Saturday, July 22, 2017

Celebrate National Cheesecake Day Tomorrow

August 30th will be National Cheesecake Day so in honor of that and to give you time to check out this product we were sent, we are looking at a cheesecake dessert early. We don't create a lot of videos on The Chocolate Cult, in fact if you check our fee schedule, it is the most expensive service we offer. But when we do we post it on our founder's YouTube and here as well. In case you haven't seen the video yet, check it out here. We were sent this box of Bouchard Chocolate's Cheesecake Bites through the Tomoson program along with a minor charge in exchange for this video on YouTube, a couple of mentions on Facebook, and on Instagram. This blog post is a complete freebie to them. No other form of compensation was received in exchange for sharing my experience with the product.

If you like what you see, you can order it a few ways.


Or through Amazon where you'll also be giving back to The Chocolate Cult when you use that link.

Friday, July 21, 2017

National Junk Food Day 2017

Today is a Fun Food Holiday.

National Junk Food Day!

My favorite are Reese's Mini Cups.

What are your chocolatey junk food favorites? 
Leave a comment and let us know.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Chocolate Related Recalls July 16th 2017

A couple of recalls to share with you today. Please click on their links to get full information.

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

Recall of Incorrectly Labeled Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Bars

This one is a bit complicated, so please read carefully.

Coborn's, Inc. of St. Cloud, Minn. is recalling packages of its Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Bars, some of which were incorrectly labeled as Gluten Free Fudge Brownies. The Gluten Free Fudge Brownie label does not indicate the product contains milk, however the Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Bars that are incorrectly labeled as Gluten Free Fudge Brownies do contain milk. People who have allergies to milk run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The recalled products were distributed and sold at Coborn's and Cash Wise stores in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as Marketplace Foods stores in Wisconsin, and Coborn's Delivers in the Twin Cities Metro area. An internal review found a limited number of packages were sold. These products were sold between July 4, 2017 and July 6, 2017 and list an expiration date of July 10, 2017. Products with an expiration date of July 10, 2017 are the only products affected. The UPC is 7-33147-20522-8. Guests who are allergic to milk should destroy this product or return it to the store where it was purchased for a full refund.

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

The recall was initiated July 6 after it was discovered the Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Brownies were incorrectly labeled with a Gluten Free Brownie label. The problem has since been corrected and all packages going forward will contain the correct label.

Consumers with questions may contain the MORE Rewards Helpline at 1-844-700-MORE (6673).

Recall of Precision Blend Cookies and Cream

Biohealth Nutrition of San Dimas, CA is recalling Precision Blend Cookies & Cream because product labels failed to declare the food allergen, wheat.

People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to wheat run the risk of a life threatening allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, that requires immediate medical attention should they consume products containing allergens.

Precision Blend Cookies & Cream comes in 2 Lb. and 4 Lb. white plastic canisters with blue lettering and an image of two dark cookies filled with cream in the bottom front panel.

Biohealth Nutrition immediately segregated its entire inventory of Precision Blend Cookies & Cream product and is notifying consumers and customers not to consume them. Biohealth Nutrition wants to ensure its products are safe. Consequently, in addition to its ongoing cooperation with the California Department of Public Health, Biohealth nutrition is voluntarily recalling all Precision Blend Cookies & Cream products from its customers. Consumers in possession of these products should not eat them, rather product should be returned to the place of purchase.

Biohealth Nutrition will be sending recall notices to all of its direct customers. Please contact your sales account representative at (866) 960-8789 or by email at for further information.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Happy National Gelato Day 2017!

In July we like to look at frozen treats but when companies and brands aren't interested we just keep bringing you other products. While today is National Gelato Day, I'm bringing you that tasty treat in a more solid form with two flavors from TCHO, a brand we've been honored to test and write several times over the years. The two flavors are Mint Chip Gelato and Toffee + Sea Salt. These are flavors we have not looked at before on this blog, I double checked before getting them. I got these flavors at my local Super Target using two Free coupons I was sent from TCHO just because as part of a promotion; this feature article will be a surprise to them. Obviously since this article is a surprise to the brand, no other form of compensation was received.

Since it is National Gelato Day we'll look at the Mint Chip Gelato Bar first. This is a 64% cacao bar that weighs 2.5 oz or 70 grams. It clocks in at 420 calories. Even though it is dark chocolate there is milk and cream from the "freeze dried gelato" in it. It also has organic dark chocolate made of cacao beans and cocoa butter -- the "beans" ingredient is odd, usually I see chocolate liquor or chocolate mass isted. When I unwrapped it there was a gold foil inside wrapper as well under the green paper. The bar as you can see has visible white pieces which must be the gelato itself. As with all of the TCHO bars of this size, the brand logo takes up two squares in what would otherwise be a nine square bar. The only fragrance was the darker chocolate however. The bar made no sound with a bite but there was a soft crunch with each chew. The first and dominant flavor is the dark chocolate, very smooth, then a slightly creamy and mint flavor. The mint flavor and cooling sensation built up with each chew but never overpowered the chocolate. I really liked it and my co-tester liked it a lot as well.

