Friday, December 31, 2010

Sam's Club Holiday Leftovers 2010

The last place we visited to check out post-holiday sales before the New Year as Sam's Club where we've had a membership for many years now.  Originally we were on my parents account but then kept it.  We have a difficult relationship with the store since it the same company as Walmark and they are incredible anti-union and fair trade practices plus they no longer only buy American as I recall was their motto years ago.  If we had a Costco or some other bulk item store, we'd certainly go there.  With the help of our friend we found the Christmas leftover sections of the store -- thank god because I also find the store difficult to navigate at times.

The first find was weird, the three tin "nut" collection which is actually peanuts -- big difference in terms of allergy concerns, Sam's Club!  One of the three was chocolate covered peanuts.  As you can see these were very thickly covered since the peanut inside was average in size.  These were made with real chocolate but they also had a lot of additives so they tasted a bit waxy.  The peanuts were a touch too salty but that only made us want to eat more unfortunately.

The other item in the first photography was a "European Chocolate Tower" that is the same as an item we saw last year but did not buy after Christmas.  In fact I saw exactly the same items this year as last year and thus probably not much to look for next year post Christmas.  I'm going to reuse these boxes since I now have a candy thermometer and can attempt such treats myself.  I tried to choose a less Christmas specific theme from the remaining stock.  Remember the three Rs -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle -- Sisters and Brothers, because the environment we protect is chocolate we might be saving!  None of the boxes or the bags inside had a product label so we had to go by the booklet and how much each type of chocolate weighed to try and determine what was was.  Again, for people with allergies such labeling is MUST companies.

The first was "Italian Dark Chocolate Praline" which had no tree nuts though I was raised to think that pralines should have nuts in them.  These were in the smallest box with only three yellow wrapped pieces.  Inside was a dark dome shaped piece with a flower petal top.  Inside were pieces of cocoa beans that added to the intensity of the chocolate flavor.  The combination of crunch and cocoa made this my favor so I was sad it was the least in number.

My third favorite was in the next size box, the "Cocoa Dusted Belgian Truffle" that just tumbled out looking a bit like slightly squashed chocolate kisses you can buy.  The cocoa scent was wonderful and they melted in our mouths before being added to the leftover chocolate container to share with over the next few weeks.  The weird thing about liking this one is that it had the least amount of chocolate in it and only in the form of cocoa powder mixed with a bunch of other things.  An example of how you must read labels at times and not merely go by what looks or tastes best in terms of choosing chocolate.

Also from Belgian were the "Orange Cream Truffle" that were more flat in shape and came luckily in orange wrappers.  The orange was intense but the dark chocolate overcame it and became the dominant flavor making this my second favor flavor.  There were a fair amount of these left so I added them to my convention box -- if you find me at a science fiction, fantasy, horror or kink convention and buy one of my books, you get free chocolate when I have them individually wrapped like this.

I didn't like the next one at all.  I just seemed too oily sweet which is a weird taste and sensation to have at once in my mouth. This was another Italian treat in the form of "Hazelnut Milk Chocolate".  As you can see this gold wrapped truffle had a top part of white chocolate, it as actual white chocolate, and a milk chocolate bottom half.  I don't know if it was just too creamy for me but I couldn't get a second opinion last night since our Milk Chocolate Acolyte, read Husband here, is allergic to tree nuts.

Finally we had another praline but this was a "Hazelnut Turkish Praline" bringing up the represented nations to three and one of them questionably European.  Why not French, German or English Chocolate?  Even something more unique like a Romania chocolate would have been more varied.  I've digressed because while this was very sweet, crunchy and strongly hazelnut the chocolate itself just faded into the background making this a tie with the other hazelnut for my least favorite by a long shot.

So those were my finds this year post holidays at Sam's Club.  What did you find?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aldi Holiday Leftovers

Yesterday your Chocolate Priestess went with her husband, our Milk Chocolate Acolyte, and her friend Erica who accompanied us to the chocolate sculpture event we reported on back in November.  We visited two stores for basic supplies but also to check out their post-Christmas sales to see what they still had available in the chocolate category.

We went to Aldi because for basic canned goods, I've found they are just head and shoulders above other stores. Tomato paste or sauce, basic instant potatoes, butter beans, the prices are about 30-50% less than in our nearby grocery stores.  I've never been very impressed with their dairy, meat or grains selections but our Chocolate Fruity Acolyte told me to "check out the chocolate" the next time I was there.  This is some of what we found left over from the Christmas season.

