Thursday, June 30, 2011

July in Chocolate 2011

Tomorrow is a new month and that means new opportunities to celebrate life with fun food holidays involving chocolate, Sisters and Brothers.  Remember if I've missed any, drop your Chocolate Priestess a comment letting me know about others that should be added to our calendar.  Also let me know if and when you celebrate any of these. 

July = National Ice Cream Month -- We will be doing featured reviews from three companies, four brands plus a massive giveaway for some lucky reader.  So become a public follower now so you can get in all all this cold action.

July 1 = Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day -- What is the most creative flavor you've had?

July 3 = National Chocolate Wafer Day -- Cookies or cakes or both?

July 7 = Chocolate Day -- Isn't that every day here?

July 8 - National Chocolate with Almonds Day -- Common combination there.

July 9 = National Sugar Cookie Day -- Yes, you can make chocolate sugar cookies or cover them with chocolate.

July 12 = National Pecan Pie Day -- My favorite variation is my friend Emilie's Chocolate Pecan Pie.

July 18 = National Ice Cream Day -- Really?  You have an entire month all ready folks do you need one special day?

July 25 = National Hot Fudge Sunday Day -- We have a post sent for that all ready.

July 28 = National Chocolate Milk Day -- Maybe we'll discuss the ongoing controversy in American schools.

July 30 = National Cheesecake Day -- There are tons of variations with chocolate out there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Food Warnings Last Week of June 2011

Sisters and Brothers, another entry from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration about food recalls connected to chocolate you might want to be aware of.


Cinderella Sweets Issues Allergy Alert for Pound Cake Incorrectly Labeled As “Egg Free”
06/16/2011 04:01 PM EDT
Cinderella Sweets, of Woodmere, NY is recalling the following Kosher for Passover item because it contains eggs: SHABTAI GOURMET BRAND - Cindy’s Scrumptious Chocolate Chip Pound Cake (16 oz, UPC# 8-50097 00106-6, MFG CODE; 151-11-072). People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to eggs run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Triple Chocolate Almond Biscotti

LinkedIn has been a good way for me to find and connect with small chocolatiers so  I can bring their products your way, Sisters and Brothers.  One of these companies is in Jupiter, Florida, and it has a cute name, bodacious biscotti.  Nava Viniar sent us two huge boxes of their Triple Chocolate Almond Biscotti, just one of the 17 flavors she makes biscotti in.  That they have so many types of biscotti is the first unique fact about this company, I mean, I might see 3-4 types of biscotti in a store or at a restaurant if I can find them at all.

There were 24 biscotti in total, two per plastic sleeve, in clear boxes with these brown and pink ribbons.  There is no way it is practicing what I preach "Moderation and Purposefulness" for me to eat all of these but the two Acolytes I live with also can't or didn't want these -- one has a tree nut allergy and one is just super picky -- so I shared this a few months back, not long after receiving these, with a group of seven other people.  They had a range of reactions so I'll share those with you as I eat two of these myself, Sisters and Brothers.

Getting them out of the plastic sleeve was a challenge for some people while others opened it with ease.  I struggled a bit but that's why I keep scissors handy.  The scent is not strong when the sleeve is opened but if when I brought it closer to my nose it had a nice baked cocoa scent.  It has visible slivers of almonds, white chips and even pieces of darker pieces.  That makes since sense this is called "Triple" but also the ingredients listed include cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate and gourmet white chocolate.  There are no additives or artificial flavors but there is wheat, almonds, and eggs for those of you who want to know about such things for dietary or social reasons. 

These are softer than I imagined they would be and softer than any biscotti I've had in the past.  For me this was a good thing since, as I've send on other people's blogs in comments that I am sure to leave if I visit yours, I'm not a fan of biscotti because it is so dry.  However some of the people who tried it with me declared it wasn't very good because it was soft enough to easily eat without dunking.  By eating it free of any beverage though I can taste the ingredients better.  On the crust are crystals of sugar that add the only burst of sweetness while inside I could taste and feel the almonds, the creamy white chips and the bitter edge of the semi-sweet pieces.  Throughout it had a solid cocoa flavor but in general the flavors mixed well I thought.  Dunking it, of course, added the flavor of the hot chocolate I was using, a dark one this time, and I thought the cookie soaked up the liquid quickly, within a few seconds, without becoming soggy.  Again some others disagreed based on their preference for drier biscotti.  I could taste the darker chocolate's bitterness and the creamy white chocolate in each bite.  I wasn't expecting this to taste like a cake or a candy bar but I still feel the chocolate level was on par with good cakes or similar baked goods.