The Toffee + Sea Salt Bar is a milk chocolate bar because it has whole milk powder and non-fat milk powder but don't let that fool you because the label also says 53% cacao. This contains cacao beans and cocoa butter. This also has soy, rice syrup, and coconut oil in case you have allergies to any of those ingredients. As you can see in the photo, compared to the previous bar in this feature the toffee pieces are very small and sparse. The paper wrapper has a very good look to it with the brown nicely showing off mounts of toffee and a little chocolate but let's see if the toffee is the dominant flavor. The fragrance is very light chocolate with a hint of something but it isn't definitively buttery or salty or sweet. The pieces of the bar break apart with a soft snap. There are more pieces of toffee than the cross sections show because every bite is crunchy. The initial flavor is a smooth slightly creamy chocolate followed by a little butter and an increasing amount of saltiness before a buttery tang becomes the final flavor. This is good but I was expecting less salt and more chocolate even though the photo clearly showed me to expect what I got.

So tell me, what new flavors of TCHO have you tried recently? Have you had these two flavors?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

CLIF Bars Recalls

Just one brand's recall to share today but it is a product available around the USA and one many of you may be familiar with. Please check it out and protect yourself.

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

CLIF Bars Recall

Clif Bar & Company is initiating a voluntary recall of CLIF® BUILDER'S® Bar Chocolate Mint flavor, and CLIF Kid Zbar® Protein Chocolate Mint and CLIF Kid Zbar® Protein Chocolate Chip flavors due to possible presence of undeclared peanuts and some tree nuts, including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts and coconuts. Clif Bar & Company is taking this precautionary safety step for people who are allergic to peanuts and these listed tree nuts. People with an allergy to peanuts and these specific tree nuts run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction. The company is strongly advising consumers who have peanut and these specific tree nut allergies not to consume these bars.

Individuals who are not allergic to peanuts or these specific tree nuts may safely consume the products.

The affected products are sold in retail stores and online throughout the U.S.

Clif Bar discovered this issue when it received a small number of consumer complaints alleging peanut or tree nut allergic reactions. There are no confirmed illnesses associated with this recall.

The voluntary recall applies to products in all pack sizes and individual bars meeting the criteria found in the attached table. The affected “Best By” dates can be found on the back of individual packaging or caddies.

No other Clif Bar & Company products, pack sizes, flavors or ‘Best By’ date codes are affected.

The company is asking consumers to return product to the store where purchased to request an exchange or full refund if there is an allergy concern. Affected product should then be discarded in a secure place and not consumed.

For more information please visit here or contact 866-526-1970.

Clif Bar & Company cares deeply about the health and safety of consumers. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Celebrate National Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day

I grew up with Hershey products. I remember one illness I had as a child where I couldn't keep any food down for a week and my father brought a six pack of Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars and I was able to keep half of one down, then a full one, then all of them over the course of 24 hours. That might have been coincidence, the illness might have been over by then, but that experience imprinted on my mind. As I've worked with The Chocolate Cult I've grown to appreciate a much wider range of chocolate products but I'd be lying if I said I still didn't have a soft spot for Hershey's. So today in honor of the fun food holiday, National Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day, I'm looking at Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds bar. I got this bar free with my Kroger loyalty card; no other form of compensation was received for this post.

The Milk Chocolate with Almonds bar has been around for over a century. It was first introduced around 1908 but my sources varied in this regard. The success of this milk chocolate bar with added almonds was followed over a decade later by candy bars with other fillings in the Hershey family.

Today the bars come in at 1.45 ounces or 41 grams with 210 calories. The size of the bar and the prices have changed over the years. This says "Hershey's" on the top and has visible almond pieces on the bottom. These are not tiny pieces but also not full nuts. The scent is basically what I expect from Hershey's milk chocolate -- sweet edge, touch of creaminess, and a strong cocoa scent; not almond scent until I break the bar open. The almonds have a roasted fragrance and a taste, no salt flavor at all. The chocolate is as it smelled, creamy, sweet, and chocolatey. The nuts take the longest to chew so they end up as the initial and the final flavor, outlasting the milk chocolate itself. From memory I think I've liked the dark chocolate better because there the dark chocolate competes more strongly for dominance.

For all of the crap chocolate connaisseurs give big name candy companies like Hershey's this bar is basically chocolate with almonds and sunflower oil... the last is the big problem for me because unless it is cocoa butter and fat in dairy, I really don't think it needed to be added to any type of chocolate. There are many ways you could celebrate today such as making your own milk chocolate with almonds treats, candies, and chocolate, but Hershey's is still an option.

Tell me, readers, when was the last time you had a Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds?

