Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chocolate Bar Creation for the Holidays

Just in time for Christmas and other winter holidays comes another Magic Choc product that lets you play with your treat before you eat them: Chocolate Picture Maker.  This makes candy bars that you or your child designs and molds, teaching how these treats are made as well as encouraging creativity  Plus this is all real chocolate without unnecessary added fats or oils.  Just as we tested the molding chocolate with a couple of kids we tested this with the same two little girls so we can comment about which kit they preferred and would recommend at the end.  We received three kits -- a four-pack and two one-packs meaning that we could make six bars in total just enough for each of us to make one.

The kits have the activity tray you put the chocolate in as well stencils set you use to help make the image. I looked for more stencils for the Chocolate Picture Maker online and found them here though there were not hundreds as the boxes claimed only 56.  I didn't print out any extra because I felt we had enough variety as it was.


32 stencil patterns were included in the kits themselves.  The stencils are labeled from Easy to Medium to Hard depending on how any lines and small shapes you need to make for each image.  You cut each stencil picture out and tape it to the bottom of the tray you need the side that has depth to pour your chocolate into.  The directions in each box gives useful hints but also makes it clear you need to this a certain way -- dark chocolate to outline, white to fill in, and milk to cover it all and make the bar's back and bulk.

Using the Chocolate Picture Maker was more fun than the modeling chocolate several of our testers thought; they were about equally messy.  This chocolate though was much better tasting since nothing had to be done to make it moldable only pourable and that only requires pure chocolate in all three varieties.  However this kit was less creative on some levels because you had to either start with a stencil or pre-plan a shape out since you outline first but I think most of us added something onto the image for example this cat got a hat he didn't have in the original stencil while the moon and stars I made got some dark chocolate craters added to the lunar landscape so that I'd get more dark chocolate.

Beyond the outlining you could be more messy though you still needed to be careful about move the dark chocolate or the white chocolate around with each layer.  This sheep just had white chocolate dumped over the outlined body then spread gently around but the dark lines showed through.  Toothpicks helped move the chocolate into the proper places we found out with much less mess and line damage than using a finger even if you got to eat the chocolate that way.

Since you had to cover the entire back and tray with the milk chocolate just drizzling it everywhere then spreading with a small spatula worked great we discovered.  This made a mostly even backed bar that was fairly uniform in thickness.





Here are our final results!



Have you use the Chocolate Picture Maker?  If so please leave us a comment and let us know what you thought of it.  We give this a Sacrament Status for fun and quality chocolate but it is expensive for anything beyond a very small party or family gift.

Friday, November 29, 2013

December 2013 Fun Chocolate Holidays

December and all the winter holidays it brings but there is still more for our fun food holidays if you want.


1st Week of December = Cookie Cutter Week -- if I'm asked again this year I plan to do the cookie swap and post about it for you all but what cookie should i make?

December 1 = National Pie Day

December 4 = National Cookie Day

December 5 = National Sacher Torte Day

December 8 = National Chocolate Brownie Day; Bodhi Day marks when Siddhartha experienced Enlightenment and last year we marked it with a chocolate buddha

December 9 = National Pastry Day

December 12 = National Cocoa Day

December 15 = National Cookie Day, National Cupcake Day -- wait, two "National Cookies Days" in the same month?!

December 16 = National Chocolate Covered Anything Day -- anything?  what will you cover with chocolate, Sisters and Brothers?

December 28/29 = National Chocolate Days

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Celebrate Hanukkah with Askinosie

Earlier this year we looked at two of the new CollaBARation bars from Askinosie Chocolate.  We have always loved Askinosie for their bean to bar process that includes and empowers local growers but now they have also become certified Kosher just in time for Hanukkah.  Therefore today before the eight day celebrations really get into gear we want to test and reveal two more flavors of these bars for you all.  I tried these with two others -- one assistant tester for each flavor -- so my report is a combination of our experiences.

Zingerman's dark chocolate is less conched and so it should have a more rustic in texture but also has vanilla beans and sugar crystals.  The front of all Askinosie bars looks identical; I won't put up another photo of that here but I did want to show the backs.  In this bar you can see the reddish rougher texture underneath the plastic wrap. There is no way to reseal these and I traveled with these bars to visit my helpers for each so I took photos before for you all.  The dark scent is very strong here once you get a piece up to your nose.  The first bite crunches but the texture is not as rough as I thought it might be, in fact there is a bit of chewiness because every now and then I hit a vanilla bean pod piece and releases a burst of vanilla.  Depending on the square the saltiness or the vanilla can build up; the salt overwhelms the chocolate but the vanilla continued to support it well.

