May 7, 2009

Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act

Economy got you down? Looking for a little relief? How about some free chocolate? Sound good? Well Mars has got your hookup. They have instituted their Real Chocolate Relief Act. What the heck is that you ask? Well, it's this thing where through the end of September they're giving away 250,000 "single-sized packages" of chocolate every Friday. If you visit the Real Chocolate site at 9:00am EST (6:00am PST) on Friday you can try to get your hands on one of them. They get passed out on a first-come-first-served basis so the earlier you try the better. The only catch is they mail you the coupon (well, you also can't win more than once per Friday and no more than four weeks in the period and it says to allow approximately six weeks to get your coupon). But we all know what they say about gift horses right? Oh, and you're not supposed to look them in the mouth, either.

So forget the economic mess and get your free choccie on!

It would appear that there was some underestimation of the fervor for free chocolate. I hit them at 9:03am EST and their site was down. I suppose millions of people wanting free chocolate is a lot to expect your servers to handle. Ah, they'll get it back together and I'll bet next week they'll be ready for the crush. We've got many weeks left to try for our freebies.

Happy Friday anyway!

**UPDATE 2**
Hey, I just checked and it's working now! Yay for free chocolate! All indications are that I actually got there in time to get my a coupon. So if you were frustrated with the non-functioning status of the site this morning things seem better now. Or, if it ends up being too late there's always next Friday - and a whole slew of Fridays after that.

March 29, 2008

Write Off Another Week

"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley" Robert Burns
Well, this week has been quite the mess. I had high hopes of posting and then things... went wrong. I decided to upgrade my pc and ended up with a dead box for a few days. My allergies and a cold both teamed up on me to start making me miserable (you ever had a wire brush taken to your throat and sinus cavity? that's how it felt) and I spent most of Thursday asleep. I only just got sound working on my pc again this evening and the cold and allergies are still giving me problems. And the only thing that got me through it all was my container of Dufflet Crunchy Caramel Crusted Pistachios in Pure Milk Chocolate. Oh, they are snacktastic. Almost all gone, too.

But there's been stuff going on! All sorts of stuff all over the place. Stuff that needs addressed.

First up there is this study that was conducted by the University of Illinois in conjunction with Mars Inc. that shows that the CocoaVia brand chocolates can lower both your cholesterol and blood pressure due to them being fortified with plant sterols. Normally I'd sneer at any study conducted in conjunction with the manufacturer of the product being studied, but I doubt that the U of I is in the business of selling itself out. I've known whether to take the product seriously or not. I tried some (it was free) and found it ok, but I did like the idea that they guarantee a certain level of flavanols. Turns out that those plant sterols might be something special as well.
Medical News Today
Food Production Daily

What would you do with 20 tons of chocolate? That is the question facing the individual or individuals who stole a trailer full of Hershey's products this week. The theives made off with the trailer and ditched the tracking device. The trailer has since been recovered. The chocolate has not. 20 tons is a lot of chocolate. What the heck do you do with that much chocolate? I can't imagine you could sell it all to one buyer. If you did you would have to split it into separate lots and move them separately with appropriately forged paperwork in case the driver is stopped. Hmmm.... how do you move 20 tons of chocolate? I suppose there are a number of people on both sides of the law pondering that question about now. I suppose I'll leave them to it.

Hershey's is launching a new line of chocolate snacks called Hershey's Bliss which comes in three varieties: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate Meltaway. They are apparently - and this is entirely the wording from the press release - "targeting female chocolate lovers" and letting them sign up to host one of ten thousand Bliss launch parties nationwide. You can sign up to get in on the free chocolate action by visiting this site. I'm impressed with the way that they're socializing the whole luanch. This is a neat experiment in marketing and social networking as they give you online tools to send invites and share pictures and stuff as well as giving you the snax and some host gifts (so, yeah, you want to be hosting the party). So sign up and give it a shot! Or not if Hershey's isn't your thing.
Press Release
Signup Page
Product Page

A lot of stuff that people send me seems to get caught in the old bulk mail bucket and the bits that don't, well, I'm not as diligent as I should be in answering all of my correspondence or addressing everything that happens across my inbox. One of those things that has floated by recently is Chocolate Expert, a site with a nice selection of reference articles and recipes on chocolate. Seems to be a pretty decent sort of place so I figure they are worth a mention.

Another of those things that showed up and wasn't given quite the interest it deserved was the site The Chocolate Life. It's a community-based site for those with a love for that most perfect of foods. It's one I'm going to have to give a closer look at. I like the community idea thang they have going. And I received a question in a recent email that would be a lovely topic for discussion over there.

I'm hoping that I'll get the M&M's review that I promised a few days ago up tomorrow and a review of the Amano Cuyagua bar if I can find the darn thing. It was on my desk and I was eating it just a few days ago. I can't figure out where the heck it's disappeared to. Of course the last week has been chaotic on my desk with all the computer work so its only natural that it would be a little harder to find. I think it's out on the kitchen table from when I was taking pictures of it. Anyway, I plan on finally reviewing it this week. Really I do! I also plan on talking about my painful experiences with extremely high cacao content chocolates and the potentially difficult combination of chocolate and beer. Assuming this cold goes away and I don't spend any more days in bed.

May 3, 2007

Fake Chocolate?

Well, I'm back. I'm moved out and somewhat moved in. Somewhere in all the mess of moving I managed to end up with a medical issue that I think I now have under control. The medical issue seemed to be made worse by consumption of chocolate so I've been avoiding it for a couple of weeks, but now I'm back in the saddle again and the chocolate life may resume.

