Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lindor vs. Reese: Which Easter Candy is Your Favorite?

Tomorrow is Easter in the Western tradition of Christianity; Eastern Orthodoxy won't have their for another month! I got this Lindor Milk Chocolate egg for free from our local Kroger and a Reese Egg from Marsh using SavingStar so I thought now is a good time to look at them before tomorrow. Other than getting these two products free, I received no other compensation for my honest review.




The first thing to note is that the Lindor Milk Chocolate Egg is clearly milk chocolate, you can see from the light brown color. Personally I prefer darker chocolate but those weren't covered by the freebie. I didn't know this before but the egg also has a design on it, two sides really, of a sort of egg sitting on the grass with tulips under it. I hope you can see it in this photo. Inside it is milk chocolate truffle cream so double milk chocolate that is very creamy feeling and tasting with a strong vanilla accent to the light chocolate flavor. Very soft to chew with the center melting in my mouth very quickly.



The Reese's Egg is something I grew up loving. I remember eating them with my parents off-season while we were traveling back from Hershey, Pennsylvania... no wonder my weight has always been a concern for me, huh? This freebie was just a big bonus for me since I must confess I'd probably buy these anyway. Easter just doesn't feel "right" to me without these. I note that this is less egglike in shape, longer than I recall in past years. Of course you eat this for the combo of peanut butter of milk chocolate, not the chocolate; you can barely smell the chocolate. While this might look a bit weird this year, the flavor, texture, and smell is exactly the same. It really makes me wonder why it looks longer and less egg shaped this time around, Hershey.



At 98-99¢ a piece both of these treats are a doable higher end candy to include in an Easter basket or on the table for your guests to enjoy. I'm not hosting Easter at home this year but we are going out with a larger group, 11 people, to a brunch. I hope we'll get some folks over for board game afterwards so I've gotten a few other Easter treats you can see below.  Have you bought anything chocolatey for Easter yet? Leave a comment and let us know what you're looking forward to giving out or enjoying yourself tomorrow.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Chocolate Cookies & Cream Protein

We've looked at "health" products with chocolate in the past here on The Chocolate Cult but this is the first time we've looked at a protein supplement with chocolate. This Designer Protein Lite Powder, Chocolate Cookies and Cream, 9.03 Ounce was sent to us via the Amazon Vine program from Designer Protein Lite. One scoop of the mix plus 6-8oz of water, skim milk, almond milk, or soy milk, adds 10 extra grams of protein and an additional 60 calories to which ever liquid you decide to try. It also adds seven other vitamins and minerals as well as 4 grams of fiber. It is made with Alkalized Cocoa and also has milk and soy in it in case those might be allergens for you. It also has a lot of added ingredients with chemical names; this doesn't really seem "natural" from the ingredient label.


One serving of this is equal to one scoop that comes in the canister as you can see in this photo below. It is very easy to measure this way but unless it tastes good, unless it tastes like chocolate cookies and cream, would you really want to use it? Let's find out if it does.

First, I tried mine with 8 oz of skim milk because that is our normal go-to drink after water and I was a bit wary of trying this with water to begin with though as you'll see I did try it with just water later. The powder itself has a strong soy scent along with a definite chocolate cookie fragrance. I vigorously mixed it for about 30 seconds. As you can see there are tiny cookie-like flecks in the drink. Once mixed with skim milk the scent turned more cocoa cookie. It certainly tasted like what I would expect ground up chocolate sandwich cookies to taste like in milk so it tastes as it claim with skim milk. However, drink it quickly because if it starts to settle it gets a thick, grainy texture.

What about with water? I next tried it with 8 oz of filtered water. The resulting drink is darker in color and has a strong soy fragrance with less of a chocolate cookie scent. The texture is more grainy and the flavor sweeter as well as of soy. Since I'm not a soy milk fan I didn't like it this way at all. I imagine that using soy milk would intensify the soy flavor more but using almond milk would counter that a bit. Ultimately what you mix this with matters a lot in terms of texture and flavor.

If this mix sounds like it might meet a need you have, then give it a try using the link below.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Millennials Hate Chocolate

The title comes from an article I read yesterday that looks at  about a psychology study at Kansas State University that examined Millennials attitudes about chocolate... or so it claimed. Millennials, the articles reveals, do not follow through on their ideals about chocolate, they are unwilling to pay for the ideals, and by extension that mean something negative about them... I used "hate" to rile you all up. But if you looked just at this article, not the study itself, there are problems immediately as well as some intriguing information.

First, the article interchanges "chocolate" and "candy" but these are not interchangeable terms. There are legal definitions (varied from country to country) of each and they are not the same. The average person may not be strongly aware of the difference but the writers at sciencecodex.com and the researchers at Kansas State University should be. If you ask your subjects about chocolate then allow them tack candy and not just chocolate purchases, don't be surprised if the results don't match.

