Monday, October 31, 2011

2011 Halloween Winner & Wrap Up

This year we had only four challengers for our annual Halloween Treat Challenge and none in the same category of treat so I can't declare a winner for each category, only an over all winner.  Let's review the challengers.

In the category of Gorumet, Cocoa Dolce sent their Cranky Jack-O-Lanterns.



In the category of Mass Produced, Praim sent their R.I.P and Bone-Appetit Bars.


In the category of Treat Source, CandyFavorites.com sent samples of several types of chocolate they wholesale.



In the category of Novelty, Creative Chocolates sent us their white and milk chocolate skull.



There were no challengers in the Baked category this year though in the past two years there were cookie companies that sent in goods.

The choice comes down to weighing all the factors of quality of chocolate, variety, skill, price, and what you could use it for.  I struggled and consulted with others for several days and finally we chose Cocoa Dolce's Cranky Jack-O-Lanterns as our 2011 Best Halloween Treat.  We will contact them about placing a 30 day add on our site for free.

All of the chocolatiers and companies who sent in treats were great this year. You need to check them all out because remember that the various and numerous winter holidays are right around the corner.

Now I need feedback from you, Sisters and Brothers.

If we added another treat challenge category of "Homemade Halloween Treats" would any of you be interested in sending a sample of your work?  We'd do these reviews midweek and link back to the blog or website of those sending in the treats.  Instead of free advertizing, you aren't businesses so what do you have to advertize, our reviews would get you more exposure to more readers.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cover Your Body with Chocolate

With only four challengers for this year's Halloween Treat Challenge we have a free Saturday before the big scary holiday.  Let's move away from food and candies, we'll be getting a lot of that in a few days, yes, and look at other uses for chocolate.  If you'll recall we talked about a chocolate lip gloss over the summer so today I want to share with you this chocolate soap I received a sample of at the same women business owners event.  This is from Moon Valley and Fullcircle Farms, the first from Gosport and the second from Spencer, Indiana.   The soap is from Full Moon Milk Soaps which specialize in handmade soaps from all natural ingredients.

One big challenge for me personal with any product is my allergies.  I'm lucky, I don't have a lot of food allergies though the ones I have are nasty but at least they aren't too common foods or foods I can just ignore.  I have food intolerances, not to chocolate, thank goodness, that I can also regulate via consumption frequency.  I have very serious skin and environmental allergies.  I ever take a medicated lotion to help with these issue.  Sadly much of what I'm allergic to is out there, outside.  While I was intrigued by the Cacao Nib Milk Soap I was given, I was worried that I might get a skin rash and I hate dealing with those.

I didn't have to worry.  I started using this bar during my daily showers so that I'd get the full bathing experience and the 4.5oz lasted about three weeks.  It is made with goats milk, cocoa butter, cocoa nibs, vanilla, and almond oils.  As you can see it is two tones or two soaps in one.  The top layer is the cocoa nibs which you can see a bit in this photo. You can feel them when you bathe, don't use a wash cloth, use your hands and you'll get the full experience.  It smells very much like white and dark chocolate with a creaminess.  It feels smooth on the lower half while the nibs in the tops provide a exfoliating sensation.  It suds up very well between my hands and rinsed off as well as Dove soap does, which is what I normally use.  The nib layer outlasted the bottom milk layer but about three days in my use.  Your use will vary I'm sure.  For $5, I think this would be a lovely gift that is respectful of small independent farms and good for my skin which is very sensitive so you may be pleasantly surprised by how good it makes you feel.  Plus you get the fragrance of the cocoa which was a good eye opening way to start my day.

Full Moon Milk Soaps was a wonderful product that let me and other readers in Indiana support a small and woman empowered business.  I hope you check them out and give this bar, and others, a try.  Don't eat it but use it as another Sacrament that appreciates Chocolate without the calories.

Friday, October 28, 2011

How Do You Celebrate National Chocolate Day?

Ah another fun food holiday involving chocolate, in fact this one, Sisters and Brothers is all about chocolate.  No limitations this time, no added ingredients for you to find, no restrictions on the form your chocolate can take.

Today you can be as creative or as mundane as you wish to be because today is "National Chocolate Day!"

If you'll recall, one of our Challengers for this Halloween Treat contest we host every year was a bulk candy company called CandyFavorites.com.   We featured the chocolate samples they sent us but then we have a lot of other candy left over.  I used three sample packs (10-15 candy corns a piece) from three brands in brownies in honor of today and in honor of the forthcoming creepy holiday.  I'm including both photos below -- one with flash, one with out.  Hey!  Any company out there that would like me to try their digital camera who thinks their product can help me take better photos, drop me an email.

 As you can see, the amount of candy corn was small compared to the three types of chocolate in this Kroger store brand mix I used -- chocolate dry mix, chocolate chunks, and a fudge sauce you put on top then mixed around with a knife.  This gave a new taste to the brownies but didn't overwhelm it.  Every now and then you could see a candy corn as well.

I want to hear from you all.   What type, what form and what ingredients did your chocolate include today?  Did you make it or buy it?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Food Recalls October 24, 2011

Another set of recalls that relate to chocolate.  I try to get these to share with you all, Sisters and Brothers, to help us all stay safe and healthier.

October 12, 2011 - The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) said today it is recalling select containers of Private Selection Extreme Moose Tracks Ice Cream sold in 10 states because it may contain peanuts not listed on the label.
Customers should return the product to stores for a full refund or replacement.
People who are allergic to peanuts could have a serious or life-threatening reaction if they consume this product. For consumers who are not allergic to peanuts, there is no safety issue with the product.
Kroger stores in the following states are included in this recall: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, portions of eastern Missouri, Ohio and northern Kentucky, South Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. The recall also includes Kroger stores in Illinois and Indiana that operate under the following banner names: Jay C, Food 4 Less (Chicago area), Owen's, Pay Less and Scott's.
Not included in this recall are Kroger stores in Arkansas, Kentucky (except northern Kentucky), Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, central and western Tennessee. Other stores Kroger operates under different banner names are also not included in this recall.
Item Description:
Kroger is recalling the following ice cream:
  • Private Selection Extreme Moose Tracks Ice Cream sold in 16-ounce pints with a "sell by" date of June 18, 2012 under the following UPC Code: 11110 52909.
Kroger has removed affected items from store shelves and initiated its customer recall notification system that alerts customers who may have purchased recalled Class 1 products through register receipt tape messages and phone calls.
Consumers who have questions about this recall may contact Kroger toll-free at 800-KROGERS (800-576-4377). For more information, please visit www.kroger.com/recalls.

