Saturday, September 23, 2017

Zamora! The Newest Askinosie Single-Origin Chocolate Bar

Askinosie Zamora 72% Bar
It isn't often that a socially minded chocolate brand comes out with a new product. When you care about the land that sustains the cocoa trees and the people who care for and harvest from those trees, developing a new products requires more forethought than just what added flavors or new shapes might inspire consumers to give it a try. If all you are really doing is a new shape -- square versus circular -- or a new added flavor or ingredient -- caramel to a plain chocolate bar -- you spend a lot of time on marketing research as well as in the kitchens or labs. But if you are looking for a new source of cocoa beans and you want to partner with the people who make it, you have to not only interview then but let them get to know and trust you. That process takes time. Thus I was thrilled when Askinosie Chocolate announced their first new bar in seven years. Today we are going to look at the Zamora 72% bar. I will include the normal full sensory descriptions as well as information about the bar, how and why it was created, and which cocoa farming community is benefiting from the production and sell of this product. I was sent two of the 3 ounce bars to try out in exchange for this feature article; no other form of compensation was received.

Zamora 72% Bar from Askinosie
The bars coming in paper that you can see in our first photo and this one as well. They are further in a plastic sleeve that I cut open. Immediately the scent of darker chocolate greeted my nose. As you may recall, Your Chocolate Priestess is a fan of darker chocolate. This comes in at 72% of the ingredients are chocolate liquor or mass. In fact this bar is just three ingredients: cocoa beans of the Arriba Nacional variety, organic cane sugar, and cocoa butter. This means that the bar is also vegan and gluten free but it is also certified Kosher as well. This is as pure as your chocolate gets unless you want to go real dark and no have sugar or a sweetener at all, Sisters and Brothers, and I don't think most of us what that in a bar we eat. Each of these 3 oz bars are two servings (9 squares) but with such pure dark chocolate I generally don't even want let alone need a full serving to get a cocoa rush. I let the first square I break off just melt on my tongue. Yes their is a bitterness to it but as I let it melt I also get a sweetness that is a bit like raisins. The melted chocolate is thick and has a bit of a fudgy texture to it. While the wrapper suggests a mocha flavor I luckily do not get that because I'm not a coffee fan at all. Instead there is an intense earthiness to the flavor. The cocoa buzz begins in my head as the single square finishes melting and the world around me seems brighter and I feel more relaxed. This is better than any painkillers you can buy over the counter or from a doctor. I take a water break and a few minutes to clear my mouth before biting and chewing the next square. The chocolate is quiet, not at all what I'm expecting. It is smooth and creamy as I chew it, the intensity of the raisin like sweetness is more intense as it the bitterness; ah, there is a bit of mocha edge. I'll let the other squares melt in my mouth then.

Askinosie Zamora Bar Label
The beans come from Zamora in the Amazonia region of southeastern Ecuador. According to the International Cocoa Organization, Ecuador is the 5th largest producer of cocoa beans. Some news articles in the past few years have argued that the region may produce some of the best cocoa beans in the world. One reason may be that cooperative farming communities have been gaining ground there in the past couple of decades compared to the huge plantations elsewhere. The Shuar tribe have been cocoa farmers for almost 8000 years! The woman on the wrapper is Monica Guaman who is the lead farmer partner who works with Askinosie. Her family has their own farm and she head a cocoa coop in their village, called APEOSAE. The coop cultivates the trees, harvest them, and ferments them using wooden boxes and the sun. The beans are lightly roasted then conched for a short time to before the product is ready to be used by Askinosie. The area does not only produce cocoa beans but also coffee, lime, mandarin, plantains, and other foods.That gives them more economic flexibility and stability.

Askinosie has done it again! They earn Sacrament Worthy Status with the 72% Dark Chocolate Bar from Zamora, Amazonia.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Organic Improves Sheila G's Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle

We've tried and loved a lot of different varieties of Sheila G's Brownie Brittle here on The Chocolate Cult over the past few years. In general the difference in flavor between their regular and organic versions of the same variety has been minimal. Today we finally get to try out their Organic version of Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle. The organic ingredients account for every one on the packages list with these few exceptions: sea salt, baking soda, natural flavor, and water. To be blunt I'm not sure how you'd qualify sea salt or water as organic. Baking soda is mined as Sodium bicarbonate and then is processed with another chemical so it can't be organic. As for natural flavor... it is derived from another ingredient and without more information I can't say where it would be considered organic or not but since all of the ingredients that have flavors are organic, it might be just not legally speaking. We were sent two 5 ounce bags of this product directly from Sheila G's headquarters to test out and write about in a fair and as objective fashion as possible; no other form of compensation was received.

