Monday, April 30, 2012

Chocolate for May 2012

Sisters and Brothers, a nice long list of holidays for May that we can celebrate with chocolate.

May = National Chocolate Custard Month; National Mental Health Month -- chocolate custard, huh?  I wonder if I've ever had it?

May 1 = National Chocolate Parfait Day

May 2 = National Truffle Day

May 5 = National Chocolate Custard Day; Cinco de Mayo -- hey, mole is made with cocoa

May 11 = National Eat What You Want Day -- why would you not choose something with chocolate?

May 12 = National Nutty Fudge Day

May 14 = World Fair Trade Day -- very important to the issue of cocoa plantations

May 15 = National Chocolate Chip Day; also the birthday of Coenraad Johannes whom I'll do a post about so you can learn a bit about why he is important to chocolate lovers

May 19 = National Devil’s Food Cake Day

May 24, 1836 = birthday of Joseph Rowntree whom I'll also tell you a bit about later this month

I hope this helps you all plan your month!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cosmos Brownies

Most of the time we feature candy chocolate or gourmet chocolates here on The Chocolate Cult.  This is really a reflection of the companies that send us products not a bias that we have.  Baked goods -- cookies, brownies, cakes, pastries -- are difficult to ship so they are a rare treat us to receive.  Cosmos Brownies sent us not one, not two, but one brownie in each of their six flavors so today we are going to reveal them to you in their full sensory glory.   Note: the sampling for this review was done within two weeks of receiving them so that they were fresher and this review is pre-written.  All of these brownies weigh 3oz and are 3 inch squares but I'll explain their variations in thickness where appropriate.

Let's start with the basics and the "Double Fudge" brownie so we can compare the other flavors to this one in terms of chocolate and texture.  This has the standard allergens for brownies -- eggs, wheat, and milk -- that all of these brownies have; I'll note extra allergens when they apply.  This is thick at almost 1.5 inches, making it slightly thicker than the other five flavors.  It has a definite fudge scent to it once I unwrap it.  When I take a bite I discover the texture leans more toward the fudgy than the cakey brownie, the two general types you can make brownies in depending on the number of eggs you use.  The flavor is fudge as well but with a strong sweet essence to it that I was not expecting.  Of course it makes no sound at all, why would it, but the cocoa is so strong that even 1/3 of this brownie is more than enough for me; I shared the rest.  I think this would be an excellent base for a scoop of vanilla ice cream, firm enough to hold that ice and chocolatey enough to be satisfying.

The "Mintalicious" brownie is next with peppermint, not mint so it may not be what you initially think when you see the title, I thought mint not peppermint myself.  A good cocoa scent hits my nose after I unwrap this bar.  It looks very solid but there are a few white flecks I see and am curious about.  At 1.25 inches thick this very much like the "Double Fudge" in looks.  Taking a bite I find that the texture is a cross between the fudgy type of brownie and the more cakelike brownies I've had in the past.  The peppermint flavor is very subtle except when I find one of the white flecks that turns out to be pieces of peppermint candy -- not listed on the label but I'm certain as were those I shared this with that this is what we all found.  The pieces of peppermint add that extra oomph to the otherwise good cocoay brownie as well as a bit of crunchy texture and sound.  I'm still thrown by the name a bit, I still think just mint, but when I take this for what it is -- peppermint -- it is a nice subtle treat.

One of my favorite flavor combinations is always peanut butter and chocolate and Cosmos Brownies delivers this in the "Peanut Butter" brownie with a twist: the peanut butter topping.  As you can see this is a layer of 2/5th an inch of peanut butter brownie or batter baked on the top of the chocolate brownie.  The scent is very strongly peanut butter but there is a good undercurrent of the cocoa.  The top layer is softer; yes I even pull off some and try it and the rest of the brownie separately for you all, Sisters and Brothers.  The two flavors blend very well and the cocoa is strong enough to be the ending essence while the peanut butter is of a roasted yet sweet creamy nature.  A good choice for the chocolate and peanut butter lovers out there.