That's one of the chocolate options from bodacious biscotti.  As you can see from my review and the reported opinions of those I shared this generous Offering with, people have very different tastes when it comes to chocolate and to biscotti.  It looks like these are available in the one dozen boxes only but you know what I think would be awesome, Sisters and Brothers, it would be if you just contacted Nava and asked if she might be willing to send you a mixed box of these to try.  That way you can sample the variety she offers and you might find flavors that more of your friends and family like.  Personally I thought these were good, they had a very good triple chocolate flavor I could identify and they were good with or without a hot beverage to dunk into.  The fact that these were softer was a bonus for me.  Ultimately then I think these are a Worthy Sacrament.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chocophobia

Your Chocolate Priestess has this small daily calendar of chocolate (Chocolate: 2011 Mini Day-to-Day Calendar) that has some quote or piece of information related to chocolate every Monday through Friday.  For some reason 2011's version has nothing on the weekends though the 2010 version of this calendar did.  Today's chocolate bit was "Chocophobia: the totally logical fear that the world will run out of chocolate."  I wanted to look more closely at this idea, Sisters and Brothers.

First, while this definition of "chocophobia" was common in the sources I found on the Internet it was not the only one.  Purely from a linguistic viewpoint the term should probably mean a "fear of chocolate" which seems to happen when people either have allergies or when they become obsessed with dieting.   The first is a very rational fear because food allergies can be life threatening.  The second isn't so much a fear of chocolate itself as a belief that one is unable to resist the temptation of eating it.  Let's think about both of these definitions a bit, Sisters and Brothers.

First we'll tackle the personal fears.  Knowing that something might harm your health either because of allergies or because you have low willpower when it comes to chocolate makes sense.  However unlike tree nuts or peanuts whose oils are often used without much warning and certainly unlike gluten that can hide in everything, chocolate is generally part of the selling points for a food or drink.  That means you should know just from the title if something has chocolate.  You can always check the labels.  Being afraid seems a bit extreme in either case.  How about you be wary?  I know people with dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, even gluten allergies and they are not afraid so much as aware of what they eat.  Being afraid would only sap their enjoyment of those things in life they can eat or drink.

Being afraid that chocolate is going to undermine your diet is a bit extreme, too.  Let me be blunt: Too many calories is what causes weight gain not the specific form those calories take.  I've known vegetarians and vegans with weight problems, I've known people who snarf down tons of fats and sugars without weight problems.  The difference is in the amount consumed versus the amount burned off.  So chocolate may seem like your Achilles Heel but in reality it could be anything.  Plus as we've discovered on our journey together here, Sisters and Brothers, higher quality chocolate sates us much sooner than the cheap stuff.  So if you fear chocolate because of your weight, try high quality stuff in small quantities.  You'll sate your desire and control your calorie intact.

Now let's get back to the issue of the world running out of chocolate.  Seems weird, huh?  I mean, cacao comes from a tree, a plant, that means it grows over and over again after harvest.  Never forget that where these trees can grow, especially where they can thrive, is very limited.  It can only grow within the 10 degree band, north and south, around the Equator. Not only that but the pH balance of the soil is important and as with all soil chemistry agriculture will change that balance over time.  Let's not forget the deforestation is affecting the planet's climate which means that this band around the Equator could expand or contract.  We simply do not know what will happen.

While humans have succeeded in planting cocoa trees in many areas in this equatorial band, the soil and the methods of farming affect the flavor of the cacao which in terms affects the flavor of you cocoa and chocolate.  Try some single origin products and you'll see what I mean, Sisters and Brothers.  Will we run out of chocolate?  We can't say until the decades or perhaps centuries pass but we do know for certain that as desire for chocolate increases the prices rise.  It may be that for most of us it won't be a matter of there not being chocolate but a matter of it being expensive just like it used to be more than a century ago.

This is the second Chocolate Mini Calendar 2011 that I've bought from this publisher.  I really preferred last year's version with information for the weekend not merely a drawing.  Looks like there will be a version for 2012 but unless I see it on sale somewhere, I don't think I'll order it.  I used to be able to just find it in or local Borders but our bookstore closed down this winter.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Box of Olympian Candies Revealed

Earlier this month I hope you have been enjoying our post about The Chocolate Cult's journey along the Wayne County Chocolate Trail in Indiana.  Our second stop on this trail made an offering to us and today I want to reveal their goodies and introduce you to our second Chocolate Coconut Acolyte, Laura, who is going to help us out when coconut products need testing more quickly than we can get samples to Primary Chocolate Coconut Acolyte who is struggling with high gasoline prices as I'm sure many of you are, Sisters and Brothers.

Olympian Candies was in downtown Richmond, Indiana, but outside the historic district we began our trek in.  We met the own and several of her very friendly employees.  They packed us a box of hand-picked samples of their best sellers which included some non-chocolate items we'll briefly mention but can't truly review for you all.  This photo to the right was taken in their because even though we packed a cooler with a lot of ice, I wanted to make sure they looked good in the mid-90 degree weather we had.  Luckily everything survived between all our coolers in the group.  From this revelation, I will start at the upper left side go right then return to the bottom left side and go right again.