Three websites were consulted for the historical information about this bar:

Old Time Candy

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Past Patriot Chocolates

If you are American, and the majority of our readers are, then today may hold a special place in your heart: The Fourth of July! To celebrate we're going to look back and some "patriot" chocolate we've covered these past 9 years.

Uncle Sam's Chocolate Factory is the big patriot chocolate we've covered.

Special Dark Chocolate Bar

Uncle Sam's Almond Butter Crunch

Uncle Sam's Truffles

We've also looked at Walnettos.

But isn't much patriot chocolate for all of big claims about patriotism in the USA. Come on, brands, companies, and chocolate makers! Send us your creations to share with the world.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

PROBAR® Chocolate Nut Butter Blends

PROBAR Organic Nut Butter Blends
Next Saturday we'll celebrate a Fun Food Holiday (Milk Chocolate with Almonds) but we had a related product from PROBAR® to reveal to you so I thought we'd look at a line of nut butters, including an almond nut butter, over the pre-Fourth of July weekend. PROBAR® promotes their Nut Butter as "The Spreadable Bar" and " Simply Real®" on their website so ingredients will be of interest today and highlighted in our reviews as well how we spread on various foods to test it out. One of the two varieties were were sent used coffee so I had help with today's article from our Mocha Acolyte, Elizabeth. We were sent free samples of two PROBAR Nut Butters in exchange for an object and honest article; no other form of compensation was received.

PROBAR Koka Moka
The Koka Moka with Caffeine is one of four nut butters with Yerba Mate Caffeine; all of these are almond butters, too. This made me curious about whether or not Elizabeth would get a buzz from the spread, too. Let's read what she experienced. The package says knead and squeeze prior to opening - they mean it!! I didn't do it enough, so it came out oily and I had to mix it with the knife to get everything mixed nicely. Smelled more like almonds than chocolate or coffee. It has a gritty texture to it when you first try it. It tasted like other almond butters I have had, with hints of chocolate and coffee. Stronger chocolate than coffee. It is nice on it's own, but I like apples and peanut butter. So, I tried it that way also. It was really good. Seems like this was a winner for Elizabeth but no caffeine buzz reported. In terms of ingredients, it is made with  12 ingredients in total, all of them recognizational food and flavors, and labeled Organic.

PROBAR Chocolate Peanut Butter
I have the Chocolate Peanut Butter and it has 8 ingredients on the label, again all recognizational food and flavors, and labeled Organic, Gluten-Free, and Non-GMO. Following Elizabeth's advice, I knead this really well, working the stiffest section into the rest before opening it. I could still a bit of the graininess. By itself, this is very sweet, shockingly sweet in fact. I can taste peanut butter and chocolate but this is more sweet than I expect for 4 grams of sugars in one pouch. I go back to the pouch and see why this is so sweet -- dates! I thought about trying this on apples but given the sweetness that will just be too much for me so I turn to "English Muffins" which are an American product that will be weird to our readers in the UK. It spreads well over two halves of the bread. Oddly I'm not getting much of a scent from this butter blend but the taste is powerful. On the bread the peanut and chocolate come out more strongly but it is still super sweet. I wouldn't recommend putting the entire pouch of blend on just one other food item unless you really like sweet things. Me? Remember that in general the darker the chocolate the better I'll like it. I can burn out on sweet.

Nutritionally these are on par with traditional peanut butter and depending on the brand you get it may be better. Nutritionally this is better than most of the chocolate and nut butter blends I've tried in the past but these are just so darned sweet! When I poked around the PROBAR® website I discovered there are 10 varieties of Nut Butters and they are sold in packs of 10! You might recall that the other products we've looked at from PROBAR® are sold in 12 packages. I've seen other brands sell similar products in individual serving sizes like these as singles or packs so if you've found that to be the case in the wide selection of brick and mortar stores where you can find PROBAR products, please leave a comment and let us know where and what varieties. Remember we are always interested in your experiences of the products we're talking about and we love your comments so please leave some.

Friday, June 30, 2017

July Holidays Taste Better with Chocolate

Doing this monthly chocolate holiday calendar a day early since tomorrow is a Saturday and we have our Sacrament article that day. The month revolves around ice cream but there are two historical events as well. Leave us a comment and tell us which of these fun and serious holidays you'll celebrate with Chocolate during July 2017.

July = National Ice Cream Month

July 1 = Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day -- What is the most creative flavor of ice cream have you ever tried?

July 3 = National Chocolate Wafer Day

July 5 = National Graham Cracker Day

July 7 = Chocolate Day

July 8 = National Chocolate with Almonds Day

July 9 = National Sugar Cookie Day

July 12 = National Pecan Pie Day

July 14 = Bastille Day

Third Sunday in July = National Ice Cream Day

July 21 = National Junk Food Day

July 23, 1904 first ice cream cones used at the World's Fair in St. Louis

1904 World's Fair Map
July 25 = National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

July 28 = National Milk Chocolate Day

July 30 = National Cheesecake Day

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Are Chocolate and Protein the Base of Your Diet?

