Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Meet the Author of the Hot Chocolate Mystery

Dawn Greenfield Ireland
Sisters and Brothers in Chocolate, help me welcome, author Dawn Greenfield Ireland to our blog today. She is the author of a series that we'll review the first book of on this coming Saturday. The series sounds yummy so let's learn more about Dawn. Dawn, thank you for answering our questions.

Dawn, how did you get into writing fiction?

I have always been a daydreamer. Back in 1979, I had a very long commute to work. A portion of that drive was over Addicks Dam/Barker Reservoir in West Houston, which, at that time, was beautifully forested on both sides of Highway 6 before getting to the I-10 freeway. 

I’m not even sure how I got to work in one piece from all the daydreaming, but I had a story developing in my head for several days, and I started jotting notes. I had no idea that I was going to write a book. I knew nothing about writing.

But, from this story that kept building in my head, I made sure I had a lined tablet and a pen on the passenger seat. When traffic (sic) backed up, I’d write furiously. That was the beginning of my first science fiction novel, back then called Second Chance. Now it is called Prophecy of Thol, to be published in 2017.

How many books have you have published?

Artistic Origins is the name of my company, which was created in 1995, and incorporated in 2005. Back in 1995 it was basically my technical writing company.

I’m the head dog, the author, publisher, the distributer (sic), the packer and the stand-in-line-at-the-post office gal (shipper).

Everything that goes out the door will have my logo:

The books I have written, to date are as follows: 

1. The Puppy Baby Book (2000)
2. Mastering Your Money (2009)
3. Hot Chocolate (2011)
4. Bitter Chocolate (2014)

My books coming in 2017:

5. Spicy Chocolate
6. Prophecy of Thol
7. Writers’ Preparation Handbook

Other books I have published:

1. Memoirs of a Dog by CousCous (Barbara) Mackey
2. Trail Blazers (10th Anniversary Edition) by Joseph Lawrence Thompson
3. A Journey Within by J. Mitchel Baker (coming Summer/Fall of 2017)

The Alcott Family Adventures focus on a family who have made their money through their chocolate business. Why did you decide to make their background in this business?

It could have been computers, electronics, or anything else. Then I thought about everyone I knew and what we all had in common: big time chocolate lovers. 

As a self-professed chocoholic, I thought of my late mother who had a serious chocolate addiction going on – she had Hersey’s chocolate bars stashed all over the place. 

I thought Hot Chocolate would be a fun way to treat everyone to a great little story with eccentric characters who grew up with chocolate – as their livelihood, and as an indulgence. 

Everyone loves the family I have created, their relationships with the large cast of characters, and the recipes in the back of the book.

How important is the Alcott chocolate business to the plots of the books?

Without the wealth from Alcott Chocolates, the story would not be set in Houston’s ultra-wealthy River Oaks. Bernie Alcott, the founder of Alcott Chocolates, and the patriarch at 92, is a wily character who constantly gives his middle-aged daughters fits.

These ultra-wealthy sisters are not like the socialites one might read about in the news. These gals have their own agendas.

Half of Dawn's Library
I know you have two books in the series currently out. Would you tell us the names of the first two books and where readers might find them?

Both Hot Chocolate and Bitter Chocolate are available on my website and on Amazon. 

Hot Chocolate is available as a paperback, eBook, and audio book. 

Bitter Chocolate is only available as an eBook, and audio book at this time.

If you want an autographed copy of the Hot Chocolate paperback, you can only get that on my website.

How many books do you plan to have in this series?

I’m currently working on #3 – Spicy Chocolate (available sometime in 2017). I don’t see any reason to quit now! And just think of the different titles I could create!

Let's get back to chocolate, our favorite topic here. Do you like chocolate and if so, what is your favorite kind?

I DO NOT DISCRIMINATE ☺ -- that said, I LOVE dark chocolate! I love chocolate with peppermint! I love white chocolate! I love milk chocolate! Ooohhh, and I love chocolate-covered almonds!

If chocolate were banned tomorrow, I would definitely be involved in a chocolate black market, or the chocolate underground movement!

Part of Dawn's Office
I know your books include recipes, are these family recipes or original ones that you created for this series of books?

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and baking, when I’m not writing or reading. Every recipe in the books are recipes that I have made multiple times that I thought my readers would enjoy. 