Like the previous Saturday Sacrament, Olympian Candies also makes handmade caramels in that long form wrapped in wax paper.  Yellow is a nut caramel and the white wrapper is plain, unlike the previous review there is only one variety called nut and these from Olympian have big pieces I hope you can see. Since I visited both within an hour or so and am doing the review within an hour or so, I'll just give you my opinion on these caramels compared to the Abbott's ones.  The basic caramels do taste more different -- these are more tangy, less buttery and thus less slick to my fingertips.  The nut ones may be walnuts from the taste and look of the pieces.  For me, neither is better, simply different.

The chocolate candies from Olympian come in a lot of varieties and the wonderful ladies there that Friday gave us a box of their best sellers.  We'll start with this Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cream to the right. At the base this measures 7/8th inch across but it mushrooms out a lot to over 1.25 inches across. It has a dark cocoa scent but also a coolness and a hint of peppermint as well.  The chocolate shell is cool and smooth to my fingers and this piece seems rather light in my hand.  This shell makes a very loud snap when I take a bite and it cracks in several places to let out the mostly soft very cool peppermint center. This hits my tongue and immediately sends shivers down my spine.  I blends perfectly with the bitter chocolate to allow that to be the primary flavor but with the mint cooling sensation.  An excellent version of this common flavor combination just be careful with the slowly oozing center cause it got on my fingers forcing me to lick them.

Another dark candy, a Dark Chocolate Raisin Cluster, is next.  This has a base of 1.25 inches across and rise to almost 0.75 inches.  The raisins are fairly plump and slightly sweet and they are the primary sweetness amid a very solid and dark chocolate.  It wasn't until I took a bite through the very loud chocolate that I could even smell the raisins at all and from the outside it could have been peanut pieces or raisins.  I was pleased that the primary flavor is the darker chocolate which reminds me of the chocolate that Rene and I made from scratch last winter.

This takes us to the two larger pieces side by side off to the right.  The first is a Milk Chocolate Dittle which means it is Olympian Candies version of a turtle, Sisters and Brothers.  It measure approximately 2.25 X 1.5 X 0.75 inches but as you can see it is drop-formed so each piece was slightly different in the store display.  I take a whiff of this huge candy and can smell milky cocoa, some tangyness, and some pecan essence as well.  It barely makes a sound when I take a bite and the first flavor I taste is milk chocolate swallowed quickly by tangy caramel and the crunchy pecan tastes.  The chocolate returns but it is the caramel that is the dominant flavor with this treat.

The next large piece is the Milk Chocolate Toffee and I wonder if it, like many of the toffees before it, will bury our Sacred Substance under the buttery hard candy.  This is more rectangular in form at 1.5 X 1 7/8th X 0.5 inches.  Surprisingly it only smells like the milk chocolate with no hint of the toffee until I take a loud bite into it.  Inside is not only the solid, tangy toffee but visible slivers of almonds, a lot of them in fact.  The chocolate is thick enough that it competes fairly well with the toffee but ultimately that hard center rules the taste buds, no question, Sister and Brothers.

Olympian Candies makes a coconut chocolate candy they call a Spider and this is at the milk chocolate version that our Chocolate Coconut Acolyte described this way.  I don't recall ever seeing white chocolate and coconut paired together so this will be a new experience for me. The haystack smells very sweet with the chocolate scent being predominant but there is a hint of coconut in there as well. When I bite into it, it's very firm and there's a muted snap. As I chew, it crumbles in my mouth because of the high ratio of coconut to chocolate. I'd expected it to be softer due to the creamy nature of white chocolate. It's intensely sweet as I let a piece melt on my tongue but I also notice another almost chemical taste in the chocolate. Rather unpleasant and it completely masks the flavor of the coconut. It's apparent that the coconut is here merely for the texture and in that capacity it works wonderfully. It's toasted to a lovely golden brown and provides most of the body of the texture and a pleasing crunch.

The last dark chocolate candy is a Dark Chocolate Butter Cream. This is the smallest of the candies in our box at just an inch across and 0.75 inches tall and as you can see it isn't perfectly round but more elliptical.  The dark chocolate makes a snap when I take a bite and inside is a semi-sweet lightly yellow center with a very simply cream taste that develops a bit of buttery kick the more I chew.  Very interesting, I don't think this is like any buttercream I've had before and I like the complexity of flavors as I keep chewing.

That takes us to a Milk Chocolate Maplenut Cream which is a large piece around 0.75 inches across and swelling to 7/8 inch tall with a slightly mushroom shaped dome.  There is a definite maple scent mixed with the milk chocolate fragrance when I take a big sniff of it before venturing to take a bite though I have to open my mouth fairly wide to do this.  Only a small sound is made when I take this bite and immediately a very intense maple and nutty flavor hits me with the cream milk chocolate sort of circling it in my mouth.  The sweet maple flavor is the final flavor but the chocolate never completely disappears.

