Monday, December 31, 2012

TCHO: The Best Chocolate of 2012

Today  is the last day of 2012 so it is time for us here on The Chocolate Cult to look back at the feature reviews and pick a company that represents the best chocolate we had this past year.  To do this, I look back over all of our Saturday Sacraments and our Special Sacramental Reviews.  Is there anyone that stands out?  Why do they stand out?

We had a lot of great contenders this year: DOVE, TCHO, Lindt, Chocolats du CaliBressan, Chocolate for the Spirit, Kane Candy, Cocoa Paper, The Best Chocolate in Town, Oliver Kita Chocolates, Captivating Confections, Cero's Candies, Cosmos Brownie Company,  240 Sweet, and indi chocolate.

We've also had a few unpleasant surprises that we won't even repeat the names of here as we look forward to a new year.

Some companies sent as so many samples that we have a good grasp of their range of creation while others sent us one specific example so we can't really gauge if that was their average or their best.  Three of the above companies offered us products that aren't traditional candy, going beyond to support the full range of products as well as the cocoa farmers themselves in two cases.  So do I choose a company with a high quality range of chocolate products or one that goes beyond what you the reader might expect us to name?

I'm going to toss out a few of the above names simply because we have yet to feature the full range of products they have sent us; those will be in the running for next year's title.  Also I'll put a hold on companies whom we've only had one product from and if in the future they send other samples, we can weigh them more fully against their competition.

TCHO Serious Milk Chocolate Bars
Our winner this year is TCHO for expanding their range of chocolate products but keeping the quality and balance of flavors high.  We've featured TCHO products over the years so I feel we have a good example now of what they can do with dark, milk, and flavored chocolate.  Of course we look forward to their new creations but today they join the ranks of other Great Companies who have sent us samples to feature.

Best Chocolate of the Year as Declared by The Chocolate Cult
2012 = TCHO
2011 = American Heritage Chocolate
2010 = Guittard
2009 = none named since we had not been around a full year

TCHO Baking Drops
Other TCHO Products we've featured:

TCHO Mokaccino Bar

Flavored TCHO:

TCHO Drinking Chocolate

A hot drink from TCHO:

2012 Halloween boxes from TCHO

A spooky box of darks from TCHO:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chocolate Fondue

For our last featured review of 2012 we want you to think back to May of the year when we hosted a Lindt R.S.V.P. party.  One of the things Melanie gave me for hosting was a fondue recipe and two chocolate bars to make it with.  This was the Milk Extra Creamy 3.5oz bar and the 70% Cocoa Smooth Dark 3.5oz bar.  To this you add in 6oz cream, heavy, light, or half and half.

I made ours right in the fondue pot starting the cream on 250°F until it started to boil then I added in the chocolate one square at a time, alternating between the milk and the dark chocolate until it was all smooth.  Then I turned our pot down to "warm" only so the chocolate couldn't burn or scorch.

We tried it with apple slices but found that the chocolate didn't want to stick very well.  Dipping half a piece and letting it set in the chocolate helped that a bit.

Then were tried it with pound cake and even though my hubby cut the pieces a bit large, it was great tasting.  The chocolate soaked in a bit on these cake pieces, almost the opposite of how it behaved with the apples.

The chocolate melted very easily and blended very well.  The result still tasted dark and it was easy to remelt later since we filled up once but wanted it again later.  It made a nice Christmas treat for us.  Fun to make and eat together, I think you should all try it out when you have some romantic time alone.  Check out Melanie's site to order your own components for your own fondue.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chocolate Production and Safety

For weeks I shared links about peanut butter and chocolate products that salmonella in them.  I always try to share health and safety alerts with you all, Sisters and Brothers, because I want you all to be healthy and happy with chocolate.  Recently another of our chocolate followers here sent me a link to an article about all of the potential health risks that chocolate manufacturers have to counter when make their treats for us.

Please check this out then come back here and share some of your thoughts.  The link should open a new window in your browser so you can still leave comments here.


