Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chocolate Recall July 28, 2013

Sadly I have a chocolate related recall to report to you all today, Sisters and Brothers.  This is more related to stores than to individuals but if you purchased the products in question in a candy shop bin, you may want to contact that store and see if their shipment is part of this recall.  As always we are not the last word and you must follow our links and stay updated.

Ferrara Candy Company Voluntarily Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Peanuts and Tree Nuts in Brach’s Malted Milk Balls

Contact Consumer: 1-800-323-1768

Media: Andi Rose / Bryan Darrow
Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 23, 2013 - Ferrara Candy Company (“Ferrara”) is recalling 6 pound packages of bulk Brach’s Malted Milk Balls because they may contain undeclared tree nuts (i.e., Brazil nuts) and peanuts. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to tree nuts and peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The recalled 6 pound packages of Malted Milk Balls were distributed nationwide to retail stores.

The product comes in a 6 pound, clear plastic package packed in a box marked with lot #20130418 on the side and with an expiration date of 04/17/14 stamped on the side. The product is intended to be sold to the consumer in bulk bins.

This recall is limited to a single, specific lot containing 5,274 pounds.

No illnesses were reported to date in connection with this matter.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that some 6 pound packages of Brach’s Malted Milk Balls contained small amounts of tree nuts and/or peanuts.

This recall does not apply to any other Brach’s Malted Milk Ball products.

Consumers who have purchased bulk Brach’s Malted Milk Balls and are sensitive to tree nuts and peanuts are urged to return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund or exchange. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-323-1768, Monday through Friday from 7 am to 5 pm CST.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Reese's Bars of Ice Cream

Another coupon from Unilever was for Good Humor and you've probably know them because of their candy bar ice cream bars but when Your Chocolate Priestess was a child she knew them as makers of bars, cones, and sandwiches!  Unfortunately here in South Central Indiana my nearest stores only carry the candy bars from Good Humor so I choose the Reese'a variety this year to reveal to you all.  If we do this in the future with Good Humor I'll need to have our Coconut Acolyte do the testing or perhaps they'll team up with another candy bar brand.

One box of the Reese'a ice cream bars has six individual bars inside each with 280 calories so this is not a low-cal treat but since they are individually wrapped you can easily control the amount you eat.  Just like a Reese's cup or other shape of candy treat they make nowadays, this has milk chocolate coating over a peanut butter center in this case the peanut butter part is the ice cream.  I shared these with four other people and our opinions about them were pretty much the same.

The bar, shaped more like the top of the traditional Reese's Cup is with pie crust like waving along the edges, has a top and bottom where the chocolate coating is less thick.  When we took a whiff from the top there was no scent but from the bottom a strong peanut butter fragrance was easily found.  Taking a bite made a soft crunching sound and revealed that that chocolate coating wasn't very thick at all. The ice cream is very creamy and strongly peanut buttery, very much like the inside of the Reese cup you've probably had however the chocolate flavor was almost non-existent.  The ice cream has ribbons of peanut butter throughout and I'm sorry that my camera was not good enough to zoom in and show you, Sisters and Brothers.  These ribbons of peanut butter added intense bursts of flavor to the ice cream.

The result is a very creamy peanut flavor with almost no milk chocolate.  If you like the peanut part of Reese's then this is a great treat.  If you like the milk chocolate part of that brand this is disappointing.  They need to increase the amount of chocolate and decrease the peanut butter to make it as balance as the candy bar that inspired it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Klondike Mint Chocolate Chip

Still hot out, in fact much warmer than earlier in July when National Ice Cream Month began so we'll continue with more ice cream features and spread them out into August since the folks from Unilever sent us five free coupons for five different brands they own.  Today we'll look at Klondike and if you thought in the past we covered a lot of these you are right but today we have a different flavor: Mint Chocolate Chip that comes in packages of six individually wrapped bars.  These are not ice cream sandwiches, these are chocolate covered squares of ice cream and the different will be come important in a moment so please keep reading.