Finally we end with the second cluster, this one a Milk Chocolate Cluster.  This one is slightly smaller across but the same height.  This has a slight peanut scent under the milk chocolate and inside are nice half peanut pieces that are a touch salty.  Normally I think that salt works best with darker chocolate and I still have to agree here though it is a good piece of candy the salt is just more than this milk chocolate can really fend off to be the primary flavor.

Olympian Candies certainly pleased our group went we went on the Wayne County Chocolate Trail two Fridays back.  Each candy has their name molded onto the bottoms so you know when it is their creations.  We were pleased by these and believe they were good Sacraments for you all.  We love our small family owned candy companies so we hope all of you, Sisters and Brothers, will check them out either at 625 East Main Street as you can see in this photo or online.  Remember this is all part of the Wayne County Chocolate Trail if you have a couple of days to spend in the Richmond area.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

100 Chocolatiers and Counting

Created by our White Chocolate Acolyte, Fox
This past February, right at the end of the month, we passed our two years as a blog and as a cult center for all matters chocolate.  A week or two after I created this blog and saw that folks were reading, I decided to reach out to a couple of chocolate companies I found online.  I've never been a woman who goes only half way, that's how I got a PhD, how I published and continue to get published, why I'm a force at conventions, etc.  It takes courage to reach out but I figured the worst they could say was "No" right?

Except some of them said "Yes" and thus our Saturday Sacraments and our Special Sacramental Reviews were born and took on their unique full sensory flavor with photos that we spend between a half an hour and up to 4+ hours on each week.  Two weeks ago we passed our 100 companies mark.  So in just 26 months 105 actually, have sent us products or freebie coupons, entered our challenges for Halloween or just given samples of their chocolates to us when we found them out tiny towns or at big events.  In exchange for their products we promise to try and describe our experience in all full senses where allowed or give our honest best effort to follow their instructions or enjoy whatever type of product they have that connects to our Sacred Substance.

Here are some of the icons from those first few chocolatiers who trusted in us:

The First One to Trust The Chocolate Cult
The 3rd to Send Us Samples
The 4th to Send Us Samples
First Big Company to Trust Us

Not all the companies that sent us chocolate are still around but we tried our best to be honest in our reviews and always linked to them multiple times in that process.

In case it wasn't clear, we don't worship chocolate here, we use it in a way to expand ourselves in body and mind, perhaps even in soul, we try to have a healthier relationship with chocolate by being honest with ourselves and with you.  We also try to do it with a sense of humor.  It is a "we," too, right from day one when the two members of my family gave their full hearted support to those who have tried out for and won Acolyte positions or simply volunteered when needed.  This is my big THANK YOU to all of you who eat and drink with me, give me rides, and go on cocoa adventures that do not always run smoothly.

I originally began The Chocolate Cult for two reasons.  In part to help me control my own chocolate addiction. You see, I grew up using chocolate to try and cope with a very stressful childhood that I don't want to depress you all with repeating the details about.  If you've read my fiction or some of my non-fiction, if you follow me on other social networks, especially Livejournal, you've learned more about this.  If you want to, you can always follow and ask me question.  I don't lie, I gave that up as part of my recovery process.

The second reason I started The Chocolate Cult was professional but as a sort of counter to the fact that colleges and universities almost stopped hiring new facility just as I got my PhD.  Volunteering at a University Museum helps with some of my teaching desires but doing this, researching chocolate, trying products, attempting to write in a way that helps you, my Sisters and Brothers in Chocolate, also helped me push myself to write more and differently than on a scholarly article, for my students or for my next published story.  You are free to visit my primary website unless you think it might scare you.

I hope you all get a lot out of this venture.  If you feel up to it, and can financially do it, please check out the ads or follow this link to our little new shop, Chocolate & Erotica, Oh My!, to buy not chocolate but things you can use to say "I'm a Member of the Chocolate Cult".

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wayne County Chocolate Trail Report 3

Our final stop on our trek along the Wayne County Chocolate Trail was for a five-course chocolate dinner at the Gennett Mansion.  To see the first part of this report on our day trip go HERE; to see the second part go HERE.

Official Photo from Gennett Mansion Website
The Gennett Mansion isn't the biggest house or the oldest in Richmond, Indiana, but our tour guide, Donna, and her husband, Bob, told us a lot about it, including how it went from private home to apartments to offices and finally now to the up and coming night spot for townies and visitors.  Once a month, on the first Friday of the month, they offer a five-course gourmet meal which features chocolate.  They have other gourmet dining at other times of the month but this one is what is part of the Wayne County Chocolate Trail.  It is $38 cash or check and if you make reservations keep them because they make each meal per reservations -- we had to charge two of our members money even though they left early but the Gennett Mansion did send the food home so they got their food if not the wonderful experience.


We were in one room at this lovely table and the service was fairly formal, delivered by the lady of the house, Donna.  Even though our dinner was at 6:30pm you can see how much sunlight was coming into the room still before we began.