I love walnut brownies, oh, heck, I just love walnuts but I live with a husband who is very allergic to tree nuts; you may recall our report on Chocolate!Chocolate! and how his tree nut allergy threatened to ruin the event for us.  Cosmos Brownies does offer a "Walnut" variety that looks simply and delicious to my eyes.  As soon as I unwrap it, a strong cocoa scent hits my nose, I don't smell the walnuts not even when I bring my nose right to the brownie.  This is 1.25 inche tall and it is a side piece so one edge has a crunchy texture to it.  I often choose the side or corner pieces when I bake myself.  It looks very dense and I can see pieces of walnuts inside before even taking a bite.  The first bite has a good fudgy flavor but oddly a more cakelike texture, a hybrid as several of the varieties above.  There is a walnut in this first bite; there are at least 12 bites (my size) in this huge brownie.  10 of the 12 bites had walnuts in them and these were always slightly crunchy and fairly large.  Around the walnuts the brownie was a bit moister and more fudgy in texture though not more chocolaty in taste.  I liked it a lot, I'd add extra chocolate personally to crank up the cocoa more but these were what I expect from a walnut brownie.

The next tree nut brownie is the "Turtle" that has pecans, chocolate chips, and caramel primarily on the top.  This is a bit shorter than the previous brownies with 0.75 brownie a quarter an inch of topping; I imagine the weight of all these chocolate chips, pecans, and caramel weighed down the brownie as it baked.  The brownie part looks more fudgy, more flat and dense.  The pecans and caramel overpower the cocoa in terms of fragrance.  This is a corner piece so two of the sides have that nice crunchy nature to them.  The pecans make a soft sound as I chew. The brownie itself is indeed very fudgy and surprisingly the topping does not overwhelm it but blends very nicely though the sweetened pecans are the final flavors.  The specific allergen concern for this brownie are the pecans; another tree nut that my husband only growled at when he saw the brownie. Hey, I gave him most of the other brownies I could share with him and got his opinion so I don't feel bad, Sisters and Brothers.  In fact, I really, really loved this brownie.

Rene, our Chocolate Fruit Acolyte, took on the Coconut role for this featured review because I don't see our Chocolate Coconut Acolyte as often as I used.  The "Coconut Bliss" brownie's is part brownie and then the shredded coconut on top at almost 0.75 inches of that height.  This has all of the standard allergens mentioned in our first brownie but also almonds and, of course, coconut. It was very moist. Had a distinct coconut smell. Looked very pretty with the zigzag chocolate on top. The brownie part was very mild and not sweet, which worked well with the sweet coconut layer on top. The coconut was very denseand chewy, good stuff. I'd say if you like coconut, you'd like this.

Six big brownies from Cosmos Brownies, a fairly new company, just marking it's one year anniversary.  All of these brownies were just what many of you would like -- a good cross between the fudgy and the cakey, therefore having a wider appeal that simply one type of brownie.  The cocoa came through well in most of these and the added ingredients did indeed contribute positively to the over all textures and flavors and not replace cocoa.  The ingredients were real with no preservatives so you'll want to eat these fairly soon -- within three weeks -- or freeze them if you want to hang on to them longer.  Cosmos' brownies get our bite of approval as a Sacrament for all our brownie lovers out there.  Give them a look and a try.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Meet Choffy, Brewed Hot Chocolate

As you know, Sisters and Brothers, we in The Chocolate Cult are a volunteer group of folks who try to describe our experiences with chocolate of all sorts using our five senses.  Our goals are to help you determine what you want to buy and put in your body as well as expose you to variety in all areas of chocolate culture.  Choffy is a fairly new product that we had the pleasure of trying out that takes the brewing process of coffee and applies it to cocoa beans.  Independent seller, Deborah Snyder, sent us this sample of Ivory Coast Choffy so our links will take you directly to her site.

The ideal way to make Choffy is to use a French press.  Since we are not coffee drinkers here and this would only make two small cups of the drink, I didn't want to give it over to our Mocha Acolytes.  Luckily Deborah sent us directions for using it in a regular coffee maker which we have, you can see it in this photo.  I've used this to make tea so I figured it could work for this ground based drink.

Here you can see the Choffy grounds in our maker.  They have brown, almost black, and even red tints to them.  You can see that they are fairly large but also that these are not shavings of chocolate which we have featured in the past from other companies.

I used 15 oz of water and turned on our maker. I let the Choffy brew fully then set in the heat for 15 minutes; at least five minutes is recommended but I wanted a full flavor.  As it brewed it created a very dark fragrance that almost had a burning edge to it.  Not like coffee, even the scent of that I dislike, but a bit like I'd left a baked chocolate item in the stove a minute too long.

