Yes, yes, yes! The Holiday Bars are here! And with their arrival comes a conundrum – which one to try first. They’re only around for a limited time so there’s no time to dilly dally. Luckily, we’re here to help. To discover which one we think you should unwrap first, pick a word below that best sums up your feelings about the holiday season!
-Dark Chocolate with Vanilla Chai-
Curl up in your favorite spot with a warm beverage and savor bite after delicious bite of dark chocolate blended with a mixture of warm, holiday spices. A perfect way to set the mood for contemplating the meaning of the season.
-Dark Chocolate with Peppermint Crunch-
The burst of peppermint aroma and delightfully crunchy cocoa nibs will instantly put you in the holiday spirit and give you an energetic boost to tackle your holiday to-do list!
-Dark Chocolate with Pumpkin Spice & Almonds-
It’s a flavor that sends a signal to your brain that the holidays are here! Nibble a bar while you plan a month’s worth of epic events that spread good cheer and enhance everyone’s holiday celebration.
Here at Endangered Species Chocolate we take our jobs very seriously – I mean, we work with the food of the Gods, people! One could even argue that the staff here at Endangered Species is right up there in importance with doctors, government officials and the President…..right?
Well, no……not at all……most definitely, not.
While some days it may feel like we are running a country or being called to the operating room, the truth is that we at Endangered Species constantly remind ourselves that we are abundantly fortunate to work for a company full of good people that make good stuff for a good cause. And although we believe that it’s important to make chocolate that brings joy to the people who eat it and the animals each purchase helps save, we also know that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. That said, on the first day of October I sent an URGENT, HIGH PRIORITY email to the staff stating this:
EEEEKK! Huge spiders in the break room – enter if you must, but BEWARE!
Our resident spider catcher, Nick, immediately got up from his desk and headed into the infested room. Not too far behind him our Quality Manager followed, carrying a cup to help assist him in his efforts (we are a catch and release facility). A few other curious peers cautiously headed that way – if not to see the spiders but to at least witness the catching. When Nick and the others made it to the break room, they found the biggest, boldest, sweetest spiders they had ever seen……
Filled with chuckles, my office mates were happy to see that the email had been both a trick and a treat!
These spiders are not only easy to make, but they are a great activity to do with your little ones in the spirit of the spookiest season of the year.
If you plan on doing this with children, I suggest preparing the cake balls a day ahead. They will keep on a baking sheet, covered, overnight. To begin, make one 9 X 13 chocolate cake (from scratch or packaged). Let the cake cool completely. Breaking the cake in fours, crumble it into fine pieces into a bowl using your hands or a fork. Next, make 2 cups of frosting (recipe below, or purchase at your grocery store). Fold the frosting into the cake using the back of a spoon or a stiff spatula. Taking 1-2 tablespoon sized pinches at a time, roll out ½ in balls, squeezing and smoothing until all of the balls are formed. If the mixture becomes sticky or too soft, place it in the freezer for a quick chill and handling will become easier.
The prepared cake balls can be set in the refrigerator overnight, or if you are doing everything at the same time, placed in the freezer to set for up to 45 minutes. Once chilled, you will begin the decorating. Melt 3 – 4 Endangered Species Chocolate 72% Dark Chocolate bars, or one full bag of Endangered Species Chocolate Halloween Treats in the microwave. When the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, stir in one tablespoon of vegetable shortening (this is done to thin out the chocolate for easier handling and creates a better coating that will not crack). I like to set everything that I will be using out in stations to make assembly quicker. For the spiders pictured, I used pretzel rods and black sugar crystals. Eyes can be made from almond pieces, raisins, white sprinkles…and more! This is where your children can get creative. If spiders aren’t your thing, these can be made into eye balls (half a marshmallow for the whites), monsters and even pumpkins! If you are making them for an adult party, maybe just colored sprinkles will suit. It’s up to you!
To dip your creation, I suggest gently inserting a wooden skewer into the top of the ball, carefully lowering it into the chocolate, tossing the chocolate onto the piece if needed, and lightly tapping the exposed portion of the skewer before placing it on parchment. Then, using another skewer, carefully remove the rod and tap the coating to smooth. Alternatively, you can use lollipop sticks and leave them inserted to look like the spider’s “web”! These set more quickly and keep better if the finished tray of spiders and other creatures are placed in the refrigerator.
It would be a lie to tell you that I am ready to be sharing this month’s blog post with you all. Not because it’s not a great recipe (it’s a delicious recipe, in fact), no, I cringe at sitting down to write this because it is filed under the month of August.
