Friday, June 30, 2017

July Holidays Taste Better with Chocolate

Doing this monthly chocolate holiday calendar a day early since tomorrow is a Saturday and we have our Sacrament article that day. The month revolves around ice cream but there are two historical events as well. Leave us a comment and tell us which of these fun and serious holidays you'll celebrate with Chocolate during July 2017.

July = National Ice Cream Month

July 1 = Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day -- What is the most creative flavor of ice cream have you ever tried?

July 3 = National Chocolate Wafer Day

July 5 = National Graham Cracker Day

July 7 = Chocolate Day

July 8 = National Chocolate with Almonds Day

July 9 = National Sugar Cookie Day

July 12 = National Pecan Pie Day

July 14 = Bastille Day

Third Sunday in July = National Ice Cream Day

July 21 = National Junk Food Day

July 23, 1904 first ice cream cones used at the World's Fair in St. Louis

1904 World's Fair Map
July 25 = National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

July 28 = National Milk Chocolate Day

July 30 = National Cheesecake Day

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Are Chocolate and Protein the Base of Your Diet?

Today is our last PROBAR® feature article here on The Chocolate Cult. There are many types of bars we've looked at in the first half of 2017 -- fiber, cereal, meal replacement, snack, and energy are just a few. BASE is a line of energy bars from PROBAR®. Each of the four varieties we were sent has 20 grams of protein. Some of the bar also have caffeine from "yerba mate" – this is a holly type of plant which has been used in beverages in southern South America for centuries. As with other PROBAR® products, these are also Non GMO Project verified and certified gluten-free. While each of these BASE bars have a lot of protein and a good amount of fiber, they also have a lot of sugar from various sources that make up the bulk of the first 10 ingredients on the label.  I'll be more specific about how the bars differ in terms of caffeine and other ingredient and nutritional information later in this review. I am using the information printed on the labels in this review, not the information on the PROBAR® website; sometimes they differed. The three flavors we'll look at today are Chocolate Bliss, Cookie Dough, and Peanut Butter Chocolate – Chocolate SuperGreens bar has been discontinued. If you have tried any of these four varieties, please leave us a comment and tell us about your experience with it. PROBAR® sent these BASE products to The Chocolate Cult for free in exchange for us testing them out and writing as objectively as possible about them; no other form of compensation was received. 

PROBAR® BASE Chocolate Bliss
PROBAR® BASE Chocolate Bliss has 55 mg of caffeine, 4 grams fiber, 16 grams sugar, and 6 grams saturated fat as well as the 20 grams of protein each of the BASE bars has. The first cacao related ingredient shows up as the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 20th ingredient on the label out of 25 ingredients and include unsweetened chocolate, cocoa processed with alkali, cocoa, and cocoa butter. That's a lot of ingredients but then this bar does not claim to be organic or simple. Once out of the wrapper it looks like a lot of other energy bars though a bit large at 2.46 ounces (70 grams). It has a cocoa and soy scent to it and yes, it does have soy if you are allergic to that. I used a sharp knife to cut it open for our photo and it was firm and made crunchy sounds while I cut it. Inside you can see it has two main layers – the bottom is crunchy looking and darker while the top is about the looks to be much like the coating of the bar. The inside has a stronger soy scent. Biting into is loud and it remains crunchy. The bottom layer is very crunchy but the top reveals itself to be basically a thick layer of the coating. It does have a cocoa flavor to it but also a very strong soy flavor but they blend together well. The bar is very dry and it dries my mouth out a bit. It does make me feel a bit buzzed and that is probably from the caffeine because I am not used to consuming caffeine beyond a couple of milligrams a day. Nope, not a tea or coffee drinker; that's why we have special Acolytes for those products!
PROBAR® BASE Cookie Dough

PROBAR® BASE Cookie Dough bar looks like cookie down in the top layer -- light colored with tiny chocolate chips visible in it. The bottom layer isn't solid as in the two previous bars but it has both dark and light colored pieces. Cutting the bar in half revealed that it should be as crunchy as the two previous bars, too. Before cutting it in half the scent was very sweet and soybean heavy, not much chocolate; there was even less chocolate fragrance once it was cut in half and I took a whiff from the inside. Nutritionally this has 10 more calories but I'm not see other big changes in the values on the label. Of course this has soybeans again but this also has almonds for those of you with tree nut allergies. Cacao related ingredients are way down on the list at 11th, 13th, 19th, and 21st and include unsweetened chocolate, cocoa processed with alkali, cocoa, and cocoa butter. Even though the texture is crunchy and a bit dry it does not dry out my mouth as much as the previous bars probably because this has less cacao related ingredients. The flavor isn't as soybean intense as I thought it might be, it does have a dough-like taste but the chocolate and cocoa is barely noticeable. However the name doesn't push the chocolate aspect so I'm not too disappointed.
PROBAR® BASE Peanut Butter Chocolate

