A: Our sugar free bars are recommended for sugar-restricted diets. Please be sure to check with your physician about your dietary needs. For diabetics, this product may be useful in your diet on the advice of a physician. Please remember that excess consumption may have a laxative effect.
A: We utilize Maltitol in our sugar free confections. The term, “Sugar Alcohol”, is a term the FDA requires to be used in the Nutrition Facts panel to list a group of sugar substitutes called “polyols” which include Maltitol. Sugar Alcohol is neither a sugar or an alcohol. It is a hydrogenated liquid starch derived and processed from corn. Please be aware that excess consumption may have a laxative effect in sensitive individuals. We recommend that you consult with your physician before substituting any new product into your diet.
A: No. sugar free has equivalent calories as regular candy.Q. What are Trans Fats?A. Trans Fats are fats found in foods such as vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, baked goods, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, salad dressings and many processed foods.
A. There is a relationship between diets high in Trans fat content and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and, therefore, an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
A. 0g per serving size. A serving of our Potato Chips, Pretzels, Jordan Crackers and Graham crackers are also 0g Trans fats.
A. In accordance with the FDA, food manufacturers have until 2018 to remove PHOs from their products. This will allow companies to either reformulate products without PHOs and/or petition the FDS to permit specific uses of PHOs. Asher’s Chocolates is diligently working with our suppliers on reformulating the items we use that have partially hydrogenated oils.
Dark chocolate: 47.2% cocoa mass
Sugar free milk chocolate 40% cocoa mass
A. We do not make any Non-GMO claims for our products. All of our products may be produced with Genetic Engineering.
A. Our oil is not expeller pressed. It is regular canola oil RBD (refined, bleached and deordorized).
A. Allergy causing ingredients have been made bold and are included with the nutritional panel on all our packaged products.
A. All Asher’s Chocolates’ products share equipment with products that contain animal by-products (eggs, dairy products, gelatin, etc) and may have been (or could have been) cross-contaminated with these allergens.
A. All Asher’s chocolate products share equipment with products that may contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg and wheat and may have been (or could have been) cross- contaminated with these allergens.
A. Since the FDA has reported that the protein found in natural latex is an allergen and should be kept away from food and food contact surfaces, we at Asher’s Chocolates use only vinyl gloves when handling our product.
A. We have reformulated our marshmallow, honeycomb, mousse and paste products to remove the gelatin that is derived from fish. We now use a Kosher beef gelatin as a replacement which has no effect on the taste and texture of our products.
A. Cocoa and dark chocolate contain no cholesterol. In addition, milk chocolate and white chocolate only contain trace amounts of cholesterol due to added milk fats. Cocoa and chocolate also contain stearic acid that has a neutral effect on the production of LDL – or bad – cholesterol, even if a person consumes chocolate daily. Studies also show that the stearic acid in chocolate promotes the production of HDL – or good – cholesterol, as long as the consumer engages in a healthful lifestyle. In addition, cocoa is rich in polyphenols. Research indicates that polyphenols may aid in preventing clots in blood vessels. Polyphenols also protect the body from damage against the immune system and may neutralize free radicals in the body, inhibiting the development of certain cancers. Additionally, some chocolate are rich in a group of antioxidants known as flavonoids. Flavonoids may enhance cardiovascular health by reducing damage to blood vessels caused by oxidation.
A. Cocoa beans naturally contain low levels of sugar, out 0.8% to 1.73%. Chocolate contains between 30% and 55% added sugars. The sugar is needed to neutralize cocoa’s bitter taste and act as a bulking and texturizing agent. Some scientific research says the sugars present in chocolate cause only a moderate rise in blood sugar levels, if consumed moderately. In addition, dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate typically contain less sugar.
A. Not necessarily. Cost certainly is an issue that may prevent bakers from formulating with real chocolate. However, many suppliers offer compound chocolate coatings that provide quality tastes and appearances.
A. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defined several different types of cacao products in1999. These include:
- Cacao nibs – The food from shelled cured, cleaned, dried and cracked cacao beans. The shell content cannot be more than 1.75% by weight.
- Chocolate liquor – Made from finely ground cacao nibs. Chocolate liquor must contain between 50% and 60% cacao fat. It can be flavored with cacao fat, cocoa, spices, natural and artificial flavorings, ground coffee and other seasonings that do not impart the flavor of chocolate, milk or butter.
