Saturday, October 22, 2016

Yolli For Your Homemade Spooky Treats

So happy to have another UK based company join our list of brands whom we've featured on The Chocolate Cult. Why? Well, our 3rd highest readership is from the United Kingdom. We've featured other UK brands in the past but today we are looking at Yolli a company that focused on helping you, whether you are an average consumer or a candy business, make your goodies. Today we'll look at their candy melts that can be used in conjunction with chocolate to make treats. I experimented over the course of an entire weekend day to see how they worked best with a mold I have with ghost and jack o'lantern shapes. I was sent two bags of the black, white, and orange candy melts in exchange for this review.

I learned that that "painting on" the colors melted the chocolate and it wasn't a great idea as you can see here with the partly melted ghosts. So I turned next to layering the melts and the chocolate in the molds. That was a bit tricky given my basic home equipment. Remember I'm not a professional chocolatier only a woman like you who loves chocolate and wants to spend my money wisely. I'm sure a professional would have much better equipment but doing this did teach me to respect the candy makers even more.

The Black Yolli Melts were my least favorite of the three. The melted pieces made a thick liquid and it was difficult to spread. I also tasted them and yuck... really, that just tasted horrible to me. So at that point I decided not to continue to use them. If they had tasted like licorice, awesome, we've had that type of chocolate before but this taste was just horrible. The ingredients of this product includ Sugar, Hydrogenated vegetable fat, Sweet whey powder, Skimmed milk powder, Emulsifier (soy lecithin), Food acid, Vanilla Flavour, and Natural colours.

The White Yolli Melts melted into a thinner liquid and was easier to spread. It had a very creamy vanilla flavor to it so I paired it with a basic dark chocolate. The ingredients in these melts included Sugar, Fully hydrogenated vegetable fat (palm kernel oil), Skimmed milk powder, Emulsifier (soy lecithin), and Flavour. It took me a few tries to get a thin enough layer that still provided a white cover for the ghosts. The final products may not be professional quality but still not horrible for just setting out for friends and family to eat. In the photo you can see the plain white melt ghosts versus my attempt to make a layered ghost with 55% chocolate as the bulk and a thin layer of the white over it. I did this by applying the white coating to the mold first then adding the chocolate and spreading it out.

The Orange Yolli Melts melted into the thinnest liquid and it was much easier to spread in the molds. Because it is easier to spread you can see that the coverage is more even and nearly blocks out the 55% chocolate unless you look at them from the bottom. I also tested these melts by alone, pre-melted. I don't know if it just my mind playing tricks on me but I think there was a hint of citrus. A specific flavor isn't listed in the ingredients which include Sugar, Vegetable fat (fractionated and hydrogenated), Skimmed milk powder, Emulsifier (soy lecithin), Color, and Flavour.

The candies that you see above clocked in at 25 calories for the chocolate only (not shared in photo form) since I'm focused on the Yolli Melts) vs 27-28 for the layered pieces. It took about 10 minutes to make the layered pieces and then an hour to cool in the refrigerator so not a lot of time.

I got some other molds that were larger and tried another set of candy making but my initial results reminded the same. The Black has a icky taste by itself, the white is good, but the orange is best in terms of flavor and pourability.

If you haven't used candy melts before a few words of advice. Treat it much as you would chocolate -- keep water away from it, do not add any water based ingredients to it, and heat it in short burst with stirring between the heating. If you are used to working with chocolate you know how hot it can get but I notice that these candy melts fully melted more quickly and therefore did not heat up as much. The upside of that is that you can work with it more directly than with chocolate but you can also overheat more easily.

Since I know that we have many readers in the UK I'm curious to your comments about Yolli products. I loved the white and orange candy melts and I'm looking forward to trying the chocolate flavored sugar strands for the winter holidays.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Listeria Recalls Infect Wide Range of Products

Wow, talk about massive recalls! Not only are there a lot to share with you today (check the links to get all the information) but some of these brands are big names with large markets. Please, for your health and for your family's, take these seriously and check them out.

Note that most of these recalls involve a particular supplier because companies often do not make every ingredient that they include in their products.


NestlĂ© USA Initiates Voluntary Recall Of NestlĂ©® Drumstick® Club 16 Count Variety and 24 Count Vanilla Pack Due to Possible Health Risk






Saturday, October 15, 2016

Will Your Halloween be UNREAL?

Promo Photo from Unreal
How many of you hand out treats at Halloween?

How many of you host a Halloween party?

How many of you just love getting the treats for yourself?

Once more I'm honored to be chosen through the Tryazon program to share a chocolate product with local friends and with all of you reading The Chocolate Cult. I have talked about UNREAL products in the past but for the first time, UNREAL is offering Halloween specific treats so that they can be part of your Halloween experience. I received samples of the Unreal products in exchange for giving them out to friends and writing an objective blog post about them; no other form of compensation was received.

We received five types of Unreal treats to look at.

