Monday, January 30, 2017

Peacetree Supports Charity in 3 Ways!

Sisters and Brothers in Chocolate, please help me welcome back Linda Armes from Peacetree Mountain Truffles. If you do not remember our previous conversation or her wonderful creations, follow the links to check that out.

Thank you, Linda, for talking with us today.

Thanks for having me back on your blog, TammyJo.  

It has been three years since our last interview with you and our feature article on your truffles. I've been to your section in the Olive Leaf shop near us and I see on your website that you have expanded even more. How are you finding the chocolate business after these years?

The chocolate business is going well! Since I last talked to you, we now have our own retail front with a full service chocolate counter instead of just selling wholesale through other retailers. We also have 2 locations! Our first retail location is inside The Olive Leaf at 879 S College Mall Road, Bloomington, IN. Our newest location is in Plainfield, IN and is in The Shops at Perry Crossing. There also, we are inside The Olive Leaf, which is located on the interior street of Perry Crossing, in between Dick's Sporting Goods and Lane Bryant. We are also selling our truffles via our website

When we installed the chocolate counters., we were taken by surprise at just how popular it was! Our customers absolutely love being able to come in and pick any flavor they want and make their own     custom boxes. We have around 30 - 35 flavors in the truffle counter at any given time, so sometimes   choosing can be difficult! We also now have quite a few seasonal flavors that rotate throughout the     year. Right now, for Valentine's Day, we have our Cherry Cheesecake Truffles in both white and dark chocolate, our Passion Fruit Truffle, our Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookie Truffle, and our Cherry     Wine Truffle, made with Winzerwald Winery's Cherry Wine. 

Have you considered expanding beyond truffles?

Actually, this year, we started offering some solid chocolates. We introduced them in October - we molded our favorite chocolates into the shape of leaves and dusted them to match October's brilliant colors! We offered a box with 4 different levels of chocolate - our favorite dark chocolate, Noir; our favorite semi-sweet chocolate, Burgundy; our favorite milk chocolate, Belmont; and our favorite white chocolate, Platinum. 

The idea to offer solid chocolates came from our Chocolate 101 class, where I offer participants not   only an education about chocolate and how it's made, but a complete tasting of different chocolates     that we use in the truffles and why we like them. So many times, people would ask me where they       could get those chocolates, but they are only available to me commercially - not to the general public. So I decided to get our favorites out so other people could enjoy them, too. 

I mentioned your truffles last year in our review of "The Art of Chocolate" dinner event. I know that Peacetree is once more participating in the "Week of Chocolate"so would you tell us what all you are doing that week?

We have a lot going on this year for the "Week of Chocolate"! First of all, we will be handing out tastes of our truffles at "The Art of Chocolate" event on Feb. 10. Then we are also participating in "Wonderlab After Dark" on February 18, where we will be demonstrating unique flavor combinations and explaining how we come up with new flavors for our truffles. Also, we are sponsoring the Chocolate Passport. LIFEDesigns has at least 10 events going on that week, and anyone who attends 3 events and gets their passport stamped can bring it into The Olive Leaf store and choose their own 4 piece box of truffles, free of charge! LIFEDesigns does so much for our community and this is a great way to support them.  

Linda Armes
How did you get involved in the "Week of Chocolate" and with LIFEDesigns?

Good question! Ha! We've been doing "The Art of Chocolate" so long that I am not even sure how we got involved. I think originally, we got a phone call from LIFEDesigns asking us to come and participate because someone else had backed out and Oliver Winery had recommended us to fill the spot. We were happy to jump in and had such a good time that we've been doing it every year since then.

I've also seen Peacetree many times on the "Buy It Now" site through the local newspaper in Bloomington. I notice that food items are not very common on the auction list. How did you decide to get involved with that?

We got involved with Buy It Now through our advertising rep at the HT. It's a great program where anyone can go to the Buy It Now website and buy gift certificates at a discounted rate. But we, the seller, get full price credit for our newspaper advertising. We regularly have great feedback from our newspaper advertising, and that credit helps pay the bill, so it's a win-win for us and our customers!

