Friday, February 28, 2014

Chocolate Soufflé the Wolfgang Puck Way

In honor of "National Chocolate Soufflé Day" I want to share the best chocolate soufflé I've ever had with you all, Sisters and Brothers. Back in December, December 10, 2013 to be exact, my partner of 14 years and I spent our final night in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand in the Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill. For us this was an expensive last meal, what we hoped would be a great way to end a week long vacation that had both of our feet aching.  The photo to the right is from their website because my own photo turned out to be too blurry to be useful.

We had a special deal for a buy one get one free entree that I had earned while I was researching our trip over the course of a few months.  You know, Sisters and Brothers, how I research things. My partner called to make our reservations and he told them that this was for an anniversary.  We were so surprised when they bought out his dessert -- Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee with this message written on it in chocolate and I think raspberry sauce.  Isn't that sweet?

To top that off, and well beyond anything we could or should have expected, they credited us for one of the desserts so I think I got my Chocolate Soufflé for free.  This was a artistic production.  The server brought it out and he asked if he could prepare it for me.  I agreed because I was curious as to what that meant.  He broke in the top of the soufflé and then added the chocolate sauce, the vanilla bean ice cream, the whipped cream, and more chocolate sauce.  I had to take a photo -- didn't he do a great job?  The soufflé was crispy on the outside and very light and deeply chocolatey inside.  The sauce added extra cocoay flavors and more heat while the vanilla bean had a kick to it and the cream just smoothed it all out.  It smelled like the best brownies of my life with each bite.  It was a pleasure for all of my senses.

I whole-heartedly recommend the Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  I can't promise that the Chocolate Soufflé at any of their other locations would be as wonderful or presented as well but if you've had it please do leave a comment and let us know what you thought.  To the left is my slightly blurry photo of how the external wall was decorated for the winter holidays while we were there.  It hid the place fairly well so I'm glad we checked it out a few days earlier to find it.  We made reservations on Friday for a Monday evening and it was needed so make sure if you want to go, you call a few days ahead to see if you can get in.  This gets Sacrament Status from me and I hope you will find them and give them a try, too, then report back on what you thought.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

March into Chocolate 2014

Is the title clever or just stupid, Sisters and Brothers? Would you prefer something "witty" or just straight forward for these calendar announcements? You let me know and I'll adjust because I want you to keep reading and planning out your celebrations with Chocolate.

1st Thursday in March = World Book Day  -- This would be a great day to do a feature in honor of so I'll see what I can do!

March 6 = National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day -- This is all sorts of creamy goodness, anyone know of a recipe they want me to try for this?

March 8 = National Peanut Cluster Day -- Peanuts are not tree nuts, my hubby can have these, so should I make something?

March 14 = National Pi Day which is often treated as a pie day number 2

2nd week of March = Chocolate Chip Cookie Week -- A week for my childhood favorite.

March 18 = National Oatmeal Cookie Day -- Add in cocoa, toss in the chocolate chips and you got a twofer celebration.

March 19 = National Chocolate Caramel Day -- We've got a feature review for you in honor of this date so mark your calendar and check back in.

3rd week of March = American Chocolate Week -- For our readers outside the USA, do you have access to American made chocolate? Do you think it is any good in comparison to your own chocolate traditions?

March 24 = National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day -- I have a partner who loves raisins but not really chocolate... he's crazy.

March 25 = International Waffle Day; Pecan Day (not national) -- Once more combine these, add in some cocoa and/or chocolate chips and you're celebrating in three ways!

March 26 = National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day -- Ideas?

March 28 = National Black Forest Cake Day -- I don't think I've ever made one of these.  Who out there has?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oscar Quality Brownies?

The Oscars will take place on Sunday night, March 2, 2014, and lots of folks around the USA (and perhaps in other countries as well) will tune in to see who wins in various categories.  Some folks go all out and have parties for friends and family varying from just popcorn and soda pop to fancier affairs where they dress up and perhaps view some of the films or clips from them ahead of time. In my town, the downtown theater is hosting a viewing party that is free or you can do a VIP ticket.  Earlier this month a representative from the Florida Department of Citrus asked me if I'd try out one of their recipes for you all in honor of the Oscars.  After looking through their chocolate related ideas I've decide to test their "Old-Fashioned Chocolate Orange Brownies" because most of the ingredients I have readily on hand minus the orange juice and orange zest.  Then as I started I realized that most of my ingredients at home are not a perfect match and thus a new recipe was born.  I call it...