All three products turned out to be from Germany and all three had cocoa butter and cocoa liquor in them.  They all had a buttery taste in them as well though they did vary in other ways.  So we wondered: Is buttery chocolate common in Germany? If you know, Sisters and Brothers, please leave a comment and tell us.

Let's tackle the Chocolate Santa from Choceur first.  As I hope you recall we had a Sacrament that was this beautiful and amazing tasting chocolate Santa figurine earlier in December.  This particular Choceur Santa was only 99¢ and weighed in at 7oz.  He was listed as being milk chocolate decorated with dark and white chocolate and thus I thought he'd be a perfect comparison to our earlier Santa.  However looking at the ingredient further I was only the ingredients for the milk chocolate and no separate listing or the white or dark varieties that you can see decorated him.  The result is that the Santa tasted the same, very buttery with a light aftertaste of chocolate regardless of where you bit into him.  He did break apart easily and he is very cute but he can't compete with the previous chocolate Santa even at this price difference.

The most adorable chocolates we found at Aldi had to be the Moser Roth Winterfest collection.  These were buttery milk chocolate again but it had a stronger flavor filled with a nice creamy center that wasn't too milky or too vanilla.  The 4.32oz box had 12 different shapes inside.  I tried the shooting star and the Milk Chocolate Acolyte tried the trumpet.  There were better than the Santa and certainly cute but that buttery quality was really throwing our American sensibilities off with the chocolate itself.  As you can see in this photo, each piece had an indent next to hit in the plastic molding which allowed us to easily slip in a thumb or finger and pop them out.  That was a nice thought from the company since since nicely detailed chocolates can be a pain to remove without damaging them or having them all fall out.

Our favor finds from Aldi had to be the Grandessa Truffle Stars which came in a 7oz box of 16 truffles in four flavors easily identified by the guide along the side and the back both.  I want to think Grandessa for this photo guide because it is very helpful for anyone with allergies or taste dislikes.  We tried these two separate ways -- my husband sucked on each piece while ate them in two bites.  He got subtle changes in flavor while I got the differences within five to seven chews usually.  Starting with the top row we had: Latte Macchiato, Caramel (my favorite), Cream, and Vanilla.  The weird thing about these was that each of them actually tasted a bit tangy like caramel at their center and not like what I expect a truffle to be. I still liked them but it wasn't what I was expecting.

So, Sisters and Brothers, tell me about your chocolate shopping experiences at Aldi.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Target Holiday Leftovers

Two days after Christmas, your Chocolate Priestess and the Milk Chocolate Acolyte went to do some post-holiday shopping to use up gift cards and just see what was available in the stores nearest them.




I found these three chocolaty treats in our near by Target store.  Frankly none of these are specifically Christmas as much as they are specifically winter time or winter flavors really so if you can find them, use them throughout the winter.



The first are the Christmas version of Oreo.  We used to get white chocolate covered ones but we haven't seen those in stores for a few years now which makes both my home Acolytes sad.  They both love Oreos, you see.  These are slightly more filled with the cream than the normal ones but they weren't marked double stuffed either. The cream, as I hope you can see in the photo, is a bright red.  The big question then: Would they taste like dye?  The answer is happily "NO" they taste like Oreos should!  Then one of our Mocha Acolytes, who helped us sample these treats, asked "What is the point then if they just taste like the regular ones?"  I think the point is the color really.

Next up was the Dove Peppermint Bark that came in a box with snowflakes on it.  Inside were four large pieces of bark, each one was actually 8 dark chocolate squares bound together with white chocolate and broken pieces of candy canes.  Again the color scheme is such that you don't have to be limited to Christmas at all.  This and the Oreos could easily be used for Valentine's Day for example.  The peppermint was there but not overwhelming, the white chocolate was nicely creamy but the dark chocolate had a solid kick of bitterness to it.  Resulting in a nicely varied treat.  This was our Milk Chocolate Acolyte's favorite as well as mine of these three.

Finally we had the Fudge Covered Ritz Crackers.  Before you got "YUCK" like the Milk Chocolate Acolyte did give them a try.  The chocolate is milk chocolate and it did taste slightly fudgy.  The Mocha Acolyte who told me that he isn't fond of Ritz Crackers at all liked these; of the three these were his favorite of this trio but this was our Milk Chocolate Acolyte's least favorite.  Frankly if you ate one whole you really only got the chocolate with a bit of salt and crunch. If you bit it in half the second bite was more Ritz flavored which means it had more salt and some butteryness to it.