We tried it fairly hot at first.  You can see here that there is a glossy sheen on the liquid, this would from the natural fats and oils found in coffee beans since there is nothing added here.  You may also notice that it has a slightly reddish tint to it as well which reminded me of many of the hot teas I make in this device.  Hot was a bit too hot so we let it cool for a few minutes.

The brewed Choffy was bitter; what do you expect from 100% ground cocoa beans and water?  We each tried it with a bit of pure sugar.  I used this spoon about 2/3 full while my partner tried it with a full tablespoon of sugar.  This took the bitter edge off and let the flavor come out making it more like chocolate.  I might like darker chocolate but this was a bit too much for me, much like I don't normally chow down on 98% baking chocolate.

We both really liked our mugs after adding in this sugar.  This ability to personalize the flavor is similar to several of the higher end hot chocolate mixes we've tried where you are actually melting chocolate shavings or cocoa powder without added sugar.  Much like with coffee, I had a personal mini-guilt trip about the left over grounds.  I'd like to think there was some way to use these so we get the full benefit of the product.  I also with the website had more information about using the ground but also where the beans come from, who the farmers are, and how involved Choffy is in the production of the beans.

Cocoa beans take on the qualities of their environment as coffee lovers and pure single origin chocolate lovers well know.  While Deborah sent us the Ivory Coast sample she also sells Choffy from La Espanola and Mamberamo (part of Indonesia).  These mugs of brewed hot chocolate delivered what they claim and that gets Choffy our recognition as a worthy Sacrament.  Hopefully in the future they will add more information to their website so we have more information about the farmers and areas where their beans come from as well as ideas for using the grounds perhaps.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Snickers Dark Bar

The final candy bar from the trio of new variety bars I found at our larger, nearby CVS.  If you have been reading from the beginning of The Chocolate Cult and have a very, very good memory, the Snickers Dark may ring a bell. This isn't so new but I think when I last reviewed it, it was so long ago and didn't impress that much that I forgot.  So I'm going to look at it again and see if I like it more this time.

The dark chocolat is stronger than the peanuts, caramel, nougat in terms of scent this time. In terms of flavor, the roasted peanuts and nougat are king.   The peanut/nougat isn't particularly sweet and since the darker chocolate just simply is not competing well I end deeply disappointed in this variety of Snickers.

How many of you have tried this candy bar, Sisters and Brothers?  What did you think of it?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Old Time Candy Part 3

Today is part 3 of our four part series looking at the variety available from Old Time Candy.  Today we'll look at 8 more chocolate candy bars because Easter was just last weekend.  Sisters and Brothers, that I'm sure some of you will recall and some of you may have eaten all ready this year but I hope you'll discover something "new" that is actually a fairly old candy.  Remember, that Old Time Candy's claim to fame is presenting candies from decades past.

You can't see it very well in the above photo, but you can get Hershey's Miniatures in two ways from Old Time Candy.  First you can buy it one piece at a time, allowing you to decide how many pieces you want for 25¢ each or you can get a 2 pound bag of them as well.   We were sent a 5oz bag that had 16 pieces in it including original Hershey's chocolate bars (black and silver wrapper), the Special Dark bars (brownish red wrapper), krackel (red wrapper), and mrGoodbar in the yellow wrappers.  The miniatures first appeared in 1939 and contained the most popular bars in tiny form, a tradition that continues today.  With the exception of the Special Dark these candy bars are old favorites.  The original bar was sold in 1900, mrGoodbar showed up in 1925 and what a clever name for the roaring 20s, huh, the krackel appeared in 1938, while the Special Dark only came out in 1971 decades before the craze for darker chocolate for the masses.  All of these 1.75 X 1 X 0.5 inch bars are made with chocolate, cocoa butter, and cocoa with no extra oils or fats but they do have added artificial flavors.  Of these it isn't surprising that the Special Dark has the greatest chocolate essence but the krackel has the least to my taste buds, the rice just takes up too much room compared even to the peanuts in mrGoodbar.  These certainly need to be in the Chocolate Lover's Box.

