Saturday, January 20, 2018

Fragrant and "Expensive" Chocolate Treats You Make at Home

I don't always bake from scratch though I do from time to time. As you have seen on The Chocolate Cult, we are happy to test out mixes from brands as well as use ingredients they send us to make desserts, snacks, drinks, and even entre├ęs. When we review a prepared food or drink item we describe it using five senses but when we are cooking we often leave those senses out because we are more concerned with how the mix or ingredients work out. Today we are going to look at an oil I was sent to test out as a health treatment but really can be used for cooking as well. I was sent this Nature's Way NutraVege Omega-3 Plant Based Liquid Supplement- Vegetarian, Vegan- Strawberry + Orange Flavor, 6.8 oz to test out via the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for reviewing fairly and honestly it on the website. No other form of compensation was received nor was this blog article expected by either Amazon or NutraVege.

As a healthy item, you are supposed to take 1 teaspoon of this to get 500mg of omega-3 into your diet. My good cholesterol is very good and to be blunt, I don't have money to have cholesterol levels checked to determine what taking this for the 40 days worth of product there is in this bottle would do to my health. I can tell you that the strawberry and orange scent was very strong but I didn't taste anything different from vegetable, canola, or olive oil. Yes, I did taste those oils I had on hand to compare. Oil by itself is not something I really want to taste ever again. I thought adding this to something I was cooking or baking might make for a interesting twist to our normal sensory joy of food.

First I added it to a creamy risotto dish. I just added 1 tablespoon of it, substituting this for my regular olive oil. It worked exactly as the other oil did in that dish. The scent was very different but the flavor was not affected.

Second I used this in place of vegetable oil to make these treats -- individual brownie cheesecake -- so I used 1/3 cup in that case. The fragrance was powerful and interestingly now we could taste some orange and some strawberry even with that amount spread over 15 servings.

This is expensive! Seriously over $27 dollars for 6.8 ounces, not something I would ever use for cooking if I bought it, getting it free to taste bad this experimentation possible. However, if you have the money or have a special event coming up that you think the taste and fragrance of this product might help you with, please follow the links to check it out. Doing so will provide a small fee to our founder as a Amazon Associate and encourage her to keep working on this blog for us all to learn from and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

5 Reasons Why Nestle's Candy Sale to Ferrero Matters to Chocolate Lovers

Nestle is selling its candy division to Ferrero. This should matter to you if you like let alone love chocolate. I want to lay out some of the reason why it matters.

1. Both are huge companies. When the sale is finalized, do we have any reason to believe it won't be, Ferrero will become the 3rd largest candy company in the world. This substantial market share will impact chocolate, sugar, vanilla, and several other ingredients in terms of price and quality. That's basics economics.

2. Both Nestle and Ferrero pledged in the past to embrace more fair trade practices in terms of sourcing their ingredients. That is a good thing but if we compare them to other massive food companies, they are in the middle tier in terms of good fair trade practices. Unless Ferrero makes a more concerted effort, I think they'll stay in that middle tier. Given the increase in their market share, this could either push the lower tier companies to improve or similar depress the higher tier businesses who still have to compete for consumers.

3. Both Nestle and Ferrero have had reports of child labor and even slavery on cocoa farms where they source the most important ingredient for chocolate; cocoa beans. While both companies again pledged to do better, and indeed just last summer Nestle can be credited with improving, they have a long way to go. This is a historical fight, one that has plagued candy and chocolate makers from the 19th century. Companies have been making promises to stop buying from farms that use slaves or children for over a century. If Ferrero is serious this could have a huge impact but it doesn't address the full causes of slavery or child labor.

4. Ferrero will need to compete with other huge food businesses in terms of supporting cocoa farmer not just by buying their beans but by encouraging certain types of agricultural practices beyond labor and improving beans themselves. As companies such as Cargill and Barry Callebaut look at and attempt to increase sustainable farming practices, Ferrero might choose to do the same. If they do, this could improve the chances that chocolate will survive as a mainstream product into the next century.