Cafe Pasqual's has sea salt flakes, Pistachio, and dark milk chocolate made with Goat's milk and some ancho chile!  WOW, that quite a collection of flavors.  As you can see the pistachios are large but only visible on the back of the bar.  In terms of smell the salt, chocolate, and pistachios are strong.  The first thing you notice when you take a bite of this bar is the salt and there is a lot of it, then the pistachios kick in with the chocolate that tastes no different from other dark milk chocolates regardless of the type of milk you are used to.  But then the chile kicks in this comes to overwhelm and dominate all of the chocolate plus the spiciness lingers and lingers for minutes.

This is the first time we can say that we simply didn't like a product from Askinosie and that was disappointing. Blessed Hanukkah to all our Jewish readers! Everyone, please let us know if you can find these Askinosie bars and what you think of them when you give them a try.  There are lots of other varieties of bars as well from Askinosie so please do go check them out and know that if you buy from them you buy not only quality chocolate but a better life for others.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: Pudding Cookbook for Upcoming Fun Food Holiday

National Parfait Day is today, November 25th so as a Special Sacramental Feature here is a cookbook review, of Clio Goodman's Puddin': Luscious and Unforgettable Puddings, Parfaits, Puddings Cakes, Pies, and Pops... what a long name!  But does it deliver easy to use recipes?  Yes and no so let me explain why I loved and hated this cookbook at the same time.

This book is divided into six chapters listed below:

Chapter 1: The Classics featuring 10 recipes.

Chapter 2: New Favorites with 14 recipes.

Chapter 3: Toppings subdivided into three categories of cookies and cake toppings; sauces, compotes, and toppings; candies and crunchies with a grand total of 22 recipes

Chapter 4: Pudding Parfaits with 12 specific recipes or ideas really for how to layer them.

Chapter 5: Pudding Cakes and Pies includes only eight recipes.

Chapter 6: Pudding Pops also has just eight recipes that are more how to add to the pudding to turn them into frozen treats.

The book includes many photos but the review copy I was sent was only in grayscale so I cannot say how well the photos compare to those in other cookbooks I've been sent to review.  Click on the link below to go see some photos from the book and order it if you think this sounds like a book you want to give a try.





I made three recipes, my standard testing approach for cookbooks as you know, Sisters and Brothers -- Chocolate Pudding (p.3), Peanut Butter Pudding (p. 25), and Whipped Cream (p. 70).  With these I constructed a parfait using the basic layering techniques in chapter four but not the specifics.

The directions were clear enough that I could follow though you must read the "Pudding 101" to know exactly what some of the terms used mean.   Of course ideally we always read this introductory and advice sections of cookbooks but in this book it will help you and it will be necessary if you have not made a homemade pudding or custard or related dish before.  While the directions were clear the amount of effort required was seriously underplayed in the text. Making the peanut butter pudding took over 20 minutes of cooking time plus the buying of ingredients, prep time, cooling, and dishing out the pudding.  The chocolate pudding took almost 30 minutes of cooking time and it took almost twice as long to cool once refrigerated.

In all making the parfaits took a good six hours of time or my entire afternoon though this was broken into three periods of about 20-30 minutes of intense activity.  This was not a quick dessert though making just a pudding would be the equivalent of making a cake and frosting it.  As I was making them I felt frustrated and worried that things weren't working out.  The chocolate pudding was much looser and less thick than the peanut butter one but they both tasted great.  For the first time in all of the cookbooks I've used and reviewed the whipped cream instructions were complete in terms of how fast to whip and how long it should take; this was the best whipped cream I ever made.

I used leftover Agostoni Organic Couvetures in the two darker varieties we looked at last year and it melted, blended, and lasted very well in the chocolate pudding.  I just used general store brand cocoa powder as well so I didn't take a photo for you all.  The benefit to using this beyond the taste we discussed when we reviewed the Couveture was the fact that it comes in discs that each weight .05 ounces so you can easily get the amount you need for these recipes if you use a kitchen scale.

The result was 20 parfaits I put together in simple 9oz plastic cups with some chocolate sprinkles on top of the whipped cream.  Note: the parfait recipes in the book routinely say they make 10 servings and all of them use 2-3 different pudding recipes so I cut back on the amount of each each cup I made.  I had six testers try it with me and I took the leftovers to a birthday party as part of my gift to the birthday boy (who was one of the testers and liked them a lot).  Pudding will only last a few days so you do need to have your eaters ready and willing to chow down or have an event to take these two. When creating the parfait basically add the total servings for each part of the construction and you'll have a general idea of how many parfait servings you will get.

