Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chocolate Holidays in October -- It's More than Halloween!

Yes, yes, Halloween is one of the big candy holidays which means it is one of the big chocolate holidays. We'll be feature our Halloween Treat Challengers but the month is full of other fun food holidays you might want to mark with chocolate.

We start off with the amazing fact that October is host to three national fun food month-long celebrations!

National Dessert Month
National Cookie Month
National Caramel Month

Then the first full week of October is National Mental Health Illness Week. What does this have to do with chocolate? Two things. First, food can be used to "treated" emotional and mental conditions either in a healthy or unhealthy way. I used to self-medicate by hiding candy and chocolate in my room and eating it in secret while I was growing up. Second, chocolate, we're talking dark chocolate not candy, or cocoa has been shown to affect the brain in ways that might help you feel good. You know, chocolate is considered a drug in some circles and in different times. Consider one of The Chocolate Cult's mottos: Moderation and Purposefulness when you used so you don't abuse.

October 1 = National Homemade Cookie Day -- obviously this would be something with chocolate around my place.

October 7 = National Frappe Day -- again why not make with a bit of chocolate


2nd Week of October = National School Lunch Week -- while you want your kids healthy, a small amount of chocolate will not hurt them and if you can, you could also use these lunches to promote better and more socially responsible chocolate, too. Visit the School Nutrition Association to learn about the theme of this year's special week holiday and get resources you can use.

October 9, 1797 = Birthday of Philippe Suchard, founder of what was once the greatest chocolatier in Switzerland, creator of the Milka bar... you haven't had a Milka bar? Go get one right now.

October 10 has two holidays to consider

National Angel Food Cake Day -- one of my sisters made an amazing chocolate angel food cake for her husband's birthday for many years.

World Mental Health Day -- see above comments about chocolate and mental health

October 14 = National Chocolate-Covered Insect Day -- Have not tried this yet... Who among you have? Leave a comment and let me know.

2nd Thursday in October = National Dessert Day

3rd Saturday in October = Sweetest Day -- I'm not sure putting this holiday in October was a great idea even though it is approximately six months after Valentine's Day. If you haven't heard of this day, it might be because it was a Great Lakes region sort of holiday but I've noted that candy and food companies are also now trying to promote it.

October 16 = World Food Day

October 18 = National Chocolate Cupcake Day

October 28 = National Chocolate Day

October 30 = Buy a Donut Day

Finally, October 31 is not only Halloween but also National Candy Apple Day. Does anyone make and hand out candy apples any more?

Tell me. How are you celebrating with Chocolate this month?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sub Restaurant Chocolate Chip Cookie Recall

Choco Chip Cookie Lab
There were a lot of food and health recalls tonight in my notice from the US FDA, Sisters and Brothers in Chocolate but only one involved chocolate. If you each at sub sandwich restaurants, check this out.

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Mr. Goodcents Franchise Systems, Inc. Voluntarily Issues Allergy Alert On Undeclared Peanuts In A Chocolate Chip Cookie

Consumer Contact: 1-800-648-2368

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 23, 2015 – Mr. Goodcents Franchise Systems, Inc. of De Soto, KS is voluntarily recalling Chocolate Chip Cookies because they may contain undeclared peanuts. 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.

Food from Mr. Goodcents
Product was distributed to Mr. Goodcents restaurants located in KS, MO, OK, MN, NE, IA and SD. The cookies are sold in individual bags that indicate the cookie is one of three varieties, one of which is Chocolate Chip Cookie. The product is packaged as 1- 2.5 oz cookie per bag. There are no identifying codes placed on the bag. Potentially affected cookies would have been available for purchase between the dates of 8/31/15 to 9/22/15.

To date there have been no reports of illness associated with consumption of these cookies. The recall was initiated after a restaurant employee identified two small pieces of peanut fragments in a cookie. As a result, we recalled and destroyed all identified product from our distribution center and restaurants.