When we first came into the mansion we could tell this had been a fine home in it's day and Geddes have done a wonderful job revitalizing it to return it to a lovely Colonial Revival house.  Here you can see a piano as well, a Starr Piano which is what the house's builder's Henry and Alice Gennett, made most of their money manufacturing. 


But I know you, Sisters and Brothers, you want me to move on to the dinner so I shall.  We started with this first course: Cacao Nib-Crusted Duck with Strawberry Avocado Salsa.  I'm not sure I've ever had duck but this was delicious.  I'm not a fan if avocado but our chef, whom you'll meet soon and who will hopefully do an email interview with us, made it wonderful.



That was true for every course but I have a confession: Your Chocolate Priestess is PICKY.  Yes, yes, you know I can be harsh with the chocolates but my pickyness with food is almost a lifelong condition.  The second course was Local Greens Salad with White Chocolate Citrus Vinaigrette, Berries & Slivered Almonds.  Again I am not fond of salad and I shared a good part of mine with the others at the table but what I did eat, I liked. I'm just very wary of any leafy or green veggie since I have a violent kale allergy.  Our chef was so kind that she did not put the almonds on the salad of my hubby who is very allergic to tree nuts.

From our Chocolate Fruit Acolyte's Camera
The third course was to cleanse our palates and it was this Cocoa Sorbet with Fresh Mint Sprig.  I went ahead and ate the entire fresh mint and it was good, very cool in my mouth, even more so than the sorbet itself.  I felt like I was eating my dessert before the main course and I must say that caused me no guilt what so ever.





The main course or entree was beef, specifically Ancho Coffee Rubbed Grass-fed Beef with Chimichurri, Goat Cheese Stuffed Corn Cake, Grilled Zucchini.  I'm not a fan of onions or zucchini and I still wasn't a fan here but the beef was perfectly cooked while the corn cake was a bit tough to cut but tasted great. I just flipped mine over and it cut a bit easier.   I'm not sure where the chocolate was here but I think in the coffee because as you know, I don't like coffee but I really didn't taste coffee very much and there was a cocoa flavor to the beef.

Also from Chocolate Fruit Acolyte's Camera
The actual dessert was this Chocolate Kahlua Flan with Vanilla Whipped Cream, Fresh Fruit & Chocolate Chip.  I don't think I've ever had flan or if I have it was many many years ago.  I have certainly never made one myself.  Call me limited in my food experiences, and I have said how much leading The Chocolate Cult has opened my mouth and tummy, but I don't recall having kiwi in the past.  To be blunt, it looks kind of scary to this girl from rural Iowa.  It was wonderful by itself, with the currents, with the flan or the cream.  Putting all the flavors together though was the true bliss here though I ate the chocolate chip on the top by itself.

I could show you lots of photos from our tour of the Gennett Mansion but this is a chocolate cult so I want to focus on food so this is our last photo.  This is a room just off of the one we ate in where they have music performances and pub style food on Thursdays.  The room was designed for musical performances and using it today only continues the appropriate use of this house for today's visitors, guests, and professionals.

Gennett Mansion's dinners and special events are certainly worth it based on this experience with chef Jennifer Ferrell seen in the photo to the right. We were very honored and lucky they let us come with so few people and a very off night for them with a big expensive opera fundraiser the next night.  In difficult economic times you have to spent your money wisely and for a lovely evening of chocolate the first Friday here is worth it.  Just make sure you can really go, that they enough reservations or you bring 16+ people with you.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Abbott's Candy Collection Revealed

Very recently your Chocolate Priestess took a small group to Wayne County Indiana to check out their Chocolate Trail.  We've had a few reports on this the past week so I wanted to do a featured review of one of the shops who made a chocolate offering to The Chocolate Cult.

Abbott's Candy Shop, in Hagerstown, Indiana, is currently run by a wonderful lady named Bev Keiser who gave us this Special Assortment Box for a Saturday Sacrament.  While our visit with them on the Wayne County Chocolate Trail is fresh in our mind, we wanted to get this post out for you all to look at.  As you can see there is a lot of candy, both chocolates and caramels, in this one box.


Since we focus on chocolate, obviously, let's start by just making brief comment about the caramels -- large, soft, and very buttery.  Plain caramels are in the white, almost translucent wrappers while the yellow wrapped ones are pecan caramels.   What is really interesting to me is that the caramels from Olympian Candies we'll do a Saturday Sacrament with next Saturday is the same -- yellow = nut, white = plain.  They look very similar, too.  Maybe it's a northeastern Indiana thing?  Our White Chocolate Acolyte told this is how he thought handmade caramels were supposed to look and he's from northwest Indiana.

We're going to reveal the chocolates in this box starting with the left hand compartment, lowest chocolate, then moving clockwise fashion around the box until we've look at all 14 varieties so stick with me, Sisters and Brothers.  The owner, Bev, sent me a list of these flavors since a guide does not come with the box. Regular readers will know my concerns with this very common practice in candy and chocolate boxes so I won't repeat it and simply hope new readers look around at more Sacraments.