Ultimately it was rewarding to make something that people liked to eat (though was very rich) but nutritional these are not every day or even every week treats unless you don't care about calories primarily made of fat.  I used a sugar substitute simply because I couldn't buy sugar in a small enough quantity to not have it left over after this testing -- the product I use works exactly as sugar so it did not affect the texture at all only the over all calorie and sugar totals of the treats.  This gave me a lot of respect for anyone who makes homemade pudding but to be honest I'll probably stick to the box instant version unless I can find a way to make these lower fat and calories.  The book claims I can do this but doesn't specify how to go about this and I'm sure changing from whole milk and heavy cream to lower fat or fat free dairy products will require changes in time or temperature for cooking and cooling.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Board Games with Chocolate 2013

Today is the first day of National Games Week that promotes games as a form of social interaction and community building.  This celebration was created in 2008 and isn't official, just a fun holiday, but given that we have had two different games this year that had something to do with chocolate I decided to do a special feature and finally cover these games that we got through the Amazon Vine Reviewer program. Why was I sent these?  My family and friends are big gamers -- RPG, cards, board games, word games, puzzles, etc.  We find it to be a great way to connect and challenge ourselves without violence competition.

The first board game we got this year that had kind of had a chocolate connection was Monopoly Empire Game.  In this game you buy and build up different brands some of which do indeed have to do with chocolate as a food/drink or are just named chocolate.



The second game this year that we got that had something to do with chocolate would have been great back in July when we were covering ice cream in all forms.  The What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar? The Original Game is for 4-8 teen through adult aged players. No this is not a child's especially a young child friendly game but you do need to be able to act really silly and not take yourself too seriously if you want to play this.



The only real downside to both of these games is that they felt a lot like brand promotions but I don't have a problem doing that here on our site.  In fact what we do is test products so that you don't have to make uninformed decisions about how you spend your money.  Of course you might also think of the games not coming with chocolate to be a downside, too, but you can always add in the chocolate of your choice.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Uniquely Made Chocolate Almond Butter Crunch

Another item from Uncle Sam's Chocolate Factory is their uniquely made Almond Butter Crunch, this box they sent us had both milk and dark chocolate varieties.  Click on the video below to see how they make it.  It is fun to watch and you'll learn what makes their process unique far better than I could explain it in words.




Wasn't that interesting, Sisters and Brothers?  The pieces are just over a quarter an inch thick toffee-like butter crunch covered with a layer of either dark or milk chocolate. The pieces vary widely in terms of size.

I'm not sure that you can see the difference in the color between the milk and dark chocolate in my photo but I put two of each variety into our dish for our photo.  One thing you might see is that because it is hand spread the chocolate varies in terms of thickness.  I also found a few sections of chocolate just floating in the box so if you buy it to be delivered be aware this may happen.  If you go to their 2571 Albany Street, Schenectady, NY 12304 location you probably won't have this problem.

So let's get down to our senses and this treat.  Really not a strong scent when I opened the box or when I brought a piece of the Milk Chocolate Almond Butter Crunch close to my nose.  It feels cool in my fingers and makes a soft snap when I take a bite but continues to crunch with each chew.  The first flavor is milk chocolate then the almonds and this a burst of butteriness that builds and builds.  The butter crunch starts to stick to my teeth as I chew but not too much.  The milk chocolate fades to leave the buttery tang the dominant flavor exactly as we experience with all treats of this basic type.

The Dark Chocolate variety has a cocoa scent to it so right there is the first difference.  The snap is the same but the crunch seems a touch louder as I chew.  The chocolate taste is stronger stays part of the blend through the entire process of enjoying one bite.  This is more likely to happen with darker chocolate but in our experience here on our features and regular reviews it is rare so this really impresses me. Of the two I strongly recommend you get the Dark Chocolate variety if you want more of a chocolate flavor but the Milk Chocolate if you really just want the butter crunch part.

The winter holidays have just started so if you know someone who likes toffee or similar treats you should check outUncle Sam's Almond Butter Crunch.  This has a unique flavor and the dark does great in terms of lasting chocolate flavor so it deserves a Sacrament status for the flavor, the ingredients, and to support smaller private businesses.  This closes off our featured reviews of  the three products that Uncle Sam's Chocolate Factory sent us to reveal to you all, Sisters and Brothers.  Please leave them a few comments and let them know what you think, Sisters and Brothers.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Should You Pop Your Holidays?