The Charleston Chew also has a connection to the roaring 20s, the name for the dance craze!  It was introduced in 1922 by the Fox-Cross Candy Company.  Over the decades the shape and flavors have changed as well as ownership with the Tootsie Roll Company holding title but manufacturing it under the Cambridge Brands, Inc, name.  The chocolate variety that we have today was introduced in 1958, I believe based on several internet sources.  I've never had a Charleston Chew and I suspect some of my comments might stir up the passions of some of you out there. Remember our focus is on CHOCOLATE and this falls far short.  Just look at hte ingredients, the only chocolate component is cocoa and it is 4th on the list after corn syrup, sugar, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. True it has a cocoa scent as soon as I opened it but it wasn't what I was expecting from descriptions.  First instead of being in four pieces it is merely only long piece measuring 8.5 X 7/8th X 05 inches.  The inside is this semi-soft sticky stuff that makes it difficult to pull apart.  Given the nutritional values of this there is no way I want to eat more than one bite so how can I perserve it to share without this inside getting hard?  I could freeze it, that's one way people eat these.  This one bite, yeah you know what this reminds me of?  Peeps in terms of flavor and texture.  I don't think this had enough chocolate anything in it to really be in this collection.

The timeline for the GooGoo Cluster was a bit shaky to determine -- some online resources place it as far back as 1899 but the official website for the candy treat claims it was created in 1912 at the Standard Candy Company, the same company that makes it today.  That is some feat given how frequently candy companies are sold or bought out or simply go under over the decades.  The original one is full of tree nuts but also cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, and cocoa powder so this is full of chocolate in at least three forms.  As you can see, it is arranged in layers with most of the chocolate on the coating but also in the top 1/2 of the treat.  This is a big treat at over 2.5 inches across and just over 1 inch thick.  I can smell the cashews and the sweetness as well as cocoa.  It is sticky to chew and the chocolate barely manages to be one of the flavors you taste.  I'm torn because this has three types of chocolate components but the flavors are just too much.

The Oh Henry! bar has a history full of fun stories and the years for it development range from 1920 to 1924.  Created in Chicago at the Williamson Candy Company it was supposedly named for a flirtatious boy who would pop into the shop to check out the pretty ladies working there making candy.  Even the official information provided by Nestlé online is short on historic facts but the story sounds charming, doesn't it, Sisters and Brothers?  I think I've had an Oh Henry! in the past but it has been so long this is like a new candy bar for your Chocolate Priestess to try out.  It is two bars, each 2.25 X 1 X 0.75 inches; makes it easy to share even though both pieces equals one serving.  It smells chocolaty and the ingredients say it is made from cocoa butter and chocolate.  It also smells like peanuts and you can see those in the top layer in the photo above as well as a lot of added ingredients, including extra oils.  It has a good blend of the peanuts, caramel, and chocolate though of these three, the chocolate is the weakness flavor.  I wonder if this might be better in terms of chocolate if it was dark chocolate that could compete with the other flavors or they could simply reduce the number of added sweeteners and oils and let the chocolate and cocoa butter do their job.

So far in this one feature review I've mentioned a candy bar named for a dance but how else might a candy bar get its name?  If you believe some sources on the Net, the Snickers was named for a favorite horse of the Mars family back in 1930.  Snickers claims to be the most popular candy bar in the world though how that claim is backed I'm unsure -- by the dollar amount or the number of bars?  This is a 4.25 X 1.25 X 0.75 inch bars covered in milk chocolate made with chocolate and cocoa butter but also some added oils and extras for the nougat that is one inside layer with the peanuts covered in this corn syrup rich caramel as the other half of the inside.  Chewy, sticky, and crunchy, you can taste a very creamy and sugary chocolate at first but it is quickly overpowered.  I'd put this in a peanut lover's box over a chocolate lover's one personally.

Nestlé introduced one of my favorite candy bars, Crunch, thirty-one years before I was born.  This simple twist on their milk chocolate bar in 1938 was a great idea because chocolate was going to be more difficult to get with WWII in the wings and well through the first part of the 1950s.  Why did I like this so much when I was growing up?  I think I always loved my mother's rice crispy treats especially when she melted in chocolate chips and these remind me of those.  5 3/8th inches long and 2 inches across this looks big is only 0.25 inches thick if you measure the majority of the bar and not the raised edges.  This is one of the purer chocolate candy bars in the feature today sugar chocolate, and cocoa butter are the first three ingredients and the list is shorter than many we've seen today.  It has a very strong vanilla flavor and the the chocolate is very creamy.  While this may have been a favorite of mine in the past, today it just isn't dark enough for me by a long shot but with less ingredients and two products from the cacao bean, it fits in this box.