In the left hand section we find first a Light Chocolate Almond Cluster.  I hope you can see that there are little poked up areas on the surface of the otherwise smooth milk chocolate which I hope are pieces of almonds.  At the base this is a 1 inch diameter candy rising to a height of 5/8th of an inch.  It has a light cocoa scent with a good essence of almond. When I take a bite, this candy makes a nice loud snap not from the nuts, they crunch as I chew, but from the quality of the chocolate and its thickness.  The chocolate is very creamy but has a good cocoa taste as well though this fades a bit as the almond reveals itself more with each crunch.  Normally I see nut chocolates a larger, flatter chocolate covered nuts but this is a nice switch up to have the pieces of almonds incorporated into the chocolate and I'm guessing then poured into the white paper cups to firm up.

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Cream is the next piece in this section.  I really like how things are laid out in the box with light and dark offsetting each other and the caramels lining the top and bottom sections.  But back to this particular treat which looks a lot like most of the creams in this collection.  My guess is that all of them will be about 1 1/8th inch in diameter with a height of about a full inch and a swirl of chocolate on top.  If I see a substantial difference, I'll note it as I describe each piece.  This piece only has a light darker cocoa fragrance when I take a whiff before taking a bite.  The doom of the candy makes a soft snap but the bottom simply falls softly inward when I bite off about a third of it.  Inside is a semi-soft white cream that has a light vanilla flavor that is also a touch creamy.  At first the bitter darker chocolate and the light vanilla balance but at the end the chocolate wins out becoming the linger flavor on my tongue.  You know I like when the chocolate is the final essence we can sense so this gets my strong approval.

The Light Chocolate Chocolate Cream is the second milk chocolate in this section and it slightly shorter than the previous cream.  Again this has only a chocolate scent when I bring it to my nose but a slight creamy essence as well.  This makes a softer sound than the dark chocolate cream when I take a bite and that makes perfect sense because remember, Sisters and Brothers, the sound reflects the purity of the chocolate and dark chocolate has less added to it so it should always be louder than milk chocolates.  Inside is a semi-soft creamy chocolate center that is very sweet, much sweeter than I was expecting, and it blends perfectly with the shell leaving behind a creamy sugar taste in my mouth.

The last piece in this section is set off more toward the center of the box. It is opposite another piece so I want to mix things up and review them together. The more square piece is a Dark Chocolate Caramel which was confirmed as soon as I took a bite, the chocolate shell folding inward, the golden caramel sneaking out between my teeth.  This is the same buttery caramel of their hand-wrapped pieces but here it is the middle flavor with dark cocoa the first and final flavor.  The larger piece is the Dark Maple Cream that is a bit wider at 1.25 inches in diameter than the previous creams.  This has a strong maple scent and when I take a bite the doom part of the chocolate shells makes a good snapping sound while the bottom caves in to reveal a very semi-soft, very strong maple center that also has a good tang to it as I chew.  But the dark chocolate is indeed the stronger essence and it becomes the final flavor in my mouth making me smile in delight.  The smaller the bites, the more intense the chocolate, by the way, with these creams so consider that and don't pop an entire one in your mouth, Sisters and Brothers.

Let's get back to the layout I promised, Sisters and Brothers, so you can understand this Special Assortment Box.  The top section from left to right begins with a Dark Chocolate Cherry Parfait which suggests a layering of flavors awaits my mouth.  It is one of two pieces in this assortment that measures 1 7/8 X 1 1/8 X 7/8 inches.  Undercurrents of cherry and something creamy are found with the dark chocolate when I take a deep whiff of it before taking a bite.  Inside is a pink semi-soft cream center with a very intense sour cherry flavor and a strong sugary cream undercurrent, so intense that my eyes threaten to water.  The bitterness of the dark chocolate does reemerge if I keep the bites fairly small making it a good three bite candy.  Mush this around in your mouth a bit, too, and you'll feel some little piece of perhaps cherries as well in the creamy center.

Almond Butter Toffee with milk chocolate it looks like to me.  We've tried a fair amount of chocolate toffees here on The Chocolate Cult and generally the chocolate cannot compete with the toffee but those were large piece while this is a 0.25 X 0.25 X 7/16 inches in form.  This square has a light buttery essence under the chocolate scent.  Of course it makes a good snap when I take a bite because the inside is solid but it also reveals pieces of nuts in the buttery substance we normally think of as toffee.  The milk chocolate blends well at first then it bows out to the toffee.  Maybe toffee is just too strong to really allow chocolate to be the dominant flavor?