Today is our last PROBAR® feature article here on The Chocolate Cult. There are many types of bars we've looked at in the first half of 2017 -- fiber, cereal, meal replacement, snack, and energy are just a few. BASE is a line of energy bars from PROBAR®. Each of the four varieties we were sent has 20 grams of protein. Some of the bar also have caffeine from "yerba mate" – this is a holly type of plant which has been used in beverages in southern South America for centuries. As with other PROBAR® products, these are also Non GMO Project verified and certified gluten-free. While each of these BASE bars have a lot of protein and a good amount of fiber, they also have a lot of sugar from various sources that make up the bulk of the first 10 ingredients on the label.  I'll be more specific about how the bars differ in terms of caffeine and other ingredient and nutritional information later in this review. I am using the information printed on the labels in this review, not the information on the PROBAR® website; sometimes they differed. The three flavors we'll look at today are Chocolate Bliss, Cookie Dough, and Peanut Butter Chocolate – Chocolate SuperGreens bar has been discontinued. If you have tried any of these four varieties, please leave us a comment and tell us about your experience with it. PROBAR® sent these BASE products to The Chocolate Cult for free in exchange for us testing them out and writing as objectively as possible about them; no other form of compensation was received. 

PROBAR® BASE Chocolate Bliss
PROBAR® BASE Chocolate Bliss has 55 mg of caffeine, 4 grams fiber, 16 grams sugar, and 6 grams saturated fat as well as the 20 grams of protein each of the BASE bars has. The first cacao related ingredient shows up as the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 20th ingredient on the label out of 25 ingredients and include unsweetened chocolate, cocoa processed with alkali, cocoa, and cocoa butter. That's a lot of ingredients but then this bar does not claim to be organic or simple. Once out of the wrapper it looks like a lot of other energy bars though a bit large at 2.46 ounces (70 grams). It has a cocoa and soy scent to it and yes, it does have soy if you are allergic to that. I used a sharp knife to cut it open for our photo and it was firm and made crunchy sounds while I cut it. Inside you can see it has two main layers – the bottom is crunchy looking and darker while the top is about the looks to be much like the coating of the bar. The inside has a stronger soy scent. Biting into is loud and it remains crunchy. The bottom layer is very crunchy but the top reveals itself to be basically a thick layer of the coating. It does have a cocoa flavor to it but also a very strong soy flavor but they blend together well. The bar is very dry and it dries my mouth out a bit. It does make me feel a bit buzzed and that is probably from the caffeine because I am not used to consuming caffeine beyond a couple of milligrams a day. Nope, not a tea or coffee drinker; that's why we have special Acolytes for those products!
PROBAR® BASE Cookie Dough

PROBAR® BASE Cookie Dough bar looks like cookie down in the top layer -- light colored with tiny chocolate chips visible in it. The bottom layer isn't solid as in the two previous bars but it has both dark and light colored pieces. Cutting the bar in half revealed that it should be as crunchy as the two previous bars, too. Before cutting it in half the scent was very sweet and soybean heavy, not much chocolate; there was even less chocolate fragrance once it was cut in half and I took a whiff from the inside. Nutritionally this has 10 more calories but I'm not see other big changes in the values on the label. Of course this has soybeans again but this also has almonds for those of you with tree nut allergies. Cacao related ingredients are way down on the list at 11th, 13th, 19th, and 21st and include unsweetened chocolate, cocoa processed with alkali, cocoa, and cocoa butter. Even though the texture is crunchy and a bit dry it does not dry out my mouth as much as the previous bars probably because this has less cacao related ingredients. The flavor isn't as soybean intense as I thought it might be, it does have a dough-like taste but the chocolate and cocoa is barely noticeable. However the name doesn't push the chocolate aspect so I'm not too disappointed.
PROBAR® BASE Peanut Butter Chocolate

Finally we get to the PROBAR® BASE Peanut Butter Chocolate which has both peanuts and soybeans if those are allergies for you. The cacao related ingredients are cocoa (11th), cocoa processed with alkali (17th), and unsweetened chocolate (18th). This has a very strong peanut fragrance, simply peanuts, not a sweetness very common in most mainstream peanut butters and products using it. The coating on top of this bar looks smoother to my eyes and it does not really smell like cocoa or chocolate. Cutting it open makes little sound yet inside I see the two layers -- top looks like peanut butter the bottom is the dark and light pieces of what was crunchy in the other bars. I take a bite and there is a light crunch but this bar is softer compared to the previous one. I can taste the agave syrup in this bar and that ingredient was in previous bars but I couldn't pick it out; it adds an odd flavor that I'm not a big fan of. This bar does not dry out my mouth at all, the top layer is creamy and there really isn't a chocolate or cocoa flavor. I do know that the amount of cocoa in any product can affect how much it may dry out your mouth. 