So, Sisters and Brothers, if you tried any of these three products this year, leave us a comment and tell us your thoughts.  As you can see we have different opinions ourselves.

If you found something else at the after holiday sales at Target that you were impressed with in terms of chocolate, let us know that, too.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Guittard: Simply the Best of 2010

It isn't unusual for a chocolatier, retailer or company to send us several products to review at the same time.  It is less expensive in terms of shipping after all plus then they've done it and they won't get a follow up email from me a few months later asking if they were still interested in being reviewed.  However when that happens it creates a challenge for us here on The Chocolate Cult -- storage and usage both become issues.  I don't want to spend an entire month focused on one company because I think you'd all get bored and I prefer variety.  Sending something I can use in my own baking or candy making or easily share with others is a great gift these chocolatiers offer me.  Guittard sent me two types of their products: baking chocolate in 24 square pallets and samples of their newer 3.5oz bars.  Over the course of the year I used the pallets and have done special sacramental reviews with them.  Today I can declare that Guittard is the Best Chocolate of 2010 here on The Chocolate Cult.

The first project I used this chocolate in was for a friend's birthday back in March.  I made a simple chocolate cake that called for melted chocolate not cocoa which I usually see in brownies, cakes or cookies unless you want to include pieces of chocolate within the batter itself that will last through the baking process.  I asked my friend what percentage of cacao she wanted and she chose the 38% Kokoleka Hawaiian Guittard chocolate.  You can learn more about that cake in this review HERE.  It melted wonderfully but I think that the lower cacao content allowed so many of the other ingredients through that it just didn't make my list of most chocolaty cakes but my friend thought it was OK if a bit dry.

One of the greatest challenges to using all this chocolate was the weather.  I don't know how many of you, Sisters and Brothers, bake or make candy, heck even just make simple treats but the weather particularly temperature and humidity has a huge impact on how chocolate performs. After a very long and hot summer, much more hot and dry than usual and yet oddly humid as well, I broke down and used the 55% Kokoleka Hawaiian Chocolate to make cereal bars.  I just needed some quality chocolate and I really wanted to make something rather than just eat something I'd been sent.  For this previous review you can check back HERE.  Think of using something as fine as Guittard here as making high class treats for yourself and your family. These were so wonderful that I'd say they are even worthy of being given as gifts or used for a birthday.

In November I finished making three recipes from a cookbook and used the 65% Cacoa Machu Picchu-Peru Chocolate from Guittard.  You can read the review that was mentioned in HERE.  I actually preferred ganache for the center of these treats not just because it didn't squish out as you ate it but it was so tasty and so easy to make -- a bit of heavy cream, a minute in the microwave, stir and wait. 

This made such a wonderful ganache for the whoopie pies that I had to use the final variety, for our annual Christmas Party.  For a change I made less chocolate items for the party.  I made a big cake which I'll review later, some cookies and I made a ganache to dip sponge cookies in from a new cookbook which, again, I'll review later when I've tried a few more recipes.  Let's just say that the bitterness of this chocolate was a wonderful change for me in that table of sweetness I and my family created for all our friends at the party.  The fact that the cookies themselves tasted like almost nothing just allowed the chocolate to shine more.



Here you see the undipped, the white almond bark dipped and the 70% dipped sponge cookies.  Guess which was my favorite?





All four of these Guittard pallets were wonderful for several reasons that involve all our senses.  The chocolate smells intense as soon as I opened the wrapping and that scent remains whether I melted it, combined it with other ingredients or baked it.  The squares themselves look adorable with the cocoa pods on them, they aren't shiny and artificial but solid brown to black in color.  As thick as the squares were they were separated by more narrow chocolate that I could snap off and that made a very loud sound indicating the purity of the product.  This purity meant that I couldn't hold the squares very long or they would start to melt but that low heat point also explains why it melts so quickly and so evenly whether I did it on the stove top or in the microwave.  The taste, each type had a unique flavor but always, always each variety had that buzz that we want from chocolate and cocoa regardless of how many other ingredients I added to it.

All of that makes it easy for your Chocolate Priestess to declare Guittard to be the Best of 2010 here on The Chocolate Cult.  Sadly, very sadly, I don't see these pallets for sale on their website.  I see the bars I was sent and a lot of cocoa but not these particular pallets of chocolate.  However, I strongly recommend that you look into Guittard and check back here for a review of their 3.5oz bars very soon.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Type of Chocolate Did You Use this Holiday Season?