October 19, 2011 - Nassau Candy Distributors is recalling their NANCY ADAMS Classics MINI S’MORES as they may contain peanuts not listed on the label.  People who have an allergy to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.  For consumers who are not allergic to peanuts, there is no safety issue with the product.
The product was sold nationwide through retail stores.
The following is the item description of the product being recalled:
  • NANCY ADAMS Classic MINI S‘MORES, Net Wt. 5.5 oz. (155g), in a red & silver box with a manufacturing code of either I1119 or I1120 under the following UPC 6 18645 21923 9.
No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.
This voluntary recall was initiated after the company received a report that a unit purchased in a retail location contained the undeclared peanuts.  Subsequent investigation revealed that some bags of peanut clusters may have been inadvertently packed into boxes of the Nancy Adams Classic S‘Mores.  The Nancy Adams Classic S‘Mores are not supposed to contain peanuts.  All of the retail stores have been notified and the affected product is being removed from the shelves and being discarded.
Consumers who have questions about this recall or for a full refund or replacement may contact Maria Adames at Nassau Candy at 1-516-433-7100 extension 7297 or 7287, Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm ET.

October 20, 2011 - General Mills is voluntarily recalling a single day’s production of Chocolate flavor Fiber One 90-Calorie Chewy Bars because of a labeling issue.  Product produced on this date may have been packaged incorrectly, and may contain sensitive ingredients not listed on the box’s ingredient label, including the potential allergen peanuts.
A production error resulted in a limited number of properly labeled, individually wrapped Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor Fiber One 90-Calorie Chewy Bar packages being inserted into 5-count boxes labeled as Chocolate Flavor Fiber One 90-Calorie Chewy Bars.
There have been no reports of allergic reactions or illnesses associated with this product, however, the possibility of an unlabeled allergen makes this a Class One recall.
This voluntary recall includes only 5-count boxes of Chocolate Flavor Fiber One 90-Calorie Chewy Bars with the following “Better if Used By” date printed on the top of the box:
19MAY2012BV
Individually labeled foil packages of Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor Fiber One 90-Calorie Chewy Bars are visibly different from the Chocolate flavor Fiber One 90-Calorie Chewy Bars product depicted on the incorrect box.  Rather than containing Chocolate flavor Fiber One 90-Calorie Chewy Bars, the box could contain Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor Fiber One 90-Calorie Chewy Bars.
Consumers allergic to peanuts, or who are unsure of whether they are allergic to peanuts, should not consume Fiber One 90-Calorie products from 5-count boxes bearing the Better if Used By date 19MAY2012BV on the top of the box, and should contact General Mills for replacement or a full refund.
No other varieties or production dates of Fiber One products are affected by this recall.
Consumers requesting refunds or calling with further questions should contact General Mills Consumer Services at 1-800-231-0308.

 October 14, 2011 - Murray Biscuit Company, LLC, is recalling a small quantity of 5.5-ounce packages of Murray Sugar Free® Chocolate Chip cookies shipped to retail customers in four states. This recall was initiated because the packages inadvertently contain Murray Sugar Free® Chocolate Chip Pecan cookies and the label does not list pecans as an ingredient. The package is an overwrapped tray and is printed with a “MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS AND TREE NUTS” declaration. People who have allergies to pecans run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions and should not eat this product.
While only 12 cases of the product are incorrectly labeled, Murray is voluntarily recalling 904 cases shipped to its Alabama distribution center from one shift of production as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of consumers. The recalled product is marked with a UPC code of 82011 91335 and a best if used by date of APR1712 EA6. It was shipped to retail customers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.
No illnesses or allergic reactions have been reported to date. The company was notified by a consumer who is not allergic to nuts.
Consumers with questions or who would like a replacement may contact the Consumer Response Center at 877-745-5582 from Monday – Friday, 8 am to 6 pm Eastern time, or visit www.Murraysugarfree.com.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spooky Creations for Halloween 2011

You have so many choices for Halloween, Sisters and Brothers.  While food blogs every where are full of creative baking ideas what do you do if you don't have that time or skill of your own?  Where can you turn if you want something more personal and completely chocolate for your party or a friend's birthday if they happen to be born near Halloween or simply love the creepy things in life?  You can turn to custom made chocolate and we've never been privileged here to do a feature review on this very competitive and high-skill aspect of chocolate until now.  The nice gentleman who runs Creative Chocolates down in San Antonio, Texas, sent us a tasting sample and an amazing creation for our Halloween Treat Challenge this year in the category of Novelty.

The details on the skull are amazing so as I describe the chocolate -- white and milk -- it is made out of I'm going to show you two more photos of it from the sides.  One of the creepiest aspects of this skull is the size.  This is like a child's skull at 3.5 inches across the base, just over 4 inches across the widest part across the eyes in front but almost 4.5 inches from the back to the little nose bone, and standing about 5.75 inches tall. It fits in the full palm of my hand like child's head would.  I love how the two sides are not identical when you take the time to look at them.  When I unwrap it I can immediately smell the creamy white chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of something cocoa in nature.  I'm not breaking it before Halloween.  I love you all, Sisters and Brothers, but I'm not doing that just of the review so I can't say if the milk chocolate inside will come exploding out when I do break it open.  Perhaps I'll pretend it was moving and needed to be smashed or something to make it extra scary.

The tasting sample has the white chocolate with the inner layer of milk chocolate.  You could also ask for dark chocolate I'm told but that should cost more.  Personally even before I taste it I'd go for the darker for a deeper contrast in flavors myself but you all know what you like best.  In some areas the white chocolate is much thicker than in other areas and you can see that along the jaw or the eye ridges for example.  The chocolate makes a good snap when I take a bite. The first flavor is the creamy white chocolate but this has a kick of strong vanilla in it that I really like because I often find white chocolate too plain yet too rich for my tastes.  The milk chocolate then starts to assert itself and it has a good balance with the white, actually holding its own very well for the most part something I was afraid it wouldn't be able to do.  Molded chocolate runs the range from quality to junk (we saw some of that last week if you'll recall). This is certainly among the higher quality molded chocolate I've had and I am greatly pleased because while looks matter for novelty and custom made products, taste and texture matters, too.

The great thing about custom made chocolate is that often it can be shipped anywhere depending on what you want and the time of year you order it.  Normally I do not recommend getting ice pack because I'm thinking of your pocketbook, Sisters and Brothers, but creative designs like the ones we've seen today from Creative Chocolates are well worth that effort.  Their prices are so reasonable, I was amazed that the white chocolate with milk chocolate skull starts at just $22.  I hope you check them out and if you do, invest in protecting what you buy.  This is high quality chocolate and the molds and designs you'll find on their website make this a wonderful Sacrament for so many seasons and events year round.