Finally we get to the PROBAR® BASE Peanut Butter Chocolate which has both peanuts and soybeans if those are allergies for you. The cacao related ingredients are cocoa (11th), cocoa processed with alkali (17th), and unsweetened chocolate (18th). This has a very strong peanut fragrance, simply peanuts, not a sweetness very common in most mainstream peanut butters and products using it. The coating on top of this bar looks smoother to my eyes and it does not really smell like cocoa or chocolate. Cutting it open makes little sound yet inside I see the two layers -- top looks like peanut butter the bottom is the dark and light pieces of what was crunchy in the other bars. I take a bite and there is a light crunch but this bar is softer compared to the previous one. I can taste the agave syrup in this bar and that ingredient was in previous bars but I couldn't pick it out; it adds an odd flavor that I'm not a big fan of. This bar does not dry out my mouth at all, the top layer is creamy and there really isn't a chocolate or cocoa flavor. I do know that the amount of cocoa in any product can affect how much it may dry out your mouth. 

When I first started the testing for this article I noticed the 55 mg of caffeine in the Chocolate Bliss so I expected that from the other varieties but that was not the case. Why? Why put caffeine in the one bar but not the others? I'm not understanding given these are all the same line of products. But it isn't the caffeine that makes the Chocolate Bliss bar my favorite variety of these PROBAR® BASE bars, it is the fact that the chocolate is a stronger flavor. I might get that bar or the Cookie Dough one in the future.

We close out this PROBAR® BASE feature and that also ends are PROBAR® features for now. Perhaps we'll have other products from them in the future if they add more chocolate to their line up of products.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Chocolate Related Recalls for June 18, 2017

Some recalls involving chocolate, cocoa, or cocoa butter for you all today, Sunday, June 18, 2017. Remember to follow the links for the full information and to follow the FDA and brand instructions if you have a product that you cannot safely use.

-------------------- Recalls --------------------

Collagen Protein Fudge Brownie Bars
Collagen Protein Bars and Bites Recalls

Bulletproof 360, Inc. (“Bulletproof”) of Bellevue, Washington is recalling five Collagen Protein Bar and Bite products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The affected products were distributed between April 7, 2017 and June 12, 2017 in retail stores nationally and on to customers nationally and internationally in the following countries: Australia, Bahrain, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Finland, France, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Virgin Islands (USA). Products are identified with the following information:

Collagen Protein Fudge Brownie Bites
HVF, Inc. supplied the cashew butter used as an ingredient in the above Bulletproof Collagen Bars and Bites. The affected equipment was not used to process the cashew butter contained in BulletproofCollagen Bars and Bites; however, testing at HVF’s facility found Listeria contamination in another part of the facility.

No other Bulletproof products, including Bulletproof Collagen Powder, are affected or are involved in this recall. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Bulletproof will quickly be shipping replacement Collagen Protein Bars and Bites freshly made with a new cashew butter supplier.

Bulletproof is informing all of its retailers and distributors of this recall, and is making every effort to contact customers who recently purchased Collagen Protein Bars or Bites from the lots listed above to inform them of the recall, and to facilitate the return or destruction of any unused product.

Customers should not eat any Collagen Protein Bars or Bites that are subject to the recall, and should return them to Bulletproof. Customers will receive a full replacement or store credit.

If you have any questions or concerns related to Bulletproof’s Collagen Protein Bars or Bites, please contact a Bulletproof Customer Service Representative by calling 1-425-434-9704 Monday through Friday, from 9AM-5PM PDT.

Thrive gomacro bar

Almond supplier may have exposed ingredient to Listeria monocytogenes.

GoMacro, of Viola, Wis., is recalling a limited number of MacroBars and Thrive Bars because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recalled MacroBars and Thrive Bars were distributed across the country and internationally via retail stores, mail orders and direct delivery.