From: http://hubpages.com/hub/Christmas-images
Your Chocolate Priestess saw that the Kelly School of Business, a branch of her local University, conducted a study that said the top two treats for 2010's Holiday season has been Chocolate and Candy Canes.  I want to know what you did for treats this year, Sisters and Brothers, regardless of the holiday you celebrated or will celebrate this winter.

After Christmas I'll be sharing some of the wonderful chocolates and cocoas I used in Sacramental posts.  For now let me say that I used chocolate for baking and I also bought some candy for giving most of it was chocolate of some variety -- white, milk or dark -- but some was hard candy, too.  I did not buy candy canes however since we still had some left over from the previous year.  The major holiday we celebrate is Christmas though we also have friends and family who celebrate other holidays and thus we are certainly happy to try a variety of treats.

So please do leave a comment, it will only take a few minutes, and let us know what types of chocolate or candy you made or bought this December and for what holidays.

Happy Holidays to you all no matter the Event you Celebrate!

Monday, December 20, 2010

King Reese's Trees for Christmas

I grew up loving Reese's peanut butter cups and over the years there have been dozens of "new" products which are basically the cups in different forms with different chocolates. I've reviewed some of these since The Chocolate Cult started but when I recently went shopping I saw something new packaging one sale that I had to try.  The King Size package gave me two tree shaped Reese's for the price of one of them in most store in our area, including the one I bought this in, Kroger.

The trees are 2.5 inches long and 1.25 inches at their width, with a thickness of 0.75 inches.  They have a very strong peanut scent with only a light milk chocolate.  I also know from experience that this will be true for the taste as well but I'm OK with this since this brings back childhood memories.  I always start at the top of the tree much like I start with the head of any human or animal figure in candy.  This had a surprisingly salty taste I was not expecting, an almost burnt taste actually as it lingers in my mouth.  The lightness of the chocolate can't fight this unpleasant taste at all.

While I know this certainly isn't the best chocolate and peanut butter combination I've ever had, Reese's is something I grew up with so I like to indulge once or twice a year. I just wish this had tasted better because over all I was disappointed this year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chocolate Cherries and Nuts for the Holidays

Today is our last big pre-Christmas review because by next Saturday it will be Christmas.  Don't worry, what we are looking at today, Sisters and Brothers, you can still find or order if you hurry.  Plus don't forget Chocolate for New Year's Eve!  But first, I want to introduce you all to a new member of our Faith.

As you may recall, in order to practice Moderation and Purposefulness, your Chocolate Priestess has enlisted Acolytes to help her.  All of them know more about the products they review than I do and all of them volunteer their time.  Two are just members of my family who have very strong opinions about what chocolate is best.  Some of them won contests on this blog to earn their positions.  Others have, through their volunteer work with me, proven they can handle the task with the seriousness and fun we want here on The Chocolate Cult.  So everyone, welcome Rene our new "Chocolate Fruity Acolyte".


We got together for her trial by fire you could say to do this review for Chukar Cherries together.  Chukar sent us two boxes, the 12oz one you saw at the beginning of this post and the 5oz box to the right.  As we contemplated the large amount we realized that everything in the small box was also in the larger box.   We'll touch upon the small box later in this review.

In order to do this, we followed my normal and recommended process that I ask all the Acolytes to follow.  Sit down, no distractions of music or TV or others unless you are working with me.  We each had a glass of water that we refilled a few times during this process.  Then we got organized with paper for Rene to write on and a camera to take pictures as we went along.


It was very helpful that inside each box was a paper insert that told you which pieces were which.  This can be very important not only for allergies but simply because putting something which you really dislike into your mouth can turn you off from a chocolatier because it makes you not trust that that next piece won't also be something you dislike.

As you can see the pieces were laid out nicely so we could easily divide them to sample and reveal to all of you.  This is the "Original Assortment" that you can see on their website but let's talk about each of the 11 flavors that were in this box.


We'll start at the top and work our way through the box.  Ready?  Got your water handy so you can make it through the review?  Good.  Let's go.

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffles have a rouge color and measure 3/4 inch in diameter.  Watch out though because the red dusting on them will get on your fingertips.  They have a distinct cocoa scent with fruity undertones.  The powder on top is sour but it fades to the very creamy white chocolate flavor.  There is real dried fruit inside that has no seeds yet the raspberry flavor is very mild at first only to kick up in the aftertaste.