In 1954, m&m's introduced their peanut variety that was at first only in a tan colored candy coating.  This was also the first appearance of the m&m characters on television; those little dudes are getting old, aren't they?  If you call, I looked at the original or plain m&m's in a previous feature from this online candy shop and I wasn't impressed.  I'm less impressed with these in terms of chocolate.  Why?  They candy coating is just as sugary plus there is the thin chocolate layer but the bulk are these fairly large peanuts.  Great for peanut lovers but in terms of chocolate these fall flat.  They shouldn't be in this box at all.

Finding the history of the 100 Grand bar was a challenge.  There were many stories about people suing radio stations for giveaways where they got the candy but not the money that they thought they'd get, but not a lot of facts.  I believe the bar was first called the $100,000 bar in 1966 but the name as changed to what we know now in the 1980s.  This comes in two pieces though the entire pack is one serving size just like the Oh Henry! also from Nestlé.  Unlike it's sister bar Crunch this has more added sugars and a sweeter scent.  The inside is very soft which the crispy rice is in the top coating only.  What this does is let more of the chocolaty flavor (courtesy of cocoa butter and chocolate) out because there is simply more material that is chocolate here.  This is necessary candy to include in this collection for this fact.

Of these eight a few fell short of what I'd want in a Chocolate Lover's Collection.  There are ten more candy bars to go from Old Time Candy so we'll see in May if those will add to or subtract from the ideal chocolate candy bars through the decades.  I hope you are looking forward to the final part of this series, Sisters and Brothers, because I love reading your comments about your own memories and these treats from the "Chocolate Lovers Collection."  Please note that they offer special shipping for hotter weather, we've all ready had temps in the 80s where your Chocolate Priestess lives, at no extra cost though it may take more time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Recipe: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Recipes are rare here on The Chocolate Cult. Let's be blunt our primary goal has been and continues to be the pursuit of chocolate in Moderation and with A Purpose.  We review products so that you don't have to spend money just to try it out.  Every now and again we do a cookbook review and sometimes when that happens your Chocolate Priestess gets inspired and wants to share a recipe.

Today is "National Coffee Cake Day" so I thought this was a great time to share a recipe I've entitled "Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake" and I adapted it from the cookbook "Taste of Home: Baking" (p 395, "Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake").  I made changes because my husband can't have tree nuts.  In fact having them in the house is a bit tricky requiring a lot of extra containers marked with "tree nut" warnings so he doesn't use them and extra cleaning for me.  I certainly didn't want to have an entire coffee cake just for myself, that's rude and certainly not moderate, so I added more chips and more cinnamon to the recipe.

Here is my version: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

1 C butter, softened (I used "I can't believe it's not butter")
1 package (8oz) cream cheese (I used Philly Neufchatel Cheese)
1 1/2 C sugar (save 1/4 cup)
2 eggs (I used a store version of egg beaters)
1 tsp real vanilla
2 C whole grain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C skim milk
2 tsp cinnamon (divided)
1 C mini semisweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Cream together the softened butter, cream cheese, and 1 1/4 cups of the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well blended.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add to the creamed mixture slowly alternating with the milk.  Blend all together well.

Stir in chips and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until they are well blended.

Spoon and press into a greased 9 inch springform pan.  Sprinkle remaining chips over the top evenly -- yes this almost completely covers the cake.

Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  Sprinkle this evenly over the top covering the chips and any exposed dough completely.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, toothpick in center should only have chocolate on it, no wet or attached dough.  Remove pan and set to cool for 15 minutes.  Run knife around the outside then remove the sides using the release on the pan.  Serve and enjoy!

The resulting cake was moist but the outside edges were very crispy as well.  The inside wasn't particularly light but it wasn't doughy either, it baked all the way through as I suggest you do above by checking with a toothpick.  The cinnamon and the chocolate blended very well, enough of each to make up for the lack of tree nuts.  I shared it with four other people over a few days.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Protein Drink Recall from Odwalla

Odwalla, Inc. Issues Nationwide Allergy Alert On Chocolate Protein Monster Beverage


Odwalla Inc.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - April 5, 2012 -Odwalla, Inc. is recalling Odwalla Chocolate Protein Monster beverage in 12-oz and 32-oz bottles, with “enjoy by” dates prior to and including 23 MAY 2012, because of reports from consumers allergic to peanuts and/or tree nuts experiencing severe allergic reactions after consuming this beverage. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts and/or tree nuts may run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

Odwalla Chocolate Protein Monster product that is being recalled includes all “enjoy by” dates prior to 23 MAY 2012 and the specific UPC codes listed below.

