Bouchard Chocolates 72% Cacao Fine Belgian Dark Chocolate

We are unabashed chocolate junkies in this house, and we usually don’t discriminate, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t discerning. There’s some really, really good craft chocolates out there, and some really, really bad stuff you can find at the supermarket checkout lane that shouldn’t (and sometimes even can’t) legally be called chocolate. But, in swoops Bouchard Chocolate to show you what’s good about good chocolate. And, sadly, what’s bad about a company looking to increase their presence in the U.S. but shot itself in the foot.

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To start, it’s a good chocolate, despite arriving during a now-customary California Fall heatwave. We’re talking 100+ temps in late September. I feared the worst, but most of the Napolitains arrived intact. More than a few were melted and toast, but I’ll use those for baking. The bag I received was simple cellophane, understated and all about the product within. It’s a dark chocolate (72% cacao content), but I can’t find a list of ingredients, nor did I get anything listing them, nor does the website list them…you kind of get where I’m going here. So, tastewise it’s pretty good. It’s comparable, favorably, to Green & Blacks, which is a pricey but good chocolate you can find almost anywhere. It’s smooth, not gritty, melts in your mouth without any lingering sugars after, and slightly bitter to the tongue, but in the way a good chocolate should be. The small morsels in the packet I got were good for a light snack when you’re needing that chocolate fix, but don’t want to gorge (yes, it’s happened here. Too often!).

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And that’s it for the good. The bad is that this company is doing a positively lousy job of getting to market. The company name and product has been around in some form or fashion since 1931. It’s roots trace back to the fine chocolatiers  in Ghent, Belgium with an award winning recipe for fine chocolate. But good luck finding a decent web presence, or price point, or e-commerce site for them. I couldn’t, and none was supplied for me to promote with. No ingredient list, no “Where to Buy”, just a lot of pretty pictures and florid prose, but no substance. In this country, we call that “All sizzle and no steak”. It’s a fine product, probably top 5 of all the chocolates I’ve had recently. And while they told me to mention that their product can be found in Costco Warehouses around the country, near weekly visits by Hubby has yet to locate any in the wild. Nothing on Amazon, Costco.com, no way to buy or even price. I can’t even tell you if it’s a value. And that’s a real shame. Since the company was acquired by Halloren Chocolate Group in 2014, they wanted to quickly get the name out there. That’s only a good strategy if you make your product readily available, and as of this writing, they have not. I’d love to recommend the chocolate, because it tastes divine. But I don’t know where to point you other than “Supposedly Costco”, and I can’t tell you how much it costs, what other types of products they have, what they’re made with… Ugh, so frustrating to see a good product doomed by terrible (or non-existent) marketing.

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Connect with Bouchard Chocolate:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Bouchard Chocolate. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

New Orleans Famous Praline Company: Classic Pralines #Review #PralineInLove

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We have always loved anything that is “New Orleans” related from the food to the decor, we have enjoyed it. There is a reason why New Orleans Square at Disneyland was our favorite place to hang out when we had the park’s passports. I make everything at home trying to mimic and bring back that piece of memory from making Beignets, Gumbo, to even Red Beans and Rice with Andouille at home. Most things I can make and hit the mark but the one thing I can’t imitate, is those pralines! You can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to review them.

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The New Orleans Famous Praline Company has been sharing their delicious clusters with us since 1996. Calling them a candy is just too simple. Candy to me is a piece of gum drop, to a sour patch straw. It’s just not enough of a justifiable name to what really is a treat all of it’s own. This is a delicacy that you make it right or wrong, no middle ground here. The N.O.F.P Company (as I call them), offers you 3 different types of Pralines to choose from:

  • The Original “Classic” Praline
  • The Creamy Praline and
  • The Chocolate Praline

Three things done right means you can get away with a short selection but do not discount them!

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Verdict:

I received the box and let me tell you when I opened it, it smelled like the store at Disneyland. That store that stocks all the items you can’t find anywhere that originate from New Orleans. My goodness, did I spend my pay check at that store! It was such a joyful scent of sweetness and butter, with a hint of nuts. New Orleans Famous Praline Company packs a gorgeous little box that even serves as a souvenir itself because it’s that adorable. The box’s image is a drawing of a the shoreline. You see the city and the ships, plus the colors give it that vintage feel; very much like the century old recipe the company uses to produce these beauties. The company only uses real quality ingredients that is why these differ from the rest. Each praline is lovingly sealed in it’s own wrapper, so you have guaranteed freshness and let me get started on how they taste. You have the pecans that are chopped into pieces and floating in a buttery and sugary filling that almost resembles the inside of a pecan pie. The confection is crumbly but not dry or hard, it literally melts in your mouth. Not grainy at all but smooth and it has that classical cluster texture where it’s creamy but not gooey. Just perfectly blended and the proper thickness too. Enjoyable to the last bite and I first devoured this praline as is, but then crumbled some on ice cream (Southern Pecan of course) and it just made that bowl of ice cream pure happiness! These are a must and especially from a company that takes care and pride in what they produce. I hope in the future to taste their other creations, the creamy and the chocolate pralines!