My first thought is that I wonder if health risks are lessened when we have bean to bar companies, you know where they are hands-on with the growth of cocoa beans as well as every step until they sell their products to us.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

South Bend Basket 3

I know that there are plenty of winter holidays left but I still have time to finish sharing the treats in the lovely gift basket we got from the South Bend Chocolate Company back at the end of May 2012.  This is a great item from that basket to share now because it is a gift you can give all on it's own: a box of chocolates.

In this case it is the 12 oz assorted milk chocolate box with 24 individual pieces inside.  From looking at it, I'm betting several of the pieces are the same such as the third and fifth piece along the central row that I have given to our Fruit Acolyte because I think these are coconut.  I suspect that in that same row the first, fourth, and sixth pieces are identical as well.  So with this in mind I will do one large Saturday Sacrament today as we try to figure out what these flavors are.  Again, while I know that chocolate companies love to have us "explore" their collections this is not helpful to people with allergies or specific tastes.  I used their website to help with some of the flavors but not all were pictured.  Also I tried this box, along with others in our Cult, over the course of several weekends. This is NOT a box you should be eating in one sitting, slow down and enjoy.

This first one is unique and it appears to have a slice of almond on top of it.  This might be the Alpine Amaretto Meltaway that I can see on their website.   Even with this large sliver of almond on top, this only has a creamy milk chocolate scent though the lack of vanilla is telling me that something else has overcome the standard South Bend Chocolate fragrance.  It immediately begins to melt in my finger tips but it makes no sound when I take a bite, not even the sliver on top makes a noise.  It has a slight Amaretto flavor but primarily this is a creamy milk chocolate with a subtle burn at the end of it.  definitely not the best of this variety of milk chocolate cream I've had since we began at the end of February 2009, Sisters and Brothers.

The second chocolate is a rectangular piece with three horizontal stripes across the top that I think may be the Jamaican Rum Meltaway.    It has a bit of a kick to it, a strong rum flavor and at first a little kick, but over all it is a very smooth, creamy milk chocolate that does indeed melt in your mouth.  This looks identical to piece 20 in the box and, in fact, when I tested that one it was also the same variety.

The third chocolate in the box is a very round one with two yellow stripes on top.  This is not on the website and it really only has a creamy milk chocolate scent to it.  Biting into creates a very soft sound as I find a very jelly like bright yellow center.  It has a very sweet lemon flavor to it that turns more sour as time passing. Sadly the lemon overwhelms the milk chocolate fairly quickly and becomes the dominant essence.

The fourth piece in this box appears to be the same as the 17th piece.  1.25 X 1.25 X 0.5 inch piece has a tangy sort of scent that comes through the creamy milk chocolate.  Biting into it I discover a firm caramel center making this the Caramel Milk Chocolate.  The caramel is slight tangy and not sweet, it is firm but melts once it enters my mouth.  It blends very well with the milk chocolate at first then becomes the primary flavor partly because it sticks to my teeth bit.  The 17th piece is exactly the same as this one.

The next piece is some type of nut cluster but South Bend Chocolate has at least three varieties of this sort of candy -- almond, peanut, and cashew. The only scent is of the milk chocolate so I must take a bite to determine the sort of cluster this is.  The chocolate crunches and immediately I have a roasted peanut flavor in my mouth surrounded by the milk chocolate.  The 20th piece in the box is the same.

The next piece looks similar to the Caramel Milk Chocolate but it is smaller at 3/8th inch thick; it is identical to the 23rd piece in the box.  A very light peanut essence drifts up when I take a deep breath of this before biting.  As my nose suggested, inside is a creamy roasted peanut center clarifying this as a Peanut Butter Meltaway as is the other identical piece in the box.  The inside is very creamy, not salty at all, and blends with the milk chocolate not overwhelming it.

The next chocolate and the 18th one in the box are both Orange Meltaway if the lines of raised chocolate on the top is a good indication.  There is a definite sweet orange scent under the milk chocolate.  This is a very firm piece of candy, the coating makes a soft sound when I take a bite and the inside is a firm but creamy milk chocolate with orange blended into it. This blending of the two flavors inside allows the chocolate to be the dominant flavors making this one of my favorite pieces so far in the box.

