Ruby Chocolate


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Source: Mental Floss

Chocolate Spectrum



Dark, milk, and white are the three main types of chocolate recognized by the Food and Drug Administration. But following an exciting new development from a Swiss chocolate maker, a fourth variety may soon be added to the lineup. As Bloomberg reports, the rosy-hued product, dubbed Ruby, is the first chocolate to come in a new, natural color since white chocolate debuted more than 80 years ago.

Ruby chocolate comes from Barry Callebaut, an international chocolate production company with headquarters in Zürich, Switzerland. The new breed of chocolate was the result of about a decade of development from researchers at Barry Callebaut and Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. To make the chocolate, they used ruby cocoa beans, which grow in Ecuador, Brazil, and West Africa’s Ivory Coast. The final product “offers a totally new taste experience, which is not bitter, milky, or sweet, but a tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness,” according to a press release.

Along with its unique taste, the company hopes the chocolate will interest consumers with its alluring appearance. The CEO of Barry Callebaut, Antoine de Saint-Affrique, told Bloomberg that tests with international markets have been successful, even in China, where traditional chocolate is less mainstream than it is in the West.

Pink chocolate on display.

Barry Callebaut revealed Ruby chocolate to the world at a launch event in Shanghai, China, on September 5. The company is now working on making it available to manufacturers and consumers, which means that any sweet item that comes in dark, milk, and white chocolate may soon come in red as well.


Chocolate Shake at Sugar Factory


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As fantastic as my experience for last week’s shake was, this week’s was equally as disappointing.  I have been looking for a reason to go to Sugar Factory since I first heard of it, and the opportunity finally arose this May when my local Lolita groups met up to go there after an anime convention.

Sugar Factory promotes a menu full of insanely over-the-top sugary food and drinks, complete with dry ice fog, gummy treats, lollipops, and more.  With all the focus on candy and sugar though, they fall short in the chocolate department.  The whole meal I was looking forward to a chocolate shake, but what I received was essentially a cheap vanilla shake with just enough “chocolate” syrup to make it not look vanilla.


Honestly, most of the chocolate syrup is spent decorating the side of the glass rather than mixing in with the shake itself.  Also, this location only had basic shake flavors, which was an instant disappointment considering the website boasts a selection of much more interesting varieties (and you have to select a location before seeing the menu, so they advertise these for this location).


Hot Cocoa w/Amarula Cream Liqueur – Refreshment Cool Post at Disney World’s Epcot World Showcase


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While I was at Disney this April, I finally had the opportunity to Drink Around the World at Epcot.  For those of you who do not know what this means and are unfamiliar with Epcot; Epcot contains the World Pavilion, 11 full country pavilions that feature food, drink, and gifts from their countries.  Even the employees at each pavilion are often from that country, I believe on work programs, but I am not sure how the recruiting process goes.

epcot-map-2There is also a sort of half pavilion though; The African Outpost, located between China and Germany.  It is as if they started to build a pavilion there, but never got around to finishing (I wish they would add more pavilions).  There are only a few gift kiosks there, and one beverage area: Refreshment Cool Post.  Most people just skip this when drinking around the world, and I might have to, if I had not seen one of their beverages.


Hot Chocolate with a float of Amarula Cream Liqueur.  Now, at first, I was not sure what Amarula was, then I remembered that this was a key ingredient to a drink I had mentioned having at the Kalahari before, the Elephant Mud Bath.  So, I made a point to stop there and drink it.  This was a difficult drink to enjoy though, being a hot drink in the hot weather, and already being three drinks in.  But, I did enjoy it.  I came back to Illinois and ended up picking up a bottle of Amarula (and then inherited another bottle from friends), which has given me the opportunity to experiment further.


I have had the Amarula mixed with Trader Vics chocolate a few times since.  Now, Amarula is not a chocolate alcohol, so I will not say more on that, but if you are at Epcot, the Hot Chocolate at the African Outpost is worth trying.  And if you are drinking around the world and skipping the African Outpost, perhaps you can substitute this drink for another pavilion where there is nothing that appeals to you.

Chocolate X5 Milkshake – Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal Orlando City Walk


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I do not remember where I first heard about Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, but I remember knowing immediately that I needed to go there.   So, when the opportunity arose to suggest a location for my Garrison to go to dinner Sunday night of Star Wars Celebration, this was the automatic choice.


(Those are my friends in the foreground…it took us a while to get moving after eating there)

Toothsome’s is located in City Walk at Universal Studios Orlando, which is the place outside of and connecting the two parks.  You do not need a ticket to get into this area, but you will need to either pay for parking or arrange for a drop off of some sort.