Consumers who have purchased a Chocolate Chip Cookie between the dates of 8/31/15 to 9/22/15 are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-648-2368, Monday thru Friday, 8am-5pm.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Chocion Chocolate + Coffee for National Coffee Day

September 29th is National Coffee Day in the USA, England, Canada, Sweden. Ethiopia, and Malaysia. I know that we just had a Chocion feature article two weeks ago but today I want to look at two of their bars that also have coffee in them. These are the Zartbitter (dark chocolate) Irish Coffee and the Vollmilch (milk chocolate) Cappuccino bars. Look at the photo to the left. Can you tell which bar is which? Of course you can? The difference between the milk and dark chocolate is obvious as soon as you unwrap the gold foil (silver color inside). Since I, your Chocolate Priestess, do not like coffee, I hand these off to three others to test out under my watchful eye.  This review is a summary of their opinions. Chocion sent us these two bars in exchanged for an honest review; we received no further compensation for this article.


The Cappuccino Truffle Bar has 38% cocoa solids, 13% cream, 5% Mokka Liqueur, and 1% cappuccino. The coffee scent is very light with a light liqueur essence as well. It looks a lot like chocolate melted over fudge once you bite or cut off a piece. The cover coating of chocolate makes a very soft snap when you take a bite but the inside is fairly soft so there is not further noise made when you chew. This had a good balance of cream milk chocolate with a very light coffee liqueur flavor that one of of our testers described as an alcoholic cappuccino. One of our testers really doesn't like milk chocolates but she really thought the light coffee and Mokka Liqueur enhanced this so that she could really enjoy it.  All three recommended it saying it was a subtle, well-balanced bar.

The Irish Coffee Truffle Bar has 62% cocoa solids, 13% cream, 5% whiskey, and 0.3% coffee. This split our trio of testers; two wouldn't recommend it but one would. Why the split? The two who didn't like it pointed out a sort of graininess between the dark chocolate shell and the truffle filling that our other tester said that didn't detract from what she liked about the bar. All three said they could smell the whiskey as well as a light coffee scent. Flavor is where biggest difference between testers was most prominent for this bar. One tasted more of the whiskey, another that the coffee flavor was strongest, while the third thought it was balanced. Think about it for a moment. If you don't like whiskey or love whiskey, if you don't like dark chocolate or love it, all of these factors will impact your reception of this bar.

My testers took a break and cleansed their palates before this second bar so I think these differences are a great example of how the individual plays a strong role in the reception of chocolate. What you like may not be what I like or your partner likes. Instead of saying "no" to any one type of chocolate or even an entire brand of chocolate, try a little bit of a wide variety to learn what you like. Chocion is a very wide variety of bars now. This also means that if you have tried these bars, you need to leave us a comment and let us know if you agree or disagree with our testers and why. Only by sharing our experiences with you and you with us, can we all find great chocolate.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Delicious Gourmet Marshmallows Revealed

We've covered 240Sweet numerous times because they are an Indiana brand that is really only an hour or so from where I live and yet I've never managed to make arrangement to see their facilities. Given the interview we had with them a few days ago though I need to find that time, don't I? Here's to hoping there will be an One the Road post in 2016 to check them out first hand. Today we are going to look at three of their current chocolate varieties of gourmet marshmallows and if how chocolatey they are and for those flavors we've tried before, to see if they are indeed improved. 240Sweet sent us these three packs of their gourmet marshmallows for us to test and write honestly about; we received no other compensation for this review.

We'll go in order of the puffs you saw in our first photo starting with the Snickerlicious flavor which we have had in the past. You can find that original review here. The first thing I noticed compared to the earlier version is that the peanuts here are chopped into much smaller pieces and that there is a caramel drizzle as well as the mini chocolate chips.  This has a strong peanut, caramel, nougat scent to it as I expect from Snicker candy bars. The primary flavor is the nougat followed by the caramel and chocolate and finally a creamy sweet peanut. While I still think this needs more chocolate (hey, I'm biased right?) it does taste a lot more like a Snicker bar than the original did so this is an improvement.


The most chocolatey must be the Chocolate Decadence flavor that we have tried before. Our original review can be read here. These seem to have a lighter cocoa scent to them but these are softer than the previous version of this recipe. The chocolate in the marshmallow is very light and smooth, the chips add a burst of intensity to an otherwise very mellow treat. I think this is indeed an improvement over the ones we tried just less than a year ago.