First order of business: FDA Proposed Changes to Chocolate
I've been kind of distant from chocolate and haven't spoken up on the subject and feel like I've really been shirking my duties because of it. It's been all over the internet and on the network news and in the papers and you can't avoid it. I'm talking about the scary attempt to re-define just what chocolate actually is from a legal standpoint. The main thrust is the ability to swap out the good and wonderful cocoa butter for vegetable fat (think Crisco) and still be able to legally call the product chocolate. All because vegetable oil is super-cheap compared to cocoa butter.

The long and short of it is this: they want the right to legally pass off an inferior product as chocolate.

You can guess my feelings on this whole mess. My one consolation is that as long as they don't get bought out by one of the monsters of the chocolate and candy world we should still be able to get our quality real chocolate from those companies that are dedicated to the art of chocolate.

If you aren't up to speed on the subject or want to know how to make your voice on the subject heard by the powers that be, you should head over to Candy Blog and check out Cybele's coverage of the subject. She's all over it and it would be silly of me to try and repost all of the content and repeat what she's already said so well so I'm just going to point you toward everything she has on the subject. She's leading the charge and bless her for doing so.

And Boo! on the FDA for even considering this stupidity.

FDA on Candy Blog

January 14, 2007

Sealed With A Kiss

HersheysKissesStamp.jpgThe US Postal Service has announced their new Love stamp, the 23rd in the series. Normally this wouldn't be worthy of mention around here, but this year is different. This year they are commemorating the 100th anniversary of Hershey's Kisses with an extra special Love and Kisses stamp! Neat! I love to have special stamps as opposed to the generic ones and these are great and, of course, have chocolate on them! If you still use stamps then these are a very cool option.

Press Release

October 25, 2006

The Chocolate Life

Lately I've been a mite stressed out due to a number of problems and as a result I've been rather rudely ignoring my blogging obligations. That's not to say that I haven't been thinking about chocolate. After last weeks painful Dagobombshell (which might not be as bad as I feared - David Lebovitz got the scoop from Frederick Schilling of Dagoba) I really couldn't help but be thinking about chocolate. This is a bit of a roundup of what's been going on in my life and my head regarding my favorite food.

Dagoba, as I hinted in my post about them being bought by Hershey (*sigh*), has two new bars that they're bringing to market and they sound pretty interesting. The first one is their Prima Materia which is a 100%(!) cacao content bar. They put special effort into getting the perfect blend to keep the astringency down to a reasonable level. Normally I would shy away from a 100% bar, but I think that if anybody can make a good one it's got to be Dagoba. The second new bar is the Sambirano 65% sigle origin bar made with nothing but trinitario beans from the Sambirano region of Madagascar. This one I'm dying to try. An organic, single origin bar made with Madagascar sourced trinitario beans is one I don't want to miss. I'm quite curious about the one and eager to try the other so I think they are both going on my shopping list.

Speaking of my shopping list, I keep buying (and of course eating) chocolate, whether I blog about it or not. This past week I've been gnawing away at a Ghirardelli Intense Dark Citrus Sunset which has little orange and caramel bits running through it. Not a world-class tasting chocolate, but a nice thing to absent mindedly gnaw at while getting things done. The other thing I've opened and started to enjoy is a Valrhona Organic Dark Bar. Very nice stuff (not that I'd expect anything less from Valrhona). I'm probably going to work up a review of it (if I don't eat it too quickly - oh, that would be a sin) when I have a chance. Other than that I've not really eaten anything too special lately.

I have had something special to drink, though. Hot chocolate season is upon us again! Autumn seems to have given up early and winter is setting in (at least around here) and nothing chases the chill away like hot chocolate. Last winter disappointed and I didn't feel the need for hot chocolate nearly as much as I hoped. As a result I have a pantry full of leftovers (I need to check and see if any of it is still good - my Green & Black's and Dagoba are actual chocolate as opposed to cocoa and might have a limited shelf life). Hopefully I won't have the same problem this year (or at least I'll not buy quite so much as last year).

Hey, that's right! It's nearly November. I have a flight to New York scheduled for two weeks from today. Sadly, I think I'm going to have to cancel. My rabbit's health isn't what I would like it to be and I'm afraid that the stress of me taking off could make it significantly worse. While I want to go on this vacation I don't want to risk my bunny. I can cancel my vacation and only be out the cost of the plane ticket and use a portion of the money I'll save on hotel and food and shows and whatnot to put in a big fat order in at Chocosphere. It won't be the same thing as five days in Manhattan, but I'll be able to spend those days eating chocolate and spoiling my rabbit so it's a pretty fair trade.

I say that 'I think' I'm going to have to cancel but I've really been resigned to this for weeks and just haven't gotten around to posting about it. I put a lot of time and effort and thought into planning this trip and I hate to just put it aside, but the way I see it both I and New York will probably still be around next year and the city will probably still be crawling with fantastic chocolate. I figure that the baseball mantra of "There's always next year" will do me just fine for now.

Ok, lets put the unhappiness aside and close things up with a couple of recipes that have popped up in the last couple of days! First up the Kansas City Star have a recipe for Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins. I love muffins, chocolate, and strawberries so I might be giving this one a try. The Seattle Times have a muffin recipe up this week as well. They are offering up Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins which sound interesting. I haven't had many things combining chocolate and pumpkin, but those I've had have been pretty good so I might break down and give these a try.

All I got for you today!

October 19, 2006

Hersheygoba? Hershey Buys Dagoba!

dagoba.jpgOh, damn.

I was getting ready to do a post on the new single origin bars from Dagoba (I'll get to those later I guess) and then this lands in my inbox. It seems that buying Scharffen Berger wasn't enough for them and now Hershey has bought Dagoba. They don't seem to have ruined Scharffen Berger, but I'm not sure if a giant corporate beast can help but change a small-batch artisanal chocolate maker like Dagoba.