We're tested and written about your wine truffles but what has been your most recent venture in terms of truffle variety for Peacetree?

Our most recent venture is our 12 Truffles of Christmas offering. We put together a box of 12 truffles - each flavor tied to a day of the popular Christmas song. So, the First Day of Christmas is a Partridge in a Pear Tree - and our truffle for that day is our Milk Chocolate Pear Truffle. The Second Day of Christmas is Two Turtle Doves - and our truffle for that day is our Turtle Truffle. And so on. It's a fun holiday collection with a wide variety of flavors and has literally flown off the shelves. It's been very well received and our customers love it.

I know you like chocolate and you are a skilled truffle maker, but do you have one or two favorite chocolate creations that you enjoy that you don't make yourself?

Absolutely! And I'm always on the lookout for the best of what's out there! (It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!) One of my current decadent treats is a Sugared Pecan Turtle from JEvelyn Confections in Greefield. Jayne takes her pecans and sugars them, just like we all do at the holidays! Then she puts those into her giant turtle, with her own housemade caramel. It's absolutely delicious and those sugared pecans just add that little unexpected layer of flavor - I just love them. In fact, I love them so much, that we've brought them into our own shop to sell to everyone here in Bloomington. They've gone over extremely well - everyone loves them as much as I do. 


We've also added Abbott's Caramels to our store. I'm pretty picky about my caramels and I just     couldn't find any I liked better than Abbott's. 

Both JEvelyn and Abbott's are Indiana Artisans and Peacetree is as well. Indiana Artisan is a             program that identifies and recognizes Indiana's highest-quality art and food artisans and members have to jury in with their products, meaning we are one of Indiana's Best. 

Making truffles keeps me extremely busy and I just couldn't see making other products when really great ones are available from some of my fellow Indiana Artisans. These products, too, have been very popular in the store and our customers appreciate the variety of confections available to them. 

Thank you, Linda, for talking with us again today.

Thanks so much for having me today! 

So many ways that Peacetree Mountain Truffles is helping charity through this "Week of Chocolate." Which ones are you going to participate in, Readers?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

2 Final Chocolate Recall Notice of January 2017

Well, damn! We couldn't end January 2017 without another recall of food and drinks that have chocolate or cocoa in them. At least now you know and you can protect yourself and your loved ones. Remember, also click on the links so you can see the full information we may not include here on The Chocolate Cult. My comments will be in ( ) when I think something is worth noting or thinking more deeply about in these recalls.

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Chip’n Dipped Voluntarily Expands Recall to Include 7 More of it’s Dark Chocolate Bars Due to Possible Presence of Undeclared Milk

(Wait. Why does any dark chocolate have milk in it at all... that's crazy particular when they claim to be "vegan" and say on the front label that they are "dairy free." Do you think that is just an error or is the company lying?

Chip’n Dipped of Huntington, NY, is expanding its recall of it’s dark chocolate bars to include, Dark Chocolate Almond, 63% Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Pretzel, Hot Dark Chocolate Habanero, Dark Chocolate Marshmallow, Extra Dark Chocolate 72% & Super Smooth Dark Chocolate 86%. People who have allergies to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions if they consume these products.

The recalled of the above chocolate bars were distributed to seven retail stores in NY, PA & MA.

Product                                                  Lot Numbers:

Dark Chocolate Almond, Net Wt 3.0oz 1100535, 1100526, 1100518, 1100519, 1100452, 1100450, 1100482, 1100482

63% Dark Chocolate, Net Wt 2.9oz 1100536, 1100501, 1100474, 1100458

Dark Chocolate Pretzel, Net Wt 2.9oz 1100531, 1100512, 1100456. 1100489

Hot Dark Chocolate Habanero, Net Wt. 2.8oz 1100457, 1100471, 1100490

Dark Chocolate Marshmallow, Net Wt. 3.1oz 1100498, 1100505, 1100513, 1100530

Extra Dark Chocolate 72%, Net Wt. 2.8oz 1100515 & 1100516

Super Smooth Dark Chocolate 86%, Net Wt. 2.8oz 1100534, 1100533, 1100532

The Lot number is stamped on the back of the packaging box. Individual bars are unmarked.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that the milk-containing product was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk.