The box the bars come in proclaim "Now Better Chips!" but I haven't had this variety before, haven't seen it in our stores before so I can't honestly say if these are better or not but I can say that the chips taste different from the chocolate coating.  Be careful because as soon as you pick one up your body temperature will start it melting so these are eat them fast treats.  The bar has a slightly mint scent but mostly a light chocolate fragrance.  As you can see in this second photo the bottom of the bars are not smooth as the tops and sides are suggesting they are moved along on the bottom as the coating hardens.

The green of the ice cream is more intense on the box than in the actual product.  Getting a photo close enough to show you the chips inside was a challenge so I hope you'll forgive this quality, Sisters and Brothers, but the bar was melting and I needed to work fast.  As you can see there are tiny chocolate chips in the ice cream.  When I bit into them and they melted very quickly the type of chocolate was clearly not the same as the coating.  Cool can play tricks when it comes to chocolate.  Milk chocolate often barely tastes like chocolate at all as an ice cream and darker chocolate can taste very creamy.  To my mouth the coating seemed  more creamy that the little bursts of chips but the label tells me that the cold and ice cream had me fooled.  The coating is listed as dark chocolate while the chips are semi-sweet.  The mint was barely there to my taste buds but there was a definite extra level of cool that was beyond what the ice cream was offering.

Ultimately the chocolates were the dominant flavor that that makes this a winner for The Chocolate Cult.  But it is Sacrament level winning?  This is where we have to think about the ingredients.  The chips are made with unsweetened chocolate and cocoa butter; the coating has chocolate liquor and cocoa both processed with alkali. This is real chocolate, thus Sacrament worthy.  But there are also added fats beyond what ice cream or chocolate requires as well as some chemicals so that's a negative. The end result is leaning a bit more toward the Sacrament side but you tell me, Sisters and Brothers: Is this worthy?

Friday, July 19, 2013

What businesses might benefit from a chocolate infusion?

Sisters and Brothers, did you see the article in Salon about chocolate and bookstores?


You need to go check it out.

Just do that now then come back here.

So what did you think of the article?

It made your Chocolate Priestess think "What other stores might benefit from the fragrance of chocolate?" and "How might they benefit?"

In bookstores the more a customer lingers, the more they tend to find others book they want to buy.

Obviously bakeries or food shops probably wouldn't benefit much unless they are selling chocolate goods but even then given the scents you find in such stores I doubt this would entice more buying.

What about other types of shops?

Could it make shopping for clothing less hateful if you felt more relaxed or instead make you more conscious of your body and therefore less likely to try out more outfits?

Car dealerships?  Wouldn't that be competing with the "new car smell" we are all supposed to like?

Grocery shopping might be a perfect fit.  While I occasionally get whiffs in the bakery part of the store the subtle scent of chocolate might entice me to look longer in the baking supplies or frozen foods sections.  But they do so much all ready to encourage the shopper to dissociate and impulse buy that this could just overwhelm people.

What about gaming or electronics stores?  Yes, it seems like more of the customers in these shops are male but men love chocolate, too, so it might work.

What do you all think?  What businesses might benefit from a chocolate infusion?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

All Around Lovely Artisan Truffles

New chocolate companies come and go frequently yet of the 161 companies we have tested and featured since the end of February 2009 only three no longer exist.  Often this is because those chocolatiers brave enough to send us their samples produce quality chocolates and know their marketing and the economy. Sometimes it is because their customers are loyal and spread the word so that others try them out.  There are companies that limit themselves as well so they never get into the situation of making more chocolate than they can sell.  Newer chocolate makers arise all the time and today we're going to look at Fera'wyn's Artisan Chocolates.  I had help from three of our speciality Acolytes with this feature so I'll put their words in italics as I always try to do for you, Sisters and Brothers.