Whoa. Hold the phone! When did that happen?
While basking in oblivion under the summer sun and getting through the weeks that got in the way of our weekends, the months of June and July have passed us: now I am simply left gripping tightly onto the last bit of elusive summer that is slipping from my clenched fists more quickly with each day that passes.
With that said, it is fitting that this month’s post features a recipe that quite perfectly embodies my current state of mind. Today I am sharing with you a recipe that features summer’s fresh bounty packaged into a back to school friendly treat. These Whole Grain Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins are the perfect snack for mornings when you’re running late, little ones’ lunchboxes that need a touch of homemade goodness, or an after-school snack that prevents pre-dinner melt downs.
Whole Grain Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3 eggs (or vegan substitute)
1 cup olive oil or baking oil of choice
1 ¾ cup sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground clove
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp sea salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup chopped Endangered Species Chocolate 72% cocoa dark chocolate (2 full bars)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 24 well muffin pan with paper liners.
Beat eggs or prepare vegan substitute (vegan will be a more dense end product).
Add oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla. Stir well.
In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Get crazy with your own way to personalize these muffins. Nut allergies? Swap dried cherries or cranberries. Ultimate chocolate lover? Replace nuts with chocolate OR get crazy and add in white chocolate for a more dessert like experience. Stir your combination into the egg mix.
Using an ice cream scoop (or a spoon) drop the batter into the lined tins. Bake for 20 minutes, test (use a toothpick or similar and insert in the center of a muffin, it should come out clean), and bake at 1 minute intervals if necessary until done. These muffins lose a bit of their luster if they become too dry.
I’m still not quite ready to let go of summer, but when it is time to surrender to the change in seasons, a bite into one of these may help carry away my late summer blues.
Last week I had the privilege of attending my very first Tribal Bazaar. This event is held by Whole Foods for employees to learn more about the wonderful brands that are sold in their stores. As a vendor, we had the opportunity to share our newest collection, The Filled Bars, with attendees and educate them on what makes the product and our company so unique. It was humbling to see such an overwhelmingly positive response to both our chocolate and our mission. It was also really cool to listen to employee’s stories about what they do and why they love working at Whole Foods. I can tell you that when you go into a Whole Foods store the people that work there love the products they sell, and just as important can help you make educated choices on the goods you purchase because of events like the Tribal Bazaar.
In between shifts of attendees I had the chance to walk the vendor floor and do a little exploring of my own. These cute little chicks were getting a lot of attention and I couldn’t resist the chance to hold one. Their soft feathers and sweet chirps will instantly put a smile on anyone’s face!
Back to the goods – It amazes me how many awesome vegan products are out there! Since it wouldn’t be fair for me to keep all these cool products to myself (although the samples I brought back may or may not have already been taste tested), I thought I would share a few of the ones that I enjoyed. This is not paid advertising or anything like that – just a girl sharing some cool stuff!
This line of performance drinks and shakes is impressive. The people at Vega are passionate about their product – as they should be! I’m going to try and incorporate some of this in next month’s recipe post…..mmmm chocolate shakes?
I didn’t have much time for lunch, so these Sea Salt Tortilla chips from Late July and fruit gummies from Tasty kept me going! It’s a good thing those chips were portion controlled – I would have gone crazy on a full bag!
I happened to be stationed right across from all the lovely bath products – a personal weakness of mine. The Seaweed Bath Company was gracious enough to share lots of samples with me and I can’t wait to see how their lotion tackles my dry hands. They have a full line of goodies which I also stocked up on. (Psst….the body cream contains cocoa butter…..proof that chocolate can cure anything!)
All in all, it was a successful and rewarding week spent in San Francisco. The flood of compliments given to our chocolate and our cause served as reminder of how blessed I am to work for a company like Endangered Species. I will leave you with a shot of the bay, both enchanting and invigorating. Enjoy!
Friday, May 16th is Endangered Species Day – a day to recognize conservation efforts to save at-risk species and habitats. Let’s celebrate the fact that over the past three years, you’ve helped us raise over $855,000 for conservation groups! Take a closer look at specific programs your Endangered Species Chocolate purchases and our 10% Promise are funding.