Odwalla Chocolate Protein Monster12-oz bottlesUPC Code: 14054 13509Odwalla Chocolate Protein Monster32-oz bottlesUPC Code: 14054 13504Odwalla Protein Monster “variety pack”
(sold exclusively at Costco)12-oz bottles, four
of which are Odwalla
Chocolate Protein MonsterUPC Code: 0 14054 26659 6
These Odwalla Chocolate Protein Monster beverages were distributed nationwide through retail food stores and on-premise foodservice establishments during the last seven weeks. The 12-oz bottles of Chocolate Protein Monster are also available in an Odwalla Protein Monster “variety pack” sold exclusively at Costco during this same timeframe. The variety pack is a 10-pack of 12-oz bottles of the different Protein Monster varieties, four bottles of which are Chocolate Protein Monster.

Chocolate Protein Monster is sold in 12-oz and 32-oz re-sealable plastic packaging and must be kept refrigerated. The beverage labels carry the brand name “Odwalla” and the descriptors “Chocolate Protein Soy and Dairy Protein Shake” and “Protein Monster.” Specific “enjoy by” dates can be found printed on the neck of the bottles.

To date, four consumers have contacted Odwalla to report allergic reactions after drinking the product. These four consumers are not known to be allergic to soy and milk but report being allergic to peanuts and/or tree nuts.

Odwalla has notified the FDA of these consumer reports and is working with FDA to investigate the cause of these allergic reactions. This beverage contains no peanut or tree nut ingredients, and the production facility where it is produced does not make any peanut-containing products. While we have found no evidence of peanuts or tree nuts in the product at this point, in an abundance of caution to safeguard consumers, Odwalla is recalling this product while continuing to investigate the cause of the reactions.

Consumers who are allergic to peanuts or peanuts and tree nuts and who have Odwalla Chocolate Protein Monster product with the specified “enjoy by” dates are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Odwalla at 1-800-639-2552, 9:00 am to 5:30 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

DOVE Dark Chocolate for Baking

Do you remember, Sisters and Brothers, our interview in January with Food Network's Claire Robinson?  If not or if you want to review that, you may do so here.  Today we are going to feature one of the three types of chocolate bars we were sent for that interview and giveaway using one of Claire Robinson's own recipes: "Flourless DOVE Dark Chocolate Lover's Cake."  Her recipe only calls for two bars so I used... you'll see if you keep reading.  When we had a break from some pretty crazy warm weather I felt I really wanted to do some baking and thus I was able to do this feature as well.  We'll cover the other DOVE products later in the year.

I followed Claire's recipe minus the whipping cream for the topping, I wanted to do something else.  I substituted a few things as well as you'll see below.

First I drew a circle using my 9in round pan on the parchment paper. I cut that circle slightly smaller and it fit fairly well into the bottom of the pan.  Then I turned on my stove on 375ºF so it could heat up while I made the batter.

First I measured out 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa with 1/4 cup regular cocoa powder.  That was as close to a 70% dark cocoa that I could find and I think it worked fairly well.

As you can see, these 3.3oz DOVE Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate bars are sectioned into small pieces so they are very easy to break apart for melting.  While about two inches of water in the bottom part of my glass double boiler that I've had for almost twenty years heated to a simmer, I broke apart two of the three dark chocolate bars we were sent.  I put these in the top pan along with cut up pieces of a half cup butter.  I put this second pan on the first and focused on the next step as it heated up.

I used Egg Beaters and measured out 5 eggs worth, 1.25 cups.  I whisked these and they do indeed froth up a bit in between checking on and stirring the butter and chocolate that was melting.  When it was all melted I turned off the stove and set the top pan on the counter near my eggs.

After one final whisking, I add in the eggs and blended them all together.

I added in the cocoa powder slowly and folded it in with a plastic spatula.  This was actually difficult, the cocoa really wanted to coat the pan but I kept at it until it looked blended it but a bit lumpy still.

Then I poured it as evenly as I could into the baking dish.   Here you can see it in the oven before I closed the door.

It baked for 25 minutes and then I touched it and made sure a crust was formed.  I set it on my dining room table to cool for 10 minutes then used a knife to loosen the edges all around.

I turned it out onto my green cake cover that I've also had for 20 years.  I need some new things, don't I?  Then I let it cool overnight.  I know, I know, perhaps this is meant to be eaten right away but I had an idea for a topping.

The next day I melted together the third part of DOVE dark chocolate with 1/4 cup of skim milk.  I just used my microwave, heating these for 50 seconds and then stirring and stirring.  I let that cool for two minutes and then stirred it again.