Original Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (Halloween) come in the yellow bag that has 10 cups in it. Note that these cups weighs 14g vs the 34g Reese's Pumpkin single serving which you might also give out for Halloween. So it isn't really fair to compare the 80 calories in this cup to the 150-200 calories per other peanut butter cups which are later. It measure 1.5 inches across and is 0.25 inches thick, again smaller than the Reese's cups which probably come to mind when you think peanut butter cup. The cups contain 30% fair trade certified ingredients as well as some organic ingredients like cacao and powdered sugar but it also contains palm oil. If you are allergic to peanuts, chocolate, milk, or sunflowers you don't want this. The cup has a domed top but otherwise looks very similar to any Reese's cup. It has a strong chocolate scent with an edge of sweetness and roasted peanuts before you even take a bite. Taking a bite makes a soft sound as I push through the thick edges. Immediately I taste sweet chocolate then a burst of very intense roasted peanuts that fade into more chocolate and sweetness as I chew it. The inside is creamy and thick and a touch gritty but not unpleasantly so. The peanut roasted flavor is really the biggest difference between this and an average peanut butter cup but the chocolate also has a strong aftertaste. I really like it. The folks at my little party that I shared these with liked these though they agreed with my assessment that these were smaller than a traditional peanut butter cup.

Candy Coated Milk Chocolate Gems (Halloween) are similar to M&Ms because they are small, round, chocolate, candy-coated pieces, 14-15 pieces to a small 12g bag. These have fewer calories than the previous treat coming in at 60 calories for a pouch. The first ingredient is milk chocolate with organic ingredient, 40% of the ingredients are certified fair trade. Since this is milk chocolate it has dair if that is an allergy concern for you. I'm a bit concerned when I read the ingredients and see red cabbage juice -- I'm allergic to cabbage so I'm taking a risk trying these out for you all, let's hope I don't have a negative reaction. The colors are muted tones of yellow, purple, blue, and green in the pouch I opened so maybe I didn't get any of the red cabbage dyed ones. Yes, the dyes are natural not some code number like you'd see on most similar candy. The pieces make a loud crunch when I bite and chew them, the sweetness is much less than I expected, the chocolate is more intense but that sweetness returns to the forefront at the end of each piece. The four colors I tried do not taste different to me at all, and I do not believe that they are supposed to taste different based on the packaging information. I like these just not as much as the previous treat and sadly not as much as M&Ms. Of my guests who tried the Gems last night one claimed he could taste a difference between the colors but when I pressed him to try a different color he didn't mention that it tasted different. Two people found the muted colors off-putting even though I explained this was natural not artificial dyes and the tones were duller. One asked if they were dark chocolate even after tasting them; I think for here the lower sugar content equal a darker flavor than she is probably used to.

Halloween Themed Unreal in Pumpkin Plate

All Unreal samples in Halloween Pail
The other three samples I'll mention here but I'll review them in greater detail in later posts. These are in everyday bags so no decorative theme to set them up as a Halloween, Christmas, or other holiday treat. This includes the Dark Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter Cups in a blue bag, the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups in a red bag, and the Milk Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Peanut Butter Cups in a green bag. Each cup is 14-15 grams and has 80 calories but again this makes them smaller than most other peanut butter cups so compare weight equivalents or merely portioned pieces as you think you'd use them.

I introduced these products to a group of friends last night.

I gave each person a baggie containing one of each treat, most of them tried one or two while with me but also took some home with them. We talked about what Unreal is and my guests seemed interested. Sadly I haven't seen most of these treats in my local stores but you can order these online using the links above.

So tell me. Would you consider buying and handing out or serving up Unreal treats for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Meet the Official Chocolatier for The Chocolate Walk 2016

Sisters and Brothers in Chocolate let's look at the official chocolatier for the Brown County Humane Society's Chocolate Walk this year, Crystal Jeffries. This is her second year helping the Society out directly. Welcome, Crystal, and thank you for talking with us today.

What does it mean to be the chocolatier for the Brown County Humane Society? What are your responsibilities?

What it means is I basically make the chocolate for the Humane Society. I have a store front (sic) but I would rather be the chocolatier for the Humane Society. If I can take one burden from them I am doing what I should be doing! So instead of having a number at my shop I pass out my cupcakes for at the Humane society's stop.

How were you chosen for this position?

 Last year my shop opened too late to be put in the brochure but I really wanted to be involved. Jane got ahold of me and asked me if I wanted to be their chocolatier instead. Of course I said yes!

Do you have pets and how does that connect  you to the Human Society?

I currently have 4 cats, 2 dogs, and 2 hamsters! All of them except for 1 dog and the 2 hamsters are rescued!

You also have a store in Nashville, Indiana, called Forever Sweet. Would you please tell us about it?

I opened on August 1, 2015. It's always been a dream of mine to own a shop and sell my cupcakes. I am still awe struck that it actually happened. I have 6 flavors everyday. I change those flavors about every 3 weeks. I offer a local, military, and student discount. I love what I do. 

Since you are the official chocolatier for the Brown County Humane Society, will your shop in Nashville be one of the stops on the walk on November 12, 2016?

My shop will not be a stop. However, since I am right next door to Boneappetit I will be open and it will be very easy to come in and get a cupcake! 

How long have you been working with chocolate and cocoa products?

I would say I have been working with cocoa products since I learned to bake.

What is your favorite product that you make at Forever Sweet?

My favorite cupcake I make is the pumpkin! Which I have right now!

Have you found that working with cupcakes makes you more of a fan of them (and chocolate) or has it made you less of a fan of sweets?

I would say I'm more of a fan. I have to force myself to go thru the day without eating them.

Finally, some people are intimidated by baking and working with chocolate. What advice would you offer someone who would like to make goodies at home but just is afraid they will fail?

It is all about trial and error. If you love what you do just keep at it. The love you put into will shine thru! 

Thank you, Crystal, for talking with us today. I hope when I'm at the Walk in November we'll have time to say "hi" to you in person and maybe get a photo. Sisters and Brothers, leave a comment to say "hi" to Crystal and if you are going on the Chocolate Walk, check out her shop.