- Cocoa – Cacao fat must be between 10% and 22%.
- Milk chocolate – Made from chocolate liquor, nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners and other specified ingredients such as cacao fat. It must contain at least 12% milk solids and at least 10% chocolate liquor.
- Sweet/dark chocolate – Made from chocolate liquor, nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners and other specified ingredients such as cacao fat. It must contain at least 12% milk solids and at least 15% chocolate liquor.
- Bittersweet/semi-sweet chocolate – It must contain at least 35% chocolate liquor and less than 12% milk solids. Traditionally, bittersweet chocolate contains 50% or more chocolate liquor.
- White Chocolate – At least 20% cocoa butter, at least 14% milk solids, no more than 55% nutritive carbohydrate sweetener, and no chocolate solids other than cocoa butter.
- Sweet cocoa and vegetable fat coating – Made from a mixture of cocoa or cocoa and chocolate liquor. It must have at least 6.85 nonfat cacao solids. Optional ingredients include suitable vegetable derived fats, oils and stearins that may be hydrogenated. The name of the food is “sweet cocoa and vegetable fat coating” or “sweet cocoa and _______ oil coating”.
- Sweet chocolate and vegetable fat coating – Milk solids must be kept to less than 12%. Optional ingredients include suitable vegetable derived fats, oils and stearins that may be hydrogenated. The name of the product is “sweet chocolate and vegetable fat coating” or “sweet chocolate and _____ oil coating”.
A. Practically speaking, there is no difference. By FDA standards, both chocolates must contain at least 35% chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate). After this requirement is met, the individual manufacturers can add more chocolate liquor, as well as sugar, additional cocoa butter, milk solids, lecithin and flavorings, such as vanilla and vanillin. (The addition of milk solids does not make these chocolates “milk chocolate” but instead is sometimes added in very small amount as a way to smooth out the flavor.)In past years, it was safe to generalize that European bitter chocolate was referred to as “bittersweet” and American chocolate was referred to as “semisweet”. This is no longer a safe rule of thumb as more and more American manufacturers use the term “bittersweet”. Either can be used in a recipe, but depending on the type used when the recipe was developed, the outcome may be very similar to the original intent, or quite different. It’s a good idea to experiment to discover your favorite types of chocolate – and if a recipe specifies a brand or type (such as “extra bittersweet”) try to use it. Both semisweet and bittersweet chocolate may be referred to as “dark chocolate”.As found in the March 2000 Issue of Chocolatier Magazine
A. Cocoa alkalization, also known as “Dutching” was developed in the 19th century in the Netherlands. Coenrad Johannes van Houten developed the process of treating the nibs with alkaline salts to neutralize the acidity and bitterness of the natural cocoa. Van Houten was Dutch, so the process became known as Dutch process, or “Dutching”. Common alkalizing agents include potassium carbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide and several other possible alkaline salts. The goal of alkalization is to increase the pH of natural cocoa powder and liquor. Natural cocoa powder and liquor has a pH of between 5.0 – 6.5 and is characterized by a strong bitter flavor and light brown color. The alkalization process darkens the cocoa powder to varying degrees, depending on the amount of alkali used to “dutch” the cocoa. The flavor of alkalized cocoa is quite different from natural cocoa as well, due to the increase in the pH from 6.5 up to 9 and slightly higher in some cases. The flavor of alkalized cocoa is less bitter and more subtle when compared to natural cocoa. Alkalization can take place either during nib processing, cake processing, or in some cases, liquor processing, depending on the manufacturer and the finished product requirements. According to the Code of Federal Regulations (Chapter 21 Part 163) the finished product’s ingredient statement should declare “alkalized cocoa”, or “cocoa processed with alkali” if an alkalized cocoa powder is used in a product.
A. Dutch processed cocoa, which is also called “alkalized” cocoa powder, has been treated with an alkali during processing to produce a less harsh tasting, darkly colored cocoa. This process is purely to control flavor and color. Many people erroneously assume that alkalized cocoa powder is “better” than non-alkalized or “natural” cocoa powder. It is no better, just mellower tasting and darker colored. For best results, use the type indicated in the recipe. All cocoa powder is made from chocolate liquor that has nearly all the cocoa butter removed under pressure so that it forms a press cake. This is ground into powder. While cocoa powder is considered low in fat (compared to other chocolates), it still contains 22% cocoa butter.