Finally let's tackle the other new flavor to us, Turtle which has pecans so if you have tree nut allergies, stay away. This has fairly large slices of pecans, drizzles of caramel, and mini chocolate chips. The pecans then the caramel are the primary scents I'm finding but there is an undercurrent of chocolate as well. If I smelled this and couldn't see it or knew the name, I'd still guess turtle something. The marshmallow part has a strong caramel and then a strong pecan flavor. You get the bursts of chocolate from the top layer. Like the Snickerlicious I think this could use more chocolate but it still very tasty.


Normally when you think marshmallows you think of putting them into something -- gelatin creature, s'mores, and baked goods -- but these are great on their own. I discovered during hot and humid weather that these puffs will last longer if you pop them into your refrigerator. In fact, I found that the puff were wonderful to eat cold because they were not as sticky so you could chew them easily but also the chill seemed to have intensified the flavors. Others I shared them with agreed. Have you ever chilled your marshmallows before eating them? No? Give it a try.

Each of these marshmallow packs include 10 puffs that are approximately 1" X 1" X 1.25" but they vary in size since they are handmade. The basic ingredients for marshmallows come from Indiana where 240Sweet is headquartered. If you want to learn how they are made, you can take a class and make them yourself. Sam and Alexa are outgoing businesswomen who often visit farmers' markets and fairs around the state of Indiana so if you live in the state try to find them, they are so much fun to chat with.With these improved recipes they are sure to see increased business. Right now, you can get free shipping so please do go check these Sacrament Status puffs out for yourself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Why Improve on Great Gourmet Marshmallow?

Alexa & Sam outside shop sign
Over the seven years I've been leading this blog, we've tasted some wonderful marshmallows from 240Sweet, a company based in Columbus, Indiana, not far from where The Chocolate Cult is headquartered. Recently I got an announcement that they had revised their recipes and wanted to send us some to try out. Of course I said yes but I also wanted to ask them what motivated their changes. Below is the email interview Samantha Aulick, co-owner of 240Sweet, did with me. Please give it a read and then leave questions or comments for her to check out.



Recently 240Sweet sent out an email saying that you've revised your recipes for your famous gourmet marshmallows. Would you tell us what prompted this revision?

We had feedback from customers that they wanted more pronounced flavors in our puffs. Before the recipe revision, we only used extracts or flavors that we made ourselves. These came through fine when the marshmallows were toasted. Now, we've incorporated all-natural extracts and flavors that we don't make to add that extra oomph. 

Marshmallow Class at 240Sweet
How has reception been to the changes in the recipes?

Overwhelmingly, the response has been positive. We were concerned that our "hard-core" customers would not be receptive to the changes. However, this hasn't been the case. 

Of course here on The Chocolate Cult we focus on chocolate so I'm wondering if making chocolate or adding chocolate to marshmallows is tricky. Does adding different flavors to marshmallows require further adjustments in a recipe?

Chocolate is tricky because it contains fat. The base recipe for the marshmallows is fat-free. All of the mass-produced marshmallows of which we are aware are actually "chocolatey" not chocolate in the same type of version. Chef Alexa practiced a lot and revised the current recipe many times (always looking to improve) to get where we are, now. Chocolate marshmallows will always be denser--not as "fluffy" because of the fat. 

Of all of the chocolatey varieties of marshmallows that 240Sweet makes, what is your personal favorite?

Chocolate Decadence is my personal favorite. (The Chocolate Cult will be reviewing this gourmet marshmallow for the first time this coming Saturday!)

Since our last interview with a few years back, 240Sweet has also changed locations. Where can people find you know if they want to visit your store?

Please come visit us at 9600 N US Highway 31 in Columbus, Indiana, 47201.

Would you give us your website again so that all of us who can't visit your physical location can check you out?

www.240sweet.com

I just saw you recently at a street fair in Bloomington, Indiana. I know that 240Sweet often travels to various locations and events. Are there any big events before the end of 2015 you'd like to tell our readers about?