Second, the article says that the Millennials were asked to talk about what drives their shopping. Then they were asked to fill out a survey about their shopping experiences. Memory, desire to be perceived a particular way, inclusion of non-chocolate and non-candy items seems to take the subjects off topic and raise issues of objectiveness. Perhaps a study where they keep a diary or their purchases are tracked over the course of a year might be more insightful. Also, if you are tracking attitude and buying habits about chocolate, limit it to chocolate or at the very least have clear definitions of what qualifies as chocolate and what qualifies as candy when you give the survey or have discussions.

Third, the idea that Millennials just parrot back ideas that they think are popular reads a bit insulting to me. People of all ages do that. How do you prove that it is just copying verses what you believe? Do we expect people of all ages to follow their ideals or purported ideals 100% of the time? How surprising is a mismatch between what you say you want and what you do really? If you must match what you say with what you do all of the time, most of us are hypocrites.

Finally, this article and possibly the study it is reporting on, ignores one very big reason why people might pick one product over another -- economics. Of the six clusters that the researchers groups subjects into, none of them list money. You are telling me that a Millennial just grabs whatever and doesn't think about money? Not millennials that I know. They weigh costs of product X and Y and then balance that with their product experience and immediate reasons for purchase. We all do this even unconsciously.

If you want to test if money is a factor give them some in the study. Ask them to go on a shopping trip where they have X amount of money you gave them to spend plus whatever else they are willing to chip in. I'm betting that if they had income to spend some Millennials might follow their ideals and buy chocolate instead of candy and look at factors such as fairtrade, GMOs, labor practices, charity tie-ins, and sustainable agriculture. The simple fact is that chocolate is more expensive than candy. Following good social and environmental practices also add to the cost. While you can probably find a mass produced candy bar for $1 some of these chocolate bars are at the $5-10 range and that can seem like to much to pay until you really compare and feel like you have enough money to invest.

Millennials don't hate chocolate. They are just like the rest of us. Seriously, how many of us who are not Millennials also talk a good fair labor and sustainable agricultural line about chocolate then turn around and pay the cheapest you can find? How many of us buy the more expensive stuff on sale and make sure we wait for free shipping or collect coupons? How many of us buy more expensive chocolat only for special occasions? Millennials have ideals, they are confused about what is "chocolate" and what is "candy," and they are trying to make complex decisions when they go shopping.

Millennials do NOT hate chocolate.

I hope the study itself becomes available so I can check it out. I'd love to interview at least one of the researchers.

What are you thoughts about millennials and chocolate?

Monday, March 14, 2016

How are You Celebrating National Pi Day?

Today is "National Pi Day" a math holiday that we can turn into a fun food holiday, too. I'm going to try and find a super simple pie recipe that I can make with ingredients that I have on hand since I am without a car today.

I found this recipe and then modified it to reflect what I had on hand. Modifications = chocolate graham cracker crust, 1/2 c more Greek vanilla yogurt, 1 package Butterfinger Baking Pieces. Not low calorie. Even with no fat cream cheese this came in at 335 calories a piece.

Leave a comment and tell me how you will be marking Pi -- pizza, making a pie, buying a pie, round cookies? What?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Improve Daylight Savings Time with Candy

Tomorrow will be Daylight Savings Time here where I love and we'll set our clocks back an hour. We'll lose an hour of time is how we think about it. It causes all sorts of stress and people miss meetings or events on not just the Sunday it happens but even the Monday afterwards. This made me think about the Snickers ads I've been seeing for a while. You know the ones where an actor known for playing grumpy characters is subbing in for another actor or character because they are hungry. Eating a Snickers will fix the problem and help their moods. Since I got this Snickers Crisper for free with my Kroger Loyalty card I thought today might be a good day to test the commercials' theories.

Claims that chocolate or sugar can give you energy is old. In fact, food, in particular calories, is indeed the energy that our bodies use for everything. Not all calories are equal in terms of how long they fuel our bodies or how our bodies use them, but at the most basic level a food calorie is a food calorie. Yes, drink calories count, too, you don't get to just dismiss them. I know since I had to track and (continue to track) them all while working on losing 110 pounds over the past several years. But enough about me, let's look at this candy bar.

This candy bar clocks in at 190 calories not terrible for a midday snack but we're told not as good as let's say fruit or granola might be. I'm going into this with a slight headache, feeling tired, and a bit grumpy myself so I think this will be a good test... who would play a grumpy version of me? Leave suggestions in the comments.

I cut one piece of the two pieces in half so you can see that it is full of crisp rice, peanuts, and caramel at the top. It has a strong sugary caramel scent with an undercurrent of chocolate and peanuts. The top is softer when I take a bite but it is still crunchy and stay crunchy with each chew. The first flavor is cocoa followed by caramel, rice, and then the peanut. A too intense sweet rice flavor lingers in my mouth. It okay but I don't like it as much as a regular snickers really.

Did it get rid of my headache and give me a burst of energy? Sure. I also know from experience that cheese, apple slices, fiber bars, really pure and dark chocolate, and a host of other things do as well. Plus most of those other snacks don't have palm oil in them if that matters to you.

Have you had the Snickers Crisper? Did it satisfy you?