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Connect with New Orleans Famous Praline Company at:

 

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from New Orleans Famous Praline Company. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Tryazon: Sterno S’mores Maker for Indoors and Outdoors Use #SmoresMaker

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I’m all for DIY cooking ways and what not better way to bring some fun, by being able to create S’mores at home. The weather is bad? No problem, as this Sterno S’mores Maker has no limitations. You can make S’mores it indoors, outdoors and at any hour. Yup, party any time and this is not just limited to giving kids smiles, you can even make “Gourmet S’mores” that are easy and even make it less messy. No longer do you have to try to hold the candy bar piece, you can literally make a chocolate bark topping that stays……yes, stays put on top of your graham piece.

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The S’mores Maker is brought to you by Sterno Products, the company that has been bringing heat to campers and the like for decades. They have created a nice line of products and kits, which make not only Summer funner, but you are not limited by the seasons when entertaining.

The kit includes:

  • 2 Roasting Forks
  • 1 Roasting Safety Screen for even roasting and protection from flame
  • 2 integrated S’mores Making Stations for an easy and clean way to make s’mores
  • Includes 1 can of Sterno S’mores Heat™ (also available for purchase separately)

I decided to make chocolate barks and all you do is make a ganache and/or melt chocolate and add toppings. Ganaches, use Heavy Cream and produce a more velvety texture and by using a 75% ratio of chocolate to 25% cream, the product firms up enough to not fall off the graham or cookie of your choice. You can also melt chocolate on low heat and then simply smear the chocolate on one part of the cookie, add your toppings and you are now pre-making S’mores!  When guests arrive, half the work is completed. I also find this controls messes. Nuts, coconut shavings and so forth can get sloppy when you are building the Ultimate S’mores sandwich. This way of building S’mores makes sure the tables and floors do not suffer from runaway toppings!

The toppings are endless and you can satisfy any picky eater by using these easy tricks:

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Now, this is how the set up looks and it took me an hour to pre-make all the cookies.  I had guests coming as I made them and my chocolate chip mini cookies were eaten up, but you can use more than just graham.  Even Shortbread minis!

 

The Sterno S’mores Maker heats evenly no matter the size of marshmallow.  Hey, I was worried the Giant ones (found at Aldi’s) would not heat up and melt in the center, they did and with ease.  The normal size ones that look like miniatures compared to the gigantic ones, those I purchased at Trader Joe’s.

 

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Verdict:

I was super excited and started purchasing ingredients before the maker even arrived.  Then it arrived!! It was beautiful and easy to assemble, meaning none was needed.  The red portion (holder) is dishwasher safe and because you can by the cans again and again, this means having a S’mores party is endless.  We will be trying more creations in the future and I can’t wait.  This is a must buy and at $35.16 currently at Amazon, it’s perfect for 4th of July or really anytime.  Make your own fun and creations.  The refill fuel cans retail for $6.99 and that is for two cans!  Each can lasts for about 45 minutes.  It’s a cinch to clean up and everyone had a blast.

 

Connect with Sterno and checkout the S’mores Maker at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Sterno and Tryazon. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

BetterBody Foods: PB Fit, Peanut Butter Powder and PB Chocolate Powder #Review Panettone Pound Cake #Tryazon

I have looked at powdered peanut butter but never actually purchased it. I sort of walked around it and wondered how it was when it reconstituted, how it baked when used in recipes, to even how it was when sprinkled over my morning breakfasts.  I even imagined mixing the powder with peanut butter, creating a grilled PB Nutty &J sandwich that would make everyone stand in lines to get their fix.  The BetterBody Foods PB fit is a brand that I saw was preferred mostly and touted as being the “must try” when it came to venturing into Peanut Butter powders.

Powdered Peanut Butter is not just one of those products that is made just so you can see if you can be done! It has it’s applications because I myself sometimes wish I could up the “peanut flavor” without having to add more nuts or even the butter itself. Formulations have doomed me when I cooked recipes or was experimenting and added too much peanut butter that created an unpleasant texture. From too much oil to even producing bake goods that baked up more like a crunchy paste than a bread or a cookie dough. Thankfully, our dog saves us when my PB creations have failed.