On June 14, 2017, GoMacro was notified by its supplier of almonds, an ingredient in specific MACROBARS and THRIVE BARS, that the ingredient has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The supplier notified GoMacro of this recall due to an expansion of a previous recall. No contamination has been reported to have occurred in any of these products, nor have any illnesses been reported to date. In the interest of abundant caution, GoMacro is recalling the following products and lots:

gomacro bar
The lot number and best by dates are found on the side panel of the product near the UPC.
The almond supplier has recalled all products made in their facility during the time of potential contamination. The only potentially affected ingredient supplied to GoMacro was one lot of almonds. Retailers and distributors who received the recalled lots have been contacted and asked to pull these lots from their inventory and shelves. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

everlasting joy bar from gomacro
“Even though there is no indication of contamination in our product, GoMacro puts the consumer at the forefront of every decision we make. We offer this voluntary recall in the interest of protecting the health of the consumer,” GoMacro CEO Jola Sonkin said.

If you have any questions our Director of Operations, Tony Saarem, is available by phone, Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM (CST) at (608)-627-2310 or email at

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Booze, Chocolate, and Toffee

7 Flavors of Mel's Toffee
A while ago, our Chocolate Coconut Acolyte told our Facebook page about a discover of hers -- Mel's Toffee. We cover a few of their flavor on this date and today we return to look at four other varieties of toffee. These four flavors – Dark Horse Chocolate Raspberry Toffee, Maple Bourbon Pecan, Right Brain CEO Stout, and Coconut Almond – all partly get their flavors from various alcohols so I asked our Coconut, Alcohol, and Mocha Acolytes to help me test them. We met one Saturday morning and tasted them using our standard testing methods. I only sampled two varieties so most of this article will be drawn from the experiences of my three assistants that morning – Elizabeth, Lisa, and Cindy. All of these toffees soy and milk if those are allergens for you; I'll list other allergens as we look at specific flavors. Made with real butter, these are not vegan products if that is a concern for you as well. I was sent one bag of each of the four flavors we're covering today for free from Mel's Toffee in exchange for a fair and honest review; no other form of compensation was received.

Mel's Toffee Coconut Almond Toffee
We started with the Coconut Almond which gets part of its flavor from Arcadia Aleo's Cocoa Loco, a Triple Chocolate Stout. Since I'm not a fan of coconut, I didn't taste this toffee; if you have a coconut allergen this has both coconut oil and flakes. These are toffee pieces that are dark in color, oddly incandescent one of the tester commented, with pieces of nuts and coconut flakes as well as dark chocolate drizzle. The fragrance was similar to coconut shortbread but not much chocolate. It is very solid and crunchy yet dissolves in the mouth and it only made a soft sound when the testers bit into a piece. Any of this toffee that stuck on the teeth also quickly dissolved. The taste was buttery and sweet coconut but the amount of chocolate varied greatly, the testers only got chocolate when they bit into a drizzled line. However while the toffee is called "Coconut Almond" none of the three testers tasted any of the nuts even though they could see them. It was the flavor differences from the title that led to a remarked different in final opinions about this flavor -- one would buy it, one would eat if again if offer, but one was disappointed and wouldn't have it again.

Mel's Toffee Right Brain CEO Stout Toffee
Right Brain CEO Stout is made from a stout brewed with coffee beans so I sat out this tasting as well since I hope you all recall how much I hate coffee. This toffee also include Oreo crumbs which means it has wheat, I know some of you avoid wheat. It was difficult to zoom in close enough and still show you the label but I think you can make out the Oreo crumbs on the top of this varieties' pieces. Click on the photo to get a closer look if you like. The toffee itself was lighter in color so the drizzle and the crumbs stand out more. This had a very strong coffee fragrance. These piece broke apart more easily when the three testers tried them and therefore the crunch they made was softer when they bit into them and as they chewed them. It was also not as sticky as the first variety had been. In terms of flavor the coffee was the strongest element followed by stout, buttery sweetness, and then some chocolate if you bit into the drizzles. The Oreo crumbs added a bit to the texture but not so much to the flavor. None of the three testers would buy this variety again because they really wanted more from the Oreo crumbs and the chocolate to counter the coffee's intensity.

Mel's Toffee Maple Bourbon Pecan
Maple Bourbon Pecan is made with Jim Beam Maple. In terms of allergens, both pecans and graham crackers (wheat) are on the ingredients list. This toffee is slightly darker in color so the chocolate drizzle doesn't stand out as well in the photo. The scent is strongly maple and bourbon with hints of graham crackers for one tester; one tester thought the maple fragrance had a strong smokey quality to it as well which a couple of us thought was a lot like bacon. This was as solid as the first toffee but stickier, a lot sticker on our teeth. It made a snapping soft that ranged from soft to sharp depending on the tester and the thickness of the piece they had. All four of us tasted a strong maple flavor, one still picked up the smoky essence. Bourbon and then sweetness followed but no one could taste the pecan or the chocolate unless we bit right into those. No one mentioned a graham cracker flavor or crunch either. I liked this flavor. I and one other tester would purchase it in the future while another would definitely keep eating it but the fourth really didn't like the smoky fragrance or taste she was picking out.