Here are examples of other Halloween work that Creative Chocolates as done this year and last year because they are lovely to look at.

Creepy Neighborhood

Spooky Cat
Haunted House

Body parts in witch's cauldron -- these will taste good!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Watching "Top Chef: Just Desserts" 2.9

The count down to the final is here with only four chefs remaining: Sally, Matthew, Chris and Orlando.  Who was sent home this week and did he/she deserve to go?  Do any of these chefs deserve the title when it comes to desserts?  Let's review what happened this week before you all leave comments and let me know what you thought.

We got more into the back stories of all four chefs and now with fewer people competing, there was more time to do that.  Matthew was a wild outsider, Chris's family is still the center, Orlando's family first rejected him because he was gay, and Sally's mother and her butted heads a lot growing up.  At the end though, I don't care much about the back story compared to the desserts.

There was no Quickfire only an Elimination Challenge. This was posed by guest Suzanne Goin, chef/owner of Lucques, A.O.C. & Tavern (what kind of a name is that for a restaurant? too long) as well as a cookbook author.  Known as a savory chef she challenged them each to pick a country and after that to make a dessert that looked like an entrĂ©e which threw off everyone but Matthew from the start.

Matthew made a manicotti with rolls for Italy (the rolls were not Italian though) and the biggest criticism of his dish was the lack of different flavors and textures.  I had to wonder if the judges and the four others at the table had ever had traditional manicotti.  The textures and flavors aren't complicate at all, not in my experience.  That's one of the reasons I like it. Maybe he should have added more flavor to the bulky center?  Maybe he should have used tomato like he first thought?  He is going to the finale next week.

Orlando was the next to decide what to do and he turned to paella which I've never had so I can't say whether or not the judges' criticisms of his rice is correct or not.  It is true that he didn't have enough mussels in there but the one he had was well done.  I was sad that he was sent home because I think he has grown the most in terms of attitude during the show.  He is far less snarky and bitchy than he was to begin with.

Chris decided to do beef wellington and I was amazed that he wasn't tossed out for two things.  First, not really a French dish, sorry not buying the entire "based on a French dish" slide they gave him.  Second, he is the only one who used a pre-made ingredient, pasty sheets to make his shells.  To me these two errors should have sent him home regardless of the look or tastes.  I think when they allow people to stay in the competition who get by in this way (and he did it at least once before) they are not holding the title up to a high enough standard.

Sally took almost two of the three hours they had on day one of cooking to decide on making a Cuban sandwich.  She was afraid and you could see it.  Now the judges complimented her on how well she pulled it all off but using her difficulties in the kitchen should have turned around and been used against Chris.  I think it is right that she won and she definitely deserves to go to the finale.

So the finale will show Chris, Matthew, and Sally going head to head.

I think Orlando should be going instead of Chris. If Olando Santos, a chocolatier, would agree, I'd love to do an email interview with him for us all here on The Chocolate Cult.

What do you all think?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Loving Your Body & Chocolate

Today is National "Love Your Body Day" which is sponsored by the National Organization for Women, a group I've been a member of on and off over the past two decades.

They offer several events you can participate in such as sharing your own struggles with body image as part of the "Let's Talk About It" program or a slide show presentation about how women's body's are over-discussed in terms of beauty and often held to near impossible standards.  Men, too, have body image issues but while men have been considered "producers" for much of Western culture women are seen as "objects" or "baby makers" which is also a very body-centered view. Neither of these are appropriate models of who a human being can be in my strong opinion but I wanted today to talk a bit more about how my own body image has connected to chocolate in the past and still today.


*******WARNING: THIS POST WILL BE VERY PERSONAL SO DO NOT READ IF THAT MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE*******

At this point in my life I have the healthiest attitude toward chocolate I've ever had.  I don't see it as my primary emotional outlet though there are times of high stress or distress that I find myself drawn to it and I have to work to control that impulse. When I was growing up, this chocolate and body abuse was a coping mechanism for the sexual and psychological traumas I was surviving sometimes on a daily basis in the case of the emotional attacks.  I'm sure I did my body a lot of damage and yet I consoled myself by comparing my chocolate use to other family and friends who turned to alcohol, hard or prescription drugs, risky sexual behavior or more blatant self-harm like cutting.

As I got older I started not eating and yet that chocolate was always the exception because I had trained myself to turn to it when things got intense or my depression cranked up.  I probably did myself almost unhealable damage by affecting my body when it was going through all important growth and hormonal changes.  My body rebelled against my under-eating and over-exercising by breaking down and developing conditions I still struggle with.  Today I find myself over-doing many things in my life because somewhere in my past I honestly felt like either tomorrow might not come or things would continue forever as they were.  Better to live at the moment, huh?

I'm not a beautiful woman, hell, I'm not even slightly attractive and huge as heck and yet as I type these words that feminist in me, that scholar in me, that activist in me screams "shut up!"

It is an ongoing struggle and each time I decide to not get the cheap, additive filled chocolate stuff and turn to the purer varieties, I win a little bit.

Every time I try to give you all an honest evaluation of a product I hope I can help you in your own struggles.

Chocolate is great but it is not medicine and it not a cure for our yesterdays, our todays, or our tomorrows.

If you feel like sharing something personal about your body image and chocolate, please feel free to do so in a comment. If not, please click one of the immediate reaction buttons below the post and to let me know you read.

Love your body in all ways.  It is all you have.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Today is "National Chocolate Cupcake Day" so I thought it was a good time to do a product review.  Last week, about 8 days ago really, a friend of mine had a birthday party but he didn't have time to make a cake.  Cake isn't his favorite so I asked if I could make cupcakes for his party.  I figured that was a good way to have single serving sizes.  I let him chose between two types of Fun da-middles box mixes I got just last month when they were new, on sale, and I had coupons.  He picked the chocolate with a vanilla filling.

I followed the recipes exactly but as you can see I wasn't so great at creating a perfect center of the filling.  I've never been great with little bags that you squeeze, my hands always shake, things never flow quite smoothly, this is why I'm not good at cake decorating at all and ask my hubby to do it often.  But I hoped it would be OK.   Now while I was squeezing I also tasted some of the filling and it was very marshmallow like in both flavor and texture.  Interesting.