Let the FUD begin.

Press Release

August 5, 2006

Dagoba on the Today Show!

dagoba.jpgThis Monday morning NBC's Today Show will be airing a feature on a group of companies who are dedicated to sustainable production - a feature that will include Dagoba. It should offer a nice behind the scenes look at one of the finest producers of organic chocolate and how they do business. The segment is scheduled to air between 7:30 and 8:00 this Monday, the 7th. It is possible the segment may be pushed to later in the week, but if you miss it they will be posting a clip on their site sometime after it airs.

Their site now says FRIDAY between 7:30 and 8:00 so it seems to have slid a few more days.

To celebrate their opportunity to spread their vision of Full Circle Sustainability they are offering a special in their online store. From 8/7 to 8/14 they will be giving a free Single Origin 10-Piece Tasting Square Sampler with every order! Quite a nice deal. You can order some of their new Chocolate Covered Nibs or Xocolatl Nibs and get some bonus chocolate.

Tune in Monday morning if you can and if you can't then make sure you stop by their site later this week to see the clip there.
Dagoba Enews

Totally Unrelated!
Phase one of the chocolate obsession re-design is complete! I'm pretty pleased with how things have turned out! There is still a lot of clean-up to do, but things are looking pretty good (if I do say so myself).

August 1, 2006

Chocolate ZOOM Walking Chocolate Tour of New York

chocolatezoom.jpgIs this a case of great minds thinking alike or just random serendipity? Chocolate ZOOM, an online magazine for chocolate lovers and, in their own words, “the premier chocolate guide for New York City,” is now offering walking tours of New York that take in some of the very best chocolate the city has to offer. I had been tossing the idea of organized tours around in my head for a couple of months so it is no surprise to me that others have been thinking the same thing.

The tour is split into two separate walks – the SoHo stoll and the Uptown stroll – and takes you to eight of the very best chocolatiers the city has to offer. In SoHo you get to visit MarieBelle, Vosges Haut Chocolat, and Kee’s Chocolates and the Uptown stroll features stops at Martine’s Chocolates, La Maison du Chocolat, Debauve & Gallais, Pierre Marcolini, and Richart. The best part of it is that the tour has a relationship with the stores that gets you more than just the shopping experience. You get to learn about the store and the chocolate and get a few samples along the way.

The list really covers a lot of the important stops on my planned New York Chocolate Crawl (Debauve & Gallais isn’t on my list and that is mainly due to their location and some horrified sticker shock from visiting their website) and for a paltry $50 it sounds like a great way to get an introduction to what New York has to offer in terms of fine chocolate. If you don’t have the time or desire to put together your own tour then this is a great service. Tours run each Saturday at 1:00pm and take approximately 3.5 hours.

Now, I just need to figure out how Chocolate ZOOM slipped under my radar until now. They seem to have a very similar attitude to my own when it comes to chocolate:

Have you ever vowed to "just nibble" on a square of rich dark chocolate, only to find yourself handsomely stuffed by a bar of available flavors?
If so, then you’re like us: obsessed with chocolate.
Obsessed with chocolate? That sounds familiar somehow. /grin

Anyway, they've spotted a good niche in the tour market in New York and they have the cooperation of some excellent chocolatiers. Combined with a reasonable price it really sounds like they have a winning formula. Be sure to read the press release and pay their site a visit.

Press Release
Chocolate ZOOM
Chocolate ZOOM Walking Tours

July 15, 2006

Chocolate That Doesn't Melt?

News.jpgOk, I have a pair of articles here on this new chocolate they managed to make that doesn't melt. First the articles, then my feelings on the subject.

Fox News

So, chocolate that won't melt. Gotta give it to the scientists, that's a neat trick. And I have got to say that I hope I NEVER have to eat the stuff. I can see that it has uses, but one of the great charms of chocolate is how it melts. I don't want chewy chocolate. I like melty chocolate. The melt is important to the entire experience and without it I won't enjoy it near as much. I know, I know, if I don't want to eat it I don't have to and I should stop kvetching about nothing. I just don't like the concept is all.

July 5, 2006

Wendy's Frosty Goes Vanilla

frosty.jpgMy love of the combination of sweet and salty things can be traced directly to the stellar combination of Wendy's french fries and a Frosty. Well, now Wendy's is taking the Frosty and stripping it of it's lovely chocolate-osity and releasing a new Vanilla Frosty. One might expect that I would just ignore such an item or be shocked at the blasphemy of taking a chocolate product and making a non-chocolate version of it but to be honest I'm quite excited. I love chocolate but I also love vanilla nearly as much (there just isn't as much of an audience for Vanilla Obsession and I can't see a vanilla shop flying in any but the biggest of cities - and would that be a vanillatier?). When it comes right down to it if I'm offered a choice between a chocolate milkshake and a vanilla milkshake I'll take vanilla probably 8 of 10 times so long as it's really vanilla and not some generic white sweet flavorless "vanilla" non-dairy frozen treat. Vanilla and chocolate are two sides of the same coin and nothing complements the one like the other. So I'm really pretty excited about the Vanilla Frosty. If it has a good vanilla flavor to it and isn't just a general creamy non-flavor I'll probably be right on board with it.
Press Release

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Chocolate Obsession.