Consumers with milk allergies who have purchased these bars are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-888-545-2447, Monday-Friday 10am -4 pm ET.

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(This is a recall that is powerful in my family because my husband has a tree nut allergy. While peanut allergies get a lot of attention, tree nut allergies are common and they can have seriously consequences.)

King's Pastry, located in Ontario, Canada, is voluntarily recalling the following cakes because the products contained tree nut (hazelnut) allergens that were not listed on the product labels. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to tree nuts (hazelnut) run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The products can be identified by the following UPC codes and net weight:

685961100381 Tuxedo Bar Cake 12"x4" 1050 g

685961101234 Tuxedo bar Cake 12"x4" 1050 g

685961101357 Chocolate Bar Cake 12"x4" 1050 g

685961103092 Bakewell Desserts Chocolate Lava Cake 4"x4" 4oz (113 g)

10685961100814 Cappuccino Carnival Cake 2.0 kg

10685961100913 Mango Carnival Cake 2.5 kg
 
The Tuxedo Bar Cake and Chocolate Bar Cake are packaged in a clear rectangular semi-rigid plastic dome with a black base. The Chocolate Lava Cake is packaged in a clear square-shaped rigid plastic container sealed with a plastic film, this container is then packaged in a square-shaped thin cardboard box. The Cappuccino Carnival Cake and Mango Carnival Cake are packaged in cardboard tray and are only sold in cafeteria. The purchase dates of this recall involves any product purchased before Jan 01, 2017.

Product was distributed to retail stores and food service in IL, HI, MA and NY.

The firm received one complaint associated with the consumption of the product.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Kevin Chan from King's Pastry at 905-238-8328 ext. 115 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Micro Batch Dirty White Chocolate from Askinosie

Weight of Dirty White Chocolate Bar
I got an announcement from Askinosie about the second bar from their new micro batch line of chocolate, the 1098 Line. Why is it called that? Two reasons. First, the founder of this company, Shawn Askinosie, is a Family Brother at Assumption Abbey, a Trappist Cistercian monastery here in the Ozark Mountains and the Cistercian Order was founded in 1098. Second, in honor of that date they will only make 1098, one at a time when you order one. After that (I have #811) you won't be able to buy it again for the foreseeable future. This bar is called "Dirty" White Chocolate + Vintage Cocoa Gravel is created from a single origin white chocolate, made with first-press cocoa butter and topped it with chocolate covered, aged cocoa nibs. So go check that out but come back and finish this post, too. I was sent a free bar of "Dirty" White Chocolate Vintage Cocoa Gravel bar in exchange for testing it and writing about it here on The Chocolate Cult; no other form of compensation was received for this honest and as objective as possible post.


The bar came wrapped in recycled and biodegradable material and then enveloped in a canvas bag with the title and number of the bar stamped on it. The bag was made at the Assumption Abbey, a Trappist Cistercian monastery in the Ozark Mountains.

Askinosie Dirty White Bar, 1098 Line
Inside was a bar with the "A" on the white chocolate side

Chocolate Side of Dirty White Askinosie Bar

and the chocolate covered cacao nibs on the other.


Isn't it pretty? Yeah, but you want to know how it was with the other four senses, right? The bar measures 4.25 X2.75 X 2/5th inches to the chocolate not the nib thickness. Once I take the bar out of the plastic wrapped around it, my nose smells a creamy vanilla fragrance with a hint of cocoa from the white chocolate side. The nibs side has a nice cocoa scent with hints of sweetness. The chocolate melts against my fingers as I hold it. A few of the nibs come loose so I taste those alone -- strong, bitter chocolate, the light coating melts off in my mouth. Taking a bite from the nib side against my tongue that nib and chocolate fade lingers to a nice dark chocolatey bitterness that I love. Flipping the bar of makes a very different flavor, one that is very creamy, strongly vanilla, sweet, but with a strong edge of darker chocolate, too. Personally I prefer eating it nib side against my tongue but your preference may be different. I really loved it and I usually am not a fan of white chocolate.