Our Chocolate and Alcohol Acolyte had the most work the evening of our testing with three truffles.  Luckily the Mocha Acolyte was willing and able to help her out some.  She began with the Bananas Foster Truffle.  Smells like banana and chocolate and has a pretty yellow/orange paint.  When she took a bite she discovered a soft rum taste, not over powering. Then as she tried it again she found that it was a nice banana/rum/chocolate compliment; nicely blended.  Final verdict: Tastes similar to the Banana Foster Dessert you may have had in restaurants or made at home.

She took a break to cleanse her palate and our Tea Acolyte tried the Spiced Tea Truffle.  He found he could smell chocolate but nothing else possibly because the bottom is very thick -- top is a very thin shell of chocolate and given the painting of them it could easily mask the scents if they are not strong.  He really liked the paint job on this truffle describing thusly: top shell is red fading to gold at the edges, spattered with white -- whitish filling inside taste of tea and anise."Tasting it a few times he says the filling is really fun -- flavor notes emerge at different times, fading to chocolate because filling dissolves in mouth faster than chocolate.  Isn't that what we want, Sisters and Brothers?  Strong chocolate finishing flavors?

Next one of our Mocha Acolytes, who will be leaving us so the other one will need to take on his duties here, tried the Iced Caramel Coffee Truffle. He describes it as pretty -- looks very appetizing/stylized coffee bean.  A breaks across the top" of one "allow nicer cocoa/coffee scent, bottom smells more of chocolate.  When he took his first bite there was a nice burst of espresso that tastes more like cappuccino; ganache is light brown like cappuccino. Reminiscent of Wether's Original candies.  Inside the cocoa nibs give a bit of dark cocoa flavor afterward and a nice grainy texture of real cocoa.  The chocolate shells adds additional flavor but the focus of the experience was the filling for this truffle.

The Limoncello Truffle was next up and our Chocolate and Alcohol Acolyte had some help at this point with her testing since we were all sitting down together to work with these but her words are our guide to the conversation we had.  She could smell chocolate, cannot smell the limoncello though she had had this liqueur in the past. Taking a bite she was hit by the strong lemon taste, not one to bite into unprepared, definite zing to it.  It has a smooth creamy filling with a nice aftertaste of dark chocolate punctuated by the limoncello.

Finally she tried the Bourbon Truffle and found it has a warm chocolate smell and a cute moon shape before she even took a bite.  Our photo does a good job of showing these with the swirls of color.  Biting into it revealed nice smooth Bourbon, chocolate layering in taste, not over powering in alcohol but she can tell the alcohol is present.  She was hunting for the vanilla taste; alcohol overpowers the vanilla in the dark cream filling.  Reminds me of a nice after dinner drink in a mall chocolate bite.

Every one of our Acolytes who helped me with the testing and writing of today's feature agreed that these truffles are Sacrament Worthy.  There is no regular set of flavors on their website so you'll need to find Fera'wyn's on Facebook to learn what is available from day to day or email/telephone them to find out. These are well worth your trying so I urge you all to do so.  You can find them currently at Lafayette Farmers Market on Sundays 9am-1pm at Lafayette BART Station in South Parking Lot off Happy Valley Road, Lafayette, CA 94546.  Sunday, July 15, 2013, they will also be donating their time and truffles to Whiskers, Tails & Ferals this Sunday 1-5pm and have a table at the fundraiser and offering free chocolates for the attendees.  You need to go check them out, Sisters and Brothers in the Lafayette California area then come back here and tell us what you thought!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cocoa Mousse Blueberry Muffins

Today, Sisters and Brothers, is National Blueberry Muffin Day and I wanted to see if I could something with blueberry muffins that was different as well as chocolatey.  The following is my experiment, try it at your own risk.

Cocoa Mousse Blueberry Muffins

     3 packets Martha White Whole Grain Blueberry Muffin Mix
     2 8oz fat free cream cheese
     1.5 cup skim milk
     1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

     Preheat oven to 425ºF and spray muffin tin with no-stick spray.

     Bring the cream cheese to room temperature then mix together with the milk until the entire mixture is slightly liquidity and smooth.  Start on the lowest mixture setting and gradually increase speed.