We're always on the go with fun and excitement. Please visit our blog at www.240sweet.blogspot.com to find out where we will be next. We also send out updates (and special offers) to our Fan Club Members. People can sign up (there) or it at our website. Often, we'll send out an email with a special exclusively for Fan Club Members to come see us at events. Recently, we gave out tee shirts to people who came to see us and showed us their Fan Club email.

240Sweet T-shirt and Mug
Also since we last spoke to you, 240Sweet has been featured in food magazines and other types of mass media. Do you have any big interview (besides ours) lined up that we should be on the lookout for?

Not that we can share right now...

Finally, is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about 240Sweet?

We have some great changes coming out still this year, including a new webstore and new products. We're super excited about them!

Thank you, Sam, for talking with me today.  Sisters and Brothers in Chocolate, please leave comments below. If you ask a question, maybe Sam will see it and answer you.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Oklahoma City Four Varieties of Frozen Cookie Dough Recalled!

Only one company's recall today to share with you that involves chocolate but it has four varieties of cookie dough so please pay attention for your health and your loved one's health. If you have not heard of Okarche Bakery but you have bought cookie dough through any fundraising product via a school or church in Oklahoma City, please check those out; they might be from Okarche Bakery. I've included the labels from all four varieties so please keep reading down.
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Okarche Bakery, Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk, Soy, Wheat and Yellow #5 in Frozen Cookie Dough

Consumer Contact: 405-263-7911

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — September 8, 2015 — Okarche Bakery of Okarche, OK is recalling ALL FROZEN COOKIE DOUGH, because it may contain undeclared Milk, Soy, Wheat and Yellow #5. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to these allergens run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

Product was distributed in Oklahoma City and surrounding areas through fundraisers.

Product can be identified as Okarche’s Old Fashioned Gourmet Cookie Dough in white 3lb. plastic tubs. The recalled product does not have a lot number or best buy date. (Really?!)

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated after the problem was discovered during a label review.

The product can be returned to Tower Café, 412 S. Main ,Okarche, OK 73762. Or call if you have any questions 405-263-7911, 8 am to 5 pm CST, ask for Craig Hubbard

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Happy Birthday from Chocion

In two weekends it will be your Chocolate Priestess's (that's me) birthday so today we're going to look at a new in 2015 product from Chocion where you can have a message and a design printed on the top of their 38% cacao content square chocolate bars. They call these their Motif Panels Bars in English. These reminded me a bit of a company we looked at a few years ago in that the edible printing is done on a sugar fondant layer on the top; those weren't very good but in general I really like Chocion's pure chocolate so let's see how good these are.

The company sent me two motifs -- Happy Birthday and Gute Reise (think of this as Bon Voyage) which you can see in this post. They should have the same type of chocolate (38% milk chocolate) and the same type of base that the design was printed on so I tested one and shared the other to get some varied opinions. In American terms, each 85g bar has approximately 486 calories (or 2443kJ per 100g); the bars list both kJ and kcal as well as information about several important nutritional facts you might want to know. I think of chocolate as something to enjoy for a Purpose and in Moderation so don't worry about it too much, just enjoy it. I love the boxes these came in -- very easy to tear the edge along the back, unfolding it, over the plastic sleeve, slip it out, and then slip it back in and fold up the box; add a piece of tape and you can save some for tomorrow or a few days without a problem.

This has a strong buttery, creamy cocoa fragrance t it and I like the pattern of squares of chocolate around the printed center; the square sections are a surprise that you only see once you open it up. Breaking it apart is a bit difficult I get it down with a "pop" sound and then I see that the central design is on a very thin (1cm or less) layer that is adhered to with white chocolate so I can break it up and taste all the components. The white layer is fondant it tastes like -- sweet but not overwhelming. The white chocolate is creamy and buttery. Taking a bite of just the milk chocolate, my mouth is flooded with creamy, buttery chocolate where the cocoa builds up and melts in my mouth leaving me with a sweet chocolatey flavor that I really like a lot. Taking a bite with the fondant and white chocolate does sweeten it but not in an overwhelming way, the fondant does make it a touch chewy but that's interesting. If you let a piece of just the milk chocolate melt on your tongue you can increase the chocolate essence and decrease the sweetness and creaminess (if you don't like that for some reason).