Glazed Orange Poke Brownies
by TammyJo Eckhart, PhD

Ingredients: (what I used)
1 cup lower calorie 100% real Florida Orange Juice (Trop 50)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (Baker's brand)
1/2 cup butter (I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
1 cup sugar (1/2 cup zero calorie sugar substitute)
4 eggs (1 cup egg whites)
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour (unbleached, whole grain)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease (spray) a 9X9-inch baking pan.

Place orange juice in a small saucepan and set on medium heat to reduce while you gather the other ingredients.  Stir the reducing juice from time to time while you continue to work.  You need at least 1/3 cup left so be careful.

In a small bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside to be added to your wet ingredients later.

Break up the chocolate and cut up your butter.  Place these in another larger sauce pan and turn stove on low heat.  Stir often until it is fully melted, blended, and shiny.  Turn off the heat and set on the countertop.

Add in sugar and stir until the mixture is smooth. Beat in one egg (or 1/4 cup of egg substitute) at a time then add in vanilla and reduced orange juice. Stir again until it is smooth and shiny.

Add in the flour mixture a bit at a time and work until combined with no white showing.  Do not over mix.

Pour batter into your 9X9-inch pan.  Place in center of your oven for 27 minutes (give or take depending on your oven).  The brownies should be slightly pulled away from the side but a toothpick should come out mostly clean as well. These are very cakelike brownies.


Remove from oven and set on wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes.  With a toothpick (or fork if you want larger holes) poke the top of the cake through to the bottom about 50 or so times.  Continue to allow it to cool while you make the glazing.

Light Orange Glaze
Mix together 2/3 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of reduced calorie 100% real Florida orange juice until smooth.  It will have a yellowish or light orangish color to it.

Slowly pour the glaze over the brownie aiding for the holes.  You may need to spread the glazing back over the brownie several times while it soaks in and some will gather at the edges as you can see in my photo.



Cut into 9-16 pieces and serve after it has cooled. You'll probably want to use a fork since these are sticky.  We cut ours into 12 pieces with each slice having 201 calories.  The resulting brownies are very cake like and thick with a sweet orange taste but also that bittersweet chocolate flavor.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ice Cream and Heart Box Recalls in February 2014

Yeah, you read the title of today's post correctly, Sisters and Brothers.  We have recalls for you and one involves ice cream even though for many states in the USA it is cold.  Here's a secret: people eat ice cream year round regardless of the weather though not so much in my house.  Not too surprising but sad is that there is one recall related to Valentine's Day if any of you still have your candy left over.

Ice Cream Specialties Issues Allergy Alert On Undeclared Peanut Allergen In Dairy Rich Chocolate Ice Cream

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 14, 2014 - Ice Cream Specialties of Merrillville, Indiana is recalling Dairy Rich Chocolate Ice Cream because it may contain peanut butter, which contains a peanut allergen. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. There have been no illnesses reported to date in connection with this product.

Dairy Rich Chocolate Ice Cream was distributed in Northwest Indiana, Northeast Illinois and Deer Park, New York and it reached consumers through grocery stores and other retail food outlets.

The affected product is packaged in 56-ounce paper cartons with the Dairy Rich graphic logo and a picture of a chocolate ice cream scoop on the front and back panels. This voluntary recall is limited only to packages of Dairy Rich Chocolate Ice Cream bearing the following UPC and Best Used by Date. The Best Used by Date can be located on the left-hand end panel (the side panel) of the carton. No other Dairy Rich Ice Cream products are affected.

UPC: 0-71580-08103-1
Best used by: June 14, 2015

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that some Dairy Rich Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream was mistakenly packaged in Dairy Rich Chocolate Ice Cream cartons.

Consumers who have purchased Dairy Rich Chocolate Ice Cream are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (219) 980-0800, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST.

