Monday, October 28, 2013

A Seasonal Pleasure: Chocolate


Chocolate is an all-year thing if you ask me. But some seasons are more chocolate-friendly than others, especially when it comes to scents, body treatments, and ordering products by mail. The one positive about having a birthday during the cold months is knowing that there's going to be lots of chocolaty things in the package my mom will send me next month. It wouldn't have worked had been born in July.

A year ago I made a list of my top chocolate and cocoa perfume picks. Today we're about a different kind of treat: beauty products and chocolate. Starting with the latter, a discovery I made last month when I was in New Hampshire. You know, I've visited chocolateries in several big cities from Paris to NY, but one of the very best (and perhaps most creative) was in Manchester, NH. Master chocolatier Richard Tango-Lowy trained in France and brought his knowledge and creativity to Manchester where he opened The Dancing Lion. There's a cafe section with several tables and a chocolate counter where you can pick and choose chocolate bars or handmade bonbons (a random selection may include treats like apple, pecan, & honey caramel with hard cider finished in Kenshi 70% dark milk chocolate or a ganache of Cotes du Beaune red wine & Vermont honey in Peruvian "Piura" 67% dark chocolate). Everything is exquisitely presented. Some of the bonbons are crafted using one-of-a-kind chocolate molds (see the Chinese mask above?). While the chocolate itself is sourced from the very best growers around the world, the unique creations and flavoring have a New England twist which makes them even more special.

Everything I bought and tasted was fantastic. I don't know if I should be sad or thankful that I don't live in that area. This stuff is addictive. The Dancing Lion accepts phone orders and ships within the US. You can have a look at the website (dancinglionchocolate.com) for the current offering and you call them at  603-625-4043. If you're in the area, The Dancing Lion is open Wed-Sat (11am-7pm) and their address is 917 Elm Street, Mancester, NH. The address is now saved on my GPS.

Now for some chocolaty beauty treats for hair and body:

Alba Botanica Cocoa Butter Deep Conditioning Hair Mask ($8.99, 5.5 oz, albabotanica.com). They claim that it's an Hawaiian-style product. I don't know about that, but what I can say that it's an addictive hair treatment (after shampoo, skip the conditioner and go straight to the hair mask). The cocoa butter scent is divine, and my hair feels the benefits of a rich mask. The ingredient list* includes many good-for-you botanical oils and butters, including real cocoa butter, so it's not surprising at all. My one complaint: the jar is too small.  I polish it off in two weeks. [press sample]

Jason Natural Cosmetics Nourishing Cocoa Butter ($10.09, 4oz, drugstore.com). I like this product very much but I have a major issue with the misrepresentation of the ingredients. This is not pure cocoa butter and not even a cocoa butter product. It's a great cream , chock-full of natural ingredients** with a skin-loving aloe vera and avocado oil base. It also contains cocoa butter (presumably a high percentage)  and is scented accordingly with all-natural essential oils. So the rich cream gives you that coveted chocolaty feeling while doing good things to one's skin. But I dearly wish that the nice people at Jason would be a lot more forthcoming whan naming this product. It wouldn't take away from its appeal, I'm sure. This nourishing cream contains some interesting active ingredients, such as retinyl acetate(vitamin A),  and Jason says it can and should also be used on one's face. I keep it for hand and body, though, with excellent smooth skin results. Tomorrow I'm going to discuss a deep treatment for hands and will tell you how I incorporate this Jason cream into the process. But for now, let's not forget the chocolate aspect: slather this all over and you'll want to eat yourself. [press sample]

*Alba Botanica Cocoa Butter Deep Conditioning Hair Mask ingredients: Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil(1), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil(1), Glyceryl Stearate, Diheptyl Succinate, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)(1), Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed Butter, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Dipteryx Odorata Bean Extract, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Styrax Tonkinensis Resin Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil, Argania Spinosa Seed Oil, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil(1), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Safflower Oil / Palm Oil Aminopropanediol Esters, Bentonite, Citric Acid, Glycerin, Quartz, Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Triethyl Citrate, Vanillin.

(1)Certified Organic Ingredient

**Jason Natural Cosmetics Nourishing Cocoa Butter ingredient list: Aqua/Water/Eau (Purifed Water), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Hydroflorate (Lavender), Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil (Sunflower), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice (Aloe Vera), Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado), Glycerin (Vege), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter (Cocoa), Buxus Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil (Jojoba), Stearic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A), Cetearyl Alcohol, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Potassium Carbomer, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract (Grapefruit), Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Color (Natural), Essential Oil Blend.

Image via The Dancing Lion Chocolate.

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