When I first started the testing for this article I noticed the 55 mg of caffeine in the Chocolate Bliss so I expected that from the other varieties but that was not the case. Why? Why put caffeine in the one bar but not the others? I'm not understanding given these are all the same line of products. But it isn't the caffeine that makes the Chocolate Bliss bar my favorite variety of these PROBAR® BASE bars, it is the fact that the chocolate is a stronger flavor. I might get that bar or the Cookie Dough one in the future.

We close out this PROBAR® BASE feature and that also ends are PROBAR® features for now. Perhaps we'll have other products from them in the future if they add more chocolate to their line up of products.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Chocolate Related Recalls for June 18, 2017

Some recalls involving chocolate, cocoa, or cocoa butter for you all today, Sunday, June 18, 2017. Remember to follow the links for the full information and to follow the FDA and brand instructions if you have a product that you cannot safely use.

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

Collagen Protein Fudge Brownie Bars
Collagen Protein Bars and Bites Recalls

Bulletproof 360, Inc. (“Bulletproof”) of Bellevue, Washington is recalling five Collagen Protein Bar and Bite products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The affected products were distributed between April 7, 2017 and June 12, 2017 in retail stores nationally and on to customers nationally and internationally in the following countries: Australia, Bahrain, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Finland, France, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Virgin Islands (USA). Products are identified with the following information:

Collagen Protein Fudge Brownie Bites
HVF, Inc. supplied the cashew butter used as an ingredient in the above Bulletproof Collagen Bars and Bites. The affected equipment was not used to process the cashew butter contained in BulletproofCollagen Bars and Bites; however, testing at HVF’s facility found Listeria contamination in another part of the facility.

No other Bulletproof products, including Bulletproof Collagen Powder, are affected or are involved in this recall. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Bulletproof will quickly be shipping replacement Collagen Protein Bars and Bites freshly made with a new cashew butter supplier.

Bulletproof is informing all of its retailers and distributors of this recall, and is making every effort to contact customers who recently purchased Collagen Protein Bars or Bites from the lots listed above to inform them of the recall, and to facilitate the return or destruction of any unused product.

Customers should not eat any Collagen Protein Bars or Bites that are subject to the recall, and should return them to Bulletproof. Customers will receive a full replacement or store credit.

If you have any questions or concerns related to Bulletproof’s Collagen Protein Bars or Bites, please contact a Bulletproof Customer Service Representative by calling 1-425-434-9704 Monday through Friday, from 9AM-5PM PDT.

Thrive gomacro bar

Almond supplier may have exposed ingredient to Listeria monocytogenes.

GoMacro, of Viola, Wis., is recalling a limited number of MacroBars and Thrive Bars because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recalled MacroBars and Thrive Bars were distributed across the country and internationally via retail stores, mail orders and direct delivery.

On June 14, 2017, GoMacro was notified by its supplier of almonds, an ingredient in specific MACROBARS and THRIVE BARS, that the ingredient has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The supplier notified GoMacro of this recall due to an expansion of a previous recall. No contamination has been reported to have occurred in any of these products, nor have any illnesses been reported to date. In the interest of abundant caution, GoMacro is recalling the following products and lots:

gomacro bar
The lot number and best by dates are found on the side panel of the product near the UPC.
The almond supplier has recalled all products made in their facility during the time of potential contamination. The only potentially affected ingredient supplied to GoMacro was one lot of almonds. Retailers and distributors who received the recalled lots have been contacted and asked to pull these lots from their inventory and shelves. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

everlasting joy bar from gomacro
“Even though there is no indication of contamination in our product, GoMacro puts the consumer at the forefront of every decision we make. We offer this voluntary recall in the interest of protecting the health of the consumer,” GoMacro CEO Jola Sonkin said.

If you have any questions our Director of Operations, Tony Saarem, is available by phone, Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM (CST) at (608)-627-2310 or email at

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Booze, Chocolate, and Toffee

7 Flavors of Mel's Toffee
A while ago, our Chocolate Coconut Acolyte told our Facebook page about a discover of hers -- Mel's Toffee. We cover a few of their flavor on this date and today we return to look at four other varieties of toffee. These four flavors – Dark Horse Chocolate Raspberry Toffee, Maple Bourbon Pecan, Right Brain CEO Stout, and Coconut Almond – all partly get their flavors from various alcohols so I asked our Coconut, Alcohol, and Mocha Acolytes to help me test them. We met one Saturday morning and tasted them using our standard testing methods. I only sampled two varieties so most of this article will be drawn from the experiences of my three assistants that morning – Elizabeth, Lisa, and Cindy. All of these toffees soy and milk if those are allergens for you; I'll list other allergens as we look at specific flavors. Made with real butter, these are not vegan products if that is a concern for you as well. I was sent one bag of each of the four flavors we're covering today for free from Mel's Toffee in exchange for a fair and honest review; no other form of compensation was received.