The Dark Chocolate Cabernet Cherries made us wonder if doing this before lunch was a good idea but we soldiered on.  This 3/4 inch piece has a smooth glassy finish that reminded Rene of old-fashioned bridge mix.  There was a nice bittersweet chocolate scent.  When biting into it, it had a soft, crumbly texture with chewy dried cherry in the center.  The rich chocolate taste blended very well with a very tart cherry essence that finished bittersweet chocolate.  However there was not wine flavor really so we're not sure if Cabernet is for wine or simply the name of the type of cherry used.

The Classic Cherries have a milk chocolate glossy finish but is lighter in shade which we hope you can see in the photo.  The chocolate smells sweet this time.  Again the piece has a crumbly texture but a mildly tart dried cherry inside that overwhelms the chocolate flavor.  Rene thought there was also an almond flavor that turned up in the aftertaste with the cherry.

Milk Chocolate Cherry Bings were next in the box and they looked and smelled basically the same as the previous treats.  The chocolate layer was thinner while the cherry inside was much larger and more chewy.   Interestingly the chocolate flavor was stronger, less sweet than the previous, but still the cherry was still dominant.


Almonds should be in the flavor of the next type, the Amaretto Rainiers, and yet neither of use could taste it suggesting that these are types of cherries, not descriptions of added flavorings.  These are more round that the previous treats and had only a faint chocolate aroma.  To our surprise the dark chocolate flavor was very strong and it competed well with the cherry that had a smoky essence to it. 

Milk Chocolate Truffle Cherries have a matte cocoa powder over them that comes off on your fingertips and tastes very sweet.  These are larger, about an inch in diameter and they smell very chocolaty sweet.  The chocolate shell is thin and covers a large dried cherry.  The chocolate burst at the beginning gives way to a rich cherry flavor that balances very well with the continuing sweet chocolate.  

Black Forest Cherries are covered with a dark chocolate that is topped with bittersweet cocoa that will get on your fingertips.  It had a strong bitter cocoa scent as well.  These are about 3/4 inch in diameter again.  The chocolate is very strong and very bitter making the semi-tart cherry seem almost sweet in comparison.


We get to one of the two chocolate covered nuts in the 12oz box: Vanilla Almonds covered in dark chocolate.  The chocolate is dark and glossy but the shape reveals their almond nature even though the scent is only chocolate.  The whole almond inside is nicely earthy and it must be the vanilla that makes the dark chocolate much sweeter than either of us expected.


Not all these treats have only one layer of chocolate as we saw with the Black Forest Cherries.  Another of these two layer chocolates was the Cherry Blossoms which has a glossy, pinkish color to the white chocolate layer that is very creamy and overwhelms the inner milk chocolate layer's essence.  The cherry inside is moist, not crumbly, its tartness comes out at the end.  An interesting journey for your mouth.

Milk Chocolate Cherry Rouge have a glassy exterior that is reddish in tint perhaps from the cherries though that didn't shine through the other milk chocolate covered fruits.  The scent is a balance between cherry and chocolate before we even take a bite.  The chocolate has a sweet flavor that fades into a mildly tart cherry then finally a slightly malted chocolate aftertaste that was a surprise.

The final flavor in this big box is another tree nut: Milk Chocolate Honey Pecan.  The powdered sugar on top is very sweet and is likely what made the chocolate smell so sweet.  That chocolate is the first flavor you taste before the pecan and a burst of honey that overpowered everything else. A very distinct treat, unlike anything either of us had had before.

The smaller 5oz box is the "Classic Assortment" and has only cherries in it.  It includes six flavors: the Cabernet Cherries, Classic Cherries, Amaretto Rainiers, Truffle Cherries, Black Forest Cherries, and Cherry Rouge that the larger box did.  This is a good gift for a cherry lover who doesn't like or can't eat tree nuts.  However, both boxes do contain candies with milk in them and I know that might be a concern for some of you reading. 