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Fannie May Issues A Voluntary Recall Of Its 4.0 Oz. Heart-shaped Box Of Assorted Chocolates Due To Undeclared Peanuts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 20, 2014 – Fannie May Confections Brands, Inc. (“Fannie May”) is issuing the following update regarding its previously announced voluntary recall of red heart shaped boxes of assorted chocolates.

The company initiated the voluntary recall on February 19, 2014.  Fannie May Confections Brands, Inc. (“Fannie May”) is recalling 12,000 units of its 4.0 oz., red heart-shaped gift box of assorted chocolates because the box includes one piece of candy that contains peanuts, a known allergen, and the food ingredient label on the box did not state that the product contained peanuts. Fannie May decided to recall the products after a customer contacted one of our telephone customer service representatives to report that the ingredient label on the box of chocolates did not state it contained peanuts.

Individuals who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they come in contact with or consume this product.

The product being recalled is a 4.0 oz., red heart-shaped gift box measuring 5 1/4” by 5 ½” in size that contains 8 pieces of assorted chocolates including one caramel/peanut candy.  The red heart-shaped box has a rose motif foil paper with the name “Fannie May” in silver lettering along the right side of the box and a label in the upper left stating “Fannie May Assorted Chocolates NET WT.  4 oz. 113g.”  The back of the box has a full nutritional label which also states: “This product has been produced on equipment shared with peanuts, treenuts, soybean, milk, eggs and wheat”.

The item is identified as SKU #77202 with the UPC number on the label of 0 52745 96000 2.  Lot information on this product is 13344, 13345, 13361, 14010, and 14014.  LOOK at the SKU numbers, do not simply go by photos.

Fannie May Confections Brands, Inc. determined that the 12,000 boxes of chocolates were available for sale beginning January 10, 2014 in up to 450 drug stores, grocery stores and gift shops in seven (7) states: Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida.  Retailers that sold the product include, but are not limited to, Walgreens, Hallmark Gift Shops, Jewel Grocers and other independent retailers.  This particular gift box of assorted chocolates was not available nor offered for sale in any of the 100+ Fannie May retail stores, or through the Fannie May website located at: wwwfanniemay.com.

To date there has been one reported incident of an individual who had an allergic reaction who was treated and released from further medical care.  Fannie May is not aware of any other incidences, nor have there been any other reported illnesses.

This voluntary recall does not affect any other products from Fannie May Chocolates.

Consumers that have purchased the Fannie May 4.0 oz. red heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates are urged to dispose of the product.

Fannie May is working in cooperation with the FDA. Information on the product recall can be found on the homepage of the Company’s website located at: www.fanniemay.com.  Consumers with questions may contact a dedicated customer service representative at the Company by calling 330-494-0833 Extension 193, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. EST or email customerservice@fanniemay.com.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Is a Balance Bar a Good Choice for Your Daily Chocolate?

As many of you know, your Chocolate Priestess is also an Amazon Vine Reviewer and when I am sent a product to test and write about that relates to chocolate I try to share it with you all as well. So today I'm going to look at the Dark Chocolate Peanut variety of the Balance Bar, an energy bar you can find in many stores in the USA though their website says that all flavors may not be available in all stores.  This is their gluten free version that also has a "Rainforest Alliance Certified Cocoa" label on it as well.  Let's see if the cocoa they are using results in a chocolatey bar that could satisfy a daily craving in a healthier package.

Dutched cocoa is the sixth ingredient on the wrapper list; just one of many ingredients that include several added oils.  I think by now, Sisters and Brothers, you know my feelings on added oils and fats when cocoa butter could be used but this isn't candy and it isn't a baked good (not really) so I'm not surprised at all.  The bar itself looks like a long brownie that was set in chocolate to cover the bottom then drizzled with chocolate over the top.  As you can see there are peanuts as well that seem very pale.  The "Best By" date is smeared and I can't read it but the peanuts suggest this has seen better days.  The strongest scent are these peanuts with a hint of salt a generic scent that I might describe as "baked good;" no cocoa scent though.  The bar is very dry and hard when I first take a bite but the following bites are just nicely crunchy. There is a good cocoa flavor here and an undercurrent of peanuts and no odd or terribly sweet flavor that often plagues these types of bars.