I would be thrilled to get one of these bars for a special occasion or to hand them out at a wedding or a special event. High quality and lovely to look at, I think these have earned Sacrament Status. There are at least several Motif Panels Bars designs you can get, the company may add or remove others, they might be willing to work with you if you had a large order. It couldn't hurt to ask them, right?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Chocolate Jerky? Try Yours with Us on The Chocolate Walk

Storefront House of Jerky
One of the many stops over the past few years at the Brown County Humane Society's Chocolate Walk has been a little place that makes chocolate drizzled jerky just for the event. Considering that over 1200 pieces of this will need to be made and given out that day, this is a big undertaking. Why would any business do this and do it for several years? We asked Dawn Oliver from House of Jerky to tell us why they keep participating in this event.

Thank you, Dawn for talking with us here on The Chocolate Cult today about your participation in the Brown County Humane Society's Annual Chocolate Walk. Would you tell us about your business House of Jerky and your role there?

We sell different types of jerky and it is our own “House of Jerky” product.  The House of Jerky has been in business now for over 22 years.  I am the owner of the Nashville Indiana one.  My physical address is 59 E. Main St, Suite F, but we are located on Old School Way behind the Nashville House restaurant.

One of the great things about this annual event is that it connects to great loves in many people's lives: pets and chocolate. How did you get involved with the Chocolate Walk?

I know Anna and her daughter Morgan and one year she approached me about doing the Chocolate Walk.  It sounded like a lot of fun.  We loved it and have done it now for the past 2 years and looking forward to it again this year.  I love animals and it is for an awesome cause and I know exactly where the money is going.

Inside House of Jerky 1
How long has the House of Jerky been a stop on the Chocolate Walk?

This will be our third year participating in the Chocolate Walk.

Do you have pets of your own and if so, what do you have?

I have a dog, his name is Marley.  He is a Peek-A-Poo Yorkie.  He is spoiled rotten.  Also, our neighbors dog lives with us, she is a Jack Russell, her name is Angel.  We have 9 chickens and 2 white turkeys. 

Do you live chocolate? Do you have a preference for white, milk, or dark chocolate?

Of course I love chocolate!  I like the milk chocolate.

Inside House of Jerky 2
Do you all make the chocolate covered jerky you often have at your shop for the Chocolate Walk?  How did you come up with this idea?

I just do the chocolate drizzled jerky for the walk.  I thought salty and sweet make a good combo.  I’ve had a lot of requests for purchase so I might make some this year to sell.

Have there been any memorable reactions when people try the chocolate drizzled jerky?

No memorable moments.  People really like the combination of the sweet and salty.

Inside House of Jerky 3
Have you had requests for the chocolate drizzle jerky outside of the Chocolate Walk?

I have had them ask if we have any to sell so this year it may be a possibility.

Finally, is there anything you'd like our readers to know about your business that we haven't asked about?

Yes, we know that House of Jerky has the best quality of jerky around.  We get a lot of satisfied and happy customers.  We also get our regulars that tell us that our jerky is all that they buy!  Of course that is always awesome to hear!

Thank you, Dawn, for talking with us today. I'm looking forward to trying this year's chocolate drizzled jerky.

Do you want to join me? You can buy tickets to the November 14, 2015, event here.

Have you had chocolate and jerky together before?

What did you think of it?

Leave us some comments and let us know.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Chocolate Books for National Read a Book Day 2015

We've reviewed many books here on The Chocolate Cult that have something to do with chocolate either as a plot device, a historical study, or a recipe collection. In honor of National Read a Book Day, here is our current list of the 23 books with links to Amazon.com if you are interested in any of these. Any purchase you make via these images will give money back to us so we can do more pieces about chocolate that relate to travel or recipes because we'd have more money to try more events and ingredients.

Which of these books have you already read and used?

What other books do you recommend?




































































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