As you can see it looks very much like the previous chocolate chip version we covered here. The scent when I opened the bag was very dark, it really made me eager to try it out. Individually eat piece's fragrance isn't very intense. The darker chips stand out against the lighter brittle and the amount of them varies per piece. When I place a piece on my mouth, there is a sweetness but also a strong cocoa edge. It crunches with each bite and the intensity of the chocolate increases with each bite but it never gets bitterly dark. This was pretty additive to eat. It didn't need a dip or spread, in fact I'd hesitate to add anything to it. The intensity may reflect a generally more dark tasting natures of organic cocoas and unsweetened chocolate which this has. It also has organic cocoa butter This also reminded me a lot of the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt version we wrote about here but without the saltiness.

If you have not yet tried Organic Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle from Sheila G's, you need to do so. This is Sacrament Worthy. Great job, Sheila G!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

In Honor of Milton Hershey's Birthday

Hershey's Cookie Layer Crunch Bar, Caramel variety
I'm sure many of you have heard of Hershey. In the USA this is the chocolate brand that many of us grew up with. The company bears the name of its founder, Milton S. Hershey and today, September 13, back in 1857, he was born in Derry Township, Pennsylvania. In honor of this American candy and chocolate icon, I'm going to look at a relative new Hershey product I got to try through my Kroger membership card in the form of a Freebie. Even though this post is also to honor the man himself, I won't be anything other than honest about my experience with this product. Kroger and Hershey had no idea their freebie would turn into this article so, of course, no other form of compensation was received either.

Before we get to the bar let's look back at Milton S. Hershey. What is interesting about Hershey in light of the product I'll be talking about later, is that he started in the candy business making caramels (Lancaster Caramel Company) so we shouldn't be surprised that in their candy today they often include caramel. Yet today we think of chocolate when we think of Hershey so how did that happen? Hershey went to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and there he saw how chocolate was made. In 1900 he sold his successful caramel company and focused on chocolate, particularly milk chocolate. By 1905 he had his first Hershey Chocolate Company factory up and running.

From: By unknown (original image); Centpacrr (derivative image) - Hershey Community Archives (original image), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25759267

Unwrapped Hershey's Caramel Cookie Layer Crunch Bar
Now let's look at Hershey's Caramel Cookie Layer Crunch Bar. It looks a bit like a regular Hershey's milk chocolate bar with the sectioned pieces all bearing the Hershey's logo but it is much thicker and as you can see inside is a lot of caramel and some solid pieces (probably the cookie crunch part of the bar). The sections break apart fairly easily and also very quietly. Where's the crunch? The crunch happens when I bite into a section but primarily chewy it is both crunchy and sticky. The chocolate is the standard Hershey's milk chocolate, the cookies pieces while crunchy don't add that much flavor, and the caramel is primarily sweet, not tangy or buttery. This is a candy bar so I'm not surprised that it has 200 calories, half of these from fat and 19 grams of sugars.

As a candy bar this is okay but it doesn't impress me, I'm not pulled to seek it out again. Have you had one? What did you think about this newer Hershey treat?

Online Articles Consulted for this Post:

1: Biography.com article

2: The Hershey Story

3: Hershey History.org

4: Wikipedia

Monday, September 11, 2017

10 for 10 Years Makes Chocolate Walk Tradition

For 10 years the Brown County Humane Society has been inviting pet lovers and chocolate lovers to come together to help support their operations with a November event called "Chocolate Walk." For nine of those ten years, I've been going with between 1-8 other people, walking the full length over the course of a few hours, eating a lot of different chocolatey treats, and telling you all about it. But there are 10 businesses in Nashville, Indiana, that have been a spot on the map, put forth their own time, money, and many times their own chocolate creations. Today I'm going to list them and give you a few memories I have of them on the Chocolate Walk. If you have memories of your own, please do leave a comment and let us know. If you don't have your tickets, get them because they will sell out!