The place is kinda Willy Wonka, but more Steampunk meets Chocolate.  There is a gift shop immediately to the right upon entering, with tons of steampunk/chocolate themed shirts, accessories, ecc.; as well as chocolate items to take home with you.  There is also a little bakery area there, which I believe you can order the shakes from as well (but do not quote me on that.

You can see a full listing of the restaurant menu over here.  I did try an alcoholic drink, but I honestly do not remember much about it.  I think it was the Curious Cacao.

I wish I had tried one of the desserts or chocolate breakfast items, but it was at the end of a con, I was nearly broke, and I needed something substantial to eat (I ordered the Gnocchi…I am somewhat obsessed with Gnocchi as well).  I plan on going back there in October/November though, so I will definitely try some chocolate food-type items then (and maybe buy a few things from the shop).  What I did have, was a shake!


This beauty is the Chocolate X5 – Chocolate ice Cream, Chocolate Chunks, Strawberries, Chocolate Sauce, Fresh Whipped Cream, Chocolate Spirals, Cherry.  It was absolutely amazing, and I swear I kept drinking from it and it never ran out.

I keep debating if I will order this again when I go back, as it was so great, or if I will try a different shake for the sake of trying something different.  If I do, it will most likely be the Brownie Shake (Dutch chocolate ice cream, brownie, milk chocolate swirl) unless something new gets added.

This is definitely a must go-to place for any chocolate lover!

The Grey Stuff – Be Our Guest at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom


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Beauty and the Beast is without a doubt my favorite fairytale, not just from Disney, but overall.  So, when Disney announced it would be opening a Beauty and the Beast restaurant, I knew I had to go.  It took me longer than I would have liked, but I finally made it back to Disney World, and I made my reservation at Be Our Guest months in advance to make sure I would not miss out (though I am returning to Disney in November and I have been trying to get a reservation since they became available and no luck so far).

The restaurant was absolutely perfect.  From the stain glass windows and large double doors at the entrance, to the interior decor, I felt like I had stepped right into the movie.  Unfortunately, I did not dine in the main room, but in a smaller room off to the right with a large rotating center piece.  I ordered my drink in a light up castle goblet, the food was amazing, and dessert was presented to us and prepared right there on a little rolling cart.

Which of course, brings me to the dessert.  There were a couple of options that appealed to me, but I went with the Iconic “Grey Stuff.”

The presentation, as you can see, is beautiful, complete with a little hidden mickey drawn on the plate.  The taste however, was disappointing.  The grey stuff is the only part of this that is actually chocolate, and were it a rich chocolate it would have been perfect.  If the filling beneath it had been a rich chocolate it would have been perfect.  But while it is advertised as chocolate, there is very little chocolate flavor to it.

It is basically a white chocolate mousse (which is not actually chocolate at all) with some cookies blended into it.

Now, I am not saying it was bad, it is just built with the intent to be super chocolaty.  I believe one of the other members of my party ordered it as well, and she loved it, but she is not a chocoholic like I am.

Also, I have seen pictures of different versions of the Grey Stuff, some show it on a chocolate cupcake, so maybe they are still toying with the plate, I will have to see when I return.

There are a few recipes for Grey Stuff floating around out there (none that appear to be official though), and I have also heard that you can request recipes from the restaurants at Disney.  I am going to ask for this recipe when I am there in November and see if I cannot make my own extra-chocolate version.  Maybe I can make a dark grey version with a chocolate mousse instead of a white chocolate.

I will definitely return to Be Our Guest, just next time I am ordering a different, more chocolaty dessert (whether it be a different version of the Grey Stuff or a different dessert all together).  OH!  And next time I will be doing a little more exploring while I am there.

Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino – Starbucks


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I am surprised to discover I never posted about my go to Starbucks drink: Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino.  Not being a coffee drinker, I have found the alternatives, and the DCC is a staple for me in the summer, as the Hot Chocolate (especially with added Peppermint) is my staple in the colder weather.  However, Starbucks does put out new drinks, and occasionally they are heavy in the chocolate department.  This summer is a great example.  Among all the crazy rainbow drinks they have been putting out, there is the Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino.


“We’ve paired the dynamic duo of dark cocoa and refreshing mint with milk and ice. Next we infuse the blended chocolatey beverage with cooling mint sugar crystals, cut in a layer of whipped cream, then top it with more whipped cream and a dusting of dark cocoa. Don’t wait to dig in: This chocolate-lovers dream is only here for a limited time.”

I was told a couple of years ago that any frappuccino could be made in a creme version vs. the coffee version (found this out with the S’Mores frappuccino), but for the first time ever (at least the first time I had noticed), they specifically offered this frappuccino in both coffee and creme versions (the first time I ordered I did so on the app and saw the option…usually you have to modify, but you cannot actually remove the coffee in the app), granted the first time I ordered they accidentally made me the coffee version, so beware.