While it was cooling, I cut the cake into 12 pieces, this is a very rich cake and my topping is about to make it richer, so 12 pieces is a good idea in terms of moderation.

Then I slowly poured the topping over the cake.  Some of it did drip off but most stayed on the cake.

That evening, I shared it with others and we had these slices.  How does it look, Sisters and Brothers?

The DOVE Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Bar was great for baking or cooking with.  Made of natural ingredients it is real chocolate so you can feel good on that level.  The way it is sectioned made it so easy to break apart and all of those small pieces had enough surface area to melt quickly and smoothly.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

National Caramel Day (with Chocolate)

In March we had National Chocolate Caramel Day on the 19th while this month, today, the fifth of April, we have simply National Caramel Day.  Whether the chocolate is part of the caramel or surrounding it, your Chocolate Priestess tends to really like the combination.  I prefer the buttery caramel with darker chocolate while I like the tangy variety with either milk or dark chocolate; I don't really like caramel with white chocolate, sorry white chocolate lovers but I find it too sweet and creamy for my personal tastes.

Today in honor of the holiday I'm going to review one of the delights I bought with a gift certificate to one of our best chocolate suppliers in my town, Saharamart.  These are Butlers Chocolate Caramels in a 15 piece 5.29oz box that normally costs $10 but I got it for half price and had my gift certificate so it cost me nothing.  Butlers is an Irish chocolatier so this is imported, too, but that doesn't mean it necessarily is great, we'll have to test that right now.

The pieces are individually wrapped and inside I found three layers. The top is a milk chocolate made of milk chocolate, then another crunchy layer, and finally a soft tangy caramel layer in the center.  The crunchy layer really surprised but since there is no mention of that on the box. Two possibilities.  Since this was on sale, it could be that the mart just had it for so long that the structure changed but the chocolate showed no signs of age nor did the soft inside.  Second this layer is supposed to be crunchy, hazelnuts are listed in the ingredients and there is a slight taste of them so perhaps this is where they are?  I don't know and since the company didn't send it to me, I didn't ask them about it.  As you can see these are about two bites each and measure 4/5 inch by 4/5 inch by 1/2 inch.  I really wanted a soft caramel surrounded by the chocolate so it was a bit disappointing to have the crunch layer. For my Irish readers or anyone in the UK or others who have had these, are these supposed to have a crunchy layer or did I get a poor batch?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Crunch Bunny 2012

Easter is fast approaching and while it is too late to order fancier gifts without paying a hefty fee, you may still be able to find treats at big stores in your area.  We've looked at a few of these all ready so I want to end this year's Easter reviews with a big bunny from a well-known mass chocolate maker in the world: Nestlé.  I'm talking about their Crunch bunny that I hope you can because I pre-wrote this review last Easter and have been saving for right now.

This is a solid milk chocolate bunny with crisp rice in it like the Crunch candy bar that Nestlé makes.  I grew up loving these candy bars so I'm pleased to see this is made with primarily natural ingredients though the entire bunny we'll be looking at has a total of 630 calories made from 18g saturated fat, 15mg cholesterol, 165mg sodium, 3g fiber, 72g sugars (holy moly!) and 6g protein.  That's in one 4.5oz bunny!  Remember moderation if you can and think about sharing this or eating a bit over a few days.

The bunny is adorable once I can get it out of the box and out of the plastic molding that holds it very tightly.  He has a big grin, a floppy ear, and is cradling a basket with a chick inside of it. This is over a chocolate base section so it is not fully three dimensional figure.  The chocolate has a strong vanilla and rice scent over the cocoa itself.  From the tip of the ear to the base, it measures 6.25 inches by 2.5 inches at it's widest section with a thickness of 7/8th of an inch.  I nibble off a bit of the ear to let you know how it tastes but there is no way I'm eating this entire thing; it goes in the Easter box to be shared among close friends and family.  Much like I remember the candy bars, the chocolate here is very sugary and the rice makes each chew crunch slightly.  The cocoa buzz potential here is very low and with so much sugar you'd be hard pressed to feel it next to that rush.

In my memories, Crunch was a favorite but in my continued following of our Path I have to say that I really, really want less sugar and more plain chocolate in this bunny to make it worth my money and my body.  Think about that, Sisters and Brothers, before you ever buy chocolate.  Will this give you what you are looking for?

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