Hob Nob Corner Restaurant

The Candy Emporium

Nashville Fudge Kitchen

Carmel Corn Cottage

Common Grounds
Nashville Candy Store

Artist Colony Inn

Bone Appetit

Jack and Jill's Nut Shop
Ice Cream Cottage on the Right

Ice Cream Cottage is also a sponsor this year. They've won the "Best" vote for several years as well. And they deserve those "bests" because you get so many choices of treats when you are there from ice creams to hot cocoa to cookies or brownies in past years.

In another note, Crystal Jeffries of Forever Sweet is once more the official chocolatier for the event. I wonder if she'll have cupcakes again

Sunday, September 10, 2017

ShopRite Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips Recalled

Just one recall to share with you today, the second Sunday of September, 2017.

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ShopRite Real Chocolate Chips, Semi-Sweet

Wakefern Food Corp. has initiated a voluntary recall of its ShopRite brand Semi-Sweet Real Chocolate Chips. The chips were sold in 24 oz. bags bearing a UPC bar code of 041190 02668 and Best if Used By dates of April 11, 2019 and April 12, 2019.

The recall was issued because the package may contain milk chocolate chips, and milk is not declared in the ingredient statement. No illnesses have been reported but people who are allergic to milk could experience an allergic reaction if they consume the chips. No other package sizes or date codes are being recalled.

“Customers who purchased the chocolate chips may return them for an immediate refund or replacement,” said Karen Meleta, vice president of Consumer and Corporate Communications for Wakefern. “People who are not allergic to milk and those who are not concerned about consuming dairy ingredients may choose not to return the product as it is otherwise safe to eat,” she added.

The product was sold in ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer and other retail stores located throughout the Northeast. Wakefern has contacted ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer Price Plus Club customers who have purchased this product to alert them to the recall.

Customer questions or concerns about the recall can be directed to 1-800-ShopRite (1-800-746-7748) Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fuel Up September

Another product from PROBAR® today, this time from their Fuel line which are energy bars designed to get you through the afternoon without turning to junk food, too much coffee, or energy drinks. Of course since these bars are competing with the food and drinks many of us turn to as the afternoon drags on at home and work, it is fair to consider the nutritional information so we'll be including that with our full sensory review. The only Fuel flavor with chocolate is the Coconut Dream so the testing and most of the review was written by our Chocolate Coconut Acolyte, Lisa. PROBAR® sent us this free bar in exchange for an objective and honest article; no other form of compensation was received.

Lisa's experience of the Coconut Dream Fuel bar is as follows with some nutritional information inserted by your Chocolate Priestess. Opening the wrapper I don't detect any predominant scent and the bar is very soft and moist but not sticky.  Looking closely I can't really identify any particular ingredient other than nuts of some sort.  Date paste is the first ingredient on the list which explains the high sugar content (22 grams of sugar) and the lack of chocolate or coconut scent. [Other nutritional values include 3 grams saturated fat, 6 grams dietary fiber, and 3 grams protein.] Chocolate chips are listed second [on the ingredients label] but the dates overpower all the other flavors.  Almonds and cashews add a nice crunch. The chia seeds aren't visible but I like chia so I'm glad they're included. While this may be a good bar for a quick energy fix, I can't recommend it if you're looking for either chocolate or coconut in your energy bar.

As with the other products from PROBAR® you can order the Fuel line in 12 packs of a single flavor. While the Coconut Dream is the only one with chocolate, the other four flavors are also dessert themed -- Apple Pie, Blueberry Pie, Carrot Cake, and Cherry Pie. If you have had any of these five flavors of PROBAR® Fuel, please leave us a comment and let us know what you think about the bars.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

World Coconut Day Is Unreal

I bet you never thought we'd get back to more Unreal Candy,  huh? This is the wonder of the internet and publishing online: we can test samples months and months ahead of time, write up our articles and then release them at a specific date. Today is World Coconut Day, a fun food holiday created by the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC). So today we are going to look at Unreal Dark Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter Cups which I've seen in a blue bag containing 9 of them. Now I know some of you who have been reading for a while are concerned because I, Your Chocolate Priestess, has made it clear that she is not a fan of coconut. No fears, if it turned out that I couldn't objectively judge this product I shared it with 7 others who gave me their opinions. Back near Halloween 2016, Unreal through the Tryazon program sent me this bag of treats to test out, write about, and share with others; no other form of compensation was received in exchange for this honest review.