Partner: African Wildlife Foundation | Program: African Apes Initiative
“Endangered Species Chocolate’s 10% GiveBack program is making a demonstrable difference in helping AWF to conserve the natural resources and heritage that are vital to Africa’s environmental and economic prosperity.” – Kurt Redenbo, Director, Foundation & Corporate Relations, African Wildlife Foundation
Africa is home to 4 of the world’s 5 great ape species. Unfortunately, all 4 are endangered or critically endangered. Through the newly launched African Apes Initiative, AWF works throughout West and Central Africa to protect great apes and their habitats.
- AWF prioritizes those great ape habitats most in need of conservation intervention;
- They work with park authorities and other on-the-ground partners to identify gaps in local conservation support;
- This program provides seed grants and technical support for critical interventions;
- AWF implements long term conservation strategies. Learn much more here.
Partner: The Xerces Society | Program: Bumble Bee Watch
“[Endangered Species Chocolate’s 10% donation] allows us to expand our work to protect pollinators in all landscapes across the U.S.” – Scott Black, Executive Director, The Xerces Society
Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This citizen science project allows for individuals to:
- Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection;
- Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts;
- Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees;
- Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts; and
- Connect with other citizen scientists.
Partner: SEE Turtles | Program: Billion Baby Turtles
“Over the past 3 years, Endangered Species Chocolate grew to be the single largest supporter of SEE Turtles and SEEtheWILD, support that has been critical to the success of our programs.” – SEE Turtles 10% Promise Report
6 out of 7 species of sea turtles around the world are endangered or threatened. SEE Turtle program, Billion Baby Turtles, is helping reverse this decline by saving one billion baby turtles over the next decade. For every $1 raised, SEE Turtles saves at least 1 hatchling. Funds support vital nesting beach patrols across Latin America:
- Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative
- Las Tortugas Research Station
- Paso Pacifico
- WILDCAST Costa Rica
- Cuba Marine Research & Conservation
- Flora, Fauna y Cultura
Be sure to join us on Facebook, May 12-16 2014, for a chocolate giveaway to celebrate Endangered Species Day! “Like” our 10% GiveBack Partners, XXX, XXX, XXX for additional opportunities to win.
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:
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.
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…….
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.
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!
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.
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.
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,
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.
R&D Manager, Endangered Species Chocolate
What do you do with the overstock of obsolete chocolate bar wrappers? When you’re an eco-minded company, you seek out ways to reuse them. While we keep our inventory tight to avoid waste, rare changes like ingredient updates, discontinuations, and design revisions leave us with wrappers to re-purpose. Some, we shred and use as recyclable packing material in our chocolate shipments. Others, we hand over to Ecoist to make into pretty purses full of purpose!
Ecoist handbags are made through a fair trade manufacturing partnership with artisans in Peru. Fair Trade is a manufacturing partnership that embraces: 1) fair wages to workers, 2) healthy working environments, 3) long term relationships with suppliers, and 4) respect for the local cultural identity. See how the artisans turn pre-consumer waste into environmentally conscious style! And icing on the cake – Ecoist plants a tree for each purse sold!
Enter to win one of 64 Ecoist purses, handcrafted from Endangered Species Chocolate bar wrappers! Add your name to our e-card list between August 5th – September 27th for a chance to win.
Part of the territory of being an ESC employee is volunteering in the local Indianapolis community. Over the years ESC has volunteered at several Indy organizations including the Humane Society and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. Most recently ESC employees have been serving lunch at the Wheeler Mission, a shelter that helps the homeless population of Indianapolis.
While the company all ready gives back 10% of its net profits to its partners, it also believes that taking the time to reach-out locally is an important aspect of its overall mission to give back. Most recently ESC teamed-up with the Peace Learning Center to participate in the Indiana Service Challenge.
As part of the service challenge ESC worked on a project for Peace Learning Center’s Be the Change Workshop and Exhibit. ESC employee’s spent a sunny April afternoon away from their desks making a whale out of trash that the Peace Learning Center had collected to represent the types of things that have been found in a whale’s stomach. The hope is that the summer groups that visit the center that are primarily young schoolchildren, will see the whale project and have a better understanding of what happens to their trash when they don’t recycle or properly dispose it.
So how do you give back in your local community? We would love to hear from you and it may just spark some ideas for us!
THE TWEET FEED
- Can dark chocolate help improve your memory? Here's @DrWeil’s take on a recent study http://t.co/LGTb5zwf5P
- RT @devin327: @ESC_Chocolate I love your chocolate so much.
- Shout out to a new follower and chocolate fan, @devin327!
- RT @jargall27: @ESC_Chocolate We LOVE your chocolate & cause it supports. Can we please get a retweet to help my son fight disease? http://…