The BetterBody Foods PB fit is also a different product all together than what comes out of a jar and no butter knife required. You can easily add flavor and not sacrifice texture. You also have health benefits that come in to play that I had overlooked. The BetterBody Foods company powder offers:

  • A Gluten Free Peanut Butter Powder
  • Lower in Fats, which depending on the variety you buy that can be from 75% to 85% lower
  • 1/3 less calories per serving compared to standard peanut butter
  • Good source of protein and also fiber
  • The Peanut Butter powder is also natural with no artificial ingredients, dyes, or preservatives.
  • Simply Peanuts, Salt and Sugar made from non-GMO ingredients

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Okay, this Peanut Butter is a different nut all together in my book. It’s a cleaner and a more intense tasting peanut, so I opted to make a recipe and using the PB Fit powder because of the lower fat content but not lowered peanut tasting! With the holidays approaching, almond cakes and pound cakes are some of my favorite baked goods. They just go with anything from the seasonal fruits and berries, to just plain with a dollop of whipped cream or a warm sauce. I figured since I was being adventurous, why not make an Panettone Pound Cake and use a combination of products that are nut based.

Let’s Begin….

  • 7 ounces of Almond Paste (grated)
  • 2 sticks of Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cups of White Sugar
  • 4 Eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 drop of Lemon
  • 2 drops of Almond Extract
  • 1 tablespoon of Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 4 tablespoons of PB Fit Powder (you can use plain or even the chocolate variety.  You can also divide the batch to make a marble cake by using both varieties)
  • 1 cup of Cake Flour
  • 1 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Hazelnut Flour (ground hazelnuts)
  • Zest of one Orange (any variety you desire)
  • 1/2 cup of Milk (room temperature)
  • Optional 1/2 a cup to a cup of nuts like Pistachios to even mini chocolate chips.  You can even add candied fruits, dry fruits (imagine figs) and crystallized ginger in lower amounts.  You can also add slivered almonds on top when 1/4 baked through, and then make sure to cover (with foil) to avoid burning when they have toasted.

Set oven to warm at 325 degrees

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I start by grating 7 ounces of Almond Paste and added it to the butter and white sugar. Blend until creamy.  Add eggs to the butter mixture and blend again until smooth and combined.

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In a separate bowl, add zest of the orange to your dry ingredients (flours, Salt, PB Fit Powder, and Baking Soda) whisk, and set aside.

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Add extracts.  You then grab your dry ingredients bowl and in shifts add some of the dry ingredients and then some of the milk until all ingredients are combined.  Do not over mix, as this produces a dry cake.  You can then fold in the optional ingredients if desired.

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I use a large pound cake pan, but you can even use a cake pan and make two layers with the cake batter.  No rules here because I can imagine making a custard/pudding that would be divine with this cake.  You bake the cake for 60 minutes and if it starts to brown too much on top, cover with foil.  At the 1 hour mark, raise the temperature to 350 degrees and bake until done.  Cool for 5 minutes and then flip the cake on to a wire rack to cool an additional 1 to 2 hours before slicing.

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This cake is like a Panettone in flavor but with a heavier texture to resemble a pound cake, which has a crumb that can withstand more than the airiness you get from a Panettone batter.  You bake it slow to allow the flavors to build, the butter to brown, and to yield a moist pound cake.  Enjoy!

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Verdict:

So, it’s a product with the name PB fit and I made cake (I know)!  Well, I’m a girl that thinks even fit focused products can create magic with what is seen as naughty.  They talk about clean eating, well I think that applies to baking too.  Alienating a product because it carries the word “fit” would just be silly and the BetterBody food company is about making products better for the consumer, and I always say when you use top quality ingredients, you can never go wrong and this cake proves it!  It’s a little of naughty and nice to go with the holiday season.  The holidays are about experiencing flavors from pumpkin to dark chocolates, and peanut butter is no longer seen as just the “poor man’s nut”.  Many companies make exceptional peanut butters that are even considered gourmet creations.  BetterBody Foods, allows the consumer to take a known product that is just not like any peanut butter I ever tasted.  There is that cleaner taste that is more intense and closer to the nut’s true flavor because of the simple process they use that equates to just less processing in the first place!  I can make the powder into a butter by adding water, so don’t think your sandwiches are in jeopardy.  I can’t wait to make a peanut butter cookie because this is the product I have been waiting for!  On Halloween, I added the PB Fit Chocolate powder to crispy rice (cereal) treats and they were different and gone before the evening was over.  It was one of those moments where I was about to add peanut butter and thought I already add mini chocolate chips to the top of the treats when they are cooling, so why not add the powder to the marshmallow and butter mix.  It took just 4 tablespoons to create a flavor that made my treats vanish, and any cook and baker loves that!

