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Browsing articles by " Whitney Bembenick"
Apr
4

Tiger Trifle for your (brunch) Table!

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Do any of you LOVE brunch as much as I do?  I enjoy it especially at this time of year when the tulips are blooming and fruits and veggies are bright.  Inspired by the thought of sitting down with friends and family to share the mid-morning sun and some great grub, I whipped up this dairy and gluten-free Tiger Trifle.  If you like tiramisu – you are going to love this recipe!  Here’s the run down…

You will need:

2 boxes of gluten free lady fingers

1 cup brewed coffee, cold

2 Endangered Species Chocolate with Espresso Beans bars

1 11oz carton of So Delicious coconut milk

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Juice from 1/2 lemon or 2 tablespoons of red wine

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Start by layering half of your lady fingers in the bottom of the bowl (or pan, it doesn’t have to look pretty!).  If you aren’t into eggs, which are in lady fingers, you can substitute with any vegan and gluten free shortbread cookie or pound cake of your liking!

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Next, chop up one chocolate bar and add half of what you chop to the bowl (this is getting good….really good).

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Pour about 1/4 cup of the cold coffee over your ladyfingers layer.  You can add more or less – it’s all up to you!

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Now we make the cream – my favorite step!  Have you used this cooking coconut milk from So Delicious? It’s a vegan cook’s dream!

You are going to put this, along with the confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a high speed mixer.  After combining, add about 2 tablespoons of the cold coffee.  After mixing again, add your choice of the lemon juice or red wine.   This is for the acidic punch our cream needs to balance all the sweetness going on elsewhere.  The lemon juice will contribute a bit of brightness while the wine will bring out more bold, deep chocolate and coffee flavors.  

Your cream should be fairly stiff.  If not, add a touch more sugar until the consistency is to your liking.  Spread 1/2 of the cream on top of the existing layers in your bowl.

And because one layer isn’t enough, we repeat the exact same steps building up the layers of our trifle.

And because this is the tiger trifle, grab a grater and shave the other chocolate bar all over the top of your delicious creation!

I know it’s a lot to ask, but put the trifle in the refrigerator and step away…..this is best served chilled, the next day.

Enjoy with friends, family, or just a really big spoon.

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Happy Indulging!

Whitney B

Mar
7

Rainforest Mint Cupcakes

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Spring, is that you?    to fight away that cabin fever!

Historically, cabin fever is at it’s peak by the end of February.  We have all said enough.  Enough of the snow, enough of the bitter cold, enough of the salt covered cars and boots.  Then, March comes along and with it brings hints at the hope of warmer temperatures, sunny skies and green shoots of tulips and daffodils.  Not this year.  Nope.  Winter storm Titan has made his path across much of the United States leaving more cold and more snow behind.  So in order to help ease the fever around the Endangered Species office, I whipped up these chocolatey, minty fresh cupcakes with our very own Rainforest mint chocolate bars.  They are incredibly easy to make (thanks to my list of ingredients to cheat with) and will have you clicking your heels together while looking for that pot of gold.  Here’s the run down:

You will need:

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1 package gluten free cake mix (I like Bob’s red mill chocolate)

2-3 cups Silk original soy milk (or vegan substitute for dairy milk of your choice)

1 ½ cups vegan butter

¼ cup hot water

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 Endangered Species Chocolate  Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint bars (6 oz)

2 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp Flax Meal (I like Bob’s Red Mill) + 6 tbls hot water, mix and set aside

3 cups(+) powdered sugar

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 F (375 F for gas ovens).  Line muffin tin with baking cups and set aside.

Next, prep your flax meal.  This is to replace the 2 eggs that are traditionally found in a cake recipe such as this.  If you would like, you can use eggs instead, but the recipe will no longer be vegan.

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Cream ½ cup of your vegan butter in a large mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add in the cake mix, lemon juice, 1 cup of soy milk (or substitute of choice), vanilla and flax meal mixture.  Mix until combined.  The batter should look very sticky.  Heat ¼ cup of water for 30-45 seconds in the microwave, and mix it in on high to create and more smooth appearance (this won’t take long!)