One bar has 25% or more of the daily recommended allowance in Vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as 10% of the daily Calcium and Iron recommended by the FDA.  With 180 calories and 4 grams of fiber it isn't the worst bar we've looked at.  The flavor was a very pleasant surprise, not as chocolate as you'd want from a candy or chocolate bar but definitely of a brownie like quality.  The result is that given the companies desire to turn to more eco-friendly cocoa and the surprise of the flavor this may not be Sacrament quality but it is near to it.  If they were to switch out some of the added oils for cocoa butter they might just meet our requirements for Sacrament worthy here on The Chocolate Cult.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chocolate Recall February 17, 2014

Sadly we only got a one week break on chocolate related recalls since the start of 2014 and we are right back with another of them after Valentine's Day.  Remember these recalls are put out by the FDA in the USA so if you are reader in one of the other 179 nations out there who have folks who check us out, make inquiries at home about whether or not these products are also available where you are and what your health care authorities have to say about them.


Customer Service: 303-986-4600, ext. 531
Monday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Mountain Standard Time.

Media Contact: Alan Lewis, (303)-986-4600 x108, Alewis@VitaminCottage.com
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 7, 2014 - Colorado - Vitamin Cottage Natural Food Markets, Inc., a Lakewood, Colorado based natural grocery chain, is recalling one lot of six ounce packages of Natural Grocers brand Dark Chocolate Almonds with the Julian packed-on date 13-351 because some bags in this lot may contain dark chocolate covered peanuts which are not declared on the label. People who have an allergy to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

The recalled product lot is comprised of 1,091 six-ounce bags bearing UPC code 0-0008265007-0 and the Julian packed-on date "13-351". The dark chocolate covered peanuts are similar in color and sheen to the almonds, but the peanuts are about one-half size compared to the almonds. The product was distributed to some of Natural Grocers' 75 stores located in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wyoming in late December, 2013. Consumers can find the specific locations of Natural Grocers stores at:
http://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-locations.

Only packages bearing the Julian packed on date "13-351" are subject to recall. The dark chocolate covered almonds used to produce this lot were received in sealed cases from our supplier. Out of an abundance of caution, Natural Grocers is suspending sales of all lots of dark chocolate covered almond products from this supplier.

The problem was reported to the company by a customer who discovered some dark chocolate covered peanuts inside a package. The product label displays a warning that the packaging facility also packages products containing tree nuts, peanuts and other allergens. The company has received no reports of adverse reactions to date due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider. Consumers who may have purchased this product should return it to the store for credit or refund.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Recipe Organizer Giveaway in Time for Valentine's Day

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. Since your Chocolate Priestess has gotten a laptop I've been collecting ecookbooks that I can then read off said laptop while I'm working in the kitchen.  But the problems with ecookbooks are the same as with traditional cookbooks -- so many of them taking up space and questions of how to organize the recipes you use without memorizing which book has which recipe.  Add into that family recipe books and, well, the amount of book lying around can be shelf-consuming.  My house doesn't seem to be getting bigger but my cookbook collection expands with gifts and books I'm sent to review.  When I was offered the opportunity to try out this computer recipe organizer I jumped at the chance to try out this Cook'n program and see if it might help me put the various ecookbooks I've collected into a more useable order

Here's their promotional logo for the computer program since I downloaded it, I didn't get a box with a disc to use so I can't take a photo of that for you all.  When I went to download it I had two options -- PC or MAC so it is compatible with a wider range of systems.  This really pleased me because there are so many programs out there still designed only for PCs even though the MAC especially in the form of tablet computers is common these days.  I imagine having a tablet to store ecookbooks on would be even more useful in the kitchen than my laptop but also I can't test that theory out.

Getting the download was easy but installing it took a couple of steps.  First my computer needed a particular type of Adobe software but luckily the downloading process took me to that software and it was free to get.  At first my installation claimed it failed but the program started up.  Now it asked for me to join the Cook'n online program, their "cloud" to sync my recipes so I did that. The program comes with The Ultimate Cook'n Cookbook that has breakfast, dessert, main dishes, salads, sandwiches, sides, and soup recipes.  In our first screenshot you can see that the opening screen I get after installing the program and syncing it to their online database is very similar to their promotional logo.