Mel's Toffee Coconut Almond Toffee
We started with the Coconut Almond which gets part of its flavor from Arcadia Aleo's Cocoa Loco, a Triple Chocolate Stout. Since I'm not a fan of coconut, I didn't taste this toffee; if you have a coconut allergen this has both coconut oil and flakes. These are toffee pieces that are dark in color, oddly incandescent one of the tester commented, with pieces of nuts and coconut flakes as well as dark chocolate drizzle. The fragrance was similar to coconut shortbread but not much chocolate. It is very solid and crunchy yet dissolves in the mouth and it only made a soft sound when the testers bit into a piece. Any of this toffee that stuck on the teeth also quickly dissolved. The taste was buttery and sweet coconut but the amount of chocolate varied greatly, the testers only got chocolate when they bit into a drizzled line. However while the toffee is called "Coconut Almond" none of the three testers tasted any of the nuts even though they could see them. It was the flavor differences from the title that led to a remarked different in final opinions about this flavor -- one would buy it, one would eat if again if offer, but one was disappointed and wouldn't have it again.

Mel's Toffee Right Brain CEO Stout Toffee
Right Brain CEO Stout is made from a stout brewed with coffee beans so I sat out this tasting as well since I hope you all recall how much I hate coffee. This toffee also include Oreo crumbs which means it has wheat, I know some of you avoid wheat. It was difficult to zoom in close enough and still show you the label but I think you can make out the Oreo crumbs on the top of this varieties' pieces. Click on the photo to get a closer look if you like. The toffee itself was lighter in color so the drizzle and the crumbs stand out more. This had a very strong coffee fragrance. These piece broke apart more easily when the three testers tried them and therefore the crunch they made was softer when they bit into them and as they chewed them. It was also not as sticky as the first variety had been. In terms of flavor the coffee was the strongest element followed by stout, buttery sweetness, and then some chocolate if you bit into the drizzles. The Oreo crumbs added a bit to the texture but not so much to the flavor. None of the three testers would buy this variety again because they really wanted more from the Oreo crumbs and the chocolate to counter the coffee's intensity.

Mel's Toffee Maple Bourbon Pecan
Maple Bourbon Pecan is made with Jim Beam Maple. In terms of allergens, both pecans and graham crackers (wheat) are on the ingredients list. This toffee is slightly darker in color so the chocolate drizzle doesn't stand out as well in the photo. The scent is strongly maple and bourbon with hints of graham crackers for one tester; one tester thought the maple fragrance had a strong smokey quality to it as well which a couple of us thought was a lot like bacon. This was as solid as the first toffee but stickier, a lot sticker on our teeth. It made a snapping soft that ranged from soft to sharp depending on the tester and the thickness of the piece they had. All four of us tasted a strong maple flavor, one still picked up the smoky essence. Bourbon and then sweetness followed but no one could taste the pecan or the chocolate unless we bit right into those. No one mentioned a graham cracker flavor or crunch either. I liked this flavor. I and one other tester would purchase it in the future while another would definitely keep eating it but the fourth really didn't like the smoky fragrance or taste she was picking out.

Mel's Toffee Chocolate Raspberry Toffee
Chocolate Raspberry Toffee is made with Dark Horse Raspberry Ale. This flavor includes Oreo crumbs so that means wheat is part of the ingredients that some of you may be looking to avoid. This one was the prettiest that we tested -- you can see the chocolate drizzle against the lighter toffee and the Oreo crumbs stand out as well. The scent was buttery toffee but the raspberry element seemed so slight that it might have merely been our expectation of it that created any hint of it at all. Thus we were all surprised by how strong that raspberry ale flavor came out when we tasted them, it was the primary element followed by buttery sweetness, strong hints of chocolate, and even an Oreo flavor.  These pieces made a good strong snap when we took a bite and the crunch was constant; the toffee stuck less to our teeth compared to the previous three flavors. All of us would buy this variety again because the balance of flavors was perfect this time around. The Chocolate Raspberry Toffee was by far the favorite of these alcohol based varieties of Mel's Toffee.

Have you had Mel's Toffee before? If so, leave a comment and tell us what you thought of it. If you've had all of the four varieties we revealed today, do you agree with our opinion that the Raspberry Chocolate was the best?

If you haven't do you think any of the four flavors we covered today – – would be something you'd like to try? Leave a comment and let us know that, too.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Dark Chocolate Chip Lemon Cookies

enjoy life 66% dark chocolate morsels
When we receive boxes of chocolate, one of the common combinations are chocolate plus lemon. The chocolate can be white, milk, semi-sweet, or even dark and the lemon can vary from creamy and tart to creamy and sweet. Usually these are a delightful comparison of flavors particular when the chocolate is darker. I was sent these 66% cacao dark chocolate morsels from enjoy life and I thought maybe they would be a good excuse to see if the chocolate and lemon flavors might work well in a lemon cookie. I was sent a free 9 oz bag of enjoy life chocolate chips in exchange for a fair and honest article on this blog; no other form of compensation was received.