Have you seen the commercials for PopChef from idea village, Sisters and Brothers?  I've only seen one or two but I was happy to test their product when contacted through the FuelMyBlog program that you can see our link to along the right hand bar on this site.  Today your Chocolate Priestess has an event that is focused on both music and kids as part of an arts guild I'm a member of so I used the PopChef to make treats with.  The event is tonight so I'll have to update this essay once I see how the guests liked the treats but as always I want to share with you all how easy or complicated using this tool was and how I combined it with chocolate goodies.

The kit has easy to use directions though there are some facts I want to highlight that may surprise you.

The cutters are small especially the round one that made only items of 1 inch diameter.  Think about the size before you go making plans.  Little round sandwiches will be tiny but flower shaped one more of a two-bite snack. Three of the six cutters (round, star, heart) are on long attachments but the other three (sun, flower, butterfly) are short attachments.  Why?  The part that cuts through the food itself is all the same size really so I'm not sure why there is this difference.

Do not be gentle with the bulb, hit that thing to get the food you have cut to consistently come out.  I didn't have a problem with stick food but if you do not apply enough pressure then the air puff won't be strong enough to push it out. The air pressure actually could and should be improved to make it easier to use. Note that the kit comes not just with the bulb and the cutters but also some wooden skewers to put your creations on like a kebab, another stick to help dislodge any foods that might get stuck in the cutters, and a little booklet with some recipes and creation ideas in it.

Have a plan for the left over food -- obviously since none of the food you are extra pieces of food you cannot cut into the shape.  I made generic looking treats, fed the extras to my family, or tossed them out for the birds and squirrels in our neighborhood to enjoy depending on what it was that I was cutting.

I made a few items with the PopChef to try it out with different types of food.

First I made the mini cocoa chocolate chip biscuits using the round shape.  It was easy to cut the rolled out dough but getting it to "pop" the dough out was challenging.  The amount of air you can force out of the pump isn't very much and you really need to hit it. Even then sometimes the pieces came out, sometimes it several attempts.  I never had to pull or push the pieces out.

Then I made sandwiches with three different shapes -- flower, sun, and heart -- using hearty oat crunch bread, slices of cheese, and slices of black pepper roast beef.  The bread was relatively easy to cut though again the pump didn't consistently "pop" out.



The cheese was the easiest to cut and the easiest to pop out while the beef was the most difficult simply because these cutters aren't very sharp, this is for kids primarily you can't expect it to be too sharp, and I always had to push the meat out or pull the excess off when the cutter refused to pick them up.


The best shapes for the foods I tried were the tiny round and the heart which is also fairly small. Given that I used more hearty bread and meat I think a very simple white bread and a very smooth meat like a baloney would cut easily.  I couldn't find a fruit or veggie to really try -- every slice I found pre-prepared in the local shops was too thick and that is a limitation for this tool that you need to be aware of.  Ultimately this took a lot of work but compared to paying a professional to do it it may well be worth your time, money, and effort.  Just be prepared to have left over food pieces and to make mistakes.  Don't put this off until the last minute, try out  your ideas a good few days before so you know if it will work for what you want.

Do you think that PopChef might be fun for you or your kids?  Do you think it could help you make certain types of food or treats a bit more fun or attractive? If you or your kids have used this please do leave us a comment and tell us what you thought of the device.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Celebrate Mexico (GIVEAWAY too)

Today, is the public holiday "Revolution Day Memorial" for our Mexican readers. This day turns out to be great for a feature review we are doing combining homemade mole sauce with a frozen entrée from Old El Paso. Not only will I be trying a recipe and a product but we'll be sharing this gift package (see photo) with one lucky reader.  This gift package includes a coupon for a FREE Old El Paso frozen entrée, a $10 Visa card, and a lovely chip and dip serving tray.  To enter the giveaway keep reading and then follow the directions at the end of the post.  Sadly the company will only ship within the USA but please do spread this post around even if you can't enter yourself.  Don't put this off because the winner will be chosen on November 25, just one week from now.