Monday, March 7, 2016

National Cereal Day 2016

Today is "National Cereal Day" a wonderfully versatile fun food holiday. Why versatile? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, you can use cereal for any type of meal. Savory or sweet, breads or meats, you can use cereal in a variety of dishes. But in all honesty my favorite way is still to make cereal bars. Cereal bars can be quick and easy or time consuming and complicated. It depends on what you add to the cereal to make the bars and how strong your arms are. Given an injury several years ago, I often need a bit of help with these sorts of kitchen ventures so, in honor of today's holiday, my hubby helped me make these Golden Graham Marshmallow Candy Bars. Enjoy!

Golden Graham Marshmallow Candy Bars
by TammyJo Eckhart, PhD

Ingredients:

8 oz Golden Graham cereal
10 oz mini marshmallows
1 lb candy coating
4 T light butter

Directions:

1) Spray bottom of 13 X 9 in glass pan to help the bars not stick once they have cooled.

2) In large sauce pan, melt the candy coating and the butter over the lowest seating on our stove. Breaking the candy up into smaller pieces will help it melt faster. Candy coating is sometimes called "bark" and generally it can be found in the baking aisle. The ones I buy use cocoa or chocolate. You can also find them in "white" and sometimes other flavors but I used the chocolatey one for this.

3) Once the bark is almost fully melted add in the marshmallows and keep stirring. This is where having help is very useful; one can stir while the other adds in the cereal.

4) Stir in cereal a bit at a time. I measured out one servings worth and then my hubby made sure it was fully covered by the marshmallow candy mixture before I added more.

Hint: The stirrer needs to work fast because the candy mixture will start hardening.

5) Once all the cereal is coated, dump the mixture into the pan. Use a rubber or silicone spatula to help flatten out the cereal evenly.

6) Let the cereal sit at room temperature for an hour then cut into pieces and enjoy! You can store this with a lid at room temperature as well but if your house is too hot or humid the bars can also go into the refrigerator but that will make them more difficult to chew.

How are you celebrating National Cereal Day? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Most Difficult Cookies in the World

Even though this is on a Saturday this is not a Sacrament, Sister and Brothers, just a product review. I got this Cookie Shot kit through a hotel loyalty program by spending points that were about to expire; I figured that I could test it out and see how it worked plus we like cookies. Tonight is a birthday party for a friend of ours who always has a lot of alcoholic at her events so I thought these might be a nice gift. Little did I realize how much time it would take to make 20 cookie shots, how little help the parent company would be when I asked them questions, or how the cookie shots would turn out. Do I recommend this kit? Read the rest of this article to find out.

The kit comes with only one recipe. I could not find additional recipes on the SmartPlanet website; there is no Cookie Nation company that I could find. I even emailed SmartPlanet and they said: The recipes provided in the manual are the only ones we provide. You can always add your own recipe to use and have other cookie flavors. However as the booklet in the kit makes clear, it is very important to use their recipes because the mold will only work with a particular cookie. Luckily this recipe is part shortbread and part mini chocolate chip so I just left out the chocolate chips for some of them.

Look at the box, note the various cookie flavors that are listed. I think this is misleading since they do not provide recipes and the booklet says the mold will not work with regular or store bought cookie dough.



Making the dough doesn't take any more time than other cookie doughs but time is very consumed for the other stages of production. It takes a bit of time to press the dough into the mold and then you have to chill it for 20 minutes while the oven heats up. Do not preheat your oven before then or you are simply wasting energy; turn off the oven between batches for the same reason. I made a batch without the mini chips and then a second with them. The dough goes a lot further with the chips versus without so I recommend it but my friend likes shortbread cookies so I wanted to make sure to have a few for her to try out. In this photo are just a few of the ingredients I used; I do not normally use real sugar or shortening but I had some on hand or got them just for this recipe.

In my oven the recommended 30 minutes worked perfectly.

Once you remove the cookies though set the mold on a wire rack to cool, trust me on this one and use a wire rack so the air can circulate. Even using that, it took two hours for the cookies to cool down enough for me to remove them from the mold. The booklet is very helpful on this point and the cookies came out in a single piece. Any unevenness is on me and not the fault of the mold though I would have been nice to have a fill-to line I could have seen in the mold.

I used a chocolatey candy coating, the removable melting bowl, and the stand to melt the coating in the microwave. It worked very well but I can't help feeling that this is really unnecessary. I've melted candy coating and chocolate in the microwave with other bowls. Since this kit does not include a tiny spatula or brush you still have to use some utensil to help spread the coating around the inside.


Once cooled the coating does indeed protect the cookie shot glass from skim milk.

I recommend drinking whatever you put into the cookie glass and then eating the cookie part even if it didn't crumble, better to be safe than sorry, right? Tastes great and very much like a cross between shortbread texture and chocolate chip flavor.

The kit could and should simply be the booklet and the cookie shot mold; the other items are unnecessary and simply make the kit look good while adding a higher cost.

The biggest difficulty with these cookies is the time it takes to make them. From the point of making the dough through letting the coating dry inside it takes around 3 hours –– 3 hours –– to make just 6 of these. In short this took me 12 hours to make 20.5 of these and that is crazy! Yes, they did taste good and they were fun to use but honestly I can't recommend this kit.

Tilting cookie shots my fault, not the kit.

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