I have only seen this product in the 8 piece blue bag that I was sent; I haven't seen this in stores around me. As you can see below each individual wrapped cup has the silver wrapper we've come to associate with Unreal and the "Unreal" logo in the same color as the bag itself. This cup is the same size as the others -- 1.5 inches across and 0.25 inches thick clocking in at 80 calories but this time it has 50% fair trade certified ingredients including sunflower if that is an allergic issue for you. This includes desiccated coconut so I'm a bit concerned because what I don't like about coconut is not just flavor but the texture. That said, this is dark chocolate and there still should be peanut butter so how bad can it be?  I made a promise to you and to myself to try things made of chocolate so I try this one. The scent is not as strongly chocolate as with their other dark cups that I've tried; the chocolate coating feels less firm in my fingers as well though it does start melting very quickly. The cups makes a soft sound when I take a bite and then a light crunch as I chew. The inside is creamy and peanut buttery and quickly that flavor overtakes the initial coconut flavor as well as the texture of the shredded coconut meat. I don't find it yucky just not as wonderful as their dark chocolate peanut butter cups. What did coconut lovers I shared it with think of the cups?


The seven people I shared these with were very split in their opinions. For those, like me, who aren't big fans of coconut the flavor seemed very intense. Since I really coconut and I didn't find it too intense this was just a reminder that each person will have a unique experience with any type of food or drink. For those who like or love coconut, the flavor was "subtle" and "good" and they liked the blending of the peanut butter, coconut, and dark chocolate. Everyone appreciated that these were only 80 calories and 5 grams of sugar but agreed that each cup was much smaller than a traditional peanut butter cup.

Now you tell me, Sisters and Brothers. Have you found these and given them a try? What did you think about them? If you haven't found them, will you try to find them now?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A New Sugar Free Chocolate Option

"Sugar free" chocolates and candy has been around for decades. With the raise in diabetes a market for no-sugar treats has grown and grown. But replacing sugar with sugar alcohols or sugar substitutes can be problematic for some people as well causing digestive issues, headaches, or just tasting horrible to them. As you may recall from our interview with John Troy a couple of days ago, instead of refined cane sugar he used several different types of very intense sweeteners so that legally they didn't use enough to need to list sugar on the nutritional information. We're going to look at those sweeteners and at the resulting bar itself today. I tested it myself and with others over the course of a week and a half and what we discovered shocked us. I was sent an entire box of Macalat bars for from in exchange for testing out the product and writing as objective an article as I could; no other form of compensation was received in exchange for this piece.


Let's look at the ingredients that sweeten what is organic cacao from Peru at the 70% level of darkness. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol derived from corn, lucuma which is a fruit that is native to the same regions that cacao is, maca root from the Peruvian area, and monk fruit which is a sub tropical fruit. Many of those ingredients have been called "super foods" as has cacao itself. But we can't test those claims, only how they all work together in this bar.

I first tried this bar at the end of June and the beginning of July. I took two bars with me to a convention so I could ask several people I know who like chocolate and candy what they thought. The rest of the bars I left at home under temperature and humidity controlled storage. The eight sections the bar has were easy to snap apart and they oddly didn't make a loud sound when I did so. The scent wasn't particularly chocolate, it was oddly unfragranced so I asked a few others to give the pieces a sniff; not much scent but that's happened before with chocolate bars though generally not at anything above the 55% cacao level. There was an initial snap when I bit one in half but otherwise they were quiet to eat. The first and most dominant flavor was an intense sweetness that was a bit like caramel with an edge of cinnamon. This flavor so dominated that any chocolate required focus for me to pull out and the ending flavor I did not like. It also has a creamy and smooth texture. Half the people who tried it like it but they all thought it was a low cacao bar. The other half of us didn't like the level of sweetness and were very disappointed that at 70% we barely got any chocolate flavor or bitterness at all. But remember what John Troy said; he doesn't like chocolate.