Connect with BetterBody Foods and get your PB Fit fix at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from PB Fit and Tryazon.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Pure Natural Miracles’ 100% Organic Raw Cacao Nibs

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I’m a fan of cacao, and have been for some time. I’ve cooked and baked with it and never had a bad thing to say about it. But until recently I never got to try raw cacao nibs, straight up. And now that I have, I’m a fan, in a big way. Pure Natural Miracles sent me a bag to try and review, and I’m delighted they did and opened my world to something new and delightful. Their marketing tactics and high-pressure approach to reviewers I’m not as big a fan of, but I won’t let that stop me from enjoying the product.

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Cacao nibs are like a mild espresso bean, full of tangy, almost bitter notes. Like a baking chocolate, it’s bereft of sugar in any form, but crunchy like a grain, or granola. You get a full, rich chocolate flavor, but no sugar, or processing, or roasting, basically anything that strips away the flavors and health benefits, like antioxidants and trace minerals that are essential to any healthy diet, plus their high in dietary fiber. These Pure Natural Miracle nibs are made from 100% pure Organic Peruvian Criollo cacao and are raw (not fermented or roasted), organic, vegan, and naturally gluten free, so they can be easily worked into any diet or diet plan. They went great with my morning “scatter”, usually some cereal and nuts, along with chia seeds, flax meal, goji berries and Greek yogurt. And while I noticed nothing out of the ordinary as far as energy, or alertness, I also saw no ill effects from consuming them daily for weeks. It was like a morning cup of coffee with my breakfast, but no caffeine dump later. They also went great sprinkled over some vanilla bean ice cream, or just a small handful on their own.

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What I’m less a fan of is, as a reviewer, I make certain promises to the companies I choose to work with. And I expect them to understand that I have many, many companies I work with every day, some regularly for years. Things get reviewed as they come in, in the order received, unless we’ve made special arrangements beforehand for an accelerated or delayed time frame. And I never, ever, let a company put words in my mouth. For good or for ill, my opinions are my own and I will not use a companies “suggested” dialog for my reviews. Whether it was Larviks Investment Group as a proxy or Pure Natural Miracles, I got the hard sell almost from jump. I didn’t appreciate the way they went about this promotion with me, and while I like the product immensely, I can only hope that they’re not the same way with regular customers.

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So in the end it’s a great product that I recommend highly and hope that give them a try. If you like coffee, or chocolate, or chocolate coffee (*drools*), then these are right up your alley.

Connect with Pure Natural Miracles:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Pure Natural Miracles.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Dick Taylor Craft Handmade Chocolate and French Silk Pie Review and Recipe #DickTaylorChocolate

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Every once in a while, you run into a product that is a game changer. Someone who ups the bar so high that you don’t know who or if it can ever be topped. I really try to reserve some labels for a truly superlative product. Dick Taylor’s Craft Chocolate hits every metric for me to call it “The Very Best”. Nothing I’ve ever had before can even come close. It’s in a league all it’s own. I’ll go over why below, and even add a recipe that, should you have the willpower to not devour the chocolate immediately, will be dynamite.

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Chocolate in the United States has been done a great disservice. What was once an American icon, Hershey’s, can be held partly accountable for the woeful state of chocolate confections in this country. Because if you’ve only had Hershey’s, you’ve not had chocolate. Craftsmen like Dustin Taylor and Adam Dick are looking to right a terrible wrong with their small-batch craft Dick Taylor chocolates. With a hands-on approach that takes up to a month or more, it starts with selecting only the finest fair-trade raw cacao, all the way up to the pouring of this molten magic into it’s molds. You’ve not lived until you’ve treated yourself to a piece of Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate. The vintage machinery used belie the dedication and skill inherent to this labor of love, because one would think to make the best chocolate, you’d need the latest and greatest in automation and innovation. The craftspeople at Dick Taylor chocolates scoff at the notion, and impart a love and devotion to being the best that I could only strive for. Heart will take you far, it seems.

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The list of ingredients for the 72% Madagascar, Sambirano is so simple it’s almost as if they left out a step on purpose to keep anyone else from finding the secret to a truly superior chocolate. Ready?

Organic cacao and organic cane sugar.