 Now it’s time to take an OK chocolate cupcake to it’s more daring, fresh, indulgent version…….

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Break up one, 3 oz bar of Endangered Species dark chocolate with mint.  And don’t worry about that square you ate right out of the bowl before popping it in the microwave – I’ve adjusted the recipe to take sudden urges for chocolate into account J

Microwave the chocolate, stirring every 30-45 seconds until smooth.  Then, pour the melted chocolate into the mixer bowl containing the batter.  With your spatula, fold the chocolate in.  Take care not to over stir as this can result in “flat” cupcakes.

Fill the cups 2/3 full.  Place in the pre-heated oven for around 18 minutes to bake until a tester comes out clean.

While the cupcakes do their magic, we can get started on our frosting.

Start by creaming 1 cup of vegan butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle.  Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla.  Mix on medium high until smooth. 

Next, chop the other 3 oz rainforest mint chocolate bar into very fine pieces.

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Dump the pile straight into the mixer, leaving some of the “dust and bits” on the cutting board for later.

Now we will work on getting a pipe-able consistency of our frosting.  Start with about ½ cup of soy milk and another ½ cup of powdered sugar.  Mix well and see if stiff peaks begin to form.  Continue alternating with soy milk and powdered sugar until a stiff but spreadable frosting is formed.  It’s all about your own preference for feel and taste – so go with what feels right!

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With your frosting ready and cupcakes cooled, you are ready to assemble.  Place the frosting in a piping bag or just a big zip-loc.  Cut the tip wide so that the chunks of chocolate will go through.  Swirl the frosting however you like on each pillow of cake.  Or skip the prettiness and smear the frosting on with a butter knife.   These babies won’t last long enough for it to matter how they look!

Remember that dusting of chocolate on your cutting board?  Yeah.  That’s going ON TOP of the frosting.  Pour, I mean, sprinkle your chocolate dusting on each cupcake for a 3rd layer of goodness. 

Now, we indulge.

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Just sit back, take a bite and enjoy the euphoric trip into spring the bright taste of mint and chocolate will take you on.  Heel clicking and rainbow hunts optional.

Enjoy this fresh indulgence!

- Whitney B

A food scientist with a focus on healthy living, Whitney Bembenick is Research & Development Manager at Endangered Species Chocolate. A Purdue University graduate, Whitney has over five years of food industry experience and extensive chocolate training. However, it’s not just chocolate that she’s passionate about; a self-proclaimed foodie she likes to explore new recipes while cooking and baking at home.  She also enjoys experiencing all of the wonderful food the local chefs are putting on their menus whether it be in Indianapolis or wherever her travels take her.

 

Feb
4

My Chocolate Love Affair

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Friends, I have a confession.  In the spirit of the month for love, it’s time that I come clean: for the past year, I have been cheating on my favorite Endangered Species chocolates!

Despite my love for the grizzly bar, the puffin and even our forest mint, I just couldn’t resist something new.  It is dark, mysterious, exciting and oh…so….creamy.  And it’s not just one new love…..it’s six.  (Gasp!)  For the past year I have been secretly having a chocolate love affair with our new line of dairy free crème filled chocolate bars!

Now that the crème filled line has been launched, I can finally tell you what I love about each unique flavor, and why these chocolate bars will be the way to my heart, and hopefully yours, this Valentine’s Day.

First is the Lovebird.  Bursting with the freshness of lime and spiked with the sharpness of sea salt, one square just isn’t enough.  I choose this one when I’ve had a spicy meal and want to finish with the perfect bite.

Next, the Bumble Bee.  Oozing with bright blueberry and warming vanilla, I am taken back to memories of blueberry cobbler on the fourth of July.  I reach for the Bumble Bee when I need to feed a late morning craving.

Now we get to the Lemur and the Red Panda.  The richness of the coconut in the lemur bar is perfect when I am looking for something extremely indulgent.  As for the raspberry orange, the combination makes my mouth water just thinking about it. 

The Monk Seal has a certain power of transportation that takes me to a calm, relaxing place each time I enjoy a square.  Maybe it’s the journey of taste I experience that makes it so special, starting with sweet garden mint, stumbling over the hint of soft lavender and being left with a cooling, refreshed moment.

