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Sep
2

3 Chocolate Storage Tips

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Good chocolate usually doesn’t sit around long…but when it does, protect your stash from chocolate’s three main enemies: heat, humidity, and odors.

Store your chocolate bars between about 60 and 65°F (about 16 – 18°C).  Heat and/or direct sunlight can slowly deteriorate chocolate’s aroma, flavor and texture. Consider a cool closet, dry basement or wine cooler to shelf your stash.

Store chocolate in a dry place.   Ideally, the relative humidity should be below 50%.  Excess moisture can condense on the bar and draw out the sugar onto the surface, causing unsightly bloom (harmless but disturbs the silky texture of fine chocolate).

Avoid strong odors.  Chocolate absorbs strong odors like a sponge.  Store your chocolate away from aromatics like coffee or garlic. Also keep flavored bars such as our Rainforest Mint or Espresso Bean bars separate from your plain chocolate and everything will taste as it should.

 

Aug
7

Back to School Snacking

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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)

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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.

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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.

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Healthy Indulging

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
15

Chocolate Holidays

blog_feature_dec13It’s really no surprise that each and every month has a day dedicated to chocolate. Check out this list of national chocolate food holidays - links within our calendar take you to interesting ways to celebrate (My fav? Dec 16th – Eleven Seriously Weird Chocolate-Covered Foods) or send you to the perfect Endangered Species Chocolate item to indulge in for the day!

 

 

January 3

National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day

January 10

National Bittersweet Chocolate Day

january 27

National Chocolate Cake Day

february 1

National Dark Chocolate Day

February 5

National Chocolate Fondue Day

February 19

National Chocolate Mint Day

February 25

National Chocolate-Covered Nuts Day

march 19

National Chocolate Caramel Day

March 24

National Chocolate-Covered Raisins Day

April 21

National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day

May 15

National Chocolate Chip Day

June 7

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

June 26

National Chocolate Pudding Day

July 28

National Milk Chocolate Day

August 4

National Chocolate Chip Day

August 10

National S’Mores Day

september 12

National Chocolate Milkshake Day

september 13

International Chocolate Day

september 22

National White Chocolate Day

October 28

National Chocolate Day

November 7

National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

December 16

National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day

December 28

National Chocolate Day

 

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

 

Dec
5

Hot Chocolate Bar

Life kind of slows down when you sip hot chocolate. It’s almost like the cup you hold in your hand creates a barrier to noise, interruptions, and worries. You become mellow and in love with the world. What’s that? You don’t experience this when you drink hot chocolate? Hmmm… maybe that’s because you haven’t tried this recipe.

It’s rich. It’s decadent. It’s life changing. Set your cell on silent, light every candle in your house and get yourself to the kitchen. It’s time you experienced Hot Chocolate Bar bliss!

HOT CHOCOLATE BAR

1 smooth milk or dark 3oz. Endangered Species Chocolate bar, chopped
1oz. water, room temperature
1 tablespoon hot water
1 1/2 cup hot milk

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In a double boiler over low heat, combine chocolate and 1oz. room temperature water until melted. Stir until smooth.

Remove from heat. Whisk in 1 tablespoon hot water. Stir in milk (you may wish to use less milk than the recipe calls for. Experiment.) Pour into 2 demitasse cups. Smell, sip, savor. Sweeten to taste if needed.

Creates 2 servings.

Question: To garnish or not to garnish? Comment below on how you top off your cup of hot chocolate.

Oct
15

Chocolate Bar Costumes

Some Endangered Species Chocolate Bars (like the Wolf, Bat, and Panther) already have a Halloween vibe about them…featuring creatures that prowl in the night. But other flavors (think Otter, Chimp, Sea Turtle) aren’t exactly the type of treat you’d give to a friend on Halloween…UNLESS you gave it a costume!  Here are two simple ways to dress up your chocolate bars for Halloween.

THE BAT BAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll need:

  • Black construction paper
  • Scissors
  • 3oz. Endangered Species Chocolate Bar
  • Glue
  • Goggly eyes (or draw your own!)

Cut your black construction paper in a bat shape using this template (or freehand it if using a chocolate bar that is a different size).

Lightly glue chocolate bar into the center of the bat shape.

Affix googly eyes to the head of the bat with glue.

Finally, fold the wings in over the chocolate bar and spot glue them into place.

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Mummified Chocolate Bar

Now that you’ve mastered the Bat Wrap, give this mummy chocolate bar costume a try! Instructions can be found at The Idea Room, a great place to get all sorts of fun, crafty inspiration!

Helpful Mummy Tip: cut crepe paper in half lengthwise to make a skinnier “bandage” – makes it much easier to wrap around the chocolate bar.