I think they baked up all right.  You can see a bit of the white poking up on some of these but here you can also see that they rose a good amount.  I thought I had a photo of how I decorated these but I didn't, sorry.  You see, I've cut out all store bought frosting because I can't find any that have no transfats.  My mother almost always made frosting from confectioners sugar, butter/margarine, vanilla, and skim milk.  So that is what I did plus I added a 6oz jar of sundae filling candy shaped like bananas and cherries with mini chocolate chips.  It made the frosting very difficult to spread.

What it looked like didn't matter so much.  I had cute monkey cupcake holders (also in the photo I was sure I took) and everyone who tried it said they really liked it including the birthday boy who isn't much for cake.  The chocolate was nice and chocolaty, the cake part was moist but also light, the middle, yup, tasted like marshmallow.  Over all a thumbs up for this new mix.

Have you tried it?  What did you think if you did?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Pairings

Beyond the Annual Halloween Treat Challenge we've been asked to promote and host three other October events.  It has been difficult and so far I've been disappointed that very, very few of you wanted either the chocolate banana smoothie gift pack or the breast cancer gift pack giveaway we've hosted the past two Mondays.  So here is something different for this Monday: No Giveaway!

Instead we were contacted by Ghirardelli, we've featured them in the past, to help promote their Intense Dark Pairings that will donate money to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).  I would have loved to host a pairing party but this month has been so crazy that I have not have time to organize one so instead I'm going to do a Special Sacramental Review of each bar and give you some information on how you can host your own party.

The party ideas are from the Intense Dark Pairings website with ideas on how to serve these bars to your friends from author Leslie Sbrocco.  Not only can you party but for a limited time, September 15 - December 31, 2011, you can redeem a code found on these specially marked pink ribbon boxes for $1 donation to the NBCF (up to $100,000) at a special website.  This is exactly what I've done with the four samples they sent to us here on The Chocolate Cult. When you enter your code you'll learn how many dollars and which dollar you've just donated.

Now on to the fully sensory descriptions I know you all want.

We'll start with the "Evening Dream" bar that has 60% cacao in it.  This is a very pure bar with nothing beyond the chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and soy lecithin (a common emulsifier found in a lot of chocolate).  The scent is fairly light when I tried to carefully fold back the gold foil wrapper inside the box.  The chocolate is dark and glossy, the entire bar has 8 sections and 2.5 servings in total.  One section breaks off easily but makes a nice snap that it repeats when I take a bite.  At first the flavor is very creamy with a hint of bitterness that turns to a sweet vanilla and then a deeper bitter essence.  For those of you who are not too keen on dark chocolate this will be the bar for you.

For those of us who really love dark chocolate I imagine the "Twilight Delight" at 72% is going to be great.  This looks a little darker than the 60%, and it should, and it does have a dark scent to it when I open the foil wrapper.  This is a touch more difficult to break apart and it makes a louder snap when I do so and when I take a bite.  Remember, the loudness reflects purity of the chocolate so darker and no additives will be louder than white, milk, or artificial ingredients.  This has smooth start and then turns bitter with each chew.  It is not too intense for me, the bitterness does not hide the sugar's slight sweetness or the vanilla's light kick at all but the strong cocoa is the main essence.

At 86% the "Midnight Reverie" is going to be very, very bitter I expect.  The fragrance of dark chocolate hit me as soon as I opened a tiny corner of the foil wrapper.  By scent alone you can identify this as the darkest of the four but not by color.  I land it and the 72% side by side and there is no difference.  Warning: If you are giving this to others, give them a heads up because this much intense cacao will be too much for many, many people.  Unless you are like me and you just love to see folks' eyes widen and hear them say "what the heck?"  (Oh, didn't you know your Chocolate Priestess has this slightly evil side to her?)  The snap is softer than I expect when I break off a section and take a bite.  The bitterness builds up and completely overwhelms the sugar and even milk fat I see listed on the ingredients.  At this level of cacao I expect an aftertaste but surprisingly I didn't find this had one and that really pleased me as did the cocoa buzz just at the end of one square.  I still do not think this will be to most palate's tastes.

Finally, let's look to the more complex bar in this foursome: "Toffee Interlude."  This has dark chocolate, toffee bits, and caramelized almonds in it.  Not for those with tree nut allergies.  This has more ingredients on the label but nothing artificial.  No where on the box does it say what cacao percentage is in this chocolate so I'll compare it to the previous three.  The scent is much lighter and there is a definite butter and almond fragrance as well when I open the foil wrapper.  You can see the pieces of toffee or perhaps the almonds even from the top but especially when I broke off a piece.  Note the little pieces on the photo above.   This makes a good snap and feel cool to my fingertips.  This is more along the 60% cacao level in terms of bitterness but that is overpowered by the almonds then the butter next until it fades to chocolate again.  The other flavors will build up so just take a break to bring out the maximum chocolate if you want.  The toffee and almonds made it crunchy as well though it was surprisingly creamy, too.  I liked it a lot though I think I also got a bit of a sugar rush.

The three simple bars are all great, pure chocolate, even the "Toffee Interlude" really let the cacao be the star if you took your time with it.  For that and for their support of a good charity, I believe these bars earned their position as a worthy Sacrament.  Go on and set up a pairing party if you have the time (let me know how that goes please) but I say go beyond just your girlfriends with these Intense Dark Pairings.  Breast cancer can strike men and women, and while it is true that far more women then men get it, everyone who knows a fighter in this battle is touched.  Plus the more bars and their codes you redeem, the more money for continued research. Brothers, let us hear you say that  you want to help out on this cause too!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bulk Chocolate for Halloween 2011

Buying candy for Halloween generally means heading to a grocery store or a discount shop in your hometown for most of us.  What if you do not live very close to such a shop or what if you are so busy you never find the time?  You know what happens when you don't have your lights on and the candy ready to hand out come Monday, October 31, 2011?  That's right.  Here in the USA and other places it is still very possible that your house might be egged or your lawn TPed.  You could also get kids stomping on your flowers or kicking your car, too.  The folks at Candy Favorites are a bulk wholesale candy shop that has a lot of options for Halloween and their goodies will come directly to your door.  They sent us 23 samples of the variety they sale, 7 of these are chocolate and so we'll reveal those to you today.

Let's start with some less than traditional Halloween candies that you can't really hand out to trick or treaters but you could have at a party or use for decorations on homemade treats like cupcakes or brownies or well, the variety is pretty vast given the food blogs I've been looking at for Halloween ideas.