Askinosie has an admirable mission and business model, working directly with farming and channeling some of the profits back to those farmers. Most of their bars and products identify those farmers and the projects that are possible through the sales but not this bar. However it is a high quality product from a quality company and thus rightly earns Sacrament Status!  If this bar looks yummy to you, you need to hurry and order yours before all 1098 bars have been made and we must wait until the next Askinosie Micro Batch comes out and we discover a new creation.

Notes:
Words in Italics are taken from the materials I received with and about the bar.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Is goodnessknows a Candy Bar?

I've seen goodnessknows products in our local Kroger for some time but I haven't tried them out. This is because my hubby has a tree nut allergy and it seems that everything "healthy" these days includes tree nuts. But through my Kroger Loyalty Card I was able to get a bar of their Cranberry Almond Dark Chocolate to test and share with you today. A 1.2 oz bar has four pieces that total 150 calories made up of 7g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 125mg potassium, 21g total carbs, 2g fiber, 12g sugars, and 3g protein. goodnessknows' big claim to fame is their no artificial color, flavors, or sweeteners as well as no high fructose corn syrup (technologically not artificial but controversial for many people including some of our readers, I'm certain). My husband is on the "no fructose corn syrup" wagon himself and I just generally avoid it when there are equally priced and tasty options for our family.

As you can see the nuts and cranberries are very visible but the dark chocolate is on the bottom only. Each square is one bite worth. The amount of chocolate you tastes depends on how you eat it. Chocolate side on your tongue reveals a slightly dark chocolate flavor but I don't think it is particularly bitter. If you eat a square granola side down it is very sweet with a slight chocolate aftertaste. I prefer it chocolate side down, obviously, because that intensifies the chocolate flavor. The granola is very crispy but not difficult to chew at all. I didn't generate a lot of crumbs when I ate it, the pieces are 2-3 bites, but someone out there I'm sure would create a lot of crumbs eating these.

Wouldn't you know it! Today there was another freebie from Kroger for this same product so I picked a different variety. You'll have to wait for a few months to learn about that one so stay tuned.

These are not cheap like a candy but but nutritionally they are better in many aspects that I laid out in the first paragraph of today's post. I can find them in my local Kroger as individual bars or in 5-packs but the best price I found so far (if you really love them) is linked to below. As always if you follow our links and buy products you do help out the blog.



So is this a candy bar? What do you all of you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Palmer, Chip'n Dipped, Dutch Valley Food, and Hy-Vee Recalls For January 15, 2017

Four chocolate related recalls via FDA sources to share with you all today. Please check your cabinets and your homes to see if any of these apply to you. And remember, only you can protect yourself but following our links to get the full information.

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Palmer Chocolate Candy Recall

(We'll include only a few photos of the products so check out the full listing.)

Palmer Candy Company (www.palmercandy.com), a privately-held, fifth-generation manufacturer of chocolate and holiday confections, announced today a limited recall of certain chocolate products after being informed by a supplier that a milk powder ingredient used in a compound chocolate coating that they supply to Palmer Candy Company has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The voluntary recall, in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes selected products produced between October 20, 2016 and December 9, 2016 and shipped by Palmer Candy Company to grocery, convenience store and wholesale customers nationwide. 

Recalled products include the following:


UPC #s are usually on the back of the bag or bottom of containers.

To date, there have been no reported illnesses associated with any of the products affected by this recall. Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

The recall is the result of a potentially contaminated milk powder ingredient recalled by Valley Milk Products, a derivative of which was included as a small portion of the ingredients by another company in a confectionary coating supplied to Palmer Candy Company. Affected products include a variety of candy products sold to retailers under the Palmer Candy Company brand, private label chocolates for retail distribution and bulk products provided to retailers for repackaging. Although testing has shown no pathogenic bacteria in the milk confectionary coatings, the company decided out of an abundance of caution to recall all products produced using any amount of the now recalled ingredients.