Mel's Toffee Chocolate Raspberry Toffee
Chocolate Raspberry Toffee is made with Dark Horse Raspberry Ale. This flavor includes Oreo crumbs so that means wheat is part of the ingredients that some of you may be looking to avoid. This one was the prettiest that we tested -- you can see the chocolate drizzle against the lighter toffee and the Oreo crumbs stand out as well. The scent was buttery toffee but the raspberry element seemed so slight that it might have merely been our expectation of it that created any hint of it at all. Thus we were all surprised by how strong that raspberry ale flavor came out when we tasted them, it was the primary element followed by buttery sweetness, strong hints of chocolate, and even an Oreo flavor.  These pieces made a good strong snap when we took a bite and the crunch was constant; the toffee stuck less to our teeth compared to the previous three flavors. All of us would buy this variety again because the balance of flavors was perfect this time around. The Chocolate Raspberry Toffee was by far the favorite of these alcohol based varieties of Mel's Toffee.

Have you had Mel's Toffee before? If so, leave a comment and tell us what you thought of it. If you've had all of the four varieties we revealed today, do you agree with our opinion that the Raspberry Chocolate was the best?

If you haven't do you think any of the four flavors we covered today – – would be something you'd like to try? Leave a comment and let us know that, too.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Dark Chocolate Chip Lemon Cookies

enjoy life 66% dark chocolate morsels
When we receive boxes of chocolate, one of the common combinations are chocolate plus lemon. The chocolate can be white, milk, semi-sweet, or even dark and the lemon can vary from creamy and tart to creamy and sweet. Usually these are a delightful comparison of flavors particular when the chocolate is darker. I was sent these 66% cacao dark chocolate morsels from enjoy life and I thought maybe they would be a good excuse to see if the chocolate and lemon flavors might work well in a lemon cookie. I was sent a free 9 oz bag of enjoy life chocolate chips in exchange for a fair and honest article on this blog; no other form of compensation was received.

As you know, The Chocolate Cult is NOT a recipe site, it is not a cooking or baking or candy making. Yes, we do have recipes and we do test recipes from time to time but that is not our focus. So instead of trying to create a new lemon cookie recipe and not wanting to go out and buy lemons that I wouldn't use for anything else, I turned to a boxed lemon cookie mix. I think this is a good way to really test out the chips because as long as I follow the directions, I can't mess up the cookies, right?

Let's see what the final product looks like.

How did they taste? Well, while they were cooking they smelled great, the lemon was strong but the dark chocolate fragrance was there as well. Notice that the amount of chips varied greatly so the ones with more chips were more chocolate and less lemon, the cookies with fewer chips had a stronger lemon flavor. I love them both. At 98 calories, these weren't a wreck either in terms of my daily food routine. The chips were nice and melty when you bit into one but they didn't lose their shape, just as chocolate chips are supposed to do when you bake with them. I loved them!

Final analysis: These dark chocolate morsels are Sacrament Worthy just as all the other enjoy life products have been so far.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day 2017

Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!

Do you like chocolate ice cream?

I find that chocolate and cold have a conflict; the cold tends to dampen the flavor of chocolate. Therefore a good chocolate ice cream is one to remember.

I want you to leave a comment and tell me what your favorite chocolate ice cream is?

What brand if you buy it from a grocery store?

What shop if you buy it at an ice cream shop?

What recipe do you use if you make your own?

Need some inspiration?

Check out photos from some of our previous chocolate ice cream posts!

So leave your comments and let me know about your favorite chocolate ice cream!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

PPROBAR Meal Replacement with Chocolate

We more products from PROBAR® to test out for you all but we go caught up in a lot of other products and covered those. We didn't forget you, PROBAR®, so today, if you are still looking for a way to get back into you summer body form before it is officially summer, we're going to see if this brand's meal bar line give us enough of what our bodies need to qualify as a meal. Of course you need enough calories but nutritional values, particularly a lot of protein and balance between carbs, fats, and proteins are key to answering this question. Of course all of that means nothing if the bars don't taste good because otherwise it becomes a chore to eat it versus a normal meal. we received three of these PROBAR® Meal bars -- Koka Moka, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Coconut. I called upon two of our Acolytes to help with these reviews so their words will be in italics below. I was sent free Meal bars from PROBAR® to test out and write about as objectively and honestly as we could on The Chocolate Cult; no other form of compensation was received.