We’d love to see your costumed creations! Share them with us on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.

Jul
30

The Bitter the Better!

Recently, chocolate has gone from sinner to savior as an onslaught of chocolate-centric research reveals that there are benefits to scored with each sweet bite. But not all chocolates are created equal. Different chocolates contain different amounts of the magic ingredient, flavanols (aka antioxidants that gobble up destructive molecules). As a general rule, the more bitter (the chocolate) the better (for our bodies). Here’s how the sweet stuff stacks up…

MILK CHOCOLATE

With fewer flavanols than dark, milk chocolate isn’t a top choice if your indulgence goal is to reap healthful antioxidants. You can pump up the health factor by selecting milk chocolate that has a high cocoa content (aim for 40+%) and fruit or nut inclusions to boost the good-for-you ingredients.

Try: Endangered Species Milk Chocolate with Cherries ($2.99 for 3oz). This bar boasts a 48% cocoa content and the cherries add an extra little dose of antioxidants.

WHITE CHOCOLATE

Sigh. Sorry. This confection doesn’t contain any cacao at all! But chocolate is really all about pleasure, right? So smile and indulge (in moderation, of course).

Try: Divine White Chocolate with Strawberries. The strawberries, dried at the peak of ripeness, will add a dose of antioxidants to your sweet treat.

DARK CHOCOLATE

The good news – you should probably be eating dark chocolate on a regular basis because this stuff is pretty darn good for you! The bad news? It only takes a little bit of dark chocolate per day to reap the benefits, so indulge in moderation. Since my official title is Chocolate Goddess, not Chocolate M.D., leap to these links to get solid info on how dark chocolate can protect you from UV damage, boost your cardiovascular health, and even lower your blood pressure.

Try: Endangered Species Chocolate 88% Dark Chocolate. ($2.99 for 3oz). It’s our highest cocoa content chocolate bar…remember, the bitter the better!

Apr
2

A Dose of Dark

March is national Nutrition Month; a great opportunity to assess your diet and get reacquainted with sound eating habits. So as you prep your plate with leafy greens and bright red fruits. don’t forget to add a touch of brown – chocolate brown, that is! We all have a need for something sweet and dark chocolate is a healthful way to indulge that desire.  Scientific research shows that dark chocolate in small amounts can promote heart health, help cells resist damage from free radicals, and even help you better cope with stress.

Want to reap the maximum benefits from chocolate? Keep these 3 things in mind when selecting chocolate:

1. Aim for chocolate that has a 70% cocoa content or higher.

2. Make sure the first ingredient listed is chocolate liquor or cocoa (not sugar).

3. Choose natural and organic chocolate for a healthier planet and healthier you!

Cocoa contents of our dark chocolate at Endangered Species Chocolate range from 70-88%, chocolate liquor is the first ingredient listed on the nutritonal panel, and we offer natural and certified organic chocolate selections. Healthful never tasted so good!

What’s your preferred cocoa content?

 

 

 

Nov
1

S’more Technique

 

Over the years, I’ve managed to alienate boyfriends, good friends, my husband and (for shame) my 5-year old son with my die hard S’more beliefs. So be forewarned, I fear I may come off a tad pretentious in this post.

S’mores are seriously delicious and should be approached with as much culinary mastery as you can muster in the woods. Making a stellar S’more comes down to perfecting two things:  your chocolate choice and marshmallow roasting technique.

Chocolate Choice 

Be it bitter sweet or true blue milk, the key is to find a quality chocolate that has the perfect thickness – or should I say thinness. The chocolate needs to be thin enough to be able to melt under the fleeting heat of a marshmallow. I swear by bite-sized chocolate squares(like these from Endangered Species Chocolate).

Marshmallow Roasting

Repeat after me, “coals are key.” Unlike flames, coals slowly heat the marshmallow from the inside out, producing a hot gooey center under a toasty brown crust. For the love of the great outdoors, do not set deliberately set your marshmallow ablaze over the flames of the fire! As kids, we all experienced this camping faux pas, blew out the flame and ate the evidence. People that claim to love the taste of charred marshmallow, in my opinion, are confusing good taste with childhood nostalgia.

See, told you I would come across a tad persnickety. But surely there are others out there that hold strong opinions (aka love) for the S’more. I implore you – comment below and share your S’more techniques. Show my husband and child that I am not the only one that can kill a campfire kum ba yah vibe when S’mores aren’t taken seriously!

For ideas on dressing up your S’mores, throwing a S’more party and more, visit Endangered Species Chocolate’s S’mores photo albumon Facebook.

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