     Add in the cocoa a tablespoon at a time until it is thoroughly blended.
     Add in the muffin mix one packet at a time until it is thoroughly blended.

     Spoon into muffin pan to the 3/4 mark -- these are too dense to really rise much so don't worry about spill over.  I got 23 muffins out of this recipe.

Final Results:
     Well, I wouldn't call this a great success in terms of my made-up recipes but they the day after you make them the flavor balances between the cocoa and the blueberries; you taste primarily blueberries when they are still warm from the oven. The texture is almost mousse like without being moist and the blueberries stayed very juicy even after a few days.  I really wanted it to be more chocolatey so powdered cocoa may not have been the best way to go.  Each muffin has 144 calories (if you make 23 of them) so not much more than if you just followed the muffin recipe and made only 18 muffins.

But then we've never claimed this was a recipe site, have we, Sisters and Brothers?

Give me your suggestions for improving this recipe in the comments below.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Put Chocolate in Your Toothpaste?

Sisters and Brothers, months ago when I first heard about Theodent, a toothpaste made from chocolate, I just had to look into it.  The company was very generous and sent us samples to try and you'll see that feature on Saturday.    Their project manager, Jantzen Hubbard, was willing to answer some questions about the product so here is our email interview with him.  I will be trying each of the three tubes of toothpaste they sent us for 4-6 weeks and then doing a feature for each one -- how it worked, if my teeth feel different, those sorts of general questions.

Enjoy our interview and please do leave comments or questions you may have.

In your own words would you explain to our readers what exactly Theodent is?

Theodent is a revolutionary new line of toothpastes that offer a fluoride alternative called "Rennou." Rennou is a blend of minerals, the main one of which is a compound called theobromine, found naturally in chocolate, or more accurately the cacao plant. Theodent uses Rennou to build new enamel in sheeting layers on the surface of human teeth, something commercial toothpastes have never been able to do before. 

Several member's of your company have backgrounds ranging from DDS to professors and researchers in the fields of medicine and mineralogy.  How did the idea of using cacao components in toothpaste develop? Was it from a medical or business perspective?

The original research started in the 1980s in a study of the effects of caffeine on prenatal bone/teeth growth purely from a medical perspective. Due in part to this research, we now know that it is not safe for pregnant women to ingest caffeine in the form of coffee, soft drinks, ect. because it stunts bone/teeth growth in the growing neonate. Theobromine, the primary component of Rennou found in chocolate,  and theophylline (found in teas) are similar in structure to caffeine. Originally the hypothesis was that this whole family of molecules, called methylzanthines, would have the same deleterious effect as caffeine. As theobromine was studied in this capacity, as a happy accident, the opposite proved to be true! It had an amazing effect on tooth enamel. Human enamel is comprised of a mineral called hydroxyapatite. Once it was noted that theobromine had a positive effect on growing and strengthening enamel, some mineralogists were enlisted to study exactly what has happening to enamel when theobromine was topically applied. Dr. Sadeghpour, our current CEO, was the first to compare theobromine's effect vs. fluoride. He completed his PhD studying this topic in 2007, and founded Theodent shortly after based on the results published in his thesis. After a few years of product development, he along with his team brought Theodent to the masses. 

How long did it take to conduct the research that led to Theodent?

Given that the research started in the 80s, about 30 years. It took place primarily at the Louisiana State University Dental School, University of New Orleans, and Tulane University.

Did your testing include both adults and children?  Was there a difference in the benefits of this product?

 Though Theodent's research was primarily focused on adults, children stand to benefit even more than full grown adults. Theodent's effect is topical. It builds stronger enamel on the surface of teeth. If a child uses Theodent while his or her teeth are developing, then stronger enamel can be encouraged throughout the tooth structure vs. just the surface. As we only get one set of adult teeth, having stronger and harder hydroxyapatite comprising the developing tooth can lead to a lifetime of healthier and harder enamel.  However, Theodent Kids chocolate flavored toothpaste is specially formulated for the sensitive palates of youngsters to maximize the amount of time they spend brushing.