Dark Chocolate Coconut Cream which Laura, our secondary Acolyte for all matters Coconutty, said: When I pick it up, the chocolate starts to melt on my fingers almost instantly. The scent of chocolate is predominant but the coconut scent is not overwhelmed by it. My teeth sink slowly into the soft chocolate and through the coconut filling. The texture is not as chewy as I'd expected. The filling has a very high coconut content which leaves it a little dry. The quality of the chocolate coating is good, not too sweet and a bit softer than I expect from dark chocolate. The flavor of the coconut is excellent since it is not saturated with the syrup that most confectioners use with this type of candy.










The right compartment starts off at the top with Light Chocolate Orange Cream.  In terms of scent, the orange is very very light but when I take a bite my mouth is flooded by a very sweet yet definitely orange flavor that borders on the tang that I associate with more intense varieties of oranges, like blood oranges but this has a very bright almost sorbet orange color to the semi-soft center.  Orange and dark chocolate works well because the chocolate can compete but here the milk chocolate just barely comes back at the end though to taste it at all after the orange bursts in my mouth demonstrates this lighter chocolate must have a good cocoa content to it.  A touch too sweet for me but still I like it.

Ah, raspberry, arguably the most common flavor added to chocolate after the basics for milk chocolate.  In this collection this common variety is in the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream.  The fragrance is certainly raspberry with a hint of the cocoa.  Even though it isn't bigger than any of the previous creams it feels a bit hefty in my fingers.  The doomed part of the chocolate shell makes a soft snap when I take a bite while the bottom breaks inward to let a very intense burst of sweetly sour raspberry onto my tongue.  The dark chocolate though is the first and final flavor so I think this is a great piece for lovers of this particular candy variety; an opinion the one member of our little traveling troop agrees with since he tried this candy as his store freebie with the passports for the Wayne County Chocolate Trail.

Like the previous nut cluster that started off our chocolate part of this Sacrament, the Light Chocolate Pecan Cluster shows a rougher texture to our eyes though not nearly as ridged as its predecessor.  The scent reveals the more mild pecan essence as oppose to what I feel is a much stronger almond fragrance these tree nuts naturally have.  Just like that previous nut cluster the nuts here are integrated into the chocolate though here the pieces are bigger.  These pieces crunch fairly loudly and add a little flavor kick to the creamy milk chocolate.  Good for milk chocolate lovers who like pecans as well.  In this case, I think a bigger bite is better to get the full and most positive blend of flavors and textures.

The bottom section then from right to left begins with a Mission Mint in milk chocolate from the looks of it. This is the second longer candy that I mentioned before and it is the same size.  It has a light mint fragrance but primarily my nose gets a creamy chocolate scent.  The candy makes no sound when I take a bite.  It reveals a chocolate cream center which surprises me since a lot of mint candies are green but mint does not necessarily make something green depending on what it is added to.  Here the milk chocolate is the primary flavor then a hint of mint and then a rush of cooling sensations over my tongue and through my mouth. The cocoa returns at the end of a bite but that cooling sensation lingers and lingers which in the weather we've been having (90s in June?!) is a wonderful feeling to have. I really loved this Mission Mint a lot.

A Dark Chocolate Honeycomb candy is at the center of that row. Unlike the toffee is this rectangular in shape at 1.25 X 1 X 0.25 inches.  When I smell each piece I get 90% dark cocoa and 10% sweetness, approximately.  Oh, I wish I had a better camera, Sister and Brothers, because when I take a crunchy bite inside is a honey formed center, with the little lattice pattern that I haven't seen yet in a chocolate honeycomb candy.  The flavor is an unsweetened honey with a sharp sting of bitter dark chocolate.  It feels like probably because of the air pockets in the honeycomb that make if feel much lighter than I expected.  I have to say that is the best chocolate covered honeycomb candy I have yet had in my work for you all with The Chocolate Cult.

Finally we end the chocolates in this collection with a Light Chocolate Butter Cream.  This is a full inch high and it feels hefty in my fingers and it has a creamy buttery fragrance.  Inside is an off-white very soft center with a buttery flavor that blends with the milk chocolate but does end up being the primary flavor at the end.  Good for milk chocolate lovers who really do not want even a hit of cacao's natural bitterness.

Abbott's Candy Shop is a bit out of the way in Hagerstown so put the address in your GPS if you want to go visit in person.  It was a nice big shop as our report last Wednesday showed so take some time to look at it all.  Or check them out online because they do ship though remember in hot and humid weather you must pay extra for cold shipping or quality chocolate and caramels, too, will melt long before they reach your mouth.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wayne County Chocolate Trail Report 2

Today is the second of our three part report on our attempt to do a day trip for the Wayne County Chocolate Trail in Indiana.  To read the first part, go HERE.  The tourist folks up in Wayne County primarily push this attraction as a girl's weekend thing but we wanted to see if we could do it as a day trip since we live apart 2.5 hours southwest of Richmond.  This second report will reveal that we learned the hard way that it was not a day trip which is very sad because ultimately as long as the economy is struggling, (and your Chocolate Priestess thinks it will continue to struggle as long as we don't train and protect workers while we allow big business to rape nations, towns, and workers) then people will be far more likely to do a day trip than a weekend or mid week excursion, girlfriends or not.