Ending this row and beginning the third row in the box are four pieces of Toffee wrapped in milk chocolate; two pieces per paper cup.  Are these a nut based toffee or just a butter toffee?  There is a slight tangy scent to the milk chocolate and it makes a very loud snap when I bite because inside is a solid toffee center.  It is buttery but not as buttery as many I have tasted nor do I see or taste almonds or other nuts inside.  As with most toffee and chocolate, the milk variety doesn't stand up as well as the darker versions generally do but these are thin enough at one-quarter an inch that the two flavors are balanced.

Three of the center row chocolates appear to be identical but are they?  There are three similarly looking candies on the South Bend Chocolate website so I'll have to try them all.  I know, the things I am willing to do for you all, huh, Sisters and Brothers?  The first one of these is definitely a Cashew Caramel Patty with nut pieces amid a very softy and tangy caramel.  The middle piece that looks the same is the same as the final piece of this shape.  So three Cashew Caramel Patty in this box and each is delicious!

There are ways that chocolatiers mark their individual chocolates: color on them, paper they are wrapped in, and markings made with the chocolate itself.  This next piece, the second one in row two, is a Coffee Mocha Meltaway if the circular swirl on top identifies it correctly.

In the center row we have two identical pieces that I believe are coconut based making them the Coconut Haystacks in Milk Chocolate.  Our Fruit Acolyte's opinion: The coconut things smell sweet, faintly chocolaty. Biting into them, the texture is gritty it crumbles away with a strange overwhelming
flavor of unidentified fruit. I think it's cherry. There is no distinct chocolate or coconut flavor to it, although the coconut shreds remained caught in my teeth long after the chocolate was gone.
The coconut was kind of bitter and on a whole it left a very unpleasant syrupy taste in my mouth.

The third from the end of the entire box is a Raspberry Meltaway.  It is a rectangular piece with two darker pink strips on the top. It has a strong raspberry fragrance that almost covers the creamy chocolate that each of these pieces has in the box.  It is a sweet raspberry flavor that blends well with the creamy chocolate coating and center that it is mixed with.

The final piece in the box is identifiable by the raised line of chocolate as a Michigan Cherry Meltaway.  There is a slight cherry scent to this meltaway and it makes a soft sound when you take a bite. Inside, as with all the other meltaways, is a semi-solid milk chocolate center flavored in this case with a very sweet, almost candied cherry.  The chocolate again just can't stand up well to the other flavor but perhaps a darker variety might.

In all this 12 oz gift box had 24 pieces of 13 different flavors and types of individual chocolate that South Bend Chocolate offers.  For a very creamy milk chocolate lover this is a good choice but if you like a darker chocolate or even a more intense milk chocolate, then you may want to try out a smaller sample first to see how you feel about this recipe.

In three posts I've revealed an entire gift basket from South Bend Chocolate Company to you just in time for a last minute winter holiday consideration, Sisters and Brothers, if you live in Indiana where you can find their cafes and their products in several locations.  If you don't live in Indiana, you can order them online year round.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Petit Fours for the Holidays

Raise your hand if you've heard of Swiss Colony.  You know, the little kiosks and shops that having been popping up for decades and decades around Christmas time where you can get gift baskets and boxes for folks whom you really don't know what to give in this hectic holiday season.  Your Chocolate Priestess has purchases such gifts in the past for distant relatives or older relatives who honestly don't need more stuff to clutter their houses but who like a little treat they can enjoy themselves or share with others.  When I was a child through my early teens, this shop offered me goodies that looked very nice for a price I could afford with my babysitting money.  If you recall, this past fall I helped a friend's daughter promote a sell on behalf of her school and during that I myself ordered four gift certificates that I used to purchase some cookie dough and these two boxes of petit fours from Swiss Colony.  With red and gold box tops these would be nice looking gifts to present but let's see what is inside.