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That’s it. No emulsifiers, no fillers, no chemicals, no artificial gunk, no waxes. The flavor envelopes your mouth immediately, with no harsh bitterness, no oily or overly creamy mouth feel, no grit. Impossibly smooth from first bite to final swallow, you almost never want the experience to end. There’s nothing else like it. It was almost transcendent. Our bars of Green & Blacks now sit in the pantry, lonely and wanting. The Guittard Dark baking chips that were my baking cabinet queens have been kicked to the curb. I’m fully and completely in love with Dick Taylor’s Craft lovelies. I mean, they even look exquisite. We were so fortunate that the weather was in our favor when the box arrived, as I’ve have been inconsolable to have had this chocolate adulterated by the heat. There’s 5 different types of “dark” chocolate with cacao percentages from 72% up to 76%, as well as 4 specialty flavors (Fleur de Sel?! You had me at “chocolate”, you devil!), drinking chocolate, and even a Father’s Day Gift Collection! Should I gift one to hubby despite not being a father? Hmm… At any rate, there’s truly something for everybody there!

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Located to our north in Eureka, CA, we have a standing invitation to tour their facility should we ever find ourselves in the neighborhood. I don’t know if I’d trust my self (or hubby) to not grab everything we could carry and run cackling like madmen out the doors at first opportunity, probably to the tune of “I’ve got a golden ticket”. There’s thankfully an authorized retailer just a short ways away, but I’m not sure if my diet thinks this is a good thing. We finished the first bar in 5 minutes after the first nibbles, and we just don’t do that in this house. Chances are, there’s someone to sell you a bar locally. And if not, they do sell direct from the website, shipped to your door.

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Not since the mythical Willy Wonka has there been something so magical available to eat. Nothing you’ve had comes close. Be forewarned, after you’ve had Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, nothing will ever come close again. You’ll be spoiled for all time, chasing a chocolate dragon until your end of days. Do it anyways. It’s sooooo worth it.

Connect with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolates at:

 

 

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate French Silk Pie:

With Summer here and the weather finally warming up for us, I wanted to bring back a classic but a goodie.  A good pudding always allows you taste the honest chocolate notes.  With Dick Taylor’s Madagascar, Sambirano 72%, I found it to be like the perfect espresso without the bitterness.  A good chocolate will not add oils or large amount of sugars, so neither shall I.  My Husband has always loved this pie but disliked what time has done to it.  It went from a way to showcase a fine chocolate bar and having a cold pie on a hot day, which hits you perfectly like a car ride (of course top down) with a chocolate shake in hand.  We now get ready-made puddings out of a box and the custard pudding below is good and rich enough to eat by the spoonful!  Say goodbye to eating desserts out of the box and treat you and yours with real pudding made like other, with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate.  If I could only find a way to transfer the design of their bars onto this pie…….life would be perfect.  I swear they should sell stamps of their bar’s imprint and of course paired with chocolate scented ink 🙂 Enjoy!

Lets Begin……

Filling (Custard Pudding)-

  • 1/3 cup of Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of Whole Milk (at room temperature)
  • 1/8 cup of Corn Starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 2 Egg Yolks (at room temperature)
  • 5 1/4 ounces of Dick Taylor’s Dark Chocolate of your choice
  • 1/8 cup of Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 of teaspoon of Cocoa Powder (reserved as you sprinkle it on the crust before adding the filling)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of Butter (salted and used KerryGold)
  • 1 Pre-baked Pie Crust (search my recipes if you need one or you can use whatever recipe you desire)

You Start by pre-baking a pie crust.  The crust has to be fully cooked and cooled before you begin making the pudding for the pie.  Below is my crust, and I use a butter and shortening recipe.  I won’t judge if you even get a ready made pie crust, just as long as you make the pudding and you can just skip the crust and serve the pudding in cups with a graham cracker to dunk with!

Now, comes puddin’ time!  You first start by combining the dry ingredients.  This is the corn starch, sugar and salt.  I combine them in a bowl, whisk and then they go into the pot you wish to make your pudding in.  I use a non-stick for that added no stick insurance they have.  Next, combine the milk and the 2 egg yolks.  I use the same measuring cup I use for the milk and just whisk and set aside.  You then measure out your chocolate (break up bars **sniffle**), and you need 5 1/4 ounces.  If you go over, it produces a thicker product but trust me this is pudding that is as thick as it is and rich.  Add the 1/8 cup of Cocoa Powder to the same bowl you have your chocolate in.  If you opted to make this a pie, add the 1/2 teaspoon and dust the bottom of your pie crust with it.

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Now comes the cooking process.  Combine the milk and egg mixture to the sugar, salt and corn starch mix.  Combine with a whisk and turn the stove’s burner on low.  Keep mixing, whisking (get those edges too!) and continue whisking.  You can set the burner to a low-medium setting if you are a heavy whisker at this point and the mixture will begin to show small air bubbles around the 3 minute mark.  You will feel some heat on you knuckles from the steam but keep at it.  After all, we’re burning calories here!  As you whisk, you will feel at the 5 minute mark (if not sooner), the mixture getting thicker and thicker and when it truly bubbles, just before it boils, off the heat it comes.  Turn off the burner and add the chocolate to your custard, along with the Vanilla.  You got pudding!