May 24, 2006

m&m's Limited Edition My Flavors

mnmsmyflavors.jpgThe m&m's online store offers a number of interesting products allowing the user to get some customization in terms of color and printing. Today they announce that they're adding something new to the mix: 8 new, limited edition, online-only flavors. The new flavors feature some interesting combinations of chocolate and flavored shell.
The new flavors are:

  • All That Razz - White and milk chocolate in a raspberry shell
  • Eat, Drink & Be Cherry - White and milk chocolate in a black cherry shell
  • A Day At The Peach - White and milk chocolate in a peach shell
  • Orange-You-Glad - White and milk chocolate in a orange shell
  • AlmonDee-licious - White chocolate and an almond in a normal shell
  • Mint Condition - White and milk chocolate in a mint shell
  • Nut What You Think - White chocolate and a peanut in a normal shell
  • Cookie Minister - Dark chocolate with a crispy center in a speckled mint shell

They are available in a custom tin or in a big collectible tin (pictured here). I can't find a way to order smaller amounts than a tin and the tin runs a painful $60.

I find it interesting that there is so much white chocolate in the mix. Most of them have white and milk chocolate but only one of the bunch has dark chocolate and none are only milk chocolate. Of the bunch I think that the Cookie Minister interests me the most, though the orange, cherry, peach, and raspberry ones all sound like they might be good as well.

These limited edition products will be the death of me both physically and financially. As befits a chump chocolate blogger like myself I'm ordering the sampler. My curiosity is getting the better of me on this one.

Check it out.

May 22, 2006

Around the Web

As I have a tendency to slack off when it comes to posting I figure I’ll heap a few items I’ve run across lately into one post.

First up is a nice article about John Nanci, who may be known to some of my readers for his website Chocolate Alchemy. The site is dedicated to the idea of making your own chocolate. Take note that I’m not talking about rolling your own truffles or caramels, but the actual creation of chocolate from cacao beans. It’s an idea that has held a certain fascination for me and one that one of these days I will try my hand at. But his site is dedicated to this art and the article is all about him, his business, and his art.

This next bit I’m stealing from Robyn. It’s a little “how to eat chocolate” guide which is one of those things that just isn’t as well known as it should be. It’s a nice little read and more than a little useful.

Next we have a few statistics from Kiplingers. Not a news source I would usually go to for chocolate, but I think people are starting to take notice of the growth potential for the chocolate market and start talking numbers. I always find these things fun. I Like numbers. They help to add shape to things, or in this case size.

Next up we have a company that popped up in my email and I was intrigued by what I read. They are called Diva Chocolates and they make chocolate spice blends and grilling rubs. It’s an interesting idea that really has merit. In it’s unsweetened state chocolate is a fantastic flavoring for food and they base the business around that idea. Their site not only has their products, but some recipes as well. It’s a good idea and it sounds like they’ve put some thought into it. And they definitely have the right attitude. I’m quite liking the sound of a chocolate steak right about now.

Next up is an item that isn’t strictly chocolate, but still interesting and does feature a little of the good stuff. There is a new business in Bellevue, Washington that wants to become the Starbucks of green tea. I love green tea so I’m all on board with it so far but what happens when you toss some white chocolate in the mix? One of their teas has white chocolate and whipped cream. I’m not sure about it, but I’d definitely give it a try. I’ve got to try and find somebody to give it a try for me.

This next item I’m including just because it’s the shortest news story I’ve seen in a long time. It is all of one sentence and is about chocolate french fries. I can’t really say more without giving the whole article away.

Last on our round-up is a recipe for chocolate soup. Yes, I meant to type soup. Curious? I was. Read on!

May 2, 2006

White Chocolate M&M's

mmspiratespearls.jpgM&M's are going pirate! In one of those massive promotional deals M&M's is going to be offering pirate themed M&M products in conjunction with the forthcoming Disney release Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Now that's news in itself, if only because it means that those Star Wars M&M's might finally disappear from stores (they're still there - I saw 'em this weekend) but the thing that is new and interesting is the introduction of a first in the M&M world: white chocolate M&M's. The variety pictured here (hopefully to be replaced with a better pic) is the White Chocolate Pirate Pearls. You'd think with that name they'd all be white (or at least pearl) but there are a few different light colors of them. They also have little piratey symbols on them that, naturally, incorporate the letter "M" so they don't stray too far from their established branding. In addition to the Pirate Pearls they will also be releasing Captain's Gold - Peanut M&M's in gold hues - and Jack's Gems - Milk Chocolate M&M's in "gemstone colors" (red, blue, green, and purple). There is also a M&M Minis Shipwreck Treasure Mix that changes color in your mouth from green to gold.

Star Wars brought us Dark Chocolate M&M's (the Peanut Dark Chocolate M&M's being one of my favorite things in life) and now Pirates of the Caribbean brings us White Chocolate. I'm not sure I really like the sound of them (I'm not really a white chocolate person) but I'll be sure to get a bag or two and give them a shot.

The new pirate-style M&M's will be available in stores May 12th. The M&M's Pirates website is up and is very nice. Some of the content is yet to come, but there are already games and good info to be found so check it out.

Press Release
Official Website

April 28, 2006

Giant Chocolate Spill Closes Freeway

News.jpgThis is just one of those little things that catches my eye from time to time. I'm one of those people who love strange news items. One category I enjoy is when a trailer full of something unusual - beer, crawfish, whatever - overturns and spills out all over the freeway. Most of the things I wouldn't want to get involved with, but today's item.... well, I can think of worse things to crash my car into than 17,000 pounds of chocolate chips. I'd prefer not to crash into it, but if you gotta crash into something it may as well be chocolate. Or marshamallow (which would soften the impact).