You may have heard the jokes about candy corn... or maybe not but I particularly like Lewis Black's routine about it.  Normally candy corn has nothing chocolate but Brachs has a chocolate caramel version that I've never seen in the stores around me that Candy Favorites has as five pounds for just over $21.  That's a lot so you might want to team up with other bakers and candy makers and share them.   Notice how they kind of look like decaying fingernails?  Wouldn't that be an awesome idea for how to use these?  They smell primarily of caramel but there is a hint of cocoa.  Though solid they make no noise when I ate one.  The flavor depends on where you bite -- the darker end is cocoa, the lighter end a caramel tang that ends with an intense sweetness.  Not the most chocolaty by any stretch of your experiences I'm sure but hey Brachs is trying and they look cool.

Non Pareils can refer to either sugar and starch decorate items much like jimmies or sprinkles but round or non pareils can refer to flat chocolate drops covered in little sugared balls of various color.  These particular ones for Halloween are dark chocolate and have white, orange, and yellow sugar balls on one side and the flat chocolate surface on the other.  They have a deep chocolate scent and measure about 1 inch across the bottom.  They are crunchy primarily because of the sugar balls but the chocolate also gave a snap.  It is a darker cocoa essence than what I was expecting and I was very pleased.  These would be great as treat toppers or even on their own in a dish for folks to pick up just have a plat or something you may have the sugar balls rolling all over for your pets, kids, or ants to find.

The last item I'm really going to taste is another less common treat: Dr Scab's Monster Labs chocolates.  These come in 5 pounds for around $35 from Candy Favorites but chocolate generally more expensive.  Five pounds is probably about 3.5 normal bags of this I've seen in various bargain stores.  Bargain because here's your warning: this is from Palmer and as you may recall they have never gotten a good review from us.  Simply too many additives and not enough purity. However the idea of a creepy looking candy may appeal to you.

The creepiness is mostly in the decoration of the wrappers though the chocolate is molded as well to limited degree.  Three types are crispy: ears, toes and fingers.  The eyeballs are fudge while the lips are peanut butter filled.  I'll include a photo of these unwrapped so you can see the details.  The toes and fingers are identical inside, the ear has the most detail, the lips are basically lips and the eyeball is just round.  The crispy ones are very crisp but frankly the chocolate is too sweet and tastes waxy versus like chocolate should.  The eyeball has almost no scent but the center is the most chocolaty taste I've ever had from Palmer - that's not saying much, Sisters and Brothers.  The lips had a peanut butter fragrance to them but ultimately the waxy chocolate is unsatisfying.  This is the one item from Candy Favorites I cannot recommend any of you buy; don't buy it even in the dollar stores if you see a tiny bag of it.  Love your children, your friends, and your neighbors enough to not give them this.

Beyond the unusual or rare to find, Candy Favorites also has 5 pound offerings of more standard candy bar treats for Halloween.  Hershey's Miniatures Halloween Mix have dark colors and little bats on the wrappers.  This group contains Mr. Goodbar (green), Krackel (black), Milk Chocolate (orange), and Dark Chocolate (purple).  You'll have to price it around you to see how good of a deal this is online but I think most of you know that these are the sorts of things your kids, and you probably, like to chow down on Halloween night and for weeks afterwards.  These four particular bars never last long in our household.

The Hershey's Demon Treat pack has 130 pieces (that might actually cover the number of kids we get here!) and contains five types of individually wrapped treats: Milk Duds, Reese's Cups and Pieces, KitKats, and Whoppers in a roll with 3 malted milk balls.  I don't know how many of you keep track of the number of kids you have showing up looking for candy on Halloween but it was something my mother always did and I've continued it.  Normally we get between 110 and 150 kids so one of these might do it for us though it doesn't cover the kids who can't eat chocolate or don't like chocolate.  Yes, children like that do exist as shocking as that may be for some of you to read.

In a similar vein, Hershey Classic Fun Size bags have five varieties as well: Reese's cup and the Whoppers again but then Heath, Almond Joy (for the coconut lovers), and Cookies'n'Creme bar for those who like white chocolate.  This is a slightly different variety if you have trick or treaters or just you and your friends who want a bit more without paying more.  Not all of us can afford fair trade, handmade, organic treats for such a holiday so I think it is only correct that we look at the variety available to us all at this time of year.  Of these five, the Heath is my favorite and you can have all the Almond Joys you want.

Finally we got a few of the orange and black wrapped miniature Reese's cups.  These are great for eating on their own but also for baking.  I've put them inside of cupcakes before, yum.  I think these are part of the Harvest Mix you can find on Candy Favorites.  Again this is 5 pounds which in the case of these is a lot though I can't say how many individual cups.  I didn't know about what you see from trick or treaters but they love these things and they will try to take a handful if you let them.  Heck some of the kids we see look like they want to not just take a handful but the entire bowl!  We place a limit of one per person because as I said we can get a lot of people at our door.  We eat dinner in shifts and staff the door during the 3 hours they are allowed to roam about in our city.

Halloween candy on Candy Favorites ranges from chocolate to lollypops to gum to soft or hard sugar treats.  A good amount of Halloween candy though is also very fall or harvest related so we'll use some of the other samples they sent us later this year during our baking and recipe sharing or book reviewing.  But look at how much it was.  We do not need more candy corn let me tell you, Sisters and Brothers.

Candy Favorites offers candies for a lot of occasions as well as free shipping for orders over a certain amount.  Of course if it hot where you are, you may want to think about ice packs but these samples came just fine to us so unless you are in the upper 80s or above regularly right now, don't bother with the ice.  Comparison shop and then see if it will work for you.  Based on what I saw the amounts are large and if you get over $50 it looks like you might get free shipping. But if you decide to do so, or if you order from anywhere, remember that this takes take so do not wait until the last minute. For the variety and the range of chocolate there, just think before you order, I believe that Candy Favorites is a good source for Halloween this year.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Watching "Top Chef: Just Desserts" 2.8

5 chefs left in the running and their Quickfire and Elimination Challenges were a bit more related than has often been the case. Francois Payard of Payard Patisserie & Bistro was one of the guest judges and he first tasked our group to make the best pie they could.  There was twist because they had to do it with one hand behind their back and in an oven mitt.

My first thought was that this was very gimicky.  They didn't even tie the hand behind their backs or otherwise restrict them.  Yet they all tried hard to keep that one hand out of the way, even helping each other as they worked, until Matthew brought his hand forward and touched the side of his pie to turn it.  I've often wondered if the judges are watching because I have yet to see them care about the chattering and frankly unprofessional behavior we some times see.  They were watching and immediately put Matthew out of the running.

Carlos won with his pie making his third Quickfire win and with it $5000 in the bank.  It was a show of inverses, however, and soon everything changed when the Elimination was announced.