5. A lot of this depends on you and me, the consumers.

Look back that chart of ethical chocolate makers and seller. How many of the companies in the high tier of ethical practices are big players in the candy world? I checked the Top 100 in the candy industry to look for those top 5 ethical companies. They don't show up at all on that list. Sure they show up on "best of" lists for vegan chocolate, ethical practices, and are very favorable reviewed by bloggers but their market shares are small.The impact they make is minor in terms of global issues we've laid out above. Why? Because consumers balk at regularly paying more than $5 per bar, that's the low end of prices for ethically and sustainably produced chocolate. The average price for 3.5 ounces of chocolate in the USA is currently $3.49 while 3.5 ounces of chocolate candy is back at $2.24 cents.

What do you think about the Nestle sell to Ferrero?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Chocolate Coated Ice Cream Bar Recall

Since no one left a comment asking us to add more of these recall posts so that you can learn about them sooner when we asked at the start of the year, I'm going to continue with the weekly round up of recalls related to all things chocolate. As I prepare for our Year-Long Celebration of The Chocolate Cult, I've been looking at our first year. I've been doing chocolate recall notices since the earliest months of this blog. I do it because I care about all of us who love chocolate. Read up, check out the recalls, protect yourself.

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

Massive Chocolate Coated Vanilla Ice Cream Bars Recall

Fieldbrook Foods Corporation has issued a voluntary recall of all orange cream bars and chocolate coated vanilla ice cream bars that were produced in 2017 on the company’s Hoyer 1 Line at its Dunkirk, NY plant (plant code 362677). This is the only production line and the only Fieldbrook Foods plant (of 3) involved in this recall notice. Both products are being recalled due to the possibility that they may 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 orange cream bars, chocolate coated vanilla ice cream bars, and variety packs that include chocolate coated vanilla ice cream bars were sold at the following merchants under the indicated brands:

The recalled products have a production date of January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 and a “best by” date of January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018. The Hood and Kemps products may show a “best by” date of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. Fieldbrook Foods is working with each of these retailers to recall the affected products.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine industry testing revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in only a few ice cream bar samples of many tested.  The expansion of the recall is out of precaution for consumer health and food safety after a few additional samples tested positive for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes.  There is no evidence of any contamination prior to October 31, 2017, but the company has issued the recall back to January 1, 2017 through an abundance of caution and in full cooperation with the FDA.  The company has suspended production and distribution of all products produced on this production line while it cooperates with the FDA to fully investigate the source of the problem.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1 800/333-0805 x2270.

Fieldbrook Foods Corporation takes the safety and integrity of our products very seriously. Our families also consume these products and we are working tirelessly to identify the cause of the problem and permanently fix it so the orange cream and other types of ice cream bars made at Fieldbrook Foods will again have the complete confidence of our customers and consumers.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Everything's Coming up Turquoise for Enjoy Life Foods

As regular readers will know, we try to never do the same products from a brand, company, or individual creator unless that product has changed a great deal. We were recently sent a box of Enjoy Life Foods swag that included a lot of wonderful things in their brand's new turquoise background design. Turquoise fits into their company goals because it is the color of the food allergy awareness movement. Some of you may recall that we've talked about that on this blog in the past particularly in relationship to Halloween. Today I just want to show you what we were sent along with one that we've covered before to show off the color scheme. Then in the February we'll share the results of testing the new-to-us products from Enjoy Life with you. In this first photo to the right you can see the top layer in the box when we opened it. Yup, even the box has their bright turquoise color. I'll get into what we found in the box in a moment but legal matters need to be addressed first. Enjoy Life Foods sent us these free samples in exchange for fair and honest article about their products here on this blog; no other form of compensation was received.

The very top layer was clothing and accessories. A t-shirt, a baseball style cap, and a pair of sunglasses. Right now the temps are well below freezing but when it gets hot this coming summer I'll definitely try those on and share what I look like on our Instagram. Check us out there via our founder's account.

Under that layer were three of their food items in the new turquoise color scheme -- single Crispy Grain and Seed Bar in Banana Caramel flavor, a box of Crispy Grain and Seed Bars in Chocolate Marshmallow variety (that's what we'll talk about in detail next month), and a 10oz bag of their Mini Chips Semi-Sweet variety that was have reviewed in the past here.

I'm looking forward to making more treats with the chips and revealing the bars to you next month. For now, you tell me in the comments what you've loved about Enjoy Life Foods that you've tried.

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