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Then add the tablespoon of butter.  Now, you have a glistening and rich pudding.  Heaven!

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Now, pour the pudding into the pie shell or if making pudding cups, you can pour into a container to cool (uncovered).  Once cooled, you can then add a cover to not have a choco-smelling fridge, but then that’s not a bad thing either.

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You allow the pie (or pudding bowl) to cool on the counter for an hour and then into the fridge it goes (uncovered).  I let it cool about 3 hours to avoid that condensation you can get if you covered it.  After the 3 hour mark, I then cover the pie (or pudding bowl).  I allow the pie to cool over night and yes, it tortures my loved ones.  I figure they can salivate while it’s cooling and you really get the pie to settle and this is why that 1/2 teaspoon of Cocoa is added.  Any wetness gets absorbed and there is no sliding around from the filling when cut.  Now, topping time!

I have made several topping from whipped cream with mascarpone cheese to salted caramel.  This time I made edible fun-fetti.  It’s a sugar cookie batter but why use white sugar when you can add color!

Fun-Fetti/Confetti Cookie Crumb Topping:

  • 4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
  • 3/4 cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Multi-Colored Sugar Crystals
  • A Dash of salt
  • A Sprinkling of Multi-Colored Sugar Crystals

Set Oven at 375 degrees and begin incorporating (cutting with fork or I use my hands) the butter and flour.  It’s cold and you want to create crumb with about pea sized crumbles.  Add a dash of salt (if wanted) and the 1 tablespoon of the sugar crystals.  Mix until incorporated and in it goes into the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.  When the 7 minute mark comes, add a sprinkle of the sugar if you want extra shimmer.  Then back it goes for the last 3 minutes of cooking.  You want the crumble set but not browned because it takes away from the appearance.

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Take out cooled Pie.

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Add whipped topping and Fun-fetti/Confetti topping and done………..well, you can do more and this is why I never decorate the entire pie!  You can also add red, white and blue sugar crystals for a 4th of July theme to the confetti crumble.

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You can opt for a Fleur de Sel Caramel topping with crushed Pistachios…….

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Or, you want it all!

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And, if you’re feeling nifty and want Fleur de Sel Topping with Maldon Salt Crystals (of course, Hubby fought me on not leaving the Fun-fetti out)……the possibilities are endless!

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Enjoy!

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

Summit Nutritions Instantized Whey Protein Isolate Powder (3-pack)

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While I am a fan of and can appreciate a good protein powder, Hubby is the real “house expert” here, so I will again defer to him for this coming review, Summit Nutritions Instantized Whey Protein Isolate Powder in natural dutch chocolate. Take it away, Hubby:

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I’ve tried more than a few protein powders, and mostly through much trial and error have found out what works best for me and my exercise routines. Summit Nutritions has made a very decent Isolate product that can stand on it’s own with the likes of BSN, Muscle Pharm, and Optimum Nutrition. A little bit about this product and others like it. All whey proteins are not created alike. All protein powders aren’t created alike either. Whey is created by separating the components of milk. The differences between concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. The differences between the three are the purity of protein, available protein by weight, and the purest forms can be virtually lactose free, carbohydrate free, fat free, and cholesterol free. Whey proteins are quickly absorbed, have a high amout of BCAAs, and lately, the better ones can be very expensive. Isolates especially. To find a good isolate powder, that isn’t spiked, and tastes good is a tricky endeavor. “Spiked” powder is pretty cheap and unfortunately pretty common. The practice of spiking protein powders with certain amino acids and other substances to artificially boost the protein count. Brands like Body Fortress are notorious for this, and are actually being sued in a class action because of it.

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Summit Nutritions isn’t playing that game. Just whey protein isolates, some natural flavors, sweeteners, cocoa powder, and some thickener. And for it’s minimal ingredient list, it tastes pretty dang good. A little on the sweet side, but for anyone who’s tried “unflavored” whey proteins knows that the sweetness is much better than the alternative. No sugars, no cholesterol, minimal carbs and practically no fat. It mixes well, leaves no clumps, and actually tastes IMAG2403better than my usual isolate product. It’s premeasured in 30g individual pouches, and one can easily add your BCAA powders or creatine with minimal effect on the taste and consistency of the shake. I use these powders for my post-workout shake, but I can see this being an occasional meal replacement shake too. Be it a quick liquid breakfast or a liquid lunch on the run. The sealed single serve packages lend themselves to quick and easy mixing that you can do anywhere, anytime with just a half bottle of water. If not for one glaring thing, I could see this becoming my go-to powder for regular use.