The red box houses chocolate petit fours, 15 of them, all of them identical in shape as I hope you can see here.  I put these in the refrigerator right after receiving them as the instructions suggested because I knew I wanted to save them until closer to Christmas, the main winter holiday celebrate my family honors.  These are three red velvet cake layers with chocolate fudge between the layers and covered entirely with .  The ingredients list does prove these are real chocolate but there are also a lot of added and artificial items on that list, too.  The little cake had a very nice chocolate and cream flavor and at two bites, ideally sized to set up and share at a party.

The gold box has a variety of petit fours, all chocolate but in total five flavors, three of each one.  I'll start at the upper left hand side and work my way across to try and figure out these flavors. The first one has a chocolate coating and red stripes across the top while inside I found a strawberry cream between white cake layers but some type of jelly that is very citrus in taste; I didn't like it much personally.  The second one has a red drop and green tear drop on the white top and inside is white cake with vanilla cream and again this sort of citrus jelly inside; I don't know if this has chocolate or not.  The third one is also chocolate covered with white stripes over the top but inside it has red velvet cake with white cream but no jelly so this one I liked though it wasn't as good as the chocolate petit fours we looked at first in this product review.  The fourth piece with the green drop on top of layers of lemon cake and lemon cream with that citrus jelly that actually works this time because of the overall flavor.  The fifth piece has green stripes over the chocolate coated red velvet cake layers separated by fudge cream.  I think you all know which of these I liked best, right?

Have you bought anything from Swiss Colony recently, say in the past five years, Sisters and Brothers?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Little Chocolate on Your Cards

While you are used to seeing us talk about food and drink here on The Chocolate Cult you also know that we cover anything related to chocolate.  So today I wanted to look at two categories of cards you could order from Noble Works Cards.  Think of these as a way to give chocolate without calories or as a nice addition to any gift of chocolate you might give. None of their Christmas cards have a chocolate theme so they sent us birthday, Valentine's Day, and general cards with cocoa captions and images.  We'll save the Valentine's Day cards until January and look at six others today.

The cards are all standard in terms of their size and paper so let's just look at the eye-candy, shall we?

We'll start with the two any occasion cards.

This one has a birthday version as well but I think the message might be best as a pick-me-up for a friend having a rough time.  I like the 1950s/60s style of clothes and woman and the brownie is just enough to make the connection with the text.

The next everyday card is a bit risqué by some standards I guess.  It also has a birthday version of it that you can choose.  Maybe I run with a strange crowd but I think several of my friends might be amused by this one; men and women both!  Again we have a 1950s/60s style of lady on the cover; she could have been my mother at a birthday party.

Then we have four birthday cards touched by chocolate in their words or images.

How many of you do yoga?  How many of you wish you did yoga?  Then this card might appeal to you.  Inside the card reads: Or you can just sit on your ass and eat chocolate.  Hope your birthday is blissfully happy! The envelope mine arrived with was a bright yellow.

The next one might work well for someone who is interested in environmental causes or who frankly is not and you want to poke fun at them.  It came with a white envelope and inside it read: Dig in.  It's your birthday! Check out the photo!  What a happy family but I bet if mom wasn't getting chocolate it would be a different matter.  I think you must give chocolate with this card or it makes no sense at all.

Here's another one for an exercise freak or an exercise hater who loves chocolate.  This sultry 1960s chick gives it to you straight adding inside: Happy Birthday cause her look pretty much says it all.  Of course she doesn't look like she needs exercise and in fact could use a few pieces of chocolate though she also has a very boyish waistline, doesn't she? This came with a red envelope.

The last birthday card also came with a red envelope but the woman drawn on it seems more 1940s/50s style, the type you might see on a pulp fiction book cover.  She isn't going to put up with your cheapness. Her declaration inside the card makes perfect sense to me: NOT ENOUGH! Happy Birthday!  You better give a lot of chocolate or no chocolate at all with this cards.

There are many other chocolate themed cards at Noble Works Cards.  I did a search for you so you can find them.

Noble Works Cards are funny, silly, a bit risqué perhaps, and a touch rude, too.  But they made us laugh out loud so they might make someone you care about laugh, too.  Laughter is great for your heart, your body, and if you are lucky it isn't too bad for your soul.  Noble Works Cards is also offering all of you, Sisters and Brothers, a special offer: put “choco” in as coupon and you'll get for 35% off orders until Valentine's Day.  With cards under $3 that means you can get them for under two bucks!