Overall, the Chukar chocolate covered fruit and nuts were well above any that I or our Chocolate Fruity Acolyte had had before.  The fruits, nuts and chocolate were balanced in terms of flavor for the most part.  Rene says that her favor was the Cherry Bings while the Truffle Cherries are definitely a strong number two.  Chukar is a worthy Sacrament for you all, Sisters and Brothers.  Check them out please.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Premium Chocolate Santa

There are some chocolates that look edible, you know what I mean, right, Sisters and Brothers, they just look like they want you to eat them.  Other chocolates are more artistic, you want to look at them but you also want to eat them.  Then others are beautiful and you wonder "Should I eat this?"  That's the problem your Chocolate Priestess had when she opened a box from Premium Chocolatiers

Inside I found this "Cheerful Santa Claus with Presents" a 7oz hollow Santa figurine made of dairy free and nut free white, dairy free "milk" chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolates.  He looks so detailed for a mass produced chocolate.  The darker chocolate on his hat, gloves, and his eyes; the white on his hat and sleeves, his beard and the bow on his sack; the rest is the dairy free "milk" chocolate.  He stands 7.25 inches tall with a base of 2.25 inches but almost 3.5 inches across at his tummy/sack live.








Look at  his little face.










I asked for his forgiveness before I broke him open to show you that he is indeed hollow.  His head and left shoulder are the thickest parts and very difficult to break apart.  Remember, Sisters and Brothers, I committed this horrible act for all of you! *smile*






The difference flavors of the chocolates are evident when you reach them.  The white is creamy though not milky, the major parts are rather vanilla heavy but also have a nice cocoa essence, while the darker sections are more bitter as I'd hoped.  For those of you with allergies the big concern with be soy and the chocolate, especially the white and "milk" varieties do have a slight soy aftertaste.  But for vegans and those of you with tree nut or peanut allergies, I think this would be a beautiful gift.


If this Santa sounds good to you, then you need to hurry because Christmas will be here soon.  As you break more pieces off, the scents keep building and he starts to melt a bit on your hands.  Now until the end of December you can also claim this special 10% discount by entering "chocolatecult" in the coupon code box when you check out any items from Premium Chocolatiers.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Russell Stover Christmas Treats 2010

Don't forget the current GIVEAWAY for FREE Chocolate & Frosting Mix.

Last year we looked at a few treats from Russell Stover that we found in our nearby Hallmark store, the place nearest us who sells small items from this company.  About two weeks ago, your Chocolate Priestess was in there buying a few cards and I saw a few treats we had yet to review.  Since there were only 59¢ a piece, I picked up two of them.

We'll start with the Peanut Butter Santa.  This weighs 1.25oz and has 190 calories made up of 5g saturated fat, 70mg sodium, 2g fiber, 13g sugars, 4g protein, with 4% iron and calcium.  As you can see it really doesn't look like anything at all, mostly a semi-circular blob measuring 2.25 X 2 X 0.5 inches. It has a strong peanut scent even through the milk chocolate that releases only a hint to my nose.  Biting into it I find that a slightly creamy but heavy roasted flavor peanut center is about 80% of the treat.  The peanut butter is slightly crunchy even and is certainly the dominant essence in this candy.

Next we'll experience the Peppermint Bark Snowman which has a white chocolate layer on top of a dark chocolate layer that you can see the outline of in this photo I hope.  This is much better to look at because we can clearly see the snowman and tell he's holding on to his scarf even.  This also has a more complex scent with the creaminess of the white competing with the dark chocolate and a hint of the peppermint.  This is 3.75 inches long, 1.5 inches at the widest and almost 0.5 inches at his hat and hand level.  He is slightly less of a challenge to your diet or health than the other treat as well with 140 calories made up of 4.5g saturated fat, 10mg sodium, 1g fiber, 14g sugars, 1g protein, with a hint of calcium and iron.  The peppermint candy pieces in the white chocolate are crunchy and chewy, the dark base has a nice bitter base and the creaminess of the white chocolate smooths it all out. I have to say this is the favorite Christmas treat yet I've had from Russell Stover.

What treats have you all had for this same company?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

WIN KIng Arthur Chocolate Cake

How many of you have heard of King Arthur Flour, Sisters and Brothers? 

I remember seeing it in stores as I was growing up and my mother saying "That's the best flour there is but we can't afford it" as she reached for another brand.  That feeling stuck with me throughout my life.  King Arthur was something I always looked at, wishing it were on sale and I had an amazing coupons.  I just didn't now how versatile the company was and how good their products were until now.