I left the reminding bars in storage for over a month until I had a coloring party back at the beginning of August 2017. I got out two bars and broke them out to set up in case visitors wanted to try them out. I wasn't planning to try it again because I had been so disappointed a month before by the product. One guest tried it and just nodded her head but didn't have more than one piece. Another had it and shook his head and refused to eat the rest of his piece so I asked him why: too bitter, tastes like coffee. What?! At that point I had to try again and I was shocked by what the chocolate tasted like. While I didn't get a strong coffee flavor, the bar was at least 50% less sweet than it had been four weeks before. The aftertaste that I didn't like wasn't nearly as strong, the caramel flavor was more tangy, the cinnamon was still there, there was an edge of bitterness, and I could taste more of the cacao itself. It was as smooth and creamy as better. Since it had been stored well and none of the bars unwrapped this could only mean that they had undergone a chemical change on their own simply over time. That has never happened with any other product we have test here on The Chocolate Cult. That isn't a good or bad thing, just merely a result we needed to share with all of you.

While "superfoods" sound like a great idea, they like the "healthy herbs" that has been in chocolate we've been sent to review before may not improve chocolate. If you don't like chocolate, why eat it at all? If you love or even like chocolate, especially darker chocolate, you'll be disappointed in this bar. If you like very sweet milk chocolate this might work for you but it soon after you get it because the flavor changed. But be careful about the claims that this is better for you. While the nutritional label has 50 in large print for the calories, look closer. There are 4 servings in a bar, a bar at 1.6 ounce is about the size of a normal candy bar and indeed smaller than other candy bars but this still clocks in at 200 calorie per bar. I didn't have any digestive problems with the Erythritol, sugar alcohols, but then I could only eat 1 square worth at any time because of first the sweetness then the coffee like flavor.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Part 3 of Brown County Humane Society Video Tour

Finally the third part of our three part video introducing us all to the Brown County Humane Society which hosts an event we've been traveling to and reporting on for years. Buy your tickets before they sell out because this is their 10th Chocolate Walk. Please enjoy the video and leave a comment below or at YouTube.




Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Meet John Troy and Learn about His 40 Years in the Food Biz

John Troy
New players in the chocolate and candy fields come and go frequently. Today I'm going to introduce you to a man who has been part of several food trends over the decades who has recently turned his attention to chocolate in the hopes of creating a sugar-free product that is healthy without sacrificing taste. Sisters and Brothers who love Chocolate, help me welcome John Troy, the man behind Macalat which we will featuring on Saturday, August 26, 2017, for you all to learn about

Thank you for answering our questions, John.

Hi, TammyJo!

You have a long pedigree in the food industry according to the Macalat website. How did you get involved in the food industry and where were you trained?

Wizard Baldour's Power Pac
I started the food biz, in earnest, 40 years ago when I developed one of the first power bars in the seventies. It was called Wizard Baldour's Power Pac. It was a no sugar added treat that had Chia Seeds and Ginseng. It was a project to support a foundation in the healing arts called The Lindenself Foundation. It was the first food product with Ginseng. My wife, Carol, and I made a half million by hand. My career has been in developing natural and organic flavor profiles under many different brands. I never had any formal culinary training. It just came naturally. I was very much into the great food paradigm shift in the seventies. Prior to that I had a small herb and spice shop making blends and selling herbs. After the Power Pac, I got into bottling The Wizard's Hot Stuff and started The Wizard's Cauldron to develop and produce organic products for others. That started a series of over 500 new bottled organic sauces, dressings and condiments under 40 different brands from WFM 365 to Kraft Organic. I did formulating work for Dr. Atkins, too. I was nicknamed as the Organic Taste Wizard.

What was your experience with chocolate before you developed Macalat? Were you a consumer of chocolate or did you also make products using cocoa beans? Both?

I was never a chocolate person. My preference was for Vanilla. I am more interested in Cacao as a superfood. I am a superfoodie. My food career has been based around innovative organic flavor profiles using nutrient dense foods in different categories. Macalat is my only venture into chocolate. Dark chocolate never tasted good to me and I don't like eating sugar. It is a big challenge for me but a worthy one. I am impressed with the way Cacao accepts and embraces other flavors and I enjoy working with it and finding the art in it. I experimented with many flavor combos. My vision was to create an organic sugar free dark chocolate that tastes really good that even the kids love. 