I notice that you have three versions of this toothpaste.  Could you briefly explain the differences between them?

Theodent Classic: Whitening Crystal Mint is our flagship product and retails around the United States from $10.99 to $14.99. 

Theodent Kids: Whitening Chocolate Chip is our newest product marketed toward "kids and adults young at heart," has a delicious chocolate flavor and has really been turning heads as a safe-to-swallow kids toothpaste. It's pricing is the same as Theodent Classic. 

Theodent 300: (also Whitening Crystal Mint flavor) is our super potent enamel building/strengthening toothpaste (though still safe for daily use) and is comparable (though more effective) to a commercial in-office fluoride treatment. It retails mainly in dentist offices and high end boutiques for $99.99. 

We have looked at products made from almost any part of the cocoa bean or tree that you can imagine ranging from candy and baked goods to lip balm, soap, and paper.  From what part of the cocoa bean or tree do you find the chemical now called Rennou?

The part of the cacao plant that contains the highest concentration of Theobromine is called its "nibs" which reside in the interior of the cacao pod. Cacao nibs are also the part of the plant that is refined into commercial chocolate. 

Does Theodent have calories?

Negligible if at all. We only recommend a very small ribbon of Theodent to be used in brushing. 

Does Theodent smell or taste like chocolate?

Currently, only Theodent Kids has a chocolate flavor/aroma. Both Theodent Classic and 300 have a mild spearmint flavor. 

Finally is using Theodent the same as using other toothpastes?  Do you recommend using it as often and in the same quantities as the most common toothpaste?

Theodent is definitely raising the bar for toothpastes. Its capacity to build new enamel is something perviously thought to be impossible. We do recommend use twice daily, just like normal toothpastes. However, there is a slight difference in the way we recommend brushing with Theodent. We recommend that one brushes with Theodent as normal, spitting and rinsing as normal. Then we recommend what we call a "finishing brush." After the first brush/rinse/spit, we then recommend brushing a second time, spitting out the excess, but NOT rinsing. The longer the residual foam stays on the surface of teeth, the better. Longer exposure of the Theodent foam to teeth's surface invites a more dramatic effect in smoothness and hardness, particularly as one is going to bed and not planning on eating or drinking anything else. Also, our research suggests that Rennou works in significantly smaller doses than a similar amount of a fluoride toothpaste. Our beautiful tube has a honed tip that dispenses a clean ribbon of toothpaste vs. the globs of toothpaste normal tubes dispense. We recommend about a half inch ribbon of Theodent be used per brushing. 

What other questions do you have, Sisters and Brothers, about Theodent?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

MAGMUM Gold Ice Cream Bars

As you may recall from our Wednesday post, MAGMUM went big this year announcing their new variety called Gold.  I arranged for a sample of this new bar to be sent to us so we could test and reveal it to you all, Sisters and Brothers, and the Unilever company sent us two boxes: regular and mini sized Gold bars.  Generally the various flavors of MAGMUM do come in both the large bar and the mini size but I was surprised that they sent us both.  As you will see they do have slightly different flavors because of the ratio of ice cream to chocolate coatings.

The Gold bars have a golden color that reminds me a bit of golden rod in the crayon boxes I grew up using but with a sparkle to the hue.  These bars are 3.38oz each and as you can see a good size with the bar measuring about 4 inches long and more than an inch thick.  I had to open my mouth wide to try this one out.

Taking a bite I revealed the vanilla ice cream with a few caramel ribbons and the golden milk chocolate on top of it, only the top of this chocolate later is colored gold.  I found the golden chocolate had a bit of an aftertaste to it, it wasn't just the milk chocolate that I've had in other MAGNUM bars we've featured.  The vanilla ice cream has the vanilla bean specks in it along with the brownish gold caramel ribbons.  The caramel is the primary flavor completely overwhelming the milk chocolate in large part I believe because of the color that has been used.  Yeah, food dye can affect the flavor of things and so much is generally needed for chocolate that the change can be intense.  This wasn't unpleasant over all but as I said not quite enough chocolate.