Consumers should throw out or return these products to the point of sale for a full refund.
For more information, consumers may call to speak with a Customer Service Representative at Palmer Candy Company between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Central Standard Time at 712-258-5543.

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Chip’n Dipped of Huntington, NY, is recalling its 2.9-oz. bar, Dark Chocolate Crunch because they may contain undeclared milk. People who have allergies to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions if they consume these products.

The recalled "Dark Chocolate Crunch" was distributed nationwide in retail stores.

The product comes in 2.9oz Bar form. The lot numbers are 1100506, 1100483 and 1100524 and are stamped on the back of the packaging box. Individual bars are unmarked.

One illness has been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that the milk-containing product was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk.

Production of the product has been suspended until FDA and the company is certain that the problem has been corrected.

Consumers who have purchased The Dark Chocolate Crunch Bar are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-888-545-2447, Monday-Friday 10am -4 pm ET.

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Myerstown, PA - As a result of an ingredient supplier recall, Dutch Valley is issuing a recall on Cappuccino Snack Mix due to the potential for it to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Dutch Valley Food Distributors, Inc. has issued a voluntary recall for the following product:

Item # 552372 Cappuccino Snack Mix

Lot Code: 20161027

Best By: 5/25/17

Product is distributed in ten pound bulk cases, which consist of two-five pound bags in a case. The inner bags are clear and unlabeled.

There have been no illnesses or issues reported regarding consumption of this product to date.

All Items packaged and sold within the parameters mentioned are subject to this recall, including items sold on our website, www.dutchvalleyfoods.com. These items were distributed nationwide and affect the following states: DE, FL,GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, WI, WV.  Retailers are advised to remove this product from store shelves based on the Best By Date. Consumers who have purchased these products are asked to destroy them or to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions regarding the product listed may call Dutch Valley Foods at 1-800-733 4191 and speak with customer service, Monday through Friday 8am - 5pm EST.

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(Only one photo to share so make sure you check out the listing of recalled products.)

Hy-Vee, Inc., based in West Des Moines, Iowa, is voluntarily recalling several candy trays because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The potential for contamination was brought to Hy-Vee’s attention when Palmer Candy Company announced a limited recall of certain chocolate products after it was informed by its supplier, Valley Milk Products LLC, that a milk powder ingredient used in a compound chocolate coating has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The voluntary recall includes selected products produced between Oct. 20, 2016, and Dec. 9, 2016, and shipped by Palmer Candy Company to grocery, convenience store and wholesale customers nationwide for repackaging.

Below is the product description, size and UPC number that can be found on the label of each candy tray that is being recalled.


The candy trays were distributed to all of Hy-Vee’s 242 grocery stores across its eight-state region of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The product comes in a plastic container with a clear lid. The sell-by date range for all items is between Jan. 26, 2017 and Feb. 23, 2017. The sell-by date can be found at the top of the product label.

To date, no illnesses have been reported in connection with these products. Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more sever illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Out of an abundance of caution Hy-Vee has decided to recall all candy trays that include products in the recall. Customers who purchased this product should dispose of it or return it to their local Hy-Vee store for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Hy-Vee Customer Care representatives 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-772-4098.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Popcorn & Movies with a Shake of Chocolate

January 19 is National Popcorn Day. What goes with popcorn better than movies? How many of you like to eat popcorn when you watch movies either at home or in the theater? I'm sure you've heard of chocolate covered popcorn, we've looked at some here in the past, but what if you could have flavored popcorn without the calories you'd give covering it with chocolate? Kernel Season's offers flavored popcorn seasonings in a variety of flavors and I received Kernel Season's Sweet Seasoning Variety Pack, 2.85 Ounce Shakers (Pack of 3)through the Amazon Vine Program; I've been reviewing products via this program since the late spring of 2008! No other form of compensation was received.