Now the summary I had on my TV for this show said that they visit a carnival.  They didn't and frankly it showed in what they all chose to make and how they chose to present it.  Carlos went with a more street fair idea so he made these very cute desserts disguised as a burger, fries and drink.  The others made more elegant desserts which was more in line with the guests who showed up to taste them.  Carlos also tried his hand at macaroons which is something that Payard is known for and I wonder if that wasn't the source of his downfall.  Yup, Carlos Enriquez ended up going home.

Matthew made a fried applepie thing you could eat in your hand or with a fork and he redeemed himself by winning.  His table decorations and interactions with the guests were more inline with a carnival and I believe he should have won.  I felt bad for Sally who accidentally froze her pudding but she was also a judges' favorite so she recovered well.

Orlando and Chris, what can we say, Sisters and Brothers?

First, the idea that Johnny tossed out that caramel apples don't have chocolate is false.  Just type in "chocolate caramel apples" in any search engine and you'll come up with recipes and places you can buy them.  If you want traditional you can buy some and support our site at the same time: Applecaramelicious Gift Basket

But chocolate, caramel, and apples do exist as this photo spread from just several locales around the Web show.

http://www.specialtyapples.com/superpecan.aspx

www.appleholler.com/
http://www.wisconsinmade.com/gift-ideas/Gourmet-Caramel-Apples-Belgian-Chocolate-Dunked-2773.aspx

However, as much as I like chocolate, as much as you do, yes, the main flavors needed to be caramel and apples. Why not make a chocolate cake with caramelize apple pieces inside and a chocolate caramel frosting with apple garnishes?  I bet that would have tasted more like caramel apples to the judges.  I'm tempted to say that Orlando should have gone because he didn't think it through enough.

But Chris, oh, my god, I didn't even like the look of what he made.  He had to explain too much to his guests, it looked very complex and I wonder how you'd even get all the flavors together.   I don't understand fancy desserts that are spread out over an entire plate.  Give me a dessert, one thing that I can eat and enjoy or decipher all the flavors and textures you have.

We are now down to four challengers on the TV show.  What are you opinions on this week's episode?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chocolate Walk 2011 Shout Out

This will be the third year that I and a group of folks who read, follow, and volunteer their time to The Chocolate Cult will attend the Chocolate Walk in Brown County to help support their Humane Society.  This is a great charity because they have a great success rate and they use chocolate in two of their major events.

Who has tickets?

Who is going to carpool with us?

Below are all the details.


The Brown County Humane Society's Chocolate Walk tickets are now on sale!  We hope you had a great time at previous Chocolate Walks and that you will be able to join us again this year.  Tickets are the same price as last year - $15 prior to Nov 1 and $20 from Nov 1-12.  There are 31 shops participating, each providing their favorite chocolates for you to sample. 
The event is on Saturday, Nov 12 from 10 am - 5 pm
Tickets are available online at http://www.bchumane.org/about/events/cw_tix.php  OR call 812-327-3016 OR purchase at the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau (10 N. Van Buren St ), the Brown County Art Gallery (Artist Dr & Main St) or the Humane Society (128 S SR135). 
Last year we sold out of all 1250 tickets and anticipate the same happening this year; therefore, don't wait until the last minute to buy
If you are coming from out of town, consider spending the weekend in Brown County and staying with one of our lodging partners: 
All Chocolatiers donate their time and products to this event so that 100% of the proceeds benefit the 1000+ animals that come to our shelter.  Your support of this important fundraising event is greatly appreciated.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Win Pink Together 2011 Gift Pack

BlogSpark has us doing a second neat giveaway for this month.  With Halloween approaching fast you might think we'd be giving away candy, right?  With the Annual Halloween Treat Challenge that would be unfair so I'm glad to have these other opportunities for you all.

As you may know, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is also October with National Wear Pink Day on the 28th.  Pink Together is a program trying to spread awareness about the month, about the disease as well as be community for survivors, fighters and friends and family of people who have or have had breast cancer.  In honor of that and to promote aware of a disease that can afflict men as well as women, I decided this was a good cause for us to support.

I have two things to do with you today, Sisters and Brothers.

First, if you leave a comment and tell me whether or not you normally do anything in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month you will be entered to win your own gift pack like this one below which I also received.

Win some of the above for leaving appropriate comments.

Specifically you'll win
  • A 16 oz. box of Total cereal
  • VIP coupons valid for one box of Cheerios and Multigrain Cheerios cereal and one cup of Yoplait yogurt
  • Betty Crocker Living with Cancer Cookbook Pink Together Edition, which includes a collection of more than 150 delicious recipes with complete nutrition information and a 32-page Pink Together Survivor Ambassador bonus section that shares inspirational personal stories of survival as well as recipes
  • Water bottle and removable silicone awareness bracelet
  • Drawstring sport backpack
  • Rhinestone ear buds
Perhaps you have a personal story about breast cancer or you've worked with/bought products with the Komen Program that raises money for research on a cure for breast cancer.  Some folks have made videos even to tell their stories.

You do not need to leave those person comments here on The Chocolate Cult, just tell me if you do anything at all to support Breast Cancer research.  For example, just yesterday when I went grocery shopping, I bought about a dozen items that were marked with the pink ribbon symbol and I've donated money directly or sponsored a friend doing a walk or run to earn money for the research.

Secondly, you'll notice that several of freebie coupons are for cereal and I know that all of us have made cereal bars before, right?  There is also a freebie for yogurt, just one container, I bought chocolate whipped variety that I'll use to bake brownies or something.  I had hoped to bake something for you today but suddenly this past week it is summer again and I become very conscious of wasting energy by baking when the temps are in the 80s.  90s and above the air conditioner is working anyway but in the low 80s it may not come on until late in the day depending on how cool the evening was.

One of the prizes you can win is this cookbook.  I looked through this eagerly.  Let me tell you a bit about it.  This is from Betty Crocker the folks sponsoring the giveaway.  The first 32 pages look at the Pink Together project with information about breast cancer research, some sample recipes, some personal stories about people touched by breast cancer.  The cookbook itself has eight chapters each focused on dealing with the side effects of breast cancer treatments, planning for those periods during chemo when you have less energy, and still thinking about feeding yourself and your family so you feel like eating.  Let's be honest, fighting any illness, any disease, takes energy and we get the most energy from the food we eat.

Sadly only one of the dessert recipes has cocoa and chocolate in it and I didn't see any other recipes using our Sacred Substance.  Do any of you, Sisters and Brothers, know why this might be?  Once you've left a comment about what you do to support breast cancer research or if you think about it at all, you can leave a second comment for a second chance to win and tell me why you think chocolate can be part of a cancer fighter's diet or not.