Some are old time favorites of mine. Some are new recipes I’ve come across from various emails or websites that I have tried and liked. Most of the time I tweak those recipes to make them my own. Sometimes they no longer resemble the original recipe with all my tweaking.

Have you considered a chocolate item tie-in for your series, such as a boxes of hot chocolate mix or bars?

This has been on my mind for a while now. The problem I come across is that I lean toward organic, gluten free, and soy free, not to mention that I am phobic about high fructose corn syrup. It is so hard to find products that contain pure ingredients. It is very stressful!

I would love to get to the point where I could have a sponsored product!

Other half of Dawn's Office 
What do you do when you aren't writing, Dawn?

When I’m not on my laptop creating something, or reading, I’m most likely cooking or baking something, or watching Netflix or Amazon Prime content. 

Several years ago, I began cooking on the weekends for the week ahead to make my life easier. I have continued this process, and I have to tell you, it sets me free to do everything else. 

Whether it is a pot of soup, a roast, or spaghetti sauce, I use canning jars to store liquid items, and freezer bags for meats and things. 

Just so you know, I’m going to document some of my life shortcuts and create a book.

Finally is there anything else you'd like us to know about your or your books?

Several years ago, I discovered there were several people named Dawn Ireland, so I started to use my whole name – Dawn Greenfield Ireland – so people would know it was me. I had been in contact with one of the Dawn Ireland’s who used to live in South Dakota, but we have lost touch.

The books have a very large cast. When I was writing Bitter Chocolate, I hired a guy to create a family tree of the characters. It is a great reference to see the relationships and connections of the characters. You can download the family tree for free.

The family tree will be updated in Spicy Chocolate with color coding so people can see the original cast in Hot Chocolate in one color, who was added in Bitter Chocolate in another color, and the newcomers in Spicy Chocolate.

About me, I’m originally from a small farming community in Western Massachusetts, which is no longer there – it is all subdivisions and a golf course now. I moved to Texas in 1968, and spent two years in San Antonio, then moved to Houston. I spent 44 years in Houston. This is where my career as a technical writer began in 1984 at Compaq Computer. In 2010, my oldest son moved to the east coast, then my youngest son moved in 2013!

When I was downsized from my technical writing job in 2015, I decided this was a good opportunity to move back to the east coast to be closer to my boys. I bought a house in the Catskill Mountain area of NY. I’ve spent two winters up here and I don’t want to experience another! I have recently put my house on the market. I can’t wait to get back to Houston – my tribe of creative people and the world I created there.

Twenty-two years ago, I created a critique group for writers. While we have tried to carry on online, it doesn’t work for me. When I get back home I’ll be happy to embrace my group once again!

Thank you, Dawn, for talking with us today. Readers, if you have any questions for Dawn or if you've read her books, leave a comment and maybe she'll get back to you.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jimmy's Cookies Recall

While I'm disappointed whenever I have to share any type of chocolate related recall with you, Sisters and Brothers, at least there is only one recall to share with you today.

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Jimmy's Cookies Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk

Jimmy’s Cookies LLC of Clifton, NJ is recalling LOT #047 The Bakery Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies from all retail stores, because it may contain undeclared milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

The Bakery Peanut Chocolate Chunk Cookies LOT #047 was sold in retail stores and distributed Nationwide in bakeries.

The Bakery Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies LOT #047 are packed 10 cookies to a 14 oz. container with an orange label. LOT #047 can be found printed in black ink on the top of the package.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that the product containing milk was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk. Subsequent investigation indicates the problem was caused by a temporary breakdown in the company’s labeling processes.

Consumers who have purchased The Bakery Peanut Chocolate Chunk Cookies from retail stores are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the firm Monday through Friday, from the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (EST) at (973) 779-8500.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Can Coconut Make Organic Brownie Brittle Even Better?

Organic Coconut Brownie Brittle, Sheila G's
We have been looking at the Organic Line of Sheila G's Brownie Brittle and today we turn our attention to the Organic Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Brownie Brittle. Since as many of your regular readers may know, I don't like coconut, years ago you (the readers) selected our first Acolyte to help me test products, specifically coconut ones. So today, Lisa is the author of this article, every word is hers after this initial paragraph. The Chocolate Cult was sent two bags of these variety of Brownie Brittle from Sheila G's Brownie Brittle in exchange for a fair and honest review; no other form of compensation was received in exchange for this article.