Along with the program I got a free ecookbook and I chose the Hall of Fame Desserts Cookbook because, well, hello, we are The Chocolate Cult after all, right?  Problem -- this ecookbook could not be opened initially like the other ecookbooks I have on my laptop. It has to be imported to the Cook'n program to be used but that process was simple once I figured out how -- go to "File -- Import -- Cook'n" then choose the file.  However my ecookbooks will not import.  I tried using the scan feature which required more software to download but nope it won't read a pdf.  So the one reason I was looking forward to trying out this program is something I cannot do. Very disappointing!

I tried out the other features of the program.  I added a recipe to the database (familiarity with database entry is a huge help here) and then I used the "analyze nutritional value feature" and discovered I misunderstood the amount of served versus number of servings.  I went back and thought I fixed that problem but the resulting data made no sense -- it ranged from 33 to 748 calories per serving -- neither of which is correct, it should be around 180 per serving. As you can see in my screenshot even using a recipe that came with Cook'n 11 didn't produce a logical nutritional profile -- no one person is likely to eat the entire recipe above so the 3059 calories is not a single serving in any sense.

The database lacked a way for me to input the nutritional values for things such as Splenda brown sugar so the analyzer just ignored that ingredient.  In other words if you don't follow the recipe as it is, using the brands listed, the nutritional values aren't going to be correct.  Again disappointing since this would have helped me so much as I continue to lose weight and then when I'll want to maintain it.  My advice is to ignore it since when I tried it on the recipe I captured from the Internet (see below) it was also horribly wrong.  It needs directions to tell you how to enter the servings for the nutritional calculator because the logical way I've always seen it on recipes is apparently not the correct way for the program.

Next I tried the "Capture Internet recipe" feature and to use that you must use the Search ability on the program not a recipe you went and found yourself and have the url for... extra steps do not make this easy, folks.

You'll get back the results but some pages it found simply didn't work when I tried to capture them, others required that I highlight text and then enter it into the database and changed the layout of the program to make it "easier" which added more steps to just trying to find a recipe that would directly download.  As you can see in this screen shot the list doesn't say whether or not you'll be able to save it to the computer program, you just have to try it out.

I searched the Internet for a few more minutes then found one that would just automatically download into a recipe file within the program. Below you can see the change from website view to Cook'n View.
Page for Dark Chocolate Clusters

Dark Chocolate Clusters in Cook'n

There is a "Meal Planning" feature that I struggled with for days and still couldn't figure out how to add a few set of recipes to.  Right after not being able to include the ecookbooks I already have on this computer in this program, the difficulty of using this program is a big complaint for me.  I do not have database training and I can't say that I'm super computer savvy but still such a program needs to be very user friendly so I encourage Cook'n to think about usability more in their next version.

The final feature I tried out was the grocery shopping list maker that take the chosen recipe and tells what brands it recommends and estimates the cost to buy everything.  Of course you may have most of the ingredients on hand or find other brands for better prices (or simply not have some brands in your local stores) but organizing your recipe on a printable list is handy.  I could see it being most handy for a new recipe or when planning a dinner party with a specific budget.  This was probably the most useful feature of the program that went beyond merely being a searchable database.

Notice: I received a copy of the Cook'n 11 recipe computer organizer and a free ecookbook to try out for this article and was asked to host the giveaway of one copy of this program via The Chocolate's association with Tomoson.

If you'd like to try it you can enter to win a free copy of this program for your laptop, tablet, smart phone, or desktop computer by following this Rafflecopter entry system below.  HURRAY because the winner will be announced Thursday morning, February 19th!  When you "Like" the program's FB page please also leave them a comment saying that you found them through The Chocolate Cult and include our FB name in your comment so that I can see you've done that.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Spread the word and let's push our Facebook "Likes" to 1000 so I can bring you ever better products and giveaways in the future, Sisters and Brothers.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sweetheart Brownies

Today we return to test and modify a recipe from TCHO this time using their 66% Dark Chocolate Discs, strawberries, and cinnamon along with some of the Equal Exchange hearts we reviewed earlier this Valentine's Day season.  I'm doing this for Foodie Blogroll 1,2,3 Cook and Snap Recipe Contest!  So today's post covers a lot of ground in terms of products I'm testing, organization we are a member of, and reusing previously revealed products.  I started with this recipe for Turtle Brownies because it uses the dark chocolate discs.