Elizabeth, our Mocha Acolyte, received a couple of PROBAR® products to test and the Koka Moka Meal bar was one of these. Sadly, she wasn't impressed. When she opened it, she found the square that you see she's taken a bite out of and the smell was a strong granola, nuttiness. what you would expect a power bar to smell like. When she tried it, it had chewy texture and a taste more granola and chocolate, with hints of coffee. Nutritionally this meal bar was just ok, has 48 g carbs and that is a lot for only 9 g of protein.

Your Chocolate Priestess tested the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Meal bar. At 390 calories this is very much like a lunch meal for me so I tried it out then. When I cut open the wrapper I immediately smelled chocolate and peanut butter so that was a good sign. The bar looks like something I could make at home -- I can see nuts, oats, chocolate chips, and little seeds. I take a bite and the bar itself is soft and easy to bite into and chew. Whenever I hit a nut or seed they are crunchy; when I bite into a chip there is a burst of semi-sweet chocolate but that is the only time I taste chocolate. The peanut butter flavor is lightly roasted and is a constant undercurrent of flavor. The bar is okay but I'd like more chocolate, too. The bar is certified organic and gluten-free and verified non-GMO however it has ingredients you might be allergic to such as almonds, sunflower seeds, rice, pumpkin seeds, rosemary, and papaya and obviously peanuts and chocolate. I liked this bar and I would have it again but I'd love it if it was more chocolatey.

Lisa looked at the Coconut Chocolate MealThe scent is predominantly coconut, almost like suntan oil but I don't discern any chocolate aroma. The texture is soft and chewy, rather like an oatmeal cookie. The first bite I let just rest on my tongue for a few moments to see what flavors would come out. After two minutes, however, there wasn't really much flavor at all. A hint of sweetness and grain but no chocolate or coconut.  Once I start chewing it's a different story. Still a lot of sweet oat flavor but now the coconut is coming to the forefront. After three bites I finally get some chocolate flavor coming through. Despite having both nuts and seeds in it, there isn't much crunchiness to it. The bar measures roughly 2" X 2" and weighs in at three ounces. I know that doesn't sound like much but this is a very dense and heavy bar.  It clocks in at a hefty 350 calories, 17 grams of fat, 50 grams of carbohydrates (5 grams of fiber) and 8 grams of protein Because of its high calorie and carb count, I can see taking this along with me if I were on a long (20+ mile) bike hike. and wanted a mid-point snack.

The Meal bars come 12 to a pack much like you order other PROBAR® products on their website (check our links to each flavor) but you might be able to find them in stores around the USA since they sell products in over two dozen brick and mortar locations like Target, HyVee, and Whole Foods just to mention a few I'm personally familiar shopping in.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Celebrate Summer's Arrival with Chocolate

June will see the official arrival  of summer even if where you live has felt that way (or not) for some time now. Here is a list of serious and fun holidays that last a day, a week, or even the full month that you can celebrate with Chocolate. How are you going to mark these dates? Leave a comment and let us know.

June = National Dairy Month

1st Friday June = National Donut Day falls on June 2, 2017, this year. Here are some freebies I've learned about that might interest you.

     Duck Donuts
     Dunkin' Donuts
     Krispy Kreme
     Fractured Prune Donuts
     Honey Dew Donuts
     Sugar Shack Donuts

Win Free Donuts with these promotions:
     LaMar's Donuts

June 2 = National Rocky Road Day

June 3 = National Chocolate Macaroon Day

June 7 = National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

June 11 = National German Chocolate Cake Day

June 11 = Birthday (1796) of Francois-Louis Cailler, first Swiss chocolatier

June 12 = National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

June 14 = International Steampunk Day in honor of the birthday of H.G. Wells

Charles-Amedee Kohler
June 15, 1790 = Birthday of Charles-Amedee Kohler, Swiss confectioner

June 16 = National Fudge Day

June 22 = National Chocolate Éclair Day

June 24 = National Pralines Day

June 26 = National Chocolate Pudding Day

June 30, 1971 = Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory along with The Willy Wonka Candy Factory is released

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