Clearly this is The Chocolate Cult so how could I do this testing and giveaway with chocolate?  Easy because there is mole sauce after all!  I made a very simple, probably many of you would say fake mole sauce by mixing together 1 cup chicken soup stock, 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, and 2 tsp of cocoa chile blend powder.  I whisked the cocoa chile into the stock then slowly melted and mixed in the chocolate.  Then I let it simmer on medium for 25 minutes stirring off and on but making sure to scrap the bottom and sides as I did so.  Simple, not too spicy for my tastes, and very fast but also very low in sodium and not too bad in terms of calories.

I didn't use the mole sauce on the Chicken Enchiladas, 20oz box which serves two people.  I found Old El Paso frozen entrees in two of my nearby grocery stores and I recommend you price this around because the difference in price is normally $2 but the week I bought and made this to test there was a sale and the difference in price was $4 -- well within the range on the coupon.  I made the chicken enchiladas in the oven according to directions on the box but as you can see here even before being baked the six enchiladas were really one large mass that you could sort of see the ends of.

After 45 minutes (yes the oven was preheated) I took them out and separated them onto two plates.  I had the left hand half and my tester had the right hand side.  He said it was just spicy enough and had a lot of cheese and sauce but I found mine to be too onion heavy for my taste so we switched.  The meals were not the same even though they had come from the same box!  His half had less chicken and almost no onions than mine had.  The corn tortillas were soft, very soft and I had to slide them out of the baking pan that comes in the box because I couldn't get them out in one piece.  Had I used the microwave directions I would have expect this but not from the oven which I expect at least firm if not somewhat crispy tortillas.  Perhaps there was too much sauce?

I used the simple mole sauce to dip my multi-grain tortilla chips into and they tasted great this way!

There are many ways to enter this great giveaway, Sisters and Brothers, and since you get three different gifts I want to see dozens of entries so please pass this around.  Sadly the company can only ship within the USA but even if you live elsewhere please spread this giveaways post around.

We are using the Rafflecopter program to run this giveaway so please follow the instructions below.

Note: when you leave a comment you MUST tell the Rafflecopter form that you have done so.  I will check against the comments so please makes sure you leave one when you report that you have done so because if you don't leave an actual comment, your entry will not be counted.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Recalls November 17, 2013

Three recalls related to chocolate to share with you all today, Sisters and Brothers.  Remember to always go to the links we share for each and do your own follow up for any of these.


Consumer Contact: (800) 831-0828

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 11, 2013 - Palmer Candy Company of Sioux City, IA is recalling 102 cases of HyVee Chocolate Caramel Clusters and 90 cases HyVee Chocolate Covered Caramels because they may contain undeclared peanuts. People who have an allergy to peanuts run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The recalled products were distributed throughout the Midwest to HyVee Stores.

HyVee Chocolate Caramel Clusters – UPC 7723212515 9 oz plastic tub with the following lot code: Sell By: 04/07/14 F30202 located on the bottom of each tub.

HyVee Chocolate Covered Caramels – UPC 7723212520 12 oz plastic tub with the following lot code: Sell By: 10/07/14 F30202 located on the bottom of each tub.
No illnesses have been reported in connection with either of the products being recalled.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that the HyVee Chocolate Caramel Clusters were mispackaged in HyVee Chocolate Covered Caramel labels. The HyVee Chocolate Covered Caramel label does not list peanuts as an ingredient.

Consumers who have purchased HyVee Chocolate Caramel Clusters or HyVee Chocolate Covered Caramels are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Palmer Candy Company (800) 831-0828, Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM.

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Consumer Contact:  1-866-839-8863

Media Contact:  1-866-839-8863 x 366

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 8, 2013 — Sequel Naturals Inc., dba “Vega,” announced today that it has taken the precautionary measure of voluntarily withdrawing a limited quantity of its Vega One Nutritional Shakes and Sports Performance Protein products due to finding trace amounts of chloramphenicol (CAP), a naturally occurring antibiotic.

Chloramphenicol is a prescription drug commonly used to treat typhoid fever and eye infections around the world. It should only be used under medical supervision. It has been associated with rare cases of aplastic anemia and allergic reactions in some people. A leading expert on CAP says that there have been no known cases of anemia caused by residual amounts found in food. Pregnant or lactating women should avoid this medication.

None of the Vega product formulations include CAP as an ingredient; however, an enzyme that was provided by a third party supplier, which constitutes less than 1% of the product ingredients, was found to contain trace amounts of CAP.

As a precautionary measure, Vega is voluntarily withdrawing all of the listed product from the market and has taken steps to ensure all future products are CAP-free, including using a different source of enzymes to prevent further potential contamination and assure consumers of product purity. These actions complete a voluntary product withdrawal and ingredient resourcing that applied to Canadian products as well.