Thank you to Noble Works Cards for letting us use their photos and for sending us this sampler.  We'll look at them again around Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cookie Swap 2012 Recipe

Last year your Chocolate Priestess participated in her first ever cookie swap.  It went very well so I decided to try and take part again this year.  As last year, I was sent three names of sister food bloggers to send a dozen cookies to and then write about today.  We had to chose a different recipe from last year so I chose a cookie I could make using our cookie gun because it is fun and fairly fast and easy. Given my teaching this semester on top of my normal full time author career, I needed something quicker and simple.  I still think these cookies turned out well and I hope the three people I sent them to agree: Wendy Sondov of The Monday Box, Betsy Eves of JavaCupcake, and Sara Croft of Solid Gold Eats.

Finding a good recipe for these cookies was the biggest challenge.  Several recipes were out there on the Internet and the gun itself came with a group of recipes.  I decided to try this one because it used unsweetened chocolate in it and the more chocolate the better, right?

In return for my joining this cookie swap and supporting the charity it was attached to this year, I also received a turner or flipper from OXO.  In regards to the cookies I made for this swap this didn't work very well, it wasn't quite firm enough to deal with the spritz cookies I made this year because one fo the tricks to these is that you have to remove them fast because as they cool down they stick harder to the cookie sheet.  I'll try the OXO product later and then post about it.

I decided to combine this recipes post with a Special Sacramental Review as well because I used the last three bars of chocolate from DOVE.  I also modified the original recipe so here are the resulting cookies: Triple Chocolate Spritz Cookies.

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 T skim milk
1/2 tsp creme de cocoa
13 sections of DOVE 71% chocolate bar, melted
2 cups whole grain flour
1/4 tsp salt
more DOVE 71% chocolate bar, melted

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Do not put anything on your cookies -- no butter or non-strick spray, no parchment paper.

Cream together shortening and sugar until well blended.  Add egg, milk, and creme de cocoa and beat until it is all fully mixed.

Melt your chocolate (13 sections) until smooth then add to the wet ingredients mixing until thoroughly combined.  The DOVE bars melted very easily in the microwave.

Mix together flour and salt then add the dry ingredients to the previous wet mixture until smooth.  The batter will be slightly stick but over all a semi-solid dough.

Roll the dough into tubes and add one at a time to the cookie press or cookie gun as we call it here.  Then choose your design pattern and place it on the end of the press.  Make sure when you force out the dough you keep it perpendicular to the cookie sheet and lift straight up.  The dough should stick to the cookie sheet.

Then bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and immediately lift the cookies off the hot pan and onto parchment paper.  If you don't do this quickly the cookies will start to cool and stick.

To reuse the cookie sheets make sure you cool it off completely before putting down more dough.

Let cookies cool completely.

Then melt the remaining chocolate and dip one-half of each cookie into the liquid and set it back on the parchment paper. The chocolate should return to a solid state in about 1-2 hours.

This made almost 50 cookies!

The cookie part that wasn't dipped in the chocolate was more sweet than I had hoped but the dipped part was excellent in terms of amount of chocolate flavor.

Also in return for my sending out cookies, I received cookies back from three people.

The first cookies to arrive were from Sara at Solid Gold Eats who sent a dozen "Peanut Butter and Strawberry Vanilla Jame Thumbprints." We love these types of peanut butter cookies around here but we never had them with a fruit center/top before.  Very nice combination of the fruity and the peanut.

The second batch to arrive were these Chocolate Peppermint Cookies from the baker chick.  These looked very chocolatey and so I, of course, was thrilled.  The little pieces of peppermint on top was seasonal yet this much like the previous dozen, could easily be made at other types of the year by using different sugar candies on top.