 

That oIMAG2404ne thing is price. At $8 for 3 servings, you’re looking at almost $200 to match the leading brand’s 74 serving tubs of concentrate, or $133 to match the leading brand’s 50-serving isolate tub. That’s prohibitively expensive. I’m not sure I’d pay an additional $80 for the convenience of pre-measured powder to mix on the go. Currently, the company sells a package of 3 single serving pouches at $7.99, 2lb tubs at $36.99 and 5lb tubs for $69.99. That’s still pretty expensive, more than one would spend for similar products of equal quality on Amazon, which is currently the only place Summit Nutrtions sells their protein powder. So while 3 days of mixes do not really give you enough of a sample size to see whether you get the usual benefits of a good post-workout whey isolate shake, it is enough to tell you it tastes good, smells good, mixes good, & seems to have everything you want in a protein powder, nothing you don’t.

 

Thanks, Hubby. I appreciate you being my designated sports nutrition testing try-out fella.

 

Connect with Summit Nutrtions:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Summit Nutritions. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Ardenne Farm: Giveaway for Chocolate Cookie Gluten Free Baking Mix

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***GIVEAWAY ALERT***

Ardenne Farm’s is offering one of my wonderful readers one free Chocolate Cookie baking mix, just like the one I received. To enter, all you need to do is:

  • Follow the company on Facebook
  • Via Twitter and
  • And, leave me a comment on this posting (the review for the product).
    Almost as simple as baking these cookies!

I will announce the winner in March 7th, so you have a little over a week to enter. Good luck!  Ardenne Farm’s will be sending out the product to the winner.

Final Product as baked at home

Final Product as baked at home

I used a simple Vanilla Bean and then press and enjoy!

I used a simple Vanilla Bean and then press and enjoy!

Ardenne Farm: All Natural Chocolate Cookie Baking Mix Review #ArdenneFarm

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Even though I love to cook and bake, there are days I want to break down and just be able to drop contents in a bowl, stir, bake and eat! My biggest guilt comes from when I grab a box and start reading or glance at the list of ingredients. The stuff has so many chemicals that they might as well include a mad scientist inside to make the stuff for me. Most of my boxed mixes expire and when I throw them out, I make a mental note to never buy________ again. I think it’s my way of telling myself I know better.

My family and I are thankfully not gluten intolerant but I am always open in trying a product that is gluten free to add a change to our routine diet. I must admit that most gluten free products I have tried, well they are like imitators but of the worse kind. Think about an Elvis impersonator and then look at the real Elvis (in his good days) and maybe the outfit looks sort of the same but definitely not the wearer. When I saw Ardenne Farm was kindly offering an all natural baking mix and it said the magic word “chocolate”, I figured I would give it a try.

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The Chocolate Cookie Mix is Vegan friendly and like I mentioned Gluten Free, but the list is short when it comes to ingredients. I know what everything listed is and that is not something I see at the common market when it comes to baking aisle.

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Ingredient List: Cane Sugar, Gluten Free Flour Blend (White Rice Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour), Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Baking Soda, Non GMO Aluminum Free Baking Powder (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate), Salt, Xanthan Gum, Natural Vanilla.

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The directions are also simple and it’s not like some mixes where I need to bring so much to the cookie party that I end up realizing, I just bought a box of flour with a pretty picture on the front that is only possible if I add $5 more of ingredients to make it happen. You just need one stick of unsalted butter and three tablespoons of water. That is it and everything else is included.

Ardenne Farms’ has simple instructions to follow and the only factor that differs from my everyday made from scratch mixes, is the 5 minute setting time after you take the baked product out of the oven. I usually only do 1 to 2 minutes, but this is a rich chocolate product that needs to set and I’m thinking because it’s lacking the gluten glue 🙂 Other than that, no eggs to crack and you just open one bag, mix and bake.

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Appearance:

The box yields 20 cookies and I am use to cookies being so small that when mixes state this, I know I will be lucky to get 10 cookies, but you see the cookie spreads out more than other cookies, so do stick to a tablespoon per cookie drop, versus the 2 tablespoon-ish I did. I am making ice cream sandwiches, so I needed a larger size. I now call it ice cream sandwiches for two, so even my oopsie has a fix!

