Wednesday, November 30, 2016

She Designs Calorie Free Candy Fantasies

Have you heard about Adult Coloring? Maybe some of you do it. It doesn't require an age (other than being 18+) and it is open to any gender, sex, race, ethnic group, and skill level. Coloring books can be dollar shop bargain or very expensive books tied to popular artists or pop culture phenomenon. Today we're going to meet Donna Linder, an artist whose first coloring book, Sweet Dreams: A Caboodle of Candy, has chocolates you can color and enjoy without worrying about calories. As always in our interviews, italics are the words of the individual we spoke with.

Donna Linder, Artist having fun1
Before you created Sweet Dreams: A Caboodle of Candy, what were you doing?

I was (and still am) working as a sleep tech at my local hospital.  I'm passionate about art (and candy!) but the medical field will always be my first love

Do you have formal training as an artist or is this raw talent that we're seeing in this coloring book?

I have no formal training. In fact, I flunked almost every art class I had to take throughout school. I was pretty much considered hopeless by the time I reached college!

You choose candy as the subject of this coloring book, why that topic?

Candy has always been one of my biggest comfort foods.  The bright colors, patterned wrappers, and textures appeal to me very much. Even just looking at the candy store displays makes me happy.  :)
  
When I first started Sweet Dreams, there were only one or two food-themed coloring books out there, so my initial motivation for this was to fulfill a need within myself. I got a lot of support from friends and family and it gave me the courage to take this a step further and share my art with others. 

Because this is The Chocolate Cult, we have to ask: Do you like chocolate? If so, what type is your favorite? Milk, Semi-sweet, Dark, Unsweetened, or White?

I LOVE chocolate!  Semi-sweet and Dark are my favorites, although any chocolate that's nice and cold right from the fridge will do the trick for me.  :)

Many adult coloring books are double-sided but I'm pleased that yours is single-sided. That requires more pages however and probably more cost to you to create the book. Why did you decide to go with one image per page?

It's the preferred style for most colorists, I wanted to create a book that people would enjoy and not have to worry about bleeding through.  Plus, I got to discover all the awesome candy-related quotes that I used to take up space on the opposite side of the pages.  

I notice that most of the images in the coloring book are mandala in style. Why does that particular layout appeal to you as the artist?

I love the symmetry and repetitive pattern that goes along with mandala style art; it creates the opportunity for a lot of variations, or some peaceful repetition. No matter how a person chooses to color a mandala, it will look like it was designed just for that style.  

Did you create the candy in your images from your imagination or did you have models that you used?

I had a lot of very delicious models! I knew what I wanted the candy to look like, but converting it from my head to the page was a challenge.  There were several trips to corner store for candy that nobody could eat until I had gotten the picture to look like I wanted it to.  

I see that this coloring book is on Amazon.com but were else could our readers buy your book?

Amazon and Createspace are the only two places the book is available currently. I also have an Etsy Store (GoddessLaughs Designs) for digital/printable/singles. 

What has been the biggest hurdle you've had to jump in order to get an adult coloring book published?

Gathering the courage to actually publish was my biggest issue.  I was so afraid that people were going to look at this book and think it was a crappy product or of crappy quality.  

This was your first adult coloring book. Do you have plans for more?

I have a darker/creepier book called After Midnight in the works and I've got the very beginnings of a cocktail themed book (hopefully).



Monday, November 28, 2016

Chocolate Cyber Monday Deals!

Let's help each other other today, Chocolate Lovers!

In the comments let us all know about Cyber Monday Chocolate Deals you've learned about.

I'll share some that I know. You'll have to find the website in another window but these are the coupons I know about for today.







I don't expect images in your comments but this is the one time you can provide coupon information and links in the comments without my deleting them to let's help each other out!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hot Gift that is Sweet to Give or Receive

240Sweet is a hot little company, literally and figuratively. We have featured their gourmet marshmallows many times here. Their creations are award winning, their chefs award winning. Today I want to share a hot gift you might want to give to your loved from 240Sweet -- Hot Chocolate Gift Set which is new for 2016. Furthermore, 240Sweet is offering a special coupon for readers of The Chocolate Cult but you have to keep reading to learn what that is after our full feature article today. Get in a comforty setting and get ready to try out their decadent hot chocolate and gourmet marshmallows with us. 240Sweet set me the decadent hot chocolate mix along with two types of their gourmet marshmallows (bourbon brown sugar and sugar cookie) in exchange for an honest feature article about their product.

Let's look at the marshmallows and the hot chocolate on their own first because when you add marshmallows to hot chocolate it does affect the flavor of both. Both of the bags have 10 petite gourmet marshmallows in them and as you'll see they vary in size. The bags unfortunately are not resealable so if you don't plan to use them right away have a bag or container of your own; based on previous experience I recommend using them within a week or so after you open them.