This drink has become my staple for the time being.  It is no secret that I love the chocolate and mint combo, and this has it, and is a much stronger chocolate flavor that the double chocolaty chip.  I will be sad when the “limited time” this is offered is over.

Bourne’s Blackout Cake – Safe House Chicago


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This past Friday, I had the opportunity to visit the new Safe House in Chicago.  I had been to the one in Milwaukee before, but this was my first time to the one in Chicago.  Personally, I prefer the one in Milwaukee, but I believe their menus are similar, and they had two items on their dessert menu that intrigued me.  One was Mr. Big’s Brownie Cheese Cake – “Cheesecake loaded with cubes of brownie, baked atop a chewy brownie. Topped with vanilla mousse. Finished with chocolate ganache and walnuts” (I hope to have the opportunity to go back and try this one at another time).  The other, that I chose to order, was Bourne’s Blackout Cake – “Rich moist chocolate cake with chocolate chips baked inside. Finished with a rich chocolate cream cheese icing and chocolate chips.”20170721_230356

I was not disappointed.  The cake itself was good, moist, with a good chocolate flavor, and the frosting was decadent, if not a little commercial tasting.  The best part was the chips coating the side of the cake, I wish they had mixed those into the cake batter as well.

The whipped cream in the cup to the side was a little strange and pretentious, and I would have preferred they either put it directly on the plate, or put a scoop of ice cream in it’s place.

There was a third chocolate item on their dessert menu: Fat Bastard (A.K.A. “F.B.”) – A colossal combination of brownie bites, chocolate cake, and ice cream. Topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and a sparkler. Defuse before eating.  However, this item was $20 and seems like more of a shareable dessert, and I am not usually comfortable sharing food, especially dessert items, so to try that item I will have to be with very close friends.

1-800-Flowers Review


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My boyfriend knows too well how much of a chocolate lover I am, so for Valentines Day this year, he sent me a basket.  The intent was for a basket of Godiva chocolate, delivered in a basket with gold diamonds (to appeal to my Harley side), ordered through 1-800-Flowers/1-800-Baskets.  He knew I loved Godiva, and the whole point was to give me a basket of ALL CHOCOLATE.

Well, it appears 1-800-Flowers oversold on that particular product, and without notifying him and giving him any options as to a resolution, they instead sent me a completely different basket.  This basket had two things from Fannie May (Pralines and a Chocolate Bar), then the rest were various items from companies I know nothing about.  Harry & David popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, raspberry cookies, a heart shaped sugar cookie, and a few other things.  I have tried the popcorn…disappointing, I ended up throwing half of it out. The cookies were okay, but nothing special, I could get the same from a bag of Famous Amos.

Not only did the substitute a sub-par basket (I assume the prices were comparable, though I do not know how much he spent), they included a card in the box, stating that the order was for a Godiva basket.  So even had my boyfriend not said anything when I showed him a picture of what arrived, this card basically gave away the fact that I did not receive what was ordered.

My boyfriend has opened up a complaint about this, asking for his money back.  There was a card proclaiming 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed, but we have yet to see what their resolution for this problem is.  I would only be satisfied with either a 100% refund, or if they get the item back in stock soon, a re-delivery at a date of his choosing, but I believe it was a Valentines special, so I doubt that will happen.  Evidently, this is so common an occurrence that they have a drop down option on their online complaint form for “item not as pictured.”

I know my boyfriend is very upset about this, and very disappointed; and I feel terrible and angry on his behalf.  He tried to buy me something he knew I would love and that was messed up by the company.  I cannot speak to their flowers or other services, but from a chocolate lovers standpoint, I recommend avoiding this company, no matter how popular they are.  Much better to order directly from someplace like Godiva, or try another company.

National Doughnut Day


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Happy National Doughnut Day, US!!!


I am one of the few who prefer chocolate glazed.

Mental Floss – 13 Things You Might Not Know About Hot Chocolate

That sweet, chocolaty treat you enjoy on cold days has a lot of history behind it. It’s been on the frontline of wars, stirred up controversy with the Catholic Church, and seen empires rise and fall. Here are a few tasty morsels about hot chocolate.


Long before people nibbled on bars and brownies, chocolate was consumed in liquid form. Historians credit the Olmec civilization of southern Mexico as being the first to roast the fruit from the cacao tree, then grind it down and mix it with water and other ingredients. Archaeologists have discovered Olmec pottery with trace amounts of chocolate dating back to around 1700 BCE.


The Mayans and Aztecs, who picked up the habit from the Olmecs, drank a bitter brew they called “xocoatl,” typically made with chilies, water and toasted corn, and served lukewarm and frothy. The Spanish, who were introduced to cacao drinks after conquistadors brought them home, sweetened things up by adding cinnamon, sugar and other spices to the mix. This, however, was still nothing like the sweet concoction that characterizes hot chocolate today.