I tried to think of several ways I could approach testing the discs and making a recipe that used chocolate, strawberries, and cinnamon.  Brownies are easy to make into several treats and I have a 5-heart pan that I could put them in to create individual servings.  I wanted to incorporate the strawberries beyond decoration but I didn't to buy too many strawberries at the same time because my picky family won't help me eat the extra. So my first step was to find some natural strawberry preserves and my normal grocery store happened to have a sale.  I'm using the preserves in place of oil or butter in the recipe making less fatty brownies but also hopefully spreading the strawberry flavor throughout.

Let's see how my idea worked, shall we?

Sweetheart Brownies by TammyJo Eckhart, PhD

Ingredients:

1.75 cups whole grain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

8oz TCHO 66% Dark Chocolate Discs
17.25oz strawberry spread (you'll need to adjust calories if you use another type of fruit spread)

1 cup egg substitute OR 4 large eggs (you'll need to adjust calories if you use eggs)

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350°F and grease/flour pan you will use.  The size of pan you use will determine the amount of time you need to back.  I used this 5-piece heart shaped pan (Valentine's Day) so my time is based on that. I also use a non-sticking baking spray that has flour mixed into the spray which allows me to quickly clean and reuse the pan for multiple bakings.

2) Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

3) Beat together eggs and strawberry spread until as smooth as you can get it; it will still be a bit lumpy if you use spread that has real strawberry pieces in it.

4) Melt the chocolate in the microwave on high for one minute.  Stir.  Return to microwave for one minute then stir until smooth.

5) Pour chocolate into strawberry/egg mixture and beat until smooth.

6) Add in the flour mixture a bit at a time and blend in thoroughly.  The batter will be very thick.

7)  Spoon batter into your pan and then place in oven for 25 minutes.  If you use a regular cake pan, 7 X 11, it will take about 35 minutes.

8) Take out of oven and cool pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

9) Be gentle and turn out the brownies onto another wire rack to finish cooling while you make the next batch.

Total number of heart shaped brownies = 14-15 (Yes, you see only 13 in the photo because we tested one from the first batch to make sure the recipe was a success)

These are very thick, fudgy brownies with very well-blended strawberry and chocolate flavor with a touch of cinnamon.  Alone they are good but you can dress them up as you saw in the first photo with some whipped cream, chocolate curls (from Kane Kandy), and a chocolate heart (from Equal Exchange).  Or if you want to save a few calories you could also just sprinkle more cinnamon on top or on the whipped cream or any combination of anything you can think of, even another strawberry though frankly these do not need them.

There you have it, the TCHO 66% Dark Chocolate Discs used to make treats for Valentine celebrations 2014.  This is certified organic and fair trade made only of cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, and vanilla beans, this is the real deal chocolate.  It melted perfectly, it blended perfectly, and it stood out against so much strawberry sweetness and the cinnamon kick that I have to say this Sacrament Worthy for your baking and candy making needs.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Celebration of Chocolate Month

So sorry for the lateness of the calendar this month, Sisters and Brothers, but here we are, a month of Chocolate reasons for you to enjoy.

February = Celebration of Chocolate Month -- The ENTIRE MONTH!

February 1 = National Dark Chocolate Day -- My favorite chocolate is around 70-80% dark, how dark is best for you?

February 5 = National Chocolate Fondue Day -- I've featured several fondue tests in the past so we didn't miss much this month

February 5/6 = World Nutella Day -- I'm torn about this after the company came down harshly on the creator of the day but she made up with them so you as you like, Sisters and Brothers

February 9  = Chocolate Day -- There are multiple "chocolate" days out there and this one is general so how will you celebrate on Sunday?  Sadly given the year so far I think we may have another recall to share...