We had a challenge after we finished with the stops in Richmond because now we had to venture out to the areas nearby in Wayne County.  The fact is that every thing on this list is about 20-30 minutes distance from Richmond but how to plan that out.  We worked on a plan during out lunch at the Ghyslain Bistro and then tried to stick to it. The greatest challenge was that some shops closed at 4pm though why we honestly can't understand.  Staying open until 5pm would have made this very feasible for a day trip especially if we had left 10 minutes or so earlier.  We had four cities to get to and we chose the one farthest from Richmond so we could work our way back for the dinner we had reservations for -- more on that next week in the last of our report.

We drove to Hagerstown, northwest of Richmond and almost straight north of our next two planned stops in Cambridge City.  In Hagerstown we found Abbott's Candy which also offered us a box of candy for a featured review you'll see this Saturday, Sisters and Brothers.  As you can see with one of our sister travelers in the frame, it is a large but rather non-descript building that really could use a much larger sign.


Inside the two ladies were very helpful to us including calling the next two stops we had planned in Cambridge City and delivering the bad news that they would be closing in about 25 minutes -- it would be a 20 minute trip the GPS said.  So as a group we decided we'd have to skip Pour House Antiques & Crafts as well as Building 125.  We were deeply disappointed but we wanted to spend some time in each chocolate stop. 


At this stop we each could choose a chocolate from their main display case which you see beyond this display case in the photo to the left.  Other than the ice cream from Parker's and the winery, this was the only stop where I ate my freebie right away.  I was so disappointed by having to skip the next stops.




These are other displays in their shop.  In each one, if there was a visitors log we logged in as a group "The Chocolate Cult" so check out the visitors books if you go visit, Sisters and Brothers.  The freebie dark chocolate covered caramel I had was great with a nice crunch from the top of the caramel which crystallizes a bit.



Now I hate to drive but my hubby didn't bring water with him, and with some of his meds this can be a big problem.  Not having insurance to cover our two riders, I had to drive so I drove us to the next stop which looked to be along the highway, I-70, but was really a little tricky with a long back driveway.  Of course you can't miss the Warm Glow Candle Outlet with this huge candle out front!



The actually entry is here and next to it is the Model T Ford Museum & Gift Shop you can't see in this photo but I'm hoping one of our sister travelers will leave a note about since she went to have a look through it.  When we passed it earlier the parking lot was full but after 4:15pm when we arrived it was more empty as you can see.  That just gave us more space inside.



Inside are a ton of candles plus an area for chocolate which I didn't take a photo of since they don't make the products there.  This photo is of the right hand side as you walk into the building -- the left hand photo turned out too dark to share. 






They don't make their candles in this building but one three miles away the store manager told me during a private tour he gave me of their displays.  The two chocolate scents -- Chocolate Cherry Cordial and Grandma's Brownies -- were given to us as freebies in their oversized votive type of candles.  In this photo you can see part of the scents they make.



Here is the other side of that oversized votive display of scents.  Now our Chocolate Fruit Acolyte said she found a third chocolate scent called "Mocha" but I bet they count that as a coffee scent.  None of the scents are made with real chocolate or cocoa -- they said that would be too expensive to make on the scale they do.





There is also a cafe in the outlet which seems to be owned by other business, I'm unclear.  If so, they might want to look into working with the Chocolate Trail as well in some fashion -- chocolate milk in the summer with a hot chocolate in the winter maybe?  By that time we were all very thirsty.




Two of our group headed back home at this point and I drove the remaining four of us to the J&J Winery stop between the candle outlet and our dinner reservations.  Like the previous stop this too was a bit tricky to find even though it was off a main road -- we had to turn around and go back to find the driveway which was long and rocky.  They really need a bigger sign.  Here you can three of us in the bar area where we had the freebie wine tasting.


The information on the passports we all got at the Welcome Center said we'd get a glass of chocolate wine and chocolate drops -- no drops but the wine was great.  A semi-sweet red with a definite chocolate flavor and no alcohol burn which has been a huge problem with another chocolate wine I had.  As you can see there is no label on the wine bottle because they don't have the right to sell it yet.  So we got to taste it but couldn't buy it.






However they also let us sample other wines, I didn't because I knew I needed to drive to our final stop.  Their special wines are all labeled with mythological names, mostly Greek but also some Roman names.  I hope our Chocolate Fruit Acolyte leaves a few comments because she bought two bottles of wine.  In Indiana, you can't have wine shipped in from other states nor mailed to you though I know they've been talking about changing that law.  So if you find a wine you like, you have to buy it when you find it.  I wish the chocolate wine had been available for purchase.

Next week on Monday we'll take you to our final stop where we have a five-course chocolate dinner that blew us all away and was well worth the price.

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