The Minis appear to be just smaller versions of the regular bars.  This is a great way to watch calories if you are concerned with that.  Two mini bars (or one serving) is fewer calories than the larger bars; eat only one mini and not only will you get less calories but the box will last twice as long!  The ratio of the vanilla ice cream and caramel to the chocolate coating is smaller and the Belgium chocolate did come through more than in the full sized bars however the dominant flavor was still caramel followed by the vanilla ice cream and finally the chocolate dulled by the coloring.

This is a decadent tasting bar but compared to the size of it the calories are fairly reasonable.  The chocolate may be high quality, when I compare them to other varieties we've featured from this same brand, I know that it probably is but the coloring really hides it.  The result is really a vanilla caramel treat that you know has chocolate but that can't stand up to the other two flavors.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

MAGNUM Gold Showstopper

To start off a month of ice cream featured reviews, we're going to look at the multi-media showstopper called MAGNUM Gold.  We received an amazing, there was simply no other word for it, two-part shipment from MAGNUM back in April.  First there was the surprise shipment of all of this that you see in the photo.  A wooden treasure chest like box that had a golden key, an ice cream bar shaped thumb drive, and a 187ml bottle of Moet and Chandon Imperial Champagne.  Check out the photo display below to walk through the process of unwrapping it all that very day.

This box along with ribbons and a bag holding what looked like an ice cream bar came inside an otherwise non-descript cardboard box.

Inside the paper sleeve was a wooden box, an actual wooden box sort of like a long version of a treasure chest.  This was starting to get exciting, Sisters and Brothers!

What was inside?  A lot of empty space under a golden section of tissue paper but then something else you can see the top of here in this photo.

I took every thing out but didn't unwrap it yet.  Now my husband was starting to get excited and he was urging me to "hurry up" because it was cool and a bit over the top perhaps.  He's so cute when this "hobby of mine that makes no money" as he complains often actually interests him from time to time.

Inside the wrapping tissue paper and the two fabric bags were a golden key, a small bottle of champagne, and a thumb drive shaped like a MAGNUM ice cream bar! Now I confess I was a bit excited and confused.  See I don't think champagne when I think chocolate.

Using the key I arranged for a shipment of their new Gold bars and they came a week later.  Two boxes -- MAGNUM Gold bars and mini-bars which I will reveal to you all on Saturday!

On top of all of this, MAGNUM is holding a contest so here is their photo below about that if you'd like to check it out. Just follow this link and give it a try.

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 2013 Chocolate Fun Holidays

The start of July and a new round of fun food holidays we can celebrate with chocolate. The big deal is that the entire month is "National Ice Cream" month here in the USA so we'll have Saturday Sacraments focused on this as long as we have the supply to do so.

July = National Ice Cream Month

July 1 = Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day -- let me know some of your creative combinations as long as they have chocolate

July 3 = National Chocolate Wafer Day -- add some wafers into your ice cream to combine this day holiday with the month's theme

July 7 = Chocolate Day -- that's just generic!

July 8 = National Chocolate with Almonds Day -- horrible day for my house since my husband is allergic to tree nuts

July 9 = National Sugar Cookie Day -- you can add chocolate to sugar cookies

July 11 = National Blueberry Muffin Day -- I have a recipe to share with you all for this one.

July 12 = National Pecan Pie Day -- same here, add some chocolate!

Third Sunday in July = National Ice Cream Day -- falls on July 21st this year

July 23, 1919 = First Ice Cream Cones served, these were served at the World's Fair in St. Louis, MO, USA

July 25 = National Hot Fudge Sundae Day -- makes sense during this month, doesn't it?

July 28 = National Milk Chocolate Day

July 30 = National Cheesecake Day -- it is so unhealthy all ready why not add chocolate?

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