Make sure I can email you if you win this.  Check the ID you use when you leave a comment, is an email attached so I can reach you?  If not then you can't win.

"Disclosure: The Pink Together prize pack, information and coupons have been provided free of charge by General Mills through MyBlogSpark." 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cranky Jacks

For our first challenger in the "Best Gourmet Halloween Treat" category for 2011, Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates sent us a box of their Cranky Jack o'Lanterns.  These came packed with just the right amount of materials in the standard Cocoa Dolce box which we've seen before here on The Chocolate Cult.  I wasn't sure what a Cranky Jack was until I unpacked it all and turned the box over where the ingredients and a photo was.  I like that because this means before I start handing out truffles, I'll know who not to give them to because of allergies.  Inside were 16 fairly mean looking jack o'lanterns glaring up at me.  These are fairly large truffles measure 1.25 inches at their widest and reaching to 1.25 inches at the top of the stem.  The ganache or filling of each is covered with what appears to be a molded shell in two pieces from the seam I see on them so the cranky little faces and the pattern of a pumpkin are clear on every one of them.  When I break on open I see that these are made by filling the two halves of the shell and then sealing them together so you get two pieces of chocolate combined into the bigger treat.
There are two types here.  The Milk Chocolate Jacks have a "classic hazelnut gianduja filling — from what I could find on the Internet this means that the recipe is the same as the 30% hazelnut paste invented by one Caffarel from Turin in 1852 when chocolate was still not the same consistency and form we are familiar with today.  All I really needed to know for certain was that these have tree nuts so I keep these away from my husband with the allergy.  Through the shell I can smell the hazelnut scent along with the chocolate.  The coating barely makes a sound as I take a bite and immediately I can taste a very creamy milk chocolate with much less hazelnut essence than I was expecting.  I think this is a good thing because hazelnut is so common with chocolate, especially milk chocolate, that it can seem overdone; the hazelnut flavor does build up with each new bite so go slow to maximize the chocolate you taste.  The filling is very soft and creamy but also firm, it does not ooze out.  These are also very sweet but in that hazelnut way that I personally taste whenever I have anything with hazelnuts.  A very good balance of flavors for the milk chocolate and hazelnut lover.
The Dark Chocolate Jacks are organic orange and Cassia cinnamon ganache meaning that this should be the hotter cinnamon I'm used to since Cassia refers to the Chinese cinnamon also found elsewhere in Southeast Asia; this type of cinnamon is the most common in the USA but if you are most familiar with Mexican or Latin American flavors then we are talking about Ceylon cinnamon.  Some folks may have concerns about the blood thinning properties of Cassia cinnamon but I doubt there is enough in all eight of these to really worry about but if you have blood thinning concern, give these to someone else and try the milk chocolate ones.  But I digress because I love learning new things when I try these chocolates for us all.
The Dark Chocolate Jacks didn't travel as well as their milk counterparts, the harder chocolate on the top broke off of more of these than the milk ones so just arrange them if you serve them and know they will break as soon as you take a bite.  Since some of the shells broke I took one and tasted it alone -- alone the shell is very dark, bitter aftertaste that those of us who like the darker chocolate expect.  The ganache inside has that bitterness then a burst of orange, a very dark not sweet orange, and then the heat starts to build.  This filling is as firm as the milk chocolate version but not as creamy which it shouldn't be.  Eating shell and the filling at the same time increases the bitter chocolate flavor to start but both the orange and the heat build up as you chew or let it set in your mouth.  This can get a bit hot so eat it slow or fast based on how much cinnamon intensity you want.  I really loved these, the darker orange, the bitterness and the cinnamon's kick made this an adventure in my mouth.
Need a bit of creepy that is also a touch cute for a Halloween party?  These Cranky Jacks look the part and taste great for older teens or adults.  Little kids trick or treating are not the folks who should be having these but with adult Halloween festivals becoming more common, these are a nice change of pace from just eating bagged mass produced candy bars.  For the quality of materials, the festive crankiness and the balance of flavors these are a worthy Sacrament and a great competitor for our 2011 Halloween Treat Challenge.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Watching "Top Chef: Just Desserts" 2.7

Ah, episode seven of "Top Chefs: Just Desserts" marked a turning point in the show on several levels.

First, the Quickfire Challenge gave a prize, $10,000, but no immunity.  In fact, one chef was sent home immediately after that challenge.  The Quickfire was judged by Mark Isarel, the owner of Doughnut Planet and each chef had to make a donut to go with a cup of coffee.  Only Katzie followed the directions and chose her coffee first yet only Sally actually referenced and used her coffee when she made the donut.  Some how though Carlos won but since his family made donuts as he was growing up, perhaps that made sense at some level.  Megan was sent home because her glazing wasn't right and yet Matthew's donut gathered the most criticism.  I'm seeing a trend of giving certain chefs a pass on this show and it does not please me.

The Elimination Challenge placed the six remaining chefs into two teams.  Blue was made of Orlando, Carlos and Sally.  Red was Katzie, Matthew and Chris.  The challenge was twofold or so we believed when it was issued -- make a chocolate centerpiece as well as each chef make a chocolate dessert.  The guest judge was Wylie Dufresne the chef and owner of wd~50.  I looked up this restaurant and I'm confused because it doesn't seem particularly well-known for chocolate, in fact only one of their desserts on the online menu is chocolate.  The twist here was that the teams would judge each other but again these seemed more a token gesture instead of serious judgment given the results.

Orlando and Chris focused on the centerpiece.  Chris really only accepted a token amount of help from Matthew leaving Katzie entirely out, even her ideas were shot down.  That should have left her with plenty of time to make a great dessert and yet she didn't think ahead as much as she should have.  Chris made his dessert in like an hour and it looked very homemade.  Matthew's three desserts were well made but for some reason the judges thought they were too sweet -- seriously?

Orlando on the other hand used Sally to a greater capacity in terms of making the centerpiece and laid most of the work for his dessert onto Carlos' shoulders.  This immediately annoyed me.  The task was for each to make a dessert and as far as I am concerned the Blue team failed and should have automatically been placed on the chopping block.

Instead the judges seemed completely oblivious to what was going on in that kitchen and in the display room.  Katzie Guy-Hamilton was sent home for making a dessert that was "too big" while Orlando failed to follow the basic instructions and was on the winning team.  I don't even think that the centerpieces turned out to be very important factors in terms of which team won so I find it very unfair and completely odd that one side is allowed to slide by while the other is picked to death.  At this stage in the competition shouldn't it be every one for herself?