The pure cacao drink that early Mesoamericans crafted was high in calories and antioxidants, and delivered a jolt of caffeine. So naturally, they believed it had restorative properties. Aztec warriors would often drink cacao before going into battle, while Montezuma II was rumored to guzzle as many as 50 cups each day. The drink also gained a reputation as an aphrodisiac. After the recipe came to Spain in the 16th century, monks locked it away for a time to prevent widespread philandering.


As chocolate drinks became widely consumed during the 16th and 17th centuries, mainly amongst the moneyed class, a debate emerged: Was it a drink or was it food? The distinction would dictate whether Europe’s Roman Catholics could imbibe during religious fasting, which occurred numerous times throughout the year. The argument went all the way to Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1588), who decreed that drinkable chocolate was fine to consume while fasting. Future popes would agree. Yet the debate raged on, with many clerics banning chocolate drinks during fasting time.


In 17th-century England, so-called “chocolate houses” became all the rage. Establishments like White’s, which is still in business today, served up hot chocolate to go along with the political banter, gambling and general debauchery. And they served the drink in pitchers made out of gold, silver and porcelain. Limoges porcelain, which was elegantly designed and often featured floral patterns, was a popular choice. Needless to say, these were very elite gatherings.


The belief in chocolate’s restorative qualities extended well past the reign of the Mayans and the Aztecs. During the Revolutionary War, medics would often dole out cups of hot chocolate to wounded and dying soldiers. Hot chocolate mixes were also given out monthly to soldiers, and sometimes offered in lieu of wages.


The diplomat and third U.S. president purchased his first batch of chocolate in 1775, and was immediately hooked. In 1785, Jefferson wrote to John Adams about the future he saw for hot chocolate in America. “The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the preference over tea and coffee.” Today, visitors to Monticello can sample hot chocolate made the way Jefferson liked: using stone-roasted cacao, sugar and spices.


In America, “hot chocolate” refers to any hot drink made with chocolate ingredients. What most people are actually drinking, in fact, is hot cocoa. What’s the difference? Cocoa powder is ground up cacao that’s had the fat stripped away, either through a natural process or a “Dutched” process that subjects the powder to potassium carbonate. Dutch chemist Coenraad J. Van Houten invented cocoa powder in 1827, and helped make hot chocolate widely available. Hot chocolate (also called “drinking chocolate”), meanwhile, is made with shaved or ground cacao that still has its full-fat, slightly acidic profile intact.


British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his men subsisted off hot cocoa and stew during their yearlong trek to the South Pole. The expedition made it to the pole in January 1912, only to find that a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen, had gotten there a month prior. Tragically, Scott’s team ran out of provisions on the return journey and perished, while Amundsen, who had packed five times as much cocoa, returned a hero. Decades later, in 1989, the six members of a sled-dog expedition across Antarctica consumed nearly 2100 packets of Swiss Miss hot cocoa.


To aid morale and keep soldiers energized during the war, the YMCA sent more than 25,000 volunteers to set up comfort stations all along the battlefront. The stations were always stocked with magazines, cigarettes and snacks, along with piping-hot pots of cocoa. They were called the “Red Triangle Men” in reference to the YMCA’s logo, and they could be found from Egypt to Russia, and often quite close to the fighting.


Ad from 1929. Jamie via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

First, it must be said: Most packet mixes, which contain processed chocolate and a lot of filler ingredients, don’t offer much in the way of nutrition. But the closer you can get to real, unadulterated chocolate, the better. Studies have linked antioxidants, which chocolate contains in abundance, to everything from cancer prevention to lower blood pressure. Chocolate also contains theobromine, which is a known mood elevator. Adding milk can also boost the drink’s health benefits by adding calcium and vitamins added to the mix. The claim that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, meanwhile, is false.



As sales of high-end chocolate have increased over the past few years, restaurants have gone back to hot chocolate’s roots with premium drinks infused with spices. New York City’s RedFarm serves hot cocoa made with honey blossom, Asian ginger, and a dose of ginger liqueur, while Ellie’s Bakery in Providence, Rhode Island serves a spicy hot chocolate made with chili-infused chocolate and steamed milk. DW Bistro in Las Vegas, meanwhile, offers a Carribean Créme de Hot Chocolate that features spiced rum, coffee liqueur, dark chocolate and crème de menthe topped with frothed milk.


And fittingly, children made it happen. In 2013 at Tampa Bay’s Museum of Science and Industry, 300 local students worked with teachers to produce the pool-sized brew, which included 1100 pounds of cocoa and 87 gallons of powdered milk. At the unveiling ceremony, kids shot marshmallows into the hot chocolate using homemade catapults.

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