240Sweet Bourbon Brown vs Sugar Cookie

We'll start with the Bourbon Brown Sugar Marshmallows that you can see in our previous photo is slightly tan in color. There is a solid bourbon scent  but no alcohol sting in either fragrance or taste. There is a sweetness that builds with each chew and lingers for minutes afterward.



Next we tried the Sugar Cookie Marshmallows on their own, they are very white and have white edible sugar pearls on the top of them. These smell just like sugar, simple, basic, sweet. The vanilla burst of flavor when I take a bite is unexpected and intense but it really does make this taste like a sugar cookie. The pearls add crunch but I don't think that they add much flavor; I wonder if they will melt in the hot chocolate... let's find out!


Of course, given that this is The Chocolate Cult our real focus is on the Decadent Hot Chocolate mix. The instructions on the back label of the bag read "Whisk 4 Tbs of mix into 1 cup of boiling milk for 3 minutes." I measured out the mix and it is approximately 5 servings worth per these instructions. (there are also fondue directions but I didn't do both) Note: In my household we only use skim milk. Alone it is still creamy, a touch dark, and no other flavors, a good basic foundation.


What happens when you add the marshmallows to the hot chocolate?

When we added the sugar cookie marshmallows. The marshmallows get soft very quickly especially if you cut them up but they do not melt very quickly at all, you have to keep stirring them to get them to melt. The sugar pearls did not melt so if you don't swallow them you will find them at the bottom of your mug; I thought taking a photo of that was a bit icky so here you have them floating in the hot chocolate but you can see the pearls right there.. These marshmallows add a lot of sweetness to it but also butteriness: it is like dunking a sugar cookie into hot cocoa one of my testers declared with a grin.


Finally we added the bourbon brown sugar marshmallows. The first thing I notice is that the bourbon fragrance gets stronger and stronger as the marshmallows melt, something I did not notice with the sugar cookie variety. The intensity of the marshmallows remains very bourbon if you try one before they thoroughly melt. Again stir to make them melt faster. The intensity of flavor change to the hot chocolate depends on how many of the marshmallows you use -- one is a slight change, two is balanced, three is a bit too much. I didn't like these as much as the sugar cookie marshmallows in terms of what they added to the hot chocolate foundation. And yes, if you spotted, it this was my 240Sweet mug I got a few years ago which I still have and still use.





The flavors of gourmet marshmallows changes often at 240Sweet so I haven't linked to these products specifically. You just have to check them out and see what is currently available.

Here is the exclusive discount code for
$10 off the Peppermint Hot Chocolate Kit
Coupon Code: thechocolatecult

It is true that the kit in this offer doesn't include the same gourmet marshmallows that we tested for you today, but it still has the same decadent hot chocolate mix. We've had enough of 240Sweet's varieties of marshmallows to know the ones in this kit are very likely to be good.

So who out there is going to check out this offer for a holiday gift or treat for yourself?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Listeria And Dairy Recalls before Thanksgiving


-------------------- Recalls --------------------
Agave Dream Ice Cream

Agave Dream of Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA is recalling all vanilla, chocolate, cappuccino, chocolate chip and lavender ice creams packaged in pint sized containers, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Product was distributed across the United States through retail stores receiving product from KeHE Romeoville & Dallas warehouses, DPI NW, Americold Los Angeles & Modesto warehouses, IWI Franklin Indiana warehouse, Jakes Finer Foods Houston Texas, Haddon House Richburg South Carolina & Medford New Jersey, Grocery Outlet- CA, UNFI- Auburn Washington & Ridgefield Washington.

All of the recalled products were manufactured and packaged in a facility owned by a contract manufacturer, Dr. Bob’s of Upland, LLC. Recalled products are Agave Dream ice creams packed in pints with “best buy” date located at the bottom of the pint.

The following flavors and “Best By” dates are being recalled:

Flavor                UPC                                         Dates
Vanilla                8 9934900201 7 7/4/17, 9/8/17,10/9/17, 12/12/17, 1/14/18
Chocolate        8 9934900202 4 7/4/17, 8/5/17, 9/8/17, 10/9/17, 12/12/17, 12/24/17
Cappuccino        8 9934900204 8 7/4/17, 9/8/17, 12/2/17, 1/14/18
Chocolate Chip      8 9934900203 1 8/5/17, 12/12/17
Lavender                8 9934900206 2 12/2/17


No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall is the result of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finding samples positive for Listeria monocytogenes in the contract manufacturer’s facility and in finished product of another company’s brand, leading the contract manufacturer to recall all ice cream products it produced for Agave Dream.

