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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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?
This recipe is one of my favorites! It’s easy, quick and most likely you already have all these ingredients on hand. These cookie bars travel well – a great way to pack a bit of homemade love on your next hike, picnic or packed lunch.
Oatmeal and Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
- 1 bar (3oz.) Endangered Species Chocolate Dark Chocolate with Almonds & Cranberries, coarsely chopped into 1/4″ chunks
- 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F.
CREAM together butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla. Add flour, salt and oats. Stir in chocolate and almonds.
SPRAY an 8″ square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour mixture into baking dish and spread evenly.
BAKE for 35-40 minutes, until top is slightly browned. Let cool. Cut into twelve 2″ squares or 24 bars.
Want another on-the-go homemade chocolate snack? You’ll use three 3oz Endangered Species Chocolate bars in this recipe, Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bark with Sea Salt.
What is your favorite dessert to take on outdoor adventures? Share by commenting below.
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.
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).
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.
I love going to The Apple Store! No, not the one with the flashy iPhones. The Apple Store is a seasonal fruit stand (+ tons of other tasty treats) in Fishers, Indiana – not too far from Endangered Species Chocolate’s factory. Open for two precious months each year (Sept-Oct), this is a spot to fall in love with the tastes of fall. Fresh, crip, locally grown apples – available by the bushel or peck – just imagine the smell that greets you when you walk in!
Apples are the best. But caramel apples are even better! That’s why I make a bee line for the rows of apples enrobed in buttery rich caramel and artfully garnished with (yum) chocolate. Speaking of my favorite topic, chocolate, this year my love affair of The Apple Store has deepened thanks to their new display of Endangered Species Chocolate bars! Live in our area? Plan your trip to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park here.
If you don’t have a place like this in your neck of the woods don’t fret. Caramel apples can be made at home with ease. And who couldn’t use a new family recipe/tradition that involves chocolate?
Chocolate Chunk Caramel Apples6 apples, washed and well dried 1 pkg (14oz) caramels, unwrapped 2 Tbsp water 3 3oz Endangered Species Chocolate Bars, broken into chip-sized bits
Remove apple stems and insert wooden stick into each apple.
Cook caramels and water in saucepan on med-low heat until caramels are completely melted. Stir frequently.
Dip apple or spoon caramel over apples to coat. Roll caramel-coated apple in broken chocolate pieces, gently pressing chocolate into caramel to secure.
Place your apple masterpieces on a waxed paper covered baking sheet; let sit for at least 20 minutes or until caramel is firm.
Tip: The only tricky part is coaxing the caramel to not slide off the apple as you are pressing on the chocolate chunks. To make life easier, refrigerate the apples (while you are cooking the caramels) to cool them slightly – this helps the caramel adhere better.
Photo image by swanksalot via Flickr Creative Commons
1. MAKE A DIFFERENCE
By choosing your chocolate carefully, you can support fair and ethical trade, ensuring cacao farmers a fair price for their crops and supporting responsible labor practices (such as no child labor). Choosing all-natural and organic chocolate supports sustainable farming – which puts fewer chemicals into the earth, protecting diverse forests ecosystems.
2. TRIGGER NOSTALGIA
Can you recall your earliest experiences with chocolate? Have your chocolate tastes changed over the years? What was your favorite chocolate bar when you were a child?
3. TEST THE LIMITS OF YOUR WILLPOWER
Place your favorite chocolate bar (opened) on your desk at the beginning of a workday (for those that feel especially strong – try this on a Monday). See how long it takes you to take a bite. Get co-workers to play along and compare times. My record is 20 (long) minutes.
4. SOMETHING TO HORDE AND HIDE
Good chocolate has a funny way of disappearing. Don’t feel any shame in having a hidden stash somewhere in your home and/or office. Think of a place no one would think to look and horde it away to nibble when an intense chocolate craving hits!
5. A TOKEN OF LOVE
It has been said, “There is nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate.” Even something as simple as showing up at a friend’s house with a chocolate bar is a perfect way to say “you mean the world to me.”