Of the trio, we're most interested in the Milk Chocolate Caramel variety for obvious reasons but we did try all of them and the assessment of this one flavor applies to all three flavors. The ingredients are straightforward: pure cane sugar, chocolate, cocoa, caramel flavor, milk, caramel color, vanilla, salt, and silicon dioxide (to keep it from caking up so you can keep shaking it out). 1/2 tsp of this product has only 5 calories and that would be great if the product stayed on the popcorn but it simply doesn't do a very good job of that because just like salt without butter does, the crystals just slips right off the kernels. I dipped a finger into some of the seasoning and yes it does indeed taste like milk chocolate and caramel but the big problem, the one you can't get around is that won't stay on the popcorn. Adding butter only means adding more calories and if you are fine with that, you could also just sprinkle powdered cocoa on the popcorn and have the same amount of calories but a much stronger cocoa taste and I bet you have some cocoa powder in your house already, right? Another possibility you could try is spray "butter "on your popcorn if you wanted fewer calories but the seasoning to stick but I didn't particularly like the resulting flavor of the spray products.

All of this said, this trio of Kernel Season's flavorings taste as labeled even if you do need an extra step to get the flavoring to stick to your popcorn. If you don't want a trio of flavorings to try out you could just get the one we were most interested in by clicking on the image below. If you've tried this product yourself and disagree or agree with our assessment, we've love to see a comment from you. If you've found a better but similar product, please do let us know, too.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Top Chocolate Blog Winner

Hello, Sisters and Brothers of The Chocolate Cult!

I just received an email today informing me that we have been named one of the Top 50 Chocolate Blog on the Internet by Feedspot.

Here's our badge that we'll be adding to our website.

We couldn't do this without all of you.

But we are only #37 and that is not as good as we should be. Think about, other than the chocolate brands who blogs also count, we've been around for 8 years, we should be higher!

You can help us by:

Liking our posts.

Coming to the blog and reading our posts.

Talk to us on Facebook

Retweeting our links.

Comment here on the blog.

Click on the Reaction bar under each post.

Together we can Help the World Find the Best Chocolate.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Chocolate Tart Recalls

Only one recall today -- good news? This one is for merely missing ingredients so as long as the ingredients in question do not cause you problems, no worry!

Sadly I couldn't find any photos and there are no Whole Foods stores in my community so I can't sneak in and snap one for you all.

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Allergy Alert Issued in Select Whole Foods Market Stores for Undeclared Almond Flour in Tarts

Austin, TX - Select Whole Foods Market stores in Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia are voluntarily recalling tarts because the products contained tree nut (almond flour) allergens that were not listed on the product labels. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to tree nuts (almond flour) run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

All affected products have been removed from store shelves. The tarts include chocolate ganache, French apple, fresh berry, fresh fruit amero shell, fruit, key lime, lemon, and peanut butter chocolate. The products were packaged in cardboard containers with Whole Foods Market labels and best-by dates of January 7, 2017 and earlier and were available at Whole Foods Market stores in Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Not all products were sold in all stores.

The products can be identified by the following UPC codes:


No illnesses have been reported to date.

Customers who purchased these product and wish to return them can bring a valid receipt into stores for a full refund. Consumers with additional questions can contact their local store or call (301) 984-4874 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Enjoy Lots of Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Blondies

We starting off the New Year with a relatively new brand to our Chocolate Cult family -- Enjoy Life Foods. We looked at their snack packs for Halloween but now that the weather has turned cold and I'm baking more, we can look at the other products they sent us to test and write about. I went looking for recipes for rice flour brownies. Why? I wanted to try to make something that folks who actively seek out allergen free products might like. Finally I found one on Broma Bakery that was for blondies that I thought I could compare to a recipe on the Crisco website (I had that product left over from some of my holiday baking and want to use it up). This article is not just a review of the Enjoy Life Mega Chunks that I used but also a review of my attempt to combine and revise two recipes into a new one. Enjoy Life Foods sent us a 10oz bag of their Mega Chunks (in the white bag on top in the photo) for free in exchange for an objective article about them; no other form of compensation was received.