“We’re doing this out of an overabundance of caution and to ensure that when you go to the shelf, you never have to wonder about the purity of a Vega product,” said Charles Chang, Vega President and Founder.

The Vega products were distributed nationwide in retail stores.

People who have severe sensitivity or allergies to chloramphenicol may run the risk of an allergic reaction if they consume these products.  There have been no reported allergic reactions from the listed products.

The following chocolate products listed here are being voluntarily withdrawn from sale -- there are other non-chocolate varieties on the link above so check it out if you have bought this product:

Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 15.4 oz 47048001 08/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 15.4 oz 47048000 08/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 15.4 oz 47043200 07/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 30.9 oz 47042403 08/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 30.9 oz 47046801 08/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 30.9 oz 47042401 07/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 30.9 oz 47042402 08/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 30.9 oz 47042400 07/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 30.9 oz 47046802 08/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 30.9 oz 47049101 09/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 1.5 oz 47048600 08/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 15.4 oz 47047300 07/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 15.4 oz 47042300 07/2015
Vega ONE Nutritional Shake Chocolate 15.4 oz 47049601 09/2015
Vega Sport Performance Protein Chocolate 15.7 oz 47043500 07/2015
Vega Sport Performance Protein Chocolate 15.7 oz 47048301 08/2015
Vega Sport Performance Protein Chocolate 15.7 oz 47048300 08/2015
Vega Sport Performance Protein Chocolate 29 oz 47047600 08/2015
Vega Sport Performance Protein Chocolate 29 oz 47042900 07/2015
Vega Sport Performance Protein Chocolate 29 oz 47047602 08/2015


All the product from the lot codes listed are completely safe for the general population. This voluntary withdrawal does not apply to any other lot of Vega product distributed anywhere in Canada or the United States. If you have purchased a product from any of the lot codes below and wish to return it, please call or email Vega for a full refund: 1-866-839-8863 or www.vegarecall.com
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Consumer Contact: 804-556-0671

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 13, 2013 - RICHMOND, Virginia - 3 Fellers LLC is voluntarily initiating a product recall of 3 Fellers Chocolate Cream Pies with the UPC# 891796002732 as a precautionary measure. The recall was initiated after it was discovered by the company that the product may contain undeclared almonds. People who are allergic to almonds could have a serious or life-threatening reaction if they consume this product. For consumers who are not allergic to almonds, there is no safety issue with the product. The company has received no reports of illnesses associated with this product.

This recall affects products with BEST BY DATES prior to 5/7/2014 on the bottom of the container. Products that have BEST BY DATES prior to 5/7/2014, but declare the allergen (almonds) on the label, are not included in this recall.

These products were distributed to Southern California, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and Kentucky.

No other 3 Fellers branded products are affected by this voluntary recall. Only products sold in the geographical area listed above are potentially affected.

Consumers in possession of the recalled product that have an allergy to almonds should not consume it and should discard it. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (804) 556-0671, Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm, EDT.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Icelandic Chocolate Treats

Our first ever chocolate from Iceland are part of these Winter Holiday features in 2013.  We are proud and honored to be able to introduce our readers worldwide to these Puffin Eggs and Horse Doo Doo that come from Island Treasures.  Puffin Eggs sound cute though when I tested these with some friends a few thought they were actual chocolate coated eggs from the animals. The other... well, that's an interesting name, huh, and we'll get to them soon. Both of these candies are made with real chocolate meaning they use cocoa butter and chocolate mass/liquor in each.

The Puffin Eggs are soft licorice covered in milk chocolate and a white candy coating. These came in a reusable tin that you can use as a piggy bank to save up your change to buy another candy treat with.  I think that idea is both useful and fun and means you'll get to hold onto the memories of the candy for longer as well as set some money aside.  Initially there is no scent to these really and that isn't shocking given the candy coating.  Biting one in half (that takes a bit of effort but Your Chocolate priestess has strong, healthy teeth) reveals a thick milk chocolate underneath the very thin white candy coating and then an almost equally thick black licorice center.  The first flavor is sweet then turns more licorice before a touch of milk chocolate and ending on the licorice.  I love black licorice and I really like milk chocolate so I really liked these.  Of the testers who helped me out most liked it except the few that dislike licorice or maybe I should say hate licorice because they were pretty vocal about it.