February 11 = National Peppermint Patty Day -- Do you think Girl Scout Thin Mints would could to help celebrate?

February 14 = Valentine’s Day; National Cream Filled Chocolate Day -- In total we have three features related to Valentine's Day.  What have you thought of Sjaak's, Equal Exchange, and TCHO?

February 19 = National Chocolate Mint Day -- Thin Mint must count for this one, right?

February 25 = National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day -- This day partly makes me weep because my hubby is allergic to tree nuts but that's fine because when we get products with nuts to test I have myself and some other volunteers and between us we know enough about nuts to do a good job testing.

February 28 = National Chocolate Soufflé Day -- We have a feature article ready to go in honor of this day.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

4th Chocolate Recall of 2014

The weekly posting of food and drink recalls related to chocolate continues on it's every week streak since the start of 2014, Sisters and Brothers.  Consider your purchases in these stores and of these products but make sure you follow our links to be fully informed.

Winn-Dixie Recalls Instant Chocolate Drink Mix Sold in Florida


Consumer Contact: 866-946-6349

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 12, 2014 - Winn-Dixie today announced an immediate recall of the 30 oz. canister of Winn-Dixie Instant Chocolate Drink Mix, with expiration date code of JUL 14 15B, from shelves in all stores throughout Florida. The recall does not affect stores in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana or Mississippi. The reason for the recall is the potential that the product may contain an incorrect formula mixture, which could result in an undeclared milk allergen.

“We advise customers who have a milk allergy to throw it out immediately to ensure they do not experience any health issues,” said Brian Wright, Winn-Dixie’s vice president of communications and community.

Winn-Dixie has received no reports of any issues associated with consumption at this time. The recall only pertains to canisters with the expiration date code of JUL 14 15B. The product UPC code is 2114022031.

Consumers who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk products are urged not to consume and return products to the store for a full refund. To receive the refund, customers may present proof of purchase through a receipt or the product-packaging label.

Symptoms of a milk allergy reaction can range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis.

Customers with questions about the recalled products may contact the Winn-Dixie Customer Call Center toll free at 866-946-6349, Mon. - Fri., 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. EDT, and Sat., 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. EDT.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Organic Chocolate Box for Valentine's Day

Perhaps you aren't into all of the flowery prose or the heart-shaped boxes for Valentine's Day; your loved one agrees.  Yet you both want to do something to celebrate, something to mark the day for whatever reason just not with all the hype.  Sjaak's Chocolate offers a box of assorted organic truffles that might be a good choice for you plus since it isn't in a red box or heart-shaped anything this might be a good choice any time you feel like giving chocolate.  Let's take a closer look and find out, Sisters and Brothers.

We'll go in order that you see above and one of the neat things about this box of truffles is that it included an image of what was inside on the back. The note that isn't too clear in our photo says "Each piece may contain one or more of the above chocolate." I think that means that each box may have the truffles you see inside.  I don't know if you can request only specific flavors or not but I needed one of our Acolytes to help me out  with this selection.  Each truffle weights 19-21 grams according to my kitchen scale and all are milk chocolate coating though the inside and the drizzle or decorates are dark chocolate on a few of them.  But let's look at each flavor.

The Hazelnut Truffle is basically milk chocolate with the same chocolate drizzled over it in several lines.  It has a bit of heft to it when I pick it up and it feels smooth and cool to my fingertips.  It has a very sweet hazelnut scent with a light cocoa essence underneath.  A bite makes a very soft snap and inside I find a mostly solid chocolate center with a stronger chocolate hazelnut fragrance.  The first flavor is a blend of chocolate and hazelnut and that blend remains consistent with each chew and each bite. I really like that this is consistent in flavor but I also miss the extra kicks you get when a truffle has layers for your taste buds to explore.  A simple balanced hazelnut milk chocolate truffle.

Pinkish crystals mark the Cherry Truffle and these have a sweet cherry flavor to them on their own; yes I took two off the top to try them out. The scent of cherry though is very mild beyond the crystals on top, primarily this truffle has a chocolate fragrance to it.  This a louder snap on the bottom when I take a half bite.  Inside on the top is a tart bit of cherry jelly and then the milk chocolate soft-solid center beneath it.  The chocolate is the first flavor I got then the cherry, then more of the chocolate before it blended together with the tartness adding an extra kick to the creaminess of the chocolate.