The Broma Bakery recipe can be found here and I want to thank Sarah for her recipe. I also want to thank the Crisco website for their recipe. I won't repeat these recipes here because you all should check them out for yourself. Go on, don't worry, it should open in a new tab so you can continue reading our post.

Or you can stay here and look at this photo of the chunks. These measure 3/4 of an inch long!


This is my version of Chocolate Chunk Blondies. These are "Big" in terms of amount of blondies and amount of calories for my household. It was a friend's birthday this weekend and I shared them with a group of friends in honor of that so I don't too bad. Plus as long as you indulge in Moderation, it is fine, it really is. I still lost two pounds over the winter holidays following this rule. (Go Me!)

TammyJo's Big Batch Rice Flour Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Ingredients:

3 Cups of Rice Flour

1.5 Sticks of Butter Flavor Crisco Baking Sticks

3 T Skim Milk

576 grams Light Brown Sugar (or 3 Cups)

3 Egg Whites

1 T Real Vanilla Extract (I make my own)

4.5 grams of Salt (or 3/4 tsp)

3 Tsp Baking Soda

1.5 Tsp Baking Powder

1 10 oz bag of Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks

Directions:

1. Move an oven rack to the central position in your oven and then preheat oven to 350 °F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 13 X 9 X 2 inch baking pan with no-stick spray.

2. Measure out rice flour and place in large bowl then set aside. You'll need this later.


3. Put shortening and milk in a large microwave-safe bowl. If you cut the shortening into pieces it will melt faster. Set microwave on medium and wave for 1 minute, stir. Continuing this pattern of heating and stirring until the crisco is melted and the milk is blended in. Remove bowl from microwave for the next steps.


4. Measure out the light brown sugar. Add the sugar  to the liquids and stir making sure to break up any of the clumps of sugar as you do so. Add in the eggs whites and vanilla then beat the ingredients with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes. It will be fairly thick.


5. Add salt, baking soda, and baking powder to the rice flour and blend together.

6. Mix in the sugar fluff with the flour and blend with your electric mixer until smooth. Depending on your weather conditions you may want to add more skim milk but do NOT add more than 1 T at a time then beat. Add in the chocolate chunks and stir until these are spread throughout.


7. Spread into the baking pan then place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325 °F and continue baking for 10 minutes, checking with on the toothpick test to see if you need to add more time. This helps prevent burning the outside but keeps baking the inside so it isn't too doughy even though I know some folks love doughy brownies and blondies.

Don't know what the toothpick test is? Ask me in the comments and I'll get back to you within a day.

8. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for an hour. I like to set my pan on a cooling rack so that the air can flow all around it freely.

I cut mine into 32 pieces with 215 calories each. If I had used regular whole wheat flour it would have cut the calories and made each bar 196 calories. It is up to you.

Feedback from my taste testers was DELICIOUS -- brown sugar flavor with bursts of chocolate! The chocolate chunks kept their form well but also melted just a touch so they were easy to eat. They earn Sacrament Status.

If an allergen free chocolate chunk product is something you are interested in, go check out Enjoy Life Foods or you might be able to find them in your grocery stores. I find their products at my local Kroger, Marsh, Target, Lucky's, and our local co-ops and health food stores.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Best Chocolate of 2016 on The Chocolate Cult

I decided to give you all a full day to recover from the New Year's weekend. Admit it, you hit it a little hard this year, but that's okay. Today I want to look back at 2016 and recap every feature review that we did ranging from books to silicone bake and candy making gear. The brands, companies, and individuals are listed in order that they were covered starting with the earliest and building to the latest. At the end, we'll name our "Best" for 2016. Note: the "Best" must be chocolate food or drink so a lot these were automatically out of the running for this year's title. Chocolate products eligible for our "Best Of" are marked with *.