April 19, 2006

Scherffen Berger Jamaica ā l'ancienne Bar

scharffenberger.jpgWell, it seems that the people at Scharffen Berger are at it again, making wonderful new products that I terribly want to try. Actually it isn't a new product, but the return of a limited edition bar they produced three years ago, the Jamaica ā l'ancienne bar. By the sound of it this is really a unique work of art. It is made from - you guessed it - Jamaican beans which are ground with coarse sugar and, strangely enough, never conched. Because of it's unusual texture they have to hand-temper it. It's a very unusual bar and one I'm eager to try. Rather than search around trying to find the bars locally (unlikely) I'm placing an order to get this and the Kumasi Sambirano bar they released last month. The write-up for the bar is quite nice and worth the read so take a look.
Jamaica ā l'ancienne

April 3, 2006

Dagoba Recall

dagoba.jpgI don't like to post negative stories. This one I figure I should, just because I'm a Dagoba cheerleader and talk about them a good bit around here. During routine testing they discovered high levels of lead in some of their bars and as a result are doing a recall. According to their site it seems that the problem lies on the supply end and is not attributable to their production process. They are working to determine why it happened and to ensure that it does not happen again. The bars effected are the Eclipse, Los Rios, and Prima Materia. There is an extensive FAQ on the Dagoba site and lot numbers are available at both of the links below.
Dagoba's Recall Page
FDA Recall Information

March 23, 2006

Happenings at Scharffen Berger

scharffenberger.jpgThe Scharffen Berger email newsletter has come around again and this time it is packed with wonderful things.

First up, and most important in my eyes, is the introduction of a new limited edition chocolate bar: the Kumasi Sambirano. The bar is made with specially matched beans from the Ashanti region of Ghana and the Sambirano Valley in Madagascar. The combination of the two brings both earthy notes from the Ghana beans and citrus notes from the Madagascar beans. The bar has a 68% cocoa content and is limited to 1500 cases. I'm not sure how many bars that translates into, but I'm going to try and lay my hands on one before they disappear.

The rest of the newsletter is full of little wonders. First, they've brought back their Semisweet Dipped Matzo for Passover. I love matzo for some reason and I like the idea of it dipped in chocolate. Sounds darn tasty to me. Almost as tasty as chocolate dipped macaroons, which they share a recipe for. Rounding things out is a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake.

March 14, 2006

Make Mine Chocolate

I've kind of been debating with myself over whether I should post this or not. It's not entirely chocolate oriented, but in the end I don't think that it hurts to do so and if it makes a difference at all or even just increases awareness of the problem then I suppose it's worth the effort. I don't want to be preachy, but as a rabbit owner and chocolate lover it's a cause I can easily get behind.

Make Mine Chocolate is a campaign organized by the House Rabbit Society against the giving of live rabbits as Easter gifts. People equate rabbits with Easter so what would be a more appropriate gift to give on Easter morning than a rabbit? It may fit the theme, but it really does an enormous amount of harm. People are often unprepared for the ten-year commitment of caring for a rabbit and the initial interest in a pet rabbit can dry up quickly. So, shortly after Easter, rabbits start to make their way from being Easter gifts to being unwanted and abandoned. Humane Societies and shelters see a huge influx of rabbits after Easter and it's not like they don't already have too many to handle. People adopt dogs and cats at an amazing rate compared to rabbits and rabbits come in right behind dogs and cats as the most abandoned animals to find their way into shelters. Right now there are more than twenty rabbits at the Capital Area Humane Society here in Columbus and many more in foster care.

The message of the Make Mine Chocolate campaign is that rather than dooming more rabbits to shelters (often leading to euthanasia) or abandonment in the wild (which is a death sentence) people should consider giving a traditional chocolate bunny for Easter instead. And if somebody absolutely has to buy a live rabbit as a gift then for goodness sake adopt one.

Give chocolate and save a life.

Make Mine Chocolate
House Rabbit Society Easter Message

March 8, 2006

Endangered Species Chocolate New Logo

endangeredspecieslogo.jpgEndangered Species Chocolate - makers of fine ethically traded (and sometimes Fair Trade Certified) chocolates supporting endangered species - has a new logo and a redesigned website! The animal imagery on the product packaging doesn't appear to have changed much but the overall look of the packaging has changed to match the new logo. Aside from the logo and website, though, the company remains the same delivering excellent chocolate while spreading awareness for and financially supporting conservation efforts.
The new site looks nice and is worth checking out.
Endangered Species Chocolate
Press Release

March 5, 2006

Melt Chocolates

melt.jpgThere is a great article in the Independent today about a new London chocolatier called Melt which is headed by a man who seems to be well and truly chocolate obsessed. Chef Damian Allsop works in an open kitchen in the store creating what sounds like some amazing works of chocolate art - like jasmine tea truffles (which I think sound fantastic) - using only the finest ingredients. He has some very interesting ideas (using water instead of cream – I cannot imagine that to be easy) and a true passion for chocolate that should make Melt a very fun place to visit. The open kitchen sounds like real a treat to me because I would love to watch a true artisan chocolatier at work. The article is a nice read and, even better, has recipes! The fresh mint truffle recipe sounds like a winner to me and I’m at least curious regarding the chocolate soup.
Article Link
Melt Chocolates

February 17, 2006

Bite the (chocolate) Bullet

I like the idea of chocolate being a social food, much like coffee. You sit down with friends and enjoy some chocolate (and maybe some coffee while you're at it). Today Candy Addict posted up a lovely new product that brings a smile to my face (I ran into it at but Brian had it first). It certainly brings a social aspect to chocolate but more like a drinking game then sitting around nibbling and chatting. It is Chocolate Roulette. It is a set of 12 chocolate bullets 11 of which contain a nice creamy center. The twelfth, well, that's where the fun comes in. Lurking inside number twelve is a hot pepper. So you get all the fun (?) of Russian Roulette and nobody gets hurt too badly and you get to enjoy some chocolate at the same time! I just wonder how good the chocolate is (uh oh, signs of chocolate snobbery). I have to worry about a site that also carries Chocolate Covered Queen Leafcutter Ants.

