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.
I love spending time with my friends but I hate planning parties. That, in a nutshell, is why throwing a S’more shindig is perfect for people like me. This easy-to-assemble party spread provides the food AND the entertainment, leaving little for the host to do but to join in the fun! And if Pinterest has taught me anything, it’s to mimic great ideas. Below are photos from my co-worker’s backyard S’more feast. Feel free to glean ideas for your own backyard bash!
THE PERFECT(LY EASY) S’MORE SOIREE
The key to a successful S’more soiree? A well-stocked ingredient table and a well-tended fire pit. Need a great graham? Look for Annie’s Organic Graham Crackers! Make it vegan with dark chocolate and this recipe!
Elevate the experience by offering an assortment of premium chocolates. Our host served up cherry and orange dark chocolate squares from Endangered Species Chocolate.
S’more making is a delicious art form!
These recipe cards serve to inspire.
Use these or come up with your own concoctions. Fun part? Naming them!
Clever touches like pine cone card holders make the table memorable and extra delicious. Speaking of delicious, you can purchase this bulk box of bite-sized chocolate squares from Endangered Species Chocolate.
So. Who’s ready to throw a party?
Share your s’more party ideas with us below.
After 20 years ESC is celebrating in a big way! We have teamed up with the Non-GMO Project to extend our non-GMO verification to our natural chocolate line making all of ESC dark chocolate non-GMO verified.
We’re also extending our collaboration with the Rainforest AllianceTM to our natural line. Rainforest Alliance certification promotes the well-being of workers and helps their communities to adopt better farming practices.
We plan on continuing the celebration by having some more announcements later in the year so stay tuned!
A new year brings two new flavors for ESC our dark chocolate with sea salt and almond and our dark chocolate with cherry are the newest additions to our 3 oz natural bar line. These new gluten-free bars feature a puffin and owl on the wrappers and were selected by our consumer’s after a month-long contest which was held over the summer on our website.
As we continue to develop new flavors in the future we want to know what flavors you would like to see added and what new animal’s you want to see featured on the labels?
As Endangered Species Chocolate has continued to expand its product offerings over the past few years, we’ve never had a place where we could try out new recipes without having to worry about invading precious production space. A small area in production was sanctioned where new product development took place…but that changed a few months ago when Endangered Species Chocolate converted part of an old storage area into a new test kitchen!
Our test kitchen gives us a dedicated space where we can get creative. This new space includes a tiny tempering machine to heat chocolate and stir in inclusions. A mini fridge cools down the chocolate and stores samples until they’re ready to be tasted…I mean tested.
This test kitchen has gotten a workout over the past few months! We’ll be introducing TWO NEW FLAVORS in January and a brand new product line (shhh – top secret) is in the works, set to launch in early 2014. So tell us, what would YOU cook up in our new test kitchen? Comment below with flavors you’d like to see from Endangered Species Chocolate.
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
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.
I don’t work in our production area on a daily basis, when I have the good fortune of finding myself back there I’m always amazed at how everything seems to work like a well oiled machine. The manufacturing of our chocolate looks as if it’s part of a synchronized dance that is set in place by the humming of machines and shuffle of our production workers.
Our confection creations begin with large tanks slowly stirring the chocolate before inclusions such as raspberries or almonds get poured in them making your favorite bar come together. Once the bars are set into the molds, they meticulously come out of the lines and workers inspect to make sure each bar looks like perfection. They are then wrapped in our labels with an inspiring animal on the cover and boxed-up before moving back into shipping.
In shipping, you’ll see precisely labeled boxes our quality department has put together letting our production workers know about any allergens they contain and eliminating the chance of cross contamination for our customer’s.
Finally, forklifts whisk by you carrying boxes of chocolate as they get set-up on pallets which are then picked-up and shipped off to ultimately end up on the shelves of your favorite store. In my next post we’ll explore ESC’s new test kitchen.
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
- Black construction paper
- 3oz. Endangered Species Chocolate Bar
- 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.
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.
After working at ESC for four years I can tell you what seems like an ordinary day for me isn’t a typical work day for most people. When you first walk into the building you get hit with a whiff of chocolate although like anyone who’s worked here for more than a few weeks sadly, you will be become accustomed to the tantalizing aroma and don’t notice it anymore unless you go back into shipping or production and they are running one of our stronger aromatic inclusions such as mint or orange then you can defiantly smell it (more on that later).
As I wait for my computer to boot up I go into the kitchen and grab some coffee. ESC purchases organic coffee and no disposable cups here; everyone uses reusable mugs and dishes each day. After answering emails and returning some calls I head back into shipping to coordinate samples going-out and I get hit with the nose twitching smell of mint. Which almost immediately makes my stomach grumble and luckily it’s time for lunch. As I walk back to the kitchen and grab my lunch out of the fridge you’ll notice no soda or snack machines around. This is an employee inspired effort to help support company wellness. This time of year I enjoy making salads with produce from my home garden and reading a book while eating my lunch outside on the ESC patio.
After lunch it’s time to start going through the 10% GiveBack applications that have been submitted over the past few months so that we can pick our next partnerships. After carefully reading through some applications and giving my feedback it’s time for a quick meeting. As I walk to the conference room you’ll notice almost all the materials in the building including desks, chairs and even the carpet is made from recycled materials. The rest of the afternoon is filled with phone calls, research, emails and some writing. Late in the afternoon several employees head out back to the work-out room to de-stress and work-up a sweat.
After finishing-up for the day, I gather my things and head out to the parking lot. While you see several eco-friendly cars and employee’s car pooling you’ll occasionally also see employees ride home on their bikes when the weather cooperates. Next time I’ll give you a peek into the factory where our chocolate is made.