg contains five different candies.  The Peas & Carrots, the Spring Pops, and the Jelly Beans are not chocolate so we will not be reviewing these for you.  However there were two chocolate items inside.

The Chocolate Bunny is made of cocoa butter and chocolate liquor but also has milk and soy if that is a concern for you.  I don't think you can see it that well in my photography but this is a laughing bunny with its hands in front and one ear bent down giving it a mischievous look.  It is about two inches at it's widest, around the base, and 4.75 inches tall, with the thickest part around the legs at 1.75 inches.  This has a milk chocolate and light vanilla scent and has more heft to it than I expect from a hollow bunny; let's see if the chocolate is thicker than I expect.  The top half of the ears are solid and they make a very loud snap when I take a bite.  The milk chocolate here is a nice balance of cocoa, milk, and a hint of vanilla, it melts in my mouth.  The more hollow parts make less of a sound or none depending on their thickness.  The quality of chocolate is higher than the next and final candy from this Easter grouping.

The Chocolate Carrot is wrapped in orange and green foil, separate pieces by the way, and are made of cocoa butter ad chocolate liquor as well with milk and soy added.  It is 4.5 inches long and about half an inch at it's thickest and one inch at the widest part near the stem.  The chocolate has a milk chocolate and vanilla scent and is slightly cool to my fingertips.  There is a soft snap when I bite into the tip and the vanilla is the first flavor.  Over time a creamy cocoa flavor emerges but I think I like the Bunny Truffle chocolate better.

These exclusive chocolates from Williams-Sonoma's online store were all great and well worth the extra price.  All of them also are available for free-shipping when you purchase enough in one order.  This is real chocolate, no added fats, and thus I consider it to be Sacrament worthy.  I hope you do, too.  If you'd tried previous Easter exclusives from Williams-Sonoma let me know what you thought about those and if you have tried these, please share your opinion in a comment below.

Friday, March 1, 2013

March's Chocolate Calendar 2013

Sisters and Brother, did I get a calendar out for February this year?  I may not have given my mother's death and if that is the case I apologize.  Fun food holidays and other holidays that can use chocolate do not change much so I guess you could have looked back to 2012 if you wanted to know.  But here are the dates this year for March's Chocolate Dates.


1st Thursday in March = World Book Day -- Want to find a good book to read? Look through our book reviews here on this site.

March 6 = National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day -- cause cheesecake can indeed be even more decadent

March 8 = National Peanut Cluster Day -- what else would you make a cluster with if not chocolate?

March 14 = National Pi Day which is often treated as a pie day -- we do this, we only eat circular things on this day, more challenging than you might think

2nd week of March = Chocolate Chip Cookie Week -- an entire week!  How many different recipes for chocolate chip cookies are there?

March 18 = National Oatmeal Cookie Day -- hey, add some darker cocoa and it isn't unhealthy

March 19 = National Chocolate Caramel Day -- check out the Easter feature about Williams-Sonoma for bunny shaped treats that fit this category

3rd week of March = American Chocolate Week -- not so important if you live in America but if you live elsewhere try to find some and you might surprised at how different or how similar it is to what you normally have

March 24 = National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day -- yeah... still not thrill even with chocolate but our Fruit Acolyte might be thrilled

March 25 = International Waffle Day; Pecan Day (not national) -- pecans, waffles, and chocolate now there is a good idea

March 26 = National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day -- So what will it be this year?  Give us some ideas in the comments!

March 28 = National Black Forrest Cake Day -- Does anyone out there make this cake?

March 31 = Easter in the Western Christianity -- seems really early this year and the Eastern traditions place their celebration of this holiday much later in April

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