Article Link
Product Link

February 16, 2006

Post Valentines Day Sales

News.jpgI've been so preoccupied with other matters (life is messy like that) that I entirely missed the fact that yesterday was Candy Sale Day! While most people track the normal holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Valentines I tend to focus on the aftermath. It was a sort of tradition. If I got to visit my Grandma for Easter we would head over to the Ben Franklins store and hit the leftovers. I was thrilled with the idea of buying twice as much candy with the same amount of money. Now, with my tastes running toward more expensive treats, the post-holiday sales are a Godsend. So, with Valentines Day behind us we can celebrate consumerism with half-price chocolates galore. Keep your eyes open for beautiful bargains, I know I will.

February 6, 2006

Dangerous Dessert

dead.gifChef Antony Worrall Thompson may have just created the world's most dangerous dessert. His creation is called a Snickers Pie and it manages to pack over 1200 calories in a single slice. The recipe starts with Snickers bars and then adds on more goodness in the form of sugar and mascarpone and puff pastry. I'm not convinced that it would be good, but I'm one of those adventuresome souls who believe in trying new things so I would not be above trying a bite or three. There is a great article at that details the creation and the horror it has provoked. And, as I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt, I will present the recipe (with a little minor editorializing).

    Snickers Pie
    Kills - I mean SERVES - 4.
    Preparation time less than 30 minutes.
    Cooking time 30 minutes to one hour.
    Recovery time incalculable.

    1 packet puff pastry
    140g/5oz mascarpone
    110g/4oz soft cheese
    50g/2oz caster sugar
    3 eggs
    5 Snickers bars, chopped

    Preheat oven to 200C/400/Gas 6.
    Roll pastry to 3-4mm thick and use to line a 20cm/8in fluted tart tin.
    Beat the mascarpone, soft cheese and sugar together in a large bowl, until smooth.
    Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add the Snickers bars and fold in.
    Pour into lined tart tin, and spread to the edges.
    Place in the oven for 10 minutes, then lower to 180C/350/Gas 4 for a further 25 minutes until golden and set.
    Allow to cool before serving.

January 18, 2006

Free Hot Chocolate!

godivalogo.gifGodiva is having another in store event and you all know what that means: FREE CHOCOLATE! Ooooh, that is my favorite phrase in the English language. Okay, maybe not my favorite, but it's in the top ten for sure.

Last year Godiva introduced their Chocolixir frozen chocolate drinks and true to form they offered free samples. Now they are bringing us Hot Chocolixir! It seems everybody wants on board the hot chocolate train and Godiva is clearly no exception. Tomorrow and Friday, January the 19th and 20th, they will be giving free samples of their new hot chocolate product in select locations. Of course supplies are limited so there are no guarantees that even if you find a store that is offering samples that you can get one. Call your store before you go.

Chocolate Booze and D is For Death By Chocolate

BAILEYS.jpgThis may all be old news to some but there are some interesting and relatively new products from a couple of big names that I have just now become aware of and figured they deserved reporting on.

First off we have Godiva Cappuccino Liqueur. This new variety joins the original Godiva Liqueur and the Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and offers some interesting new options for drink mixing. I've never partaken of their liqueurs before but this one sounds pretty tasty. They even have a few recipes making use of it up on their site.

Next up we have two new limited edition offerings from one of the companies I love: Baileys. For a while now they have been offering Caramel and Mint Chocolate Irish Cream in the Arizona market and starting in March they will be sharing the love nationwide as part of a Saint Patrick's Day promotion. I'm not entirely sure about the mint chocolate variety, but the caramel one really sounds good. I already have a couple of ideas for what to do with it.

So, continuing with Slashfood D-Day I figure I will share one of those little ideas with you in the form of an old recipe (starting with the letter D of course) with a new twist in the form of a little Caramel Baileys. Other options would be to use the Mint Chocolate Baileys or to use Godiva Cappuccino instead of the creme de cacao. Anyway...

D is for Death by Chocolate (Revised)
1/2 oz Brown Creme de Cacao
1/2 oz vodka
1 oz Baileys Caramel Irish Cream
1 Scoop Chocolate Ice Cream

Combine in a blender with a cup of crushed ice. Blend well and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or a little cocoa powder. If using the Mint Chocolate Baileys then a sprig of mint would make a cute garnish as well.

January 12, 2006

Snapshot Chocolate Greeting Cards

I ran into this a couple of days ago and have been rolling it around in my mind trying to figure out what to think about it. Snapshot Chocolate is in the business of putting digicam photos on chocolate. They specialize in commemorative items in all shapes and sizes - for births, baptisms, holidays or anything else you can think of - and chocolate picture parties. A quick trip to their site shows that they are quite adept at it. They print the photos with FDA approved food coloring inks and the results look fabulous. And now, according to a Tuesday press release, they will be offering personalized chocolate greeting cards. The cards will be housed in a CD case and will be available over the web or in traditional brick and mortar stores. It appears that the customization options are limited to names and dates but it is still a very neat idea and probably a lot cheaper than the photo printed chocolate offerings.