The Orange Truffle's drizzled lines are more toward yellow than orange in color.  Interestingly from the bottom there is a strong orange fragrance but this is very light, hidden under milk chocolate scent from the top and sides.  The shell barely makes a sound as I take a bite into have of it and discover that the top has a orange jelly or perhaps caramel with a sharp tangy sweet flavor while the bulk of the truffle is creamy milk chocolate.  The two flavors blend well in a very balanced fashion that leaves each lingering on the tongue after a few bites.

A dusting of cocoa powder tops the Almond Truffle makes picking it up a bit messy but I just lick the cocoa off my fingers.  The scent is very sweet with a strong almond background; no chocolate for my nose with this one.  There is a very soft snap when I take a bite immediately I taste caramel and almonds with undercurrents of milk chocolate; the inside is part semi-solid with a center of what seems to be caramel.  I was not expecting that but it explains the fragrance before I bit.  Unfortunately the almonds and the caramel really cover up the milk chocolate so this might be better as a dark chocolate truffle instead.

Tiny pieces of something white are scattered over the top of the Cappuccino Truffle but I'll let our Mocha Acolyte speak to what these are. I can definitely smell chocolate but barely the coffee.  The white stuff has a generic nutty taste, perhaps it's supposed to be like the foam on a cappuccino?  There is a dollop of caramel at the top of the truffle with the semi-solid center mostly a creamy milk chocolate. Honestly if you didn't know it was cappuccino, you wouldn't figure that out eating it blind because the main flavor is the creamy milk chocolate. It's like a very weak cappuccino.

Dark chocolate drizzled lines identify the Cashew Truffle.  This is cool in my fingertips and has a very strong sweet and cashew scent with almost no chocolate when I breathe it in.  It makes as soft crunch as I take a bite the insides mostly solid with a dollop of caramel (surprise!) at the very top of the truffle.  There is an immediate burst of the sweet caramel followed by the cashew flavor and milk chocolate.  The cashew/chocolate flavor continues through the final bite and is intensified if you let it melt in your mouth.

A stylized dark chocolate leaf graces the top of the Blueberry Truffle.  The blueberry scent is mostly from the bottom of the truffle which is odd because by now I'm expecting either a flavored caramel or jelly at the top of it yet the sides have more of a chocolate smell.  Yup, biting into it makes a soft snap then the blueberry caramel or jelly floods my mouth followed by the milk chocolate then a return to the sweet blueberry at the end.  The central part of the truffle is more soft than many of the others and the fruit flavors spreads throughout it more perhaps because of or causing the softer nature of the truffle.

The Milk Chocolate Truffle simply has small milk chocolate shavings over it.  This has a sweet cocoa scent to it when I pick it up and bring it to my nose, the shell is cool and smooth in my fingertips but one of the shavings falls off when I tilt it to smell it from different angles.  Like several of the other truffles in this box this has a small dollop of caramel at the top of the truffle but the milk chocolate center is much softer.  The chocolate is very creamy and sweet, definitely on the lower cacao content scale if you prefer that but the sweetness fades as in the aftertaste or if you let a bite melt in your mouth and releases more of the cocoa flavor itself.

Coconut Truffle -- our specialist was unfortunately ill and unable to test this and you know what my reaction would be so we'll update this section of our article once she has recovered and is able to share her experiences.

There you have it, the truffle collection in an elegant little box that could be a Valentine's Day gift or for any other celebration if it sounds like something you'd want to give (or receive).  It comes with a tag that you can write "To" and "From" on so you don't even need to wrap it.  The chocolate was good but not among the best milk chocolate we've had though most of the flavors blended really well with it so these are, overall, very good truffles.  The ingredients are mostly organic (only sea salt does not claim to be but how could that be unorganic?) and Sjaak's follows The Rainbow Alliance to protect the land and the people who work it.  If these sound important to you or to your beloved you need to consider this box for the fast approaching Valentine's Day.

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