How many years of experimenting did it take for you to find what you consider a good balance of the various ingredients you use? Did you use test consumers in your process?

I am more focused on the resulting flavor, superfood ingredients, and their benefits than on company infrastructure or being a chocolatier. I had to learn how to make chocolate and then do it without sugar. I researched Cacao in depth. I traveled to Peru and Amsterdam to the Chocoa Conference for even deeper insights. It took two and a half years and over 100 batches and many different ingredient combinations to be happy with the Macalat formula. I have a test market scenario with the local food co-op and a hand full of food outlets in Asheville. I also do the store tastings, myself, for receiving direct feedback. I did a couple of blind taste tests in recent tweaks. The last tweak is the organic mushroom extract. It takes the bite out of the bitter as it melts in your mouth for a nicer finish. The bitter is a distraction from the exotic Cacao flavors. I get a lot of feedback from the customer reviews on our website

Lucuma
Your Macalat bears boast of having zero sugar you also use Lucama and Monk Fruit. Don't they have natural sugars in them?

Yes, they contain natural sugars. However, I use small enough increments so that the inherent sugars do not add up enough above zero to declare. Monk Fruit is more a sweet flavor than an actual sweetener. Lucuma is a flavor, too. In fact, Lucuma is the favorite flavor of ice cream in Peru. It outsells both Vanilla and Chocolate. Lucuma has a similar action as milk in milk chocolate. 

The Mushroom extract helps reduce the need for sugar. Looking at the formulation, systemically, reducing the need for sugar is the first step. The Mycelium used comes from the stem of the mushroom and works its magic on the tongue modulating the distracting bitter peaks in the finish. This functionality reduces the need for sugar. Maca is another flavor that enhances the malted notes. It is the synergy and equilibration of all these superfood flavors that bring out the succulent taste of Macalat.

 Do you hand make your chocolate?

I start with Cacao liquor or Mass. The Cacao beans are already roasted and winnowed and the fat cell walls have been broken to allow fluidity. I can't do that part nearly as well as the larger, more sophisticated facilities. I warm the Cacao liquor, add the other ingredients and grind in artisan wet grinders for 60 hours. I then temper and hand ladle them into the molds to set. 

Artisan Grinders for Chocolate

I hand wrap each one in metal foil and then in a sleeve. The foil prevents the chocolate from absorbing outside aromas.

You use single origin Peruvian Criollo Cacao in your chocolate. (For readers who may not know, Criollo beans are considered the finest on the market) Do you have a direct relationship with the farmers you get the beans from?

No. I source from a Cacao importer who sources the cacao from village co-ops in Peru. 

The ingredients you use are organic, do you have direct relationships with those farmers?

No, most ingredients come from Peru and China. The Vanilla comes from Madagascar.

Before you developed Macalat, what was your favorite chocolate brand?

I did not have a favorite Chocolate brand. I have been Paleo or sugar free for a couple of decades. It turned out that I made my favorite brand.

Finally, where do you hope Macalate will be in five years?

I am going with what wants to happen. I do know that sugar is the elephant in the chocolate room. People who are paying attention to diet and self help do not want more sugar. My goal, as a pioneer in organic flavor profiles, is the get the sugar out and still serve up a delicious Cacao treat as well as a wholesome organic superfood. Right now, it is a very small enterprise that I enjoy in a hands-on way, immensely. Who knows what may happen? The magic has worked with me so far. I think I will just trust it. 