The Icelandic Horse Doo Doo is similar but is it "milk chocolate and licorice balls covered with a piquant licorice powder" so it should be more spicy, have more of a kick to it.  These are the same size as the Puffin Eggs and that kind of disappointed me given the name... I was expecting them to be oddly shaped and larger but perhaps that's going beyond "interesting" to "icky" though I think kids of any nationality would love it!  The coating is powdery and comes off easily on your fingers on even the dish you might place them in so keep that in mind.  These have a nice black licorice fragrance to them as I bring one up to my mouth.  Inside is the same balance of milk chocolate to licorice but this time the first flavor is the licorice then a blending of the two to turn into the more balanced of the two candies in terms of chocolaty nature.  I really liked these!

Island Treasures focuses on favorite flavor combinations in Iceland that might some odd to those of us reading this in the USA.  While these candies were certainly quite different from most of the chocolate candy we have available in the USA I think a fair number of us would probably like to give these a try.  So if you are looking for a stocking stuffer for Christmas or a unique gift for any of the other dozens of winter holidays, go check out Island Treasures' main website for all the varieties and the various tin/bag/boxes you can order them in.  Made with both cocoa butter and chocolate mass/liquor these are are great treat that earn a Sacrament status for a unique (or traditional) holiday gift.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Are Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits Really Easy?

I remember seeing Mr. Food on TV shows growing up and now he's on the Internet.  I've been using the online site to look up recipes because in general I find the instructions there easy to follow.  I found a "chocolate buttermilk biscuit" recipe that didn't seem particularly chocolatey to me so I used it as the basis of the following recipe and tried it out with another product I needed to experiment with for our forthcoming Saturday Sacrament.

Mini Cocoa Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Biscuits
Ingredients:
4 C Heart Healthy Bisquick Mix
2/3 C Crisco Butter Flavor Stick
1.5 C Buttermilk
1/4 C Cocoa
1 C Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut Crisco into smaller pieces and add to Bisquick mix.  Using a standing mixer with dough hook, work the flour mixture and the fat into you get a crumbling result and do not see any obvious pieces of fat.  You will need to scrape the bowl several times.

Add in half the buttermilk and mix on low until thoroughly blended.  Keep scraping the bowl to get it all mixed.

Add in the cocoa and mix that until the entire dough is uniform in color.  You guessed it, keep scraping the bowl.

Add in the rest of the buttermilk and the chocolate chips and blend together for a minute or two.  But this point you shouldn't need to scrape the bowl so much.

Dump the dough out onto a flour-dusted flat surface.  Lightly oil your rolling pin and then roll out the dough.  The chips ill not allow you to go thinner than about 1/2 an inch which works best with most cookie cutters.

Cut out the biscuits and place on ungreased but non-stick baking sheet.

Place biscuits into oven for 7 minutes if you are making biscuits as small as these 1-inch diameter ones that I made. Adjust the time as needed for larger sized biscuits but you should go over 9-10 minutes or the chocolate chips may burn.

Allow to cool for about 30 seconds then move to another surface to cool.  I used waxed paper myself because these were too small to really work on my cooling racks.

The end result is a lightly buttery biscuit with a tiny hint of cocoa (may need more cocoa and less biscuit mix) until you hit a chip that then bursts with flavor.

The most time consuming part of this was making the 200+ mini biscuits.  I recommend you use a larger cookie cutter for faster results but these ended up with just 22 calories a piece.

So any advice, Sisters and Brothers on how to improve this recipe?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Honor Veterans with Chocolate

This summer we were sent samples from Walnettos, a company that has created candy since 1919, almost a hundred years.  One of their products is the Choclettos, a chocolate toffee candy. Choclettos were part of the approved menu for MRE (Meals, Ready to Eat) for the US military in 2008.(1)  My contact in the company says that Choclettos will continue to be in MREs through 2018.  Opinions about Choclettos vary widely online I discovered by at least one site focused on MREs called them "delicious" while another touted the calcium and iron content but wasn't thrilled with them (3).  These are designed to not melt in high temperatures thus they make a good addition to the MRE for that very reason but let's check out Choclettos and discover what they are like with all of our senses.  Hopefully some veterans who have had these will leave their opinions in our comments below.

The first thing to note is that choclettos are made with chocolate and cocoa powder both so these do indeed qualify as chocolate.  About 3.5 of them are a serving according to my kitchen scale.  They are wrapped in a wax paper with purple lettering on it.  Mine was sent in a bag but you can also get them in with labels about ingredients and nutritional values. I shared these with a group of five others so these are our collective thoughts about these treats.  First there was a strong cocoa scent with an interesting syrupy fragrance.  Contrary to how firm the individual pieces seemed these were very soft and easy to chew and when we did so the group divided immediately.  Folks who hate Tootsie Rolls really disliked these but those of us who think that the other brand candy is OK also found a more molasses like flavor but the cocoa flavor is the one that lingered.