Bonjour Cuisine Silicone Baking Mats and Spatula
*Dagoba Assortment Gift Jar
*Sahale Snacks Bars and Pouches
*Viola Chocolat House Blend Hot Chocolate Mix
*Reese's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup
Premium 12 Cup Silicone Muffin and Cupcake Complete Bundle
Reynold's Cookie Baking Sheets
Madd Capp Checkers
SmartPlanet
Designer Protein Lite
Kroger
Fuzion Cookware
Garnier
The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co.
DII
*Equal Exchange
*Endangered Species Chocolate
*Moonstruck
* MAGNUM
101 Vegan Chocolate Recipes: A Vegan Cookbook Delight
Popsicle
*KozyShack
Sterno S'mores Kit
*Breyers Gelato
*Good Humor
* Tempting Sweets
*Klondike
*Rolo
*Take Five
* Hunters Honey Farm
Market Lane
*Arnott's
* Lake Champlain Chocolates
*Sheila G. Brownie Brittle
The Southern Cookie Book
*Get Up and Go
*UNREAL
Yolli
*Enjoy Life
Snickers
Velesco
Jif
Jackie Kingon
OXO
*240Sweet
Donna Linder
*Seattle Chocolates
Joanne Fluke
*FARM Restaurant
*Twix
*Snickers
Loony Labs
*Silk

So out of 52 companies, brands, and individuals whose creations we've looked at in 2016, only 28 were food or drink items made with chocolate in some form. That means only those 28 are in the running for Best of 2016. Why so many non-edible items? We work with what companies are willing to send our way, readers. So let's narrow down the master list to those in the running.

*Dagoba Assortment Gift Jar
*Sahale Snacks Bars and Pouches
*Viola Chocolat House Blend Hot Chocolate Mix
*Reese's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup
*Equal Exchange
*Endangered Species Chocolate
*Moonstruck
* MAGNUM
*KozyShack
*Breyers Gelato
*Good Humor
* Tempting Sweets
*Klondike
*Rolo
*Take Five
* Hunters Honey Farm
*Arnott's
* Lake Champlain Chocolates
*Sheila G. Brownie Brittle
*Get Up and Go
*UNREAL
*Enjoy Life
*240Sweet
*Seattle Chocolates
*FARM Restaurant
*Twix
*Snickers
*Silk

Let's remember the previous winners so we can reflect on what makes for the "Best" here on The Chocolate Cult.

Previous Best of the Year on The Chocolate Cult have included:
Chocion (2015)
Michel Cluizel (2014)
Askinosie Chocolate (2013)
TCHO (2012)
American Heritage Chocolate (2011)
Guittard (2010)

All of the winners offer a wide range of chocolate products, they all have some type of educational or social program that gives back to the world around them either directly through farmers, through fair labor practices, charity work, or engagement with the public. Several of the 2016 companies and brands meet these criteria so I went back and considered those we've featured in the past as well. That makes the winner easier to determine.

The 2016 Best Chocolate of the Year on The Chocolate Cult is

Equal Exchange

From tiny chocolates you can hand out at Halloween


Easter


or Valentines Day


to bars and cocoas you can use to bake with or candy make with


to bars you can enjoy as they are Equal Exchange has a wide range of products.


Recently I've been talking with the company more and looking into their practices and I am pleased by what I'm learning every year. Read our interview with them here.

Congratulations, Equal Exchange! We look forward to revealing more of your wonderful products in the years to come.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January Chocolate Calendar 2017

The Calendar is Back! Use this to be aware of any type of holiday -- political, social, economic, just plain silly -- that might be a reason to add something made with chocolate or cocoa to your day. If we've missed any, let us know in a comment so we can look into it and include next year.

January 2017 Chocolate Dates

January 2 = Feast Day of St. Macarius the Younger, 4th century patron of confectioners

January 3 = National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

January 5 = National Whipped Cream Day

January 6 = National Shortbread Day

January 8 = National English Toffee Day

January 10 = Bittersweet Chocolate Day; National Cream Cheese Brownie Day

January 19 = National Popcorn Day

January 21 = National Granola (bar) Day

January 23 = National Pie Day; National Banana Bread Day

January 27 = National Chocolate Cake Day

January 30 = National Croissant Day

January 31 = National Hot Chocolate Day (apparently also in December?)

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