Consumers who have purchased the identified Agave Dream ice cream products are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 866-993-4438 or agavedream@sbcglobal.net. Monday-Friday, 9am PST-5pm PST.

-------------------------

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company, Inc. of Madison, WI is recalling select ice cream products, because they were made with a chocolate chip cookie dough ingredient supplied by Aspen Hills, Inc., which has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

NOVEMBER 10, 2016 RECALL EXPANDED

The ice cream products were distributed to the following states AL, AZ, CA, FL, IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, NE, OH, PA, SC, VT, WA & WI. The ice cream products were distributed to various ice cream shops around the country, online outlets and limited grocery stores.

This recall includes the following products with code dates provided:

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co. 3 Gallon Cartons 

Cookie Dough (code date 10/15/17, 10/21/17, 11/1/17 & 11/8/17),

Heaps of Love (code date 10/20/17, 10/28/17 & 11/8/17),

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough (code date 10/9/17, 10/18/17 & 11/1/17),

Sticks & Stones (code date 10/26/17).

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co. Pints

Cookie Dough (code date 10/21/17).

The Baked Bear brand 3 Gallon Cartons

The Baked Bear brand Cookie Dough (code date 10/13/17, 10/15/17, 10/21/17).

------------------------------

November 11, 2016 – Boulder, CO - Free2b Foods of Boulder, CO is recalling its chocolate Sun Cups for three specific Sell By dates, because it may contain undeclared milk ingredients. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The recalled chocolate Sun Cups were distributed nationwide in retail stores.

Specifics on the recalled products are found below. UPC codes are printed on the back of packages and Sell By dates are stamped in black on the back of packages.

Product                           Name                     UPC Code          Sell By Dates

Chocolate Sun Cups Double cups in purple 895444001405 02 Aug 17,
04 Aug 17, and 07 Aug 17

Chocolate Sun Cups Single cups in purple   895444001443 02 Aug 17,
04 Aug 17, and 07 Aug 17

The issue was discovered as a result of a consumer communication. One reaction has been reported to the company to date. Subsequent investigation by the company indicates that this milk-containing product was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk.  This occurred during a transition the company recently made to remove dairy from its products and facility while moving from a top 7 Allergen-Free facility to a Top 8 Allergen-Free facility.  They are now a dedicated Top 8 Allergen-Free manufacturing facility.

If you have these Sun Cups and a milk allergy, do not consume them. Please photograph the package with UPC code, then dispose of them or return them to: Free2b Foods, 5305 Spine Road #E Boulder, CO 80301. Free2b Foods will reimburse or replace products with new chocolate Sun Cups.

For questions, please contact 844-610-5673 between 8am-10pm MST or email hey@free2bfoods.com.

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

-------------------

Cedar Crest Specialties, Inc. is recalling Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Monster Cookie and Pirate's Bounty ice cream flavors, bearing the following Product Name, Product Code Dates, and container sizes:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 3826, 3846, 4346, and 4326 Pints, 48 oz., and 3 gallon

Monster Cookie 3826 3 gallon

Pirate's Bounty 4346 48 oz.

Cedar Crest was notified on November 10 that the cookie dough in the above-referenced products, which is manufactured by Aspen Hills, Inc., has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The affected products were distributed in retail stores throughout the Midwest. Cedar Crest Specialties is taking immediate steps to recall all affected products, as a voluntary, preventative safety measure.

Customers who have purchased Cedar Crest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Monster Cookie and/or Pirate's Bounty flavors, bearing the affected Product Code dates and container sizes, are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Questions may be directed to 1-888-628-0730, Monday-Friday between 8AM and 4PM Central Time.

To date, no illnesses have been reported related to this recall.
--------------------------


Chicago, IL - Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae frozen desserts is voluntarily being recalled due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination from Aspen Hills, Inc. Cookie Dough Pieces. 

This issue was identified when Aspen Hills, the supplier of the cookie dough pieces used as an ingredient in Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae frozen desserts, reported positive test results for Listeria monocytogenes. We immediately began an investigation and are voluntarily taking this action as a precautionary measure.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

There have been no consumer complaints or reports of illness related to this issue to date.

The recall is for approximately 100,000 cases of Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae frozen desserts.

No other sizes, varieties or code dates of Weight Watchers Smart Ones products are included in this recall. (Click the Link for this article to see the full recall information.)

We deeply regret this situation and apologize to any consumers we have disappointed.

Consumers who purchased this product should not eat it. They should return it to the store where purchased for an exchange or full refund. Consumers can also contact 1-866-572-3805. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern, for a full refund.

This product was distributed to retailers in the U.S. only.