Saturday, December 15, 2012, the Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles arrived from Java Cupcake.  Her cookies had a ways to travel since she is blogging and serving her country overseas.  They arrived well in this red plastic container.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holiday Chocolate with Spirit

I discovered Chocolate for the Spirit a few years back at the Brown County Humane Society Chocolate Walk. We've been trying to find time on both our calendars to bring you some of their creations first because they make very intriguing chocolate but also they are one of the Indiana Artisans that our state government has helped to promote over the past few years.  Finally we can bring you part of their sample to us for these Winter Holidays and some more later in 2013. Today's featured trio includes their dark chocolate Buddha bonbon and two types of barks: Peppermint and Golden Tiger Swirl.

Buddha Bonbon is 72% dark chocolate; they also make a milk chocolate version.  He has caramel as well as pink Himalayan salt underneath his edible gold dusted exterior.  He measures 1.5 inches both at his widest and his longest and he is almost an inch thick at his tummy.  I'm a bit worried about picking him up because I don't want him to melt in my fingers so I do so very carefully.  The gold comes off my fingers a bit but otherwise he feels cool and smooth. Hard do I bite into him?  I decide to do like I do with bunnies and other such critters, fast with a head bite.  The body makes a snap when I take a bite and inside is a creamy textured slightly salty but sweet caramel flavor that quickly blends into a dark cocoa that reminds the final essence in my mouth.  Getting my mouth around the top part of the torso is a bit of a challenge but the taste and texture experience is the same.  The dark chocolate here in comparison seems slightly bitter compared to the sweet and salty aspects but I really like them all together.  Did you know that today, December 8, is also Bodhi Day, a day when Siddhartha experienced Enlightenment?  I'm so thrilled by this connection that I just had to point it out.  Remember, Sisters and Brothers, multiple religions and cultures celebrate festivals in the winter so expand your mind and your mouth to mark them all.  This little guy comes with a message from Julie, the woman behind Chocolate for the Spirit but you'll need to get one yourself to learn what that is.

The Peppermint Bark- New School is very festive looking for the winter holidays and there is just something about peppermint that we've grown to so strongly associate with them here in America that if we don't see, smell, or taste something peppermint it hardly seems like the holidays have arrived. This has dark and white chocolate, peppermint oil, peppermint candy pieces, pecans, cranberries, and pistachios with a edible silver dust here and there.  Obviously as you can see in the photos, the bark came in pieces. One of these in this case was basically the dark chocolate infused with the peppermint oil; it melted so evenly in my mouth after a very loud snap from taking a bite, the peppermint built up with each chew then receded into the background leaving the deliciously lightly bitter chocolate.  Then I try a piece with more of the white chocolate, the candy pieces, and the nuts and cranberries. The cranberries and candy are chewy, the nuts crunchy, and the white chocolate mixed well with the darker, all bringing out the peppermint for a while but leaving a creamy nutty essence behind.  Personally I was a bit overwhelmed by all the various flavors but the differences in textures was fun to explore.

The Golden Tiger Bark is more a general bark that you could enjoy year around but since I was covering the previous bark, I decided we'd do this one as well. This has dark, milk, and white chocolate as well as peanut butter, pecans, French sea salt, and edible gold dust again.  These have a light peanut butter scent to them when I open the lid and the chocolate is more milk than anything else.  This feels softer in my fingers than the previous bark did but then that one seemed to have a base of the dark chocolate it was built on while this looks and smells to be more of a milk chocolate and peanut butter base.  The only sound is soft and comes from the nuts when I encounter them.  There is also a hint of the salt with the creamy chocolate and peanut butter.  The white and darker chocolate are too little to make much an impact on my taste buds though I'm sure they are blending in and just unable to stand out on their own.  I really, really love how it all blends together but if I closed my eyes I couldn't identify all three chocolates.

There you have three timely treats from Chocolate for the Spirit and one is perfect for this particular winter holiday we have today while the barks are either more general or winer season fun.  My favorite had to be the Buddha bonbon and he earns a Sacrament status for this time of year.  Of the barks the Golden Tiger Swirl was superior for me and even that was a bit busy because I couldn't pull out individual flavors as well a the blended whole.  If you've tried these, Sisters and Brothers, please let me know what you think.  If you haven't, how cute is the Buddha bonbon?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Visit to Jungle Jim's for Chocolate

Back in October of this year, our Chocolate Fruit Acolyte and I went to Ohio for a convention that didn't go very well but this blog is not the place to discuss that since it involves my fiction writing not chocolate.  As a way to try and cheer me up, Rene told me about a grocery store that was like an amusement park that she had been to a few times.  It wasn't far from the convention so we headed there before driving home.  I was looking forward to their amazing chocolate selection.