As you know, The Chocolate Cult is NOT a recipe site, it is not a cooking or baking or candy making. Yes, we do have recipes and we do test recipes from time to time but that is not our focus. So instead of trying to create a new lemon cookie recipe and not wanting to go out and buy lemons that I wouldn't use for anything else, I turned to a boxed lemon cookie mix. I think this is a good way to really test out the chips because as long as I follow the directions, I can't mess up the cookies, right?

Let's see what the final product looks like.

How did they taste? Well, while they were cooking they smelled great, the lemon was strong but the dark chocolate fragrance was there as well. Notice that the amount of chips varied greatly so the ones with more chips were more chocolate and less lemon, the cookies with fewer chips had a stronger lemon flavor. I love them both. At 98 calories, these weren't a wreck either in terms of my daily food routine. The chips were nice and melty when you bit into one but they didn't lose their shape, just as chocolate chips are supposed to do when you bake with them. I loved them!

Final analysis: These dark chocolate morsels are Sacrament Worthy just as all the other enjoy life products have been so far.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day 2017

Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!

Do you like chocolate ice cream?

I find that chocolate and cold have a conflict; the cold tends to dampen the flavor of chocolate. Therefore a good chocolate ice cream is one to remember.

I want you to leave a comment and tell me what your favorite chocolate ice cream is?

What brand if you buy it from a grocery store?

What shop if you buy it at an ice cream shop?

What recipe do you use if you make your own?

Need some inspiration?

Check out photos from some of our previous chocolate ice cream posts!

So leave your comments and let me know about your favorite chocolate ice cream!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

PPROBAR Meal Replacement with Chocolate

We more products from PROBAR® to test out for you all but we go caught up in a lot of other products and covered those. We didn't forget you, PROBAR®, so today, if you are still looking for a way to get back into you summer body form before it is officially summer, we're going to see if this brand's meal bar line give us enough of what our bodies need to qualify as a meal. Of course you need enough calories but nutritional values, particularly a lot of protein and balance between carbs, fats, and proteins are key to answering this question. Of course all of that means nothing if the bars don't taste good because otherwise it becomes a chore to eat it versus a normal meal. we received three of these PROBAR® Meal bars -- Koka Moka, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Coconut. I called upon two of our Acolytes to help with these reviews so their words will be in italics below. I was sent free Meal bars from PROBAR® to test out and write about as objectively and honestly as we could on The Chocolate Cult; no other form of compensation was received.

Elizabeth, our Mocha Acolyte, received a couple of PROBAR® products to test and the Koka Moka Meal bar was one of these. Sadly, she wasn't impressed. When she opened it, she found the square that you see she's taken a bite out of and the smell was a strong granola, nuttiness. what you would expect a power bar to smell like. When she tried it, it had chewy texture and a taste more granola and chocolate, with hints of coffee. Nutritionally this meal bar was just ok, has 48 g carbs and that is a lot for only 9 g of protein.

Your Chocolate Priestess tested the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Meal bar. At 390 calories this is very much like a lunch meal for me so I tried it out then. When I cut open the wrapper I immediately smelled chocolate and peanut butter so that was a good sign. The bar looks like something I could make at home -- I can see nuts, oats, chocolate chips, and little seeds. I take a bite and the bar itself is soft and easy to bite into and chew. Whenever I hit a nut or seed they are crunchy; when I bite into a chip there is a burst of semi-sweet chocolate but that is the only time I taste chocolate. The peanut butter flavor is lightly roasted and is a constant undercurrent of flavor. The bar is okay but I'd like more chocolate, too. The bar is certified organic and gluten-free and verified non-GMO however it has ingredients you might be allergic to such as almonds, sunflower seeds, rice, pumpkin seeds, rosemary, and papaya and obviously peanuts and chocolate. I liked this bar and I would have it again but I'd love it if it was more chocolatey.

Lisa looked at the Coconut Chocolate MealThe scent is predominantly coconut, almost like suntan oil but I don't discern any chocolate aroma. The texture is soft and chewy, rather like an oatmeal cookie. The first bite I let just rest on my tongue for a few moments to see what flavors would come out. After two minutes, however, there wasn't really much flavor at all. A hint of sweetness and grain but no chocolate or coconut.  Once I start chewing it's a different story. Still a lot of sweet oat flavor but now the coconut is coming to the forefront. After three bites I finally get some chocolate flavor coming through. Despite having both nuts and seeds in it, there isn't much crunchiness to it. The bar measures roughly 2" X 2" and weighs in at three ounces. I know that doesn't sound like much but this is a very dense and heavy bar.  It clocks in at a hefty 350 calories, 17 grams of fat, 50 grams of carbohydrates (5 grams of fiber) and 8 grams of protein Because of its high calorie and carb count, I can see taking this along with me if I were on a long (20+ mile) bike hike. and wanted a mid-point snack.