A. Chocolate bloom is the tell-tale sign that chocolate has not been stored correctly. The most obvious type of bloom, fat bloom, looks like gray-white blotches and streaks on the chocolate and occurs when the chocolate is exposed to heat during storage. Sugar bloom, which leaves the chocolate feeling rough, occurs when the chocolate is stored in damp conditions.
A. Store chocolate at cool room temperature in a dark place with good air circulation; the refrigerator in not recommended although if your kitchen is particularly hot and humid, it might be your only choice. Wrap it well to protect it from odors. Ideally, chocolate should be wrapped first in foil and then in plastic and stored at a constant temperature of 65°F and 50% humidity. Slightly higher temperatures and humidity are acceptable although the chocolate may not last as long. Stored under perfect conditions, unsweetened and dark chocolate will last for 10 years, and certainly up to a year in good home kitchen conditions; milk and white chocolate for 7 to 8 months. Formed chocolate candies such as truffles and pralines can be frozen and defrosted in the refrigerator before being brought to room temperature for serving.
A. The price of chocolate varies greatly from inexpensive candy bars to pricey truffles. Like wine, the price varies depending on the processing and quality of the original ingredients (a chocolate made from high quality cacao beans and other ingredients, with a greater percentage of cocoa butter and with more extensive refining during manufacture).
A. Each manufacturer usually has its own “code”. If you find a manufacturer whose chocolates you enjoy, get to know their codes. A swirl with two loops on it may mean caramel for one company and butter cream for another, but it will generally always mean the same the thing within a brand. Beyond codes, look for signs of nuts (large bumpy surfaces) or coconut (small bumpy surfaces). Hard caramels are typically square or rectangular and soft caramels are typically flatter. Chocolates that are wrapped often have liquid or softer centers (cherry cordials for example). Of course, some manufacturers provide maps to their goodies on the inside lid of the box or color pictures to help you identify what you’re selecting. But, the best way to find out what’s in the inside of your chocolate is to taste it!Q. What is it about chocolate that we all love it so much?
A. Since people first started enjoying chocolate, it has held a special place in the culinary universe. It is unique among foods, used as an ingredient, a flavoring, and a foodstuff in its own right, and as such is hard to define. Eating a small piece of chocolate is a heavenly experience – cocoa butter melts at body temperature and so there is that moment when the chocolate is no longer solid, and not yet liquid. This sensation is irresistible to chocolate lovers. But there is more. Chocolate’s aroma, its ability to create “taste memories” and its indescribably rich flavor all combine to make it a food most people cannot resist, but at the same time cannot fully explain. And why should we?
A. The FDA hasn’t regulated this term and it can be confusing to the consumer. Though all Asher’s Chocolates are made with the freshest, highest quality ingredients, some ingredients prevent us from using the term “All Natural”. Research continues to be done in this area.Q. Is the jelly in Asher’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Squares seedless? A. Yes. The jelly is seedless and is made onsite using our own recipe.
A. Manufacture of chocolate itself is a specialty industry. Asher’s makes the final confections with chocolate made to our recipe standard by Cargill, Blommer Chocolate Company and Barry Callebaut. We support the efforts of our chocolate manufacturers. Their statements are as follows:
Blommer: “Blommer is actively working with the cocoa growing community, local and U.S. government agencies, NGO’s and international commodity suppliers to educate farmers and their families on national guidelines on slavery and human trafficking. All farmer cooperatives participating in the education program acknowledge that they understand and will maintain compliance with International Labor Standards.”
Barry Callebaut: “In order to make a meaningful contribution to help address the challenges in cocoa farming communities, Barry Callebaut has joined forces with other companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments. Barry Callebaut works directly with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) on programs for members of our Quality Partner Program.”
A. We do not recommend freezing our confections as this can damage the chocolate causing it to crack and bloom. Our confections should be stored in a cool, dry place away from any direct heat sources including sunlight.
A. Fudge should not be frozen or refrigerated. It should be stored in conditions similar to chocolates. Wrapping pre-cut pieces in plastic wrap will help minimize moisture transfer (drying out).