Now I was not prepared for Jungle Jim's International Market, Rene's words just couldn't get my mind to grasp what I was about to see.  It was very much like an amusement park.  Let's see some photos so you can see what I mean.

Approaching the shop from parking lot.

The Exit looks like a ride at an amusement park.

And we get a bit closer.

And a bit closer.

There's the Entrance.

But once inside look at everything.  We go to this section by turning to our left after we went into the entrance you see in the above photo. There was more ahead of us but we had limited time and energy.

Inside finding chocolate proved more of a challenge than I was in the mood for. I was deeply tired and emotionally annoyed by the convention and it had been awhile since Rene's visit. She took me to the Candy section but as you'll see below it really wasn't chocolate.

Sign over Candy Section.

The Candy Section had this big display of Movie Tyme treats that might look familiar if you ever go to the movies.

It also had a huge Jelly Belly dispenser section to the left of the movie treats.

No, these characters did only only point to MM products. I didn't show you everything that is in this section, Sisters and Brothers cause I was looking for this unique collection of chocolates.

Next to the candy section was the bakery and we had a chat with the manager there who passed on my information to a wonderful lady I talked to a couple of weeks later. But that's getting ahead of myself, Sisters and Brothers. Here's some photos of their bakery.

It was before Halloween, just a few days before so they had these decorated caramel apples.

The bakery section also had special displays for other smaller, speciality bakeries.  You can see a bit more of the candy section in the background to give you a sense of where things were.

We were told to head across the store (not a small adventure) to find a chocolate aisle.  To be honest, it was still confusing and while we found individual nation aisles.  Some of these had chocolate but the staff in this section was no help; they took us from one section to another but did not seem to grasp that we were looking for an aisle of just chocolate.  In this photo you can see the "England" display above our heads, Robin Hood cause, you know, he's Robin Hood!

Finally we found a staff member who walked us over to the chocolate aisle, that we marked and looked at for a while.  Here you can see that while it was impressive it also reminded me a good deal of the chocolate aisle at a local international foods market not far from my house that I've reviewed here before.

The aisle was fairly long so let's keep walking down it, shall we?

And we'll keep walking and check out all the Cadbury, more than I've seen elsewhere in the shops I've visited so far in the USA.  Lots of Lindt chocolate as well be I do see that brand far more often and we've been featuring it a lot this past year plus.

Another chocolate display in this section near the end though this is not the end of the aisle.  I wanted to leave you all something to explore.  Oh look, a piece of my finger.  I actually did OK with the photos considering these were on my cellphone.

We also wandered back into several of the nation sections of the store but ultimately returned so I could buy three chocolate products that you see here.  One of these, from France, that I've all ready looked at for you all.  So that leaves these two products to briefly discuss.

Blanxart's Chocolate Negro from Spain is a 62% cacao 1.7oz bar.  This is simply chocolate -- cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla, nothing else.  It tastes great because nothing interferes with our Sacred Substance in this treat.  The wrapper appears to be recyclable and is quite easy to remove.

The Nougat Passion from Italy's Quaranta, is a soft nougat filled with nuts covered with a darker chocolate layer including tiny pieces over the top weighing 3.5oz.  There is a very stuck on layer of white paper on the bottom of this that took a bit of effort to remove; don't eat it.  The bottom nougat layer is very sticky as well so have a handy wipe ready.  The bulk of this is a very dense nougat with with slivers of almonds that overwhelms the dark chocolate top layer.

The woman from Jungle Jim's that I talked to later said that perhaps in the future they'd like to invite me out to visit them more fully or send me products to do features about.  If that happens, we'd be honored to cover them again.  Have you been to Jungle Jim's International Market, Sisters and Brothers? What did you think? Do you have an international food market in your city that can even come close?

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