Retail Price Point: $4.79 on-line via Ardenne Farm’s website for a 16 ounce box

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Taste Test:

My Husband has been negative about gluten free baked products because they are all impostors (he says). He told me it’s like craving a pizza but you eat a bagel bite and of course still crave pizza. It never fills the craving, so he of course was not too positive about me even baking this. He kept saying, “just make real cookies”. I ignored him and went on baking. I did notice the mix has no chips of chocolate but when I opened the bag, you quickly are taken over by a sweet and cocoa rich cloud. I say a cloud because I was hunting for chocolate chips and forgot you let things settle before cutting open. The smell is very pleasant. I mixed as directed, baked, and waited 5 minutes for the cookie to set. I tasted it and thinking is this just something we will be throwing out and I was truly surprised at how good the cookie tasted. It’s a simple chocolate cookie but the dark rich chocolate flavor is there and so is the softness. You can see it’s flat but it has that desired slight crisp texture on the outside, but it’s very gooey on the inside. I gave him half and he groaned and took a bite. He stated it’s not bad and took a second bite of the cookie (the thing has maybe 1/4 bite left) and then said, “for gluten free stuff….this is not bad but I call it more like pizzelles are cookies but this is softer”. In this house, it’s a win because he would just stop eating it and walk away from the treat. He finished the 1/4 bite and walked off while I finished the ice cream cookie sandwiches. I loved the taste and it’s sweeter than I make my own dark chocolate cookies, but it really is one of the better gluten free products out there. I would pick-up this product and especially for making ice cream sandwiches and not caring if it had gluten or not. The batter lends itself beautifully for this application and I don’t feel bad baking from an Ardenne Farm box, because the ingredients are “family friendly” and I know the cookies will be eaten. 🙂

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***GIVEAWAY ALERT***

Ardenne Farm is offering one of my wonderful readers a free Chocolate Cookie mix, just like the one I received above.  I will be posting the giveaway within a few hours and all you need to enter is follow the company on Facebook, Twitter and leave me a comment on this posting.  Almost as simple as baking these cookies! 

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Connect with Ardenne Farm and they have cookies, cakes, and all the sweet stuff your heart desires at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ardenne Farm.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Swaggable: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 Chocolate Protein Powder Review #FuelledByHemp

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I have been a fan of the Manitoba Harvest brand and on a few occasions tasted their hemp based products, just to always find a new food to enjoy and this one is no different. They then added chocolate to the mix, so they definitely were making sure we would love it just even more.

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The previous Hemp products were in their whole form, where the Hemp Pro 70 line is finely ground, so you can have more options when incorporating it with other super-foods or just enjoying it as it comes. The Hemp Pro 70 powder is plant based protein, which breaks down like this:

  • A 4 tablespoon serving is only 130 calories
  • 3.5 grams of total fat and only 0.5 is from Saturated and zero Trans fat.
  • Sodium is a modest 25 milligrams
  • The Carbohydrates breakdown to 11 grams per serving, two come from dietary fiber and 7 grams of sugar.
  • Iron breaks down to 21% of your daily value, which is usually based on a 2,000 caloric intake. If you are dieting and consuming less calories, then this would satisfy more of what you should have on a daily basis.
  • You get a nice boost of 14 grams of total protein in each serving, so imagine if you pair it with Greek or Swedish yogurt, which a good brand gives you more of the good stuff and less of the sweet stuff (i.e. sugars).

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You also can’t overlook the omega factors and that is not something you get in plain yogurt, so this is why I feel it pairs up so well with it.

  • Omega-3 you get 667 milligrams
  • Omega-6 you have a generous 2119 milligrams
  • Omega-9 gives you 412 milligrams

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The product’s ingredients are simple as it gets and the shortest list I have seen on any protein powder list: Hemp Protein concentrate, Organic Coconut sugar, Organic Fair Trade Cocoa powder and natural plant extracts.

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Taste Factor:
All because something has chocolate it does not mean it will be pleasant in taste but thankfully Manitoba Harvest hit it perfectly. No fake malt flavors or granule texture left behind when I made my “jungle mix” this morning. My jungle mix bowl was one banana, a mix of nuts like walnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, and almonds. I then have dried cranberries, Goji berries, a few tablespoons of ground Flax seed and a dash of sunflower seeds. I add a dollop of vanilla flavored Swedish yogurt and a drizzle of almond butter. Two tablespoons of the Hemp Pro 70 protein powder and I lightly toss it to incorporate it. It’s the type of breakfast that if it’s even Monday, I’m ready! You can adjust your serving by your needs so even if 4 tablespoons gives me the aforementioned nutrition, I added other ingredients, so that means I can stretch out my protein powder but also have other sources that make up for it. I get to start my morning with a good chocolate taste that is not just good in flavor for being in a protein mix, but it’s so good in taste that I don’t crave a latte or a candy/sweet thing later. Not even Mondays can beat you when you start your day like this!

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Connect with Manitoba Harvest and get your Hemp fix at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Swaggable and Manitoba Harvest.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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