Continue reading "Snapshot Chocolate Greeting Cards" »

December 29, 2005

Cold Weather and Hot Chocolate

lakechamplaincocoa.jpgOf all the wonders of winter that we enjoyed growing up in Ohio hot chocolate has to be one of the best. Coming in from the freezing cold to find a steaming cup of cocoa waiting for you is a wonderful feeling. Today we find hot chocolate becoming a bit of a trend among adults with an emphasis on quality that we didn't get when I was a kid. Hot chocolate came out of a packet with crunchy little marshmallows in it and more often than not was made with hot water and maybe - if you were lucky - a dash of milk as an afterthought. Today we are talking about real hot chocolate full of - pinch me - real chocolate and actual milk. Ah, heavenly.

I have a handful of articles to share today on the subject of the trendiness of hot chocolate and even an alternative to it.

Continue reading "Cold Weather and Hot Chocolate" »

Sweet Savings

godivalogo.gifJust a quick update on the post-holiday sale front. Godiva have started to heavily discount some of their Christmas collection to the tune of 50% off. This is a great way to get some great chocolate at an amazing price so be sure to check it out. I'm probably going to grab the Holiday Cocoa Collection (since I can't recall seeing either Dagoba or Green & Black cocoa locally) and maybe a box of truffles. Yum!
Chocolate Covered Sale

December 27, 2005

Post-Holiday Bargain Hunting

lakechamplain.gifA belated 'Happy Holidays' to everybody! Now that the madness is behind us - both of the big day itself and the big shopping day yesterday - we can get on with more important things. Things like chasing down holiday packaged chocolates at 50% or more off! A quick wandering through a few stores yesterday yielded a beautiful variety of good to excellent chocolates at steep discounts. Even the most pedestrian of grocery stores probably has some Dove chocolates in Christmas-colored wrappings and if you have a store close by with a more tasteful selection you can find great deals on brands like Lake Champlain.

Those who wish to skip fighting the mobs in the stores and having to hunt for their bargains can go the online route. Lake Champlain has a big sale selection on their website where they are doing as much as 66% off of their holiday products (the small package of Gelt - chocolate coins - is 1/3 it's normal price) making for some easy bargains without quite so much effort. A quick check of Godiva's site yields no sales yet (and they also "can no longer guarantee delivery by Christmas" - hee!) but they are sure to come soon enough.

Lake Champlain Chocolates on Sale

December 23, 2005

Keystone Chocolate Village Revised

Last week I reported on the 10th annual Keystone Chocolate Village being on display at the Keystone resort in Keystone Colorado. I was disappointed when posting that there were no pictures to share. 2500 pounds of chocolate sounds great but it's a little difficult to get a good picture of just how much chocolate that really is. Two different mountain news sources have now released pictures of the village and, more importantly, the press center for Keystone has released video of the village. It really is amazing to look at. There is a chocolate train, chocolate gondolas, mountains - really impressive work. Chef Ned Archibald deserves a lot of credit for this impressive piece of chocolate art.

One last thing: look carefully at the big white christmas tree in the first article and in the video. Remember what I said in my prior posting? It's white chocolate with blown sugar ornaments. And is it ever beautiful.

On the Snow Article with Photo

Summit Daily Article with Photo
Keystone News Release with Video Link

December 21, 2005

Chocolate and Your Health

News.jpgIt's pretty frightening how many articles I see on a daily basis touting dark chocolate as a 'health food'. I've stated my personal views on the subject and because of those views I try not to post all of these articles unless there is something that really catches my eye. Today I have found an article on Confectionery News that actually represents the voice of reason. It summarizes a slew of the findings on ways chocolate is good for us but it quickly turns it around and brings us all back to reality discussing the physical and ethical issues surrounding chocolate.

I like to think that chocolate is a treat and not a cure all. It is good for us emotioanally and dark chocolate in particular carries a lot of beneficial substances, but it is still just a treat - not a health food. The good news is that, in small doses, our treat is at least as good for us as it is bad.

December 16, 2005

Keystone Chocolate Village

News.jpgI really wish I had a picture to go along with this. There is a tradition at the Keystone Resort in Keystone Colorado to build a chocolate village for display in the lobby for the holiday season. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the annual display and features 2500 pounds of chocolate including a six foot white chocolate Christmas tree with blown sugar ornaments. It took 10 months (!) for Keystone chef Ned Archibald to build the display which runs through January 2nd. Hopefully they'll post some photos of it so I can actualy see (and share) this marvel but for now it's just up to my imagination.
Press Release
Keystone Resort

December 13, 2005

17 Foot Tall Chocolate Christmas Tree

440 pounds of chocolate. Just think about that for a moment. Think about just how much chocolate that is. A whole lot, right? Well, at a hotel in Bangkok they are using that much chocolate to make a giant chocolate Christmas tree over 17 feet tall. There isn't a whole lot more information than that which is kind of disappointing. I want more details! Anyway, it's cool and it's chocolate so I figured I had to post it. The article here on Hospitality Net shows another good shot of it being built so if this sort of thing floats your boat like it does mine then check it out.
Photo: REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

December 12, 2005

Rumor: Godiva Ready-to-Drink Coffees

godivalogo.gifRumors circulating as far as CNN/Money would have us believe that Coca-Cola will be helping to bring a line of ready-to-drink coffees to stores under the Godiva brand. If I go to the grocery store I can buy Godiva ice cream. In some stores I can buy their cocoa. As they already have their own coffees available through their retail outlets I don't see it as too much of a stretch of the imagination that they would see to put it in cans and in stores. With Coke as a partner they could end up in every grocery and convenience store in the country in short order. The rumor feels pretty much right. Godiva have been seeking to expand their brand in the last year and this would be a natural extension of what they are already doing. As yet, it remains a rumor only. Nobody has confirmed anything to anybody. If it does turn out to be true I'll be certain to give it a try. I have a decent respect for Godiva and have only rarely been disappointed with their products.