6. MARK YOUR PLACE
The wrapper of your favorite chocolate bar can be quickly crafted into a sweet-scented bookmark. Each time you go to read, you’ll be reminded of your last indulgent chocolate experience. Thinking up ways to reuse things before tossing them in the trash or recycle bin is a great way to be green.
7. IMPROVE YOUR COOKING
Break up your favorite chocolate bar and substitute the chunky pieces for chocolate chips in a cookie recipe. Make amazing hot chocolate by melting 1.5oz or so of a quality chocolate bar into a hot mug of milk/soy milk.
8. SAVOR, APPRECIATE AND ANALYZE
Chocolate is serious business (at least it is at my house)! Flavor of chocolate varies depending on the region in which it grown and type of cacao bean used. Close your eyes, inhale its aroma. Let the bite sit and melt on your tongue. What words come to mind to describe the flavor – earthy, fruity, floral? Bitter, sweet? For more tasting tips, read our previous post, Sensory Tasting.
9. PAIR WITH WINE
As a rule, dark chocolate pairs well with red wine. Read up and drink up after referencing our Wine & Chocolate post.
10. RESEARCH REASONS TO NIX THE GUILT
In moderation, chocolate is healthful. While nibbling your next chocolate bar, surf the web and read about all the health benefits associated with chocolate. Remember, the higher the cocoa content, the greater the health benefits.
For the love of chocolate, this is by no means a comprehensive list. Share other vital uses for chocolate by commenting below.
It starts as a gentle subliminal nudge. “chocolate…” Within minutes, it grows into an insistent full body urge. “Chocolate. Chocolate. CHOCOLATE!” You can’t (and in my opinion, shouldn’t) ignore it. You have a full blown chocolate craving.
What powers the craving?
It is said that people crave chocolate more than any other food. In the U.S., the typical person eats 11.5 pounds of chocolate a year. Why is chocolate craved more than any other food? Sure – it tastes good, has a silky smooth texture and melts in your mouth…but is there more to it? The question is, are chocolate cravings in the body (physiological) or in the heart (psychological)? There are a wide variety of arguments as to why people have chocolate cravings.
Is the body to blame?
Some think certain compounds in chocolate may be physiologically addictive, activating mood-lifting chemicals in the brain (serotonin, dopamine). However, tests have shown that most mood-altering agents in chocolate are broken down before they reach the bloodstream. Others insist that deficiencies in minerals (such as magnesium, iron) cause people to desire chocolate. But it that’s the case, why aren’t we craving snackable magnesium-filled pumpkin seeds or iron-rich savory thyme with equal vigor?
Or is it comfort we crave?
A 1994 study passed out milk chocolate, white chocolate (which contains zero cocoa), cocoa capsules (utterly lacking the sensory components of chocolate) and placebo polls to a group of subjects. The study found that only milk chocolate fully satisfied the chocolate cravings of the subjects. In addition, their cravings were better satiated by the white chocolate than the concentrated cocoa capsules. This suggests that chocolate cravings can be (SHOCKER!) attributed to its taste, aroma, texture and sweetness.
But really, who cares?
Long story short, when it comes to pinning down the reasons for chocolate cravings, research is pretty inconclusive. But do we really need to know the why? Shouldn’t we be focusing our mental energies on how to best satisfy those chocolate urges? I’m off to check on my secret chocolate stashes. I suggest you do the same.
What do you think causes chocolate cravings? What types of chocolate best satisfy your strongest cravings? Comment below; we crave the feedback!
THE TWEET FEED
- Run over to @run_chocolate's blog and hear about her 1st taste of your favorite flavors! http://t.co/CzU2ERwagQ http://t.co/He0eV5zLBt
- RT @AWF_Official: Lovebirds+chocolate=a whole lot of love! Our partners @esc_chocolate just launched their Fischer's Lovebird chocolate htt…
- Wish you were here with us at @NatProdExpo! booth 2950 #expowest http://t.co/k2SeSW96tE
- Tens of 1000s of manufacturers at @NatProdExpo ! @veraciousvegan shares her fav vegan finds from Day 1 of #ExpoWest http://t.co/59NVkrsnMi
- In new issue of @originmagazine: 25+ Top Animal Nonprofits and this mention of our new Creme Filled Bars! http://t.co/dgXip5Fm6A