Rounding things out, the striking beauty of the Ocelot evokes a luxurious feeling before I even open a wrapper.  Then, I reach the rich, salty filling with just a hint of smooth vanilla that awakens my taste buds.  I go for the ocelot when I need an afternoon pick me up.

I hope that this Valentine’s Day you too fall in love with one or all of our new crème filled chocolate bars.  Or maybe, you will share the love with someone very special.  Hey, even the Mayan’s gave chocolate as a special gift, why break a tradition that’s been going for centuries?

Indulge in a little love,

Whitney B 

Jan
8

To a Healthy New Year

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Photo by Whitney Bembenick, R&D manager, Endangered Species Chocolate

January is one of my favorite months.  As we welcome a new year, the “newness” that it brings bubbles over into many aspects of our lives.  In my home, as in many others, when the holiday decorations come down, the entire house gets a full, deep clean and purge.  Clothes that haven’t been worn are donated, office drawers are organized, and all of the laundry gets cleaned AND folded.  Even Mother Nature gives us a sense of “newness”.  Looking out my windows here at the Endangered Species office this morning, there is a refreshing blanket of crisp white snow stretching out into the vast fields of Indiana. 

With all of this newness, comes ambition to revitalize ourselves with healthy eating and living.  Did you know that 2 out of 3 of us make a resolution for change at the start of a new year, but only 8% of us actually follow through?  And with no surprise, of those that resolve for change, most resolve to lose weight.  In those first few weeks of January, it is with great pomp a circumstance that we dump the tins of cookies and bars into the trash to be replaced with fresh fruits and vegetables.  We reach for the water bottle instead of the coffee cup and we turn our noses at the candy aisle.  Then, the inevitable happens.  It’s someone’s birthday in the office and the array of sweet treats re-emerge.  After a few weeks of resisting temptation, you decide to have just a small piece, you’ve earned it…and…burp!…a full slice of cake later you’ve not only got a queasy stomach but you feel awful for breaking your new “diet”.  Why am I telling you this, you ask?  Well, because I have tip for you that will save you from the office birthday party cake catastrophe.  It may seem a bit counter intuitive at first…..but here it goes…..

Eat. Dark. Chocolate.

Now, because I work for a chocolate company, you are thinking, “yeah right, chick,” but please, keep reading, and you may change your mind.

First, let me share with you a few facts about cocoa.  Cocoa naturally contains antioxidants called flavanols.  These compounds act as a defense mechanism to fight off the free radicals our bodies produce from doing daily activities like simply breathing!  That means that when we consume a food that contains these flavanols (like chocolate), we are helping our bodies fight against cell damage that research has proven can lead to things like cancer and heart disease.  But that’s not all!  Multiple research studies have shown the direct link between consuming chocolate and improved mental health, clarity and alertness.  This is credited to cocoa’s ability to aid the body in producing compounds which help us feel good, as well as the natural stimulants which are found in chocolate like caffeine and theobromine.  The darker and less “adulterated” the chocolate the better, as these varieties offer the largest dose of antioxidants in comparison to their sweeter counterparts.

So…proven by research, chocolate is good for the body and soul.  Do I have your attention now?  Back to that New Year’s resolution tip I mentioned before.  What if, instead of focusing on what you want to limit yourself on, you focus on what you want to indulge in more?  Because of all the healthy reasons listed above, we know that dark chocolate is a great option when the mood for indulgence strikes us.  By giving ourselves that small treat, we are sustaining a more positive mood and fighting off the “bad guys” at the same time.  So when the office party strikes, you’ll feel less inclined to reward yourself, because you’ve already been rewarded with a sweet square of your favorite Endangered Species chocolate bar.  Which reminds me, it’s time for my daily dose of indulgence J

One last thing…with all this “newness”, Endangered Species has something new to share as well!  Keep an eye out for my post next month where I’ll talk about my love affair with chocolate and our brand new filled chocolate bar line.

Healthy Indulging!

Whitney B.

R&D Manager, Endangered Species Chocolate

 

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