House of Brussels Releases ChocoMed Bars

brussels.jpgHouse of Brussels Chocolates announced recently the release of the first of it's new line of ChocoMed fortified chocolate bars. With more than two years of research going into their creation the ChocoMed Pure Chocolate brand marries nutritional supplements with fine chocolate. The inial six varieties are Anti-Aging, Stress Free, Strong Bones, Pre-Natal, Sweet Dreams And Vitamin Bars.
With two years research and real doctors involved in the poject - as well as a quality company like Brussels - I have higher hopes for this product than I do for most of it's sort. If I find any of them I'll see about giving the Stress Free, Sweet Dreams, and Vitamin bars a try. I'm curious as to how well they have managed to 'marry' chocolate and nutraceuticals.
ChocoMed Site
House of Brussels Site
Press Release

Britains Going for the Good Stuff

News.jpgAccording to an article on Yahoo! News the people of Great Britain are beginning to shift their tastes from more generic 'candy' chocolates and over to more quality chocolate. Sales of dark chocolate are up 30% and the increase is thought to be because of - what else - the potential health benefits of chocolate. A small article but interesting news.

December 5, 2005

Chocolate Overkill

Lindt, maker of those little Lindor Truffles and the much better Lindt Excellence line, are now bringing us a bar of chocolate with 99% cocoa mass. I had always thought that such high content was only to be found in baking chocolate. To date, the highest percentage I have had is the 85% Valrhona (which I made truffles with) and it was probably as high as I'm ready to go on a normal basis. Still, I'm curious about this and will probably give it a try at some point.
Via CalorieLab

December 1, 2005

More Potential Chocolate Health Benefits

barrycallebaut.jpgBarry Callebaut - parent company of Callebaut, Brachs, Cocoa Barry and many more - have announced new findings with regards to chocolate and your health. What's more, this time it isn't all about the flavonoids. This time we get to hear about the wonders of polyphenols and how they can help fight cancer and aging. Somehow these polyphenols managed to slip beneath my radar but apparently they are the next wave of marketing and will probably be as big as flavonoids. Barry Callebaut already have a special premium brand of chocolate rich in polyphenols called Acticoa which this news can only help. The article is a good read and I recommend it.

It does raise a few questions for me, however. First, if consumers preceive chocolate as healthy what effect will it have on prices and production methods? I can't help but think in terms of supply and demand and the price would have to rise accordingly. Additionally there would be pressure to increase production which could hurt the Fair Trade movement. And would this have an effect on the role of the small plantations, the sort from which we get single origin chocolate? I would imagine that there would be an effort by large producers to get as much land for cultivation as possible and that could mean the acquisition of smaller plantations. Just a few thoughts. And these all assume that all of this craziness regarding chocolate and your health actually pans out. I think it has a shot at being legitimate, but there are other health concerns that go along with chocolate (fat anybody?) that need to be considered along with the potential benefits.


November 28, 2005

Sugar Prices On the Rise

News.jpgThis could be bad news for chocolate lovers. Sugar prices are climbing rapidly due to refineries being hit by 2005's particularly nasty hurricane season and those price increases will be flowing through the producers and out to the consumers in the form of higher retail prices. Columbus Business First has an article talking about how the price hit is being felt at local favorite Anthony-Thomas Candy Co. and at Pure Imagination Chocolatier (of the North Market and available at Whole Foods Market on 161 for the locals). Unless the companies we buy our chocolate from are willing to take it in the bottom line for their customers then it looks like we will be paying more for chocolate. Personally, I'll be focusing on quality as opposed to quantity, but I am a bit of a chocolate snob these days anyway (albeit an ignorant chocolate snob).

November 26, 2005

Washington Post on Premium Chocolate

News.jpgThe Washington Post have up a nice article discussing the growth of premium chocolate in the marketplace. They compare premium chocolate to coffee via what they call the 'Starbucks Effect'. It's an interesting read and its nice to see that people are beginning to recognize that there is more to chocolate than candy bars you can get at the gas station and dime a dozen assortments from the grocery store. And, of course, there is mention of the potential health benefits. Can't talk chocolate these days without the desperate hope that it could actually be good for you (personally, I feel that it doesn't matter - it's chocolate for gosh sakes - you don't need an excuse).

I have locked comments on this post due to incessant comment spam. Sorry for any inconvenience.

November 22, 2005

Manager Assaulted with Chocolate Cake

News.jpgStrange and unusual news is a little hobby of mine and this news item falls firmly into the chocolate arena as well as the weird news pool!
When a Raley's store manager and store security approached a woman attempting to shoplift from their store the woman struck out, attacking the manager with a German Chocolate Cake. Not a lot more to report than that. I will say that if I have to be assaulted I would prefer that it be with chocolate cake.

Fairmont San Francisco to Install Massive Gingerbread Village

News.jpgFirst let me say that I am aware that gingerbread is not chocolate. I'm posting about this because the gingerbread village they are building will be using 265 pounds of chocolate. So long as there is chocolate involved it's news to me. Plus, at 16 feet by 6 feet it's guaranteed to be an impressive sight. I can't wait to see the photos from this one. You can read the press release at the link below.

November 17, 2005

Truffles at 20,000 Feet

News.jpgUnited Airlines is offering fine chocolate truffles for business and first class customers of it's transcontinental service. The Chicago Tribune reports that Gayety's Chocolates & Ice Cream Co. of South Lansing was chosen from confectioners from around the world. It's a nice service from the airline and it's been good for Gayety's business so it seems to be a win-win. Unless you don't fly first class in which case you have to bring your own truffles.