I had so many of the Choclettos that I decided to try and make something with them so I had to think... what could I do with them?  With they melt?  I wanted to know so I put just a few in a microwavable bowl and tried it out.  They bubbled up and did melt but as soon as the heat was removed they started to firm up again.  I think the cocoa flavor is much stronger once warm by the way.

Next I used some more of the Choclettos to make cookies.  The brand website has recipes for the Walnettos but not these so I went super simple. I bought two ready to make tubes of peanut butter cookie dough and unwrapped 32 Choclettos to go with them.  I followed the directions on the tubes except instead of pushing them down with a fork I pushed on candy onto each top and they turned out as you see in the photo to the left.  The Choclettos didn't melts as they had in the microwave only get a bit soft and moved around a bit. Make sure you let the cookie cool on the cookie sheet for at least a full minute -- some of the centered melted through the rack because they were too hot.  The down side in all of this is if you ate it while it was warm it was easy to eat but once the centers reset they were hard so you really had to work on them or let them melt in your mouth for a while.

Final conclusion: this are best eaten straight out of the wrapper or warmed up in small quantities and eaten quickly.  This may explain why there are no recipes for the Choclettos on the company's website.

Choclettos are not the best chocolate candy we've tried here on The Chocolate Cult but they are not the worst by a long shot.  These are middle quality in regards to flavor (unless you hate Tootsie) in terms of mass produced chocolate treats but they do have real chocolate not just cocoa powder as many more highly visible products like this do.  Not Sacrament worthy but something I think you should try at least once.  If you remember Choclettos from your days in any branch of the military or know someone who has eaten these and told you about them, please leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought/think of these candies.  Are these treats you'd be honored to get as a gift?  If the answer is yes, the Walnettos website has links to where  you can find their products today.


(1) Information found at About.com
(2) Deul Review
(3) Menu 22


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Higher Quality Product? Theodent 300

Previously your Chocolate Priestess used the Theodent Kids for six weeks to test it so then I spent six weeks using Theodent 300 exclusively to test it.  As you can this comes in an off-white box with golden lettering everywhere. Everywhere, the list of ingredients, the directions, everything is gold lettering and that makes the package seem very high quality, expensive.  This is expensive, very expensive though to be blunt I don't know the average prices of boutique or fancy toothpastes, only those any of us can find in most brick and mortar stores.  Our question is whether or not this is a high quality product worth the expense.

The tube is identical to the Theodent Kids except for two things.  Obviously as you can see in the photos the tube is cream colored not brown as the kids version is.  The greatest difference is unfortunately a problem: the cap comes apart.  As you can see in this photo under the gold cap is a cream colored cap and on the third day, after just nine uses, the gold cap came off leaving the inside cap.  The adhesive was solid on this and I could not re-stick the gold cap. Given the expense of this product any problem with any aspect is really unacceptable.  Luckily the toothpaste didn't dry out at all because the adhesive covered what looked like a hole at the end of the tip.

Using Theodent 300 was identical to using the Kids version.  Use a thin ribbon, brush well, rinse, and make sure you brush at least twice a day.  I used it as I use any of my toothpaste merely I used it 3+ times a day, any time after I ate or drank something that might stay on my teeth and cause dental decay.  I used the product for six weeks, I used nothing else during this time, and I had no problems but I did notice my teeth felt very clean and my mouth felt very fresh. Of course I don't have, haven't had, cavities so the product really just helped me maintain my tooth quality as far as I could tell.

Aside from the packaging problems there is one other problem: lack of information.  The package claims this is the "Extra Strength Rennou" but no where on this box or the regular adult Theodent box (that we'll look at and review after the New Year) does it say how much of this chemical is being used. Is Theodent 300 three hundred times more Rennou than the regular adult variety?  How much is that really?  Without this information I cannot even begin to say that this is higher quality or even more product that you would get with the regular version.

With all of this questions and problems I cannot recommend this particular product though I still say if you have the money the Kids version is worth trying.  We have one more Theodent to test and once we have used the adult variety throughout the rest of 2013 we will let you all know, Sisters and Brothers, early in 2014 if Adult Theodent is worth checking out like the Kids version.

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