But what did you all think, Sisters and Brothers?  We got our chocolate in this episode and yet I wasn't impressed.  Why not challenge them to make three desserts -- one white, one milk and one darker chocolate -- showing their skills and knowledge of each?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Movie Review: Better than Chocolate

This will be our first movie review here on The Chocolate Cult. It is something I've been wanting to do for some time but with everything else I do, it has been pushed to the back.  Well, on Netflix a movie on my list was going to go away so I had to watch it.

This is the 1999 movie Better Than Chocolate
starring Karyn Dwyer and Christina Cox who play Maggie and Kim, two young lesbians in Vancouver.  Maggie works in a woman's bookstore and Kim is "traveling through" in her van on her never ending journey across Canada painting for a living and attending festivals.

Maggie has a problem: she's been lying to her mother, Lila (played by Wendy Crewson), about a lot of things in her life including dropping out of school, having an apartment, and being straight.  Personally, I don't condone lying but let's leave that aside and say that in 1999 and for many people today their sexuality is a scary topic and when people are afraid, they lie.

Maggie's lies wouldn't be an immediate problem except her university has sent a letter to her mother's home at about the same time as Lila is divorcing her husband (who is apparently not Maggie's father).  This is a bit too convenient I felt for a movie.  Too much thrown together at once really.  I think we could cover much of the same territory without Lila and brother Paul moving in, maybe they come for a visit?

Lila is very conservative, a traditional wife whose discovery of her husband's pushed her to get a divorce, and her daughter treats her like she is fragile.  She isn't as fragile as we think as her developing friendship with Judy (played by Peter Outerbridge) a transsexual proves.

The movie really functions as a commentary on Canadian society in the aftermath of cultural feminist attacks on books and other forms of mass media.  I say this a radical feminist by the way, one who believes that true change comes from within and through education, not by forcing our cultural views onto others.  The bookstore in film is the focal point for censorship and for attacks from people in "the community" who dislike homosexuals.  But the attacks are not simple external and we see strife with the lesbian community itself especial against transsexuals.  Even after almost 13 years it is quite striking how many of the taboos and difficulties some of us face in 2011!

But what does all of this have to do with chocolate?

Well, at one point as Lila is out interviewing for a job, we see her popping a piece of chocolate in her mouth.  Later she explains to her children and Kim because she is "so old" and will therefore never have sex again, her only pleasure in life will be chocolate.  Of course later she discovers this isn't true but I won't add spoilers to this review. Throughout the movie we keep seeing her popping more and more chocolate, never over indulging but definitely using it emotionally.

In terms of a decent story about human relationships, parents and children, and the growing pains of social change, I think it was a pretty good film.  If you aren't upset by discussion of sexual orientation, then you might want to check this movie out. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Win Yoplait Chocolate Banana Smoothie Prize Pack

Today we are introducing a new type of post here on The Chocolate Cult.  We are part of several foodie, review, blog and communities groups on the Internet.  Recently some of these groups have started doing giveaways and promotions.  When I think a product is related or for a good cause, we'll mention it here so that all of you can hear about it.  The first attempt with an online community of this nature didn't go as planned so I didn't have anything to review only a link to a coupon to pass along.

Today we have three things to offer you all, Sisters and Brothers, relationship to a new product called Yoplait Chocolate Banana Smoothie.

First here is a link to a COUPON you can use to get $1 off your own purchase of this product to try.  Note: you'll need to print it out so make sure you can do that when you click because I tested the link and it only seems to work once per computer or network ID.

Second, you can win your own gift pack, a copy of what I was sent myself.  Make sure you are a follower of The Chocolate Cult and mention that in your comments -- there are several ways to do that so look to the right hand column.  Then leave a comment and telling me what you think about the four current flavors offered by Yoplait and what flavor you think they are currently missing.  Hey, if you want to make another chocolate suggestion, I'll be behind that suggestion!  Hurry because the winner will be announced on Friday, October 7, during our Top Chef: Just Desserts Post.

What you can win for leaving the appropriate comments.
You'll get the neck pillow, a smoothie glass and straw, the black satin case with purple blindfold, plus a coupon for a free smoothie, not the smoothie itself since that is a frozen foods item.

 Finally I'm going to share with you all how easy or difficult this treat was to create and what I felt about the taste.  Please note that as always on The Chocolate Cult this will be an honest review and the chocolate needs to be the primary flavor to get our approval.

I found the smoothie mix in one of the many frozen food aisles in my local Kroger.  It cost $3.68 but I used my freebie coupon.  The other needed ingredient is something we have on hand all the time: skim milk so I didn't need to get more than necessary.  The smoothie mix has pieces of sliced banana and these cocoa covered yogurt piece.  When I say "cocoa covered" that is exactly what the ingredients list says.
We don't keep our blender out on the counter because we might use it once, maybe twice, a year.  So I dig that out and washed it all down along with the big glass and straw that was sent in the gift pack.  The directions say to add 1 cup skim milk to the pieces for blending; 1.5 cups if you want to use the straw.  I wanted some thickness but I wanted to use the straw so I used 1.25 cups of skim milk.  As it blended on the second highest setting the mixture changed going from a very frothy to very thick substance.  In this photo you can see the halfway stage as the froth is being pulled back into the mix that is getting thicker and thicker.

Finally after a minute and a half of mixing I got a lot of smoothie that just fit into the gift glass.  Note: the nutritional facts say that you'll get 2.5 servings in this one mix and yet look!  One glass that they sent me which sends me the clear message that this one envelop is one serving.  Keep that in mind when you look at the label yourself and add in the nutritional values for the milk you use as well.  The primary flavor is banana followed by yogurt and then the cocoa flavor.  For us here on The Chocolate Cult, that is disappointing but looking at the ingredients it makes perfect sense.  You could add more chocolate in the form of syrup which will make it less thick or in the form of mini chocolate chips but both of those will add more calories especially fat.  I'm hoping through these promotional blogs other writers will give their opinions and perhaps in a year or so the Yoplait folks might increase the amount of cocoa in the mix.

Remember to win your own gift pack to try this product leave a comment below and telling me what you think about the four current flavors offered by Yoplait and what flavor you think they are currently missing.  Just saying "it sounds good" or something like that will NOT qualify you to win so do make a flavor suggestion.  Make sure you are a follower of The Chocolate Cult and mention that in your comment as well because I will check -- there are several ways to do that so look to the right hand column.  Hurry because the winner will be announced on Friday, October 7, during our Top Chef: Just Desserts Post.

"Disclosure: The Yoplait® VIP Coupon, information, and giveaway have been provided by Yoplait through MyBlogSpark."

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