Sheila G's Brownie Brittle is an attempt to make a snack based on what most people say is the best part of a brownie... the crunchy corners.  It definitely meets that criteria.

When I opened the bag and sniff, I couldn't quite identify what it is that I smelled.  A little sweet but no overwhelming chocolate or coconut scent.  I was worried.  The sniff test is one of the senses I rely on most and this wasn't cutting it.  The pieces are thin and the coconut is very obvious.  I bit off a small corner and got a nice crunch; far more so than any brownie corner I've ever made.  Chocolate was the predominant flavor.  The coconut adds a nice bit of texture but not as much flavor.  Chewing it is definitely a crunchy delight.

The package says a serving size is one ounce but since the pieces are not all the same size, it can be hard to determine exactly how much you're eating unless you have a good food scale.  I determined that five of the largest pieces available the bag come up to 1.25 ounces. For that you get 16 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber and 5 grams of fat and the serving comes in at 150 calories.  I mention this because it's easy to blow through an entire bag without realizing how much you've eaten.  I know this from experience.

Also to be aware of, there is a non-organic version of this treat on the market.  I had some many months ago and I didn't think this tasted much different but to be certain, a friend helped me do a blind taste-test.  I couldn't tell the difference.  I like the product and the only thing I can say that I'd change would be to make the coconut flavor a little stronger.

Have you tried the Organic Chocolate and Toasted Coconut version of Brownie Brittle? If so, leave us a comment and let us know if you agree with Lisa's assessment.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Chocolate Recalls on Easter 2017

How disappointing to have recalls on this weekend with Passover, Western Easter, and Orthodox Easter as well as Ostara the traditional holiday to which Easter was connected. back in the 4th century Check these out to protect yourself and your family.

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Recall of Chocolate Kokosh Cake

Orthodox Baking Co. in Belleville, N.J. 07109, today announced a voluntary recall of its 16 ounce packages of Oberlander Gluten Free Brand “Chocolate Kokosh Cake" chocolate filled cake because they contain undeclared almond paste. People who have allergies to almonds run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.
The recalled "Chocolate Kokosh Cake" were distributed nationwide in retail stores and supermarkets. No other products are impacted.

The product comes in a 16 ounce, clear plastic package with a wraparound label. It is marked with a “last date sale” of April 30 printed on the back of the label and further identified with UPC #43711 18093 7.

This voluntary recall was initiated on April 5, 2017, after an unconfirmed report of an allergic reaction was investigated by Orthodox Baking Co. and it revealed that the almond paste-containing cake was distributed in packaging that identified in the ingredient declaration the presence of “kernel paste” instead of “almond paste”. The problem was caused by a labeling error limited to this item.

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

Orthodox Baking has informed the FDA of our actions.

Consumers who have purchased 16 ounce packages of “Chocolate Kokosh Cake" chocolate filled cake are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Due to Passover Holiday consumers with questions may contact the company only during these specific dates and times: Thursday, April 13, 2017 from 1PM to 3PM EDST at the following number 1- 347-450-7077

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Nassau Candy Distributors of Hicksville, NY, is voluntarily recalling 8 oz. bags of H.E.B brand Pomegranate Infused Cranberries Covered in Dark Chocolate because they may contain undeclared Almonds. People who have allergies to Almonds run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

The product is packaged in 8 oz. zipper bags with UPC CODE 041220985883 and has a Best By Date of 02/27/18 on the lower right back panel of the packaging. No other product or Best By Dates are affected by this recall.

The recalled Pomegranate Infused Cranberries Covered in Dark Chocolate was distributed to H.E.B in San Antonio, Texas. All product with the Best By Date of 02/27/18 has been removed from the store shelves and destroyed.

The company has received one allergy complaint to date.

This recall was initiated after it was reported via a social media complaint that a bag contained almonds but were not listed on the packaging. The company continues its investigation into the matter and has temporarily suspended production of this item.

Consumers who have purchased the 8 oz. bags of H.E.B brand Pomegranate Infused Cranberries Covered in Dark Chocolate are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Nassau Candy Distributors at 516-433-7100 ext. 7297, Monday - Friday 9am - 4pm EST.