 Thank you for answering our questions, John. Sisters and Brother in Chocolate, please leave additional questions in the comments if we missed a question you still have.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Enjoy Back to School with Baked Chewy Bars

We've looked at some Enjoy Life Foods products since last October and most of those have been chocolate chips either to use in recipes or in individual snack packs. Today we are going to look at their Baked Chewy Bar line of products. They sent us three flavors (Caramel Blondie, Carrot Cake, and Lemon Blueberry Poppy Seed) but only one (Caramel Blondie) has chocolate in any form (chocolate chips) as an ingredient so we'll go into depth about it and just show you the others. These three new flavors join the previous four varieties of Baked Chewy Bars. I have not tried their Choco Loco version yet so I will not be comparing the Caramel Blondie to it in any way. If you have tried any of these flavors of Enjoy Life Foods' Baked Chewy Bars, please do leave us a comment and let us know what you thought about them. As with all of Enjoy Life Foods products these are free of the top 8 allergens, certified gluten-free and non-GMO. The three packs with five bars each were sent to us for free in exchange for this article; no other form of compensation was received for this honest and as objective as possible article you are about to read.

The Caramel Blondies are 100% blondie because they have chocolate chips in them but when I've made blondies I've always added in either chocolate or butterscotch chips so I don't mind at all. The bars are smaller than most similar bars I've tried but still come in at 160 calories a piece. The sweet caramel scent is the first thing I noticed when I opened the sleeve to take one out. There are a few tiny chocolate chips visible but I hope there are more under the surface. The chips are made from unsweetened chocolate and include cocoa butter as well. The bars are soft, they make no noise when you take a bite. The various flours and ingredients make this very textured and really dampen down the sweetness. The chocolate I'm not tasting at all though I see more mini chips inside of it. That's disappointing because blondies don't need chocolate chips so if you add them, make them stand out in the bar. Even the caramel essence that I smelled is dampened down.

The other two new varieties -- Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed and Carrot Cake -- have 150 calories per bar. Neither have chocolate of any type but I did try them and had 7 others try them with me. Both tasted like their names which is good. People who tried them with me liked them but they didn't love them.

This is the first disappointing article about Enjoy Life Foods here on The Chocolate Cult. This is also the first non-baking chocolate or simply chocolate snack product we've tried from them. I am still curious to see what the Choco Loco bars are like. I have to agree with the folks who helped me test them out that liking these bars was not enough to make us buy them again and again but we wouldn't turn them down if offered them or there was a really good sale. If you have tried any of these three flavors, please leave a comment and tell us about your experience with them.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Visiting BCHS with The Chocolate Priestess Part 2

As promised here is the second part of our three part video introducing us all to the Brown County Humane Society. Buy your tickets before they sell out because this is their 10th Chocolate Walk. I hope you enjoy it and if you did please leave us a comment here or on YouTube.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

E. Coli and Mislabeling Cause Chocolate Recalls

Two recalls to share today -- one on cake and one on ice cream. Sounds like a birthday combination to me! That might be because this time of year is heavy on the birthdays in my household. Neither of these recalls apply to me personally but I know they might affect some of you. Ready? Here we go for the recalls.

---------- Recalls Involving Chocolate ----------

Schnucks Bakery Mislabeled Cakes

Schnucks Bakery, a St. Louis, Mo. establishment, is issuing an allergy alert on 13 German Chocolate Cakes labeled as “Schnucks Bakery Deluxe Petite Cake Chocolate Iced Yellow” that contain pecans that are not listed on the ingredient label. Those with an allergy or severe sensitivity to pecans run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.
The cakes are approximately one pound in weight, packaged in small plastic cake domes and were sold in 12 Schnucks retail stores in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Please see below for a complete list of affected stores.

Customers are urged to check for:

German Chocolate Cake Labeled as “Schnucks Bakery Deluxe Petite Cake Chocolate Iced Yellow”
UPC: 41318 31168, Sell By Date: 8/12/17 – 8/14/17


The mislabeling was brought to the company’s attention by an employee. There have been no reports of illness associated with consumption of this product to date.

Schnucks Customers who purchased the affected product from Schnucks Bakery departments are encouraged to return it to their store of purchase for a full refund. Those with questions regarding the recall should contact the Schnucks Consumer Affairs department at 314-994-4400, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. CDT. Media with questions can contact Paul Simon, Schnucks senior communications specialist, at 314-994-4603.