As our last GIVEAWAY of 2010, the kind people at King Arthur Flour are offering one reader with a USA street address two wonderful treats: "Deliciously Simple Chooclate Cake Mix" and "Chocolate Fudge Frosting Mix".   Warning: Sisters and Brothers, your Chocolate Priestess is serious about honoring these chocolatiers and companies with a minimum number of entries.  Our last contest for Praim chocolate bars fell short so no one won those.  We'll get to the details of the giveaway at the end of this look at these two mixes.

Obviously if you want to make a chocolate cake you need to start with the cake.  The "Deliciously Simple Chocolate Cake Mix" contains 22oz of all of the dry ingredients you'll need just like any other cake mixes you could find in almost any other food store. 





You add three wet ingredients: water, vegetable oil, and eggs.  I followed the directions and used a whisk to mix the entire thing.  How many of you still whisk by hand?





The mix itself had an intense and wonderful cocoa scent as soon as I cut the plastic bag open.  I added it slowly to the wet ingredients and I got a decent workout for my right arm from the mixing.  I'm so spoiled by electric mixers!




If a mix has suggestions for how to improve or change a recipe and I think the basics are going well, I'll brave one of them.  The mix has two suggested additions -- nuts or chocolate chips.  Guess which one I went with?  I used a mini form of chocolate chips so it would blend better. The chips themselves are gluten free, dairy free, supposedly the most allergen free chocolate chips on the market.  I bought them on sale at our nearby Kroger.

I tried to divide the batter into two 8 inch round pans.  The other option on the pan was to use a bundt but I didn't think that would frost as well.  I think I did OK with the division but hey, frosting is what we use to cover up any inequalities between layers I think.




While the cakes cooled, they actually fit on my small racks, I turned to thinking about frosting and decoration.  You can see that some of the mini chips stuck to the pans from the holes.  Here is the recipe of what I did:
Whisk together 4 eggs, 2/3 cups vegetable oil, 1 1/3 water. 
Add in the mix itself slowly.
Add in 1 cup mini chocolate chips.
Divide into 2 8 inch round pans and bake for 32 minutes at 350 degrees. (I use a gas oven so it required a few extra minutes)


For the frosting I used the King Arthur "Chocolate Fudge Frosting Mix" and followed the recommended directions.  This means that I used half "butter" and half vegetable shortening.  Here you see which brands I used.  The key is to beat it on high for a long time, I beat it for seven minutes myself until it looked thoroughly blended and fluffy.  Note: The frosting contains soy, eggs, milk and wheat.



After the cake cooled I frosted it and decided to use the last of the mini chocolate chips, about 3oz of them, to cover the top. I think it turned out fairly nice looking.



But check it out after we sliced the cake into 12 pieces.  I think it looks beautiful, what do you all think?  This is what was left after my small group of friends had their share.  Everyone, I mean everyone, who tried a piece loved it.  The cake was moist and very chocolaty.  The frosting was also very chocolaty and the blend of butter and shortening didn't overwhelm the cocoa as I think can happen with all butter or all shortening, or perhaps it's a matter of inferior cocoa.

The instructions were easy to follow and the resulting product cake tasted amazing.  Now, I've never seen these mixes in my grocery stores but you can find these and a bunch of other baking products the King Arthur Flour main website.  Not only that, but in terms of our looking for fair trade and employee supportive businesses here on The Chocolate Cult, this company is 100% employee owned which means that they and not some big CEO or family or investors benefit from your purchases.  Note: The factories where these are made also makes products with tree nuts though peanuts were not listed and I know that is a concern for some of you, Sisters and Brothers.

Now, let's talk GIVEAWAY.

From now until Friday, December 17, 2010, at 7am, you can do the following to enter this giveaway to win both a cake mix and a frosting mix.

You need to have a street address in the United States of America to win. 

1.  In a comment say how you are a public follower of The Chocolate Cult.  Make sure you are, I check and a few folks are not showing up where they claim.  Double check if you are at all uncertain.  Make sure you have an email linked to your comment or leave on in your comment -- be wary of spammers and don't cut and paste your email please.

2.  State what event or occasion you'd use this cake mix and frosting mix for.

Finally if you want extra chances to win and you want us to get to a minimum of entries so someone can win, you can spread the word about this giveaway.   Send a link for this giveaway to Facebook and include @TammyJo Eckhart so I see it.  Or Send a link to this giveaway to Twitter including @thetammyjo so I can see it. You can even "like" the King Arthur Flour page on Facebook and then thank them for the giveaway and I'll see that as well if you do @TammyJo Eckhart.

Good luck and spread the word about our very last GIVEAWAY for 2010!

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