The Meal bars come 12 to a pack much like you order other PROBAR® products on their website (check our links to each flavor) but you might be able to find them in stores around the USA since they sell products in over two dozen brick and mortar locations like Target, HyVee, and Whole Foods just to mention a few I'm personally familiar shopping in.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Celebrate Summer's Arrival with Chocolate

June will see the official arrival  of summer even if where you live has felt that way (or not) for some time now. Here is a list of serious and fun holidays that last a day, a week, or even the full month that you can celebrate with Chocolate. How are you going to mark these dates? Leave a comment and let us know.

June = National Dairy Month

1st Friday June = National Donut Day falls on June 2, 2017, this year. Here are some freebies I've learned about that might interest you.

     Duck Donuts
     Dunkin' Donuts
     Krispy Kreme
     Fractured Prune Donuts
     Honey Dew Donuts
     Sugar Shack Donuts

Win Free Donuts with these promotions:
     LaMar's Donuts

June 2 = National Rocky Road Day

June 3 = National Chocolate Macaroon Day

June 7 = National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

June 11 = National German Chocolate Cake Day

June 11 = Birthday (1796) of Francois-Louis Cailler, first Swiss chocolatier

June 12 = National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

June 14 = International Steampunk Day in honor of the birthday of H.G. Wells

Charles-Amedee Kohler
June 15, 1790 = Birthday of Charles-Amedee Kohler, Swiss confectioner

June 16 = National Fudge Day

June 22 = National Chocolate Éclair Day

June 24 = National Pralines Day

June 26 = National Chocolate Pudding Day

June 30, 1971 = Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory along with The Willy Wonka Candy Factory is released

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Go More with NuGo Dark

It's time for our final three varieties of NuGo Dark bars. We used two of our specialists to help me, Your Chocolate Priestess, test out these bars. Because of that the quality of photos, their background, and lighting may be different since each tester took her own photos. If you don't remember our earlier articles you might want to check here for the first three bars and here for our interview with one of the employees at NuGo. Don't worry the links will open a new window so you won't lose this article. If it seems like 2017 is becoming the "Year of the Bar" here on The Chocolate Cult, I've had that thought, too. We've had bad bars, good bars, even great bars and we'll keep doing this articles for as long as we have the products to reveal to you all. Originally I was sent this box of six flavors of NuGo Dark in exchange for an honest and objective feature article about them. Some of the flavors came in sets of 2-3 bars while others (like the Mocha and Peanut Butter Cup) were single bars. No other form of compensation was received.

Let's start with the bar I tested myself, the NuGo Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt Bar. That's a lot of words in one title, huh? The first ingredient is unsweetened chocolate; exactly what I now expect from this line of products. There is also soy and rice of those are allergy concerns. Weirdly no pretzels listed and as you can see in this photo no evidence of pretzels inside the bar. Dark chocolate is the only fragrance before and after I break the bar in half. The bars are crunchy when I chew them but make almost no sound when I take a bite. The initial flavor is a salty dark chocolate but that's overcome by an inside that does taste a lot like pretzels. Disappointingly the dark chocolate fades away before the pretzel flavor does which is not what I was expected given the other three bars I tested in March. It was still good just not as good as those first three.

Lisa, our Chocolate Coconut Acolyte, tested the NuGo Dark Chocolate Coconut Bar.  This was her experience with the bar. As soon as I opened the package, I could smell the chocolate and coconut scent.  The chocolate coating softened after holding it for just a few seconds.  It was soft, creamy and not at all waxy.  My expectations were set pretty high at this point and when I broke it in half I got another whiff of chocolate and coconut.  The bar is soft but firm.  It doesn't quite snap when broken but you can tell that there are a lot of solid things in it.  It's not a few ingredients held together with some kind of sugar/syrup. In addition to the toasted coconut, the filling contains almonds, soy crisps, non-toasted coconut, and brown rice crisps.  While not noisy when broken in half, once I start chewing I can hear all those crunchy ingredients. Even though there is soy in the bar, all I taste are chocolate and coconut. I've eaten dozens of chocolate nutrition bars and while some have been better than others, none of them can compare to the NuGo Dark Chocolate Coconut bar.  I'd give this a five out of five coconuts.

Elizabeth, our new Mocha Acolyte, tested the NuGo Dark Mocha Chocolate Bar. In terms of nutrition, it was good. only 30g of carbs and 10 g of protein. The bar had a strong coffee smell with a hint of chocolate when she unwrapped it. You can see how it looks in the photo to the right. It had soft crispy texture when I bit into it, Elizabeth reports and a nice blend of coffee and chocolate to the taste. Overall thoughts - I would buy this, Elizabeth adds.

Normally you buy these bars in sleeves of 12 per flavor and you can find the entire NuGo Dark Chocolate line on their website. Nutritionally the entire line of NuGo Dark are very close to each other but in terms of flavor they varied widely. These bars all were ones we've try to buy again. But what about you? Have you had these three flavors? What did you think about them.