Schnucks stores affected by this recall:


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The Comfy Cow is recalling pints of Banana Puddin Y’all, 

Chocolate Squared 

Comfy Cow Chocolate Squared

Cookies and Cream

Comfy Cow Cookies and Cream

Cow Trax
 
Comfy Cow Cow Trax
Double Fold Vanilla, Georgia Butter Pecan

Intense Dark Chocolate

Comfy Cow Intense Dark Chocolate

Salted Caramel, Strawberry Fields Forever due to a potential contamination of E. coli. E. coli bacteria can cause diarrhea and dehydration. Most people who are infected recover, but the bacteria can be deadly.

On 07/19/2017 the firm was notified through internal firm product sample testing that pints of Banana Puddin Y’all, Chocolate Squared2, Cookies and Cream, Cow Trax, Double Fold Vanilla, Georgia Butter Pecan, Intense Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Strawberry Fields Forever were either positive for E. coli or showed high counts of coliform.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

Products affected are:


The products were distributed between 06/13/2017 and 07/21/2017.  These products were packaged in pint containers and sold primarily in retail stores located in the States of: Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, and Tennessee.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or they may discard the product. Consumers with questions may contact the production facility at 502-384-2556, M-F, 9am-3pm EST.

This recall is being made with the knowledge of the Food and Drug Administration.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Back to School Gluten Free and Chocolatey

We've talked about Jovial Foods previously here on The Chocolate Cult but I've been saving this feature article for now as children (and some adults) head back to school. Some students and teachers still pack lunches to take with us and many of those same folks find they are hungry after classes hours before dinnertime. Within those categories of folks looking for treats or snacks, are those who follow a gluten-free diet for various reasons. Chocolate bars shouldn't have gluten; if yours does, toss that out! But chocolatey cookies are another matter and cookies are a common item to include in lunches or use as after school snacks. Jovial offers Gluten Free Chocolate Cream Filled Cookies for those trying to find a treat to meet their desires. They sent us three free boxes of this product in exchange for us testing out and reporting on our experiences with the treat; no other form of compensation was received.

Unlike the previous cookies we looked at from Jovial, these are not made with einkorn but do include organic rice flour, organic chick pea flour, and organic buckwheat flour; these cookies are sort of "gluten free" certified at less than 10PPM. Only you can know your tolerance for gluten. It also includes organic hazelnuts so be aware if you have these food allergies. Most importantly for us is the organic cocoa on the ingredient list. The cookie outside is a crisp but not dry nor hard cocoay dome. It made a loud crunch when I took a bite and continued to make such sounds as I chewed. I could not break it in half with my hands but a sharp knife worked as you can see in our photo to the left. Inside is a pudding like center that has a very light hazelnut flavor but is strongly chocolate. Not too sweet this was enjoyed by everyone I shared them with.

But how is this a back to school treat? Two cookies equal a serving of 160 calories so less than the standard candy bar you might be tempted to pack. They come two to a plastic sleeve so you can easily portion control and protect the cookies at the same time. While these are tasty there are some ingredients that made me frown. The company spends a lot of time boosting about organic this and farm-raised that but it also uses palm oil. I don't care how "environmentally responsible" you might think the company you are buying palm oil from is, it all contributes to deforestation when there are many other oil alternatives you could use including cocoa butter itself or simply more of the other oils and fats on the ingredient list. There always alternatives and it was disappointing to see palm oil listed on these otherwise wonderful treats.

For flavor and portability these are excellent choices and earn Sacrament Status... now get rid of the palm oil, Jovial Foods, and you can be at the top of our 2017 list of products!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Are You Ready for the 10th Annual Chocolate Walk?

In just three months, I and a few others will meet up in Nashville, Indiana, for a charity event we've been doing for 8 years. The Brown County Humane Society's Chocolate Walk. This year marks the 10th year they've been organizing this event. In honor of that, I recently went to their headquarters to check them out, interview people there, and highlight some of the pets up for adoption in a rare video interview here on The Chocolate Cult. My visit resulted in a nice video that I've broken into three parts so you aren't overwhelmed. Today we'll look at part one and then over the next two weeks, the other two parts. I hope you enjoy it and leave comments either here or on YouTube.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

S'Mores Flashback

Today in honor of National S'Mores Day my family will be making s'mores after dinner. For now, I want to share some memories from previous s'mores articles here on The Chocolate Cult.  Wow, we've done a lot with s'mores over the years, haven't we? Enjoy!

Sterno S'Mores Kit



S'Mores PopTarts









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