Chocolate is a rich treat—often made with ingredients produced by the world’s poorest. Sarah Heeringa indulges in some fair trade recipes that deliver a chocoholic bite—without a bitter aftertaste.
By Sarah Heeringa.
Chocolate cake, chocolate fudge, or straight from the block … whatever way you take it, there’s nothing quite like chocolate for satisfying a craving, delivering an energy hit and for sharing the love.
Chocolate delivers on every level: there’s the positive physiological effect of stimulants such as theobromine and phenethylamine, the much-hyped antioxidant properties and the tactile, melt-in-your-mouth pleasure of a delicately moulded morsel.
Chocolate we love. A whole lot less lovely are the harsh, unfair conditions endured by many cocoa workers. Cocoa farmers are among the world’s poorest and the children forced to work on cocoa plantations are among the world’s most helpless.
The cocoa farms of Africa’s Ivory Coast supply 43 percent of the world’s cocoa. In 2001, the US State Department, the International Labor Organization and others reported that child slavery was being used on many of these cocoa farms. Subsequent research by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture revealed that nearly 300,000 children under 12 were working in hazardous conditions on West African cocoa farms, and that at least 12,000 of them had probably been victims of child trafficking.
“Even though the large chocolate manufacturers, including those in New Zealand, have admitted to many problems inherent in the production of their cocoa, they’ve failed to meet commitments to address these problems. They’ve missed deadline after deadline to come up with a workable response. In the meantime, children continue to be trafficked today,” says Justin Purser of non-profit Kiwi organisation Trade Aid. (See good.net.nz/cocoa for more on the industry’s response to child labour.)
The simple answer is to buy fair trade chocolate. Fair trade organisations reward workers with a reasonable income—enough to buy medicines and send children to school—and guarantee that no forced child labour has been used in the production of their goods. Also, fair trade products are frequently organic and sustainably packaged.
Being fair doesn’t mean going without. Here are three delicious fair trade chocolate recipes to try at home.
Spicy Chocolate Fudge
A rich, chocolatey fudge—with a surprise kick!
- 2¾ cups Fairtrade cane sugar
- 2 cups fresh cream
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp Fairtrade cocoa
- ¼ – ½ tsp Fairtrade chilli powder
- ¼ tsp Fairtrade ginger
Place all ingredients in a large frying pan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts. Bring to the boil, stirring only occasionally, until mixture reaches the soft ball stage (a little fudge dropped in cold water forms a soft but cohesive ball). Transfer mixture to a stainless steel bowl and beat briskly with the wooden spoon for a minute or until fudge thickens slightly. Spread into a greased dish, ensuring the fudge is at least 2cm high. (If your dish is too big, only spread fudge at one end.)
Cool slightly before slicing.
Variation: For Spicy Honey Ginger Fudge, substitute cocoa and spices for 2 tbsp honey and 1 tsp Fairtrade ground ginger.
A simple, yet satisfyingly rich treat
- 250g butter
- 2½ cups Fairtrade cane sugar
- 4 free-range eggs
- 2¼ cups flour
- 2½ tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup Fairtrade cocoa
- ½ cup Fairtrade dark chocolate, roughly chopped (optional) Fairtrade drinking chocolate (for dusting)
Soften butter without melting it. Add sugar, vanilla, salt and eggs. Mix together with a wooden spoon. Sift in flour and cocoa. Add the chopped Fairtrade dark chocolate. Stir to combine, then spread in a sponge roll tin or baking pan (approximately 23cm by 33cm). Cook at 180°C for 35-40 minutes. (Slightly undercook for a more fudgy texture.) Slice when cool and generously dust with Fairtrade drinking chocolate.
Extra Choco-Chocolate Cake
This moist cake is super-easy to make and turns out just as well when the ingredients are doubled
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup Fairtrade cocoa
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 1½ cups Fairtrade cane sugar
- ¾ cup Fairtrade virgin olive oil (or sunflower, or grapeseed oil)
- 1½ cups cold Fairtrade coffee (or cold water, or a mix of the two)
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 3 tbsp vinegar
- Fairtrade drinking chocolate (for dusting)
Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in all the wet ingredients. Stir just enough to mix together. Pour into a regular-sized, very well-greased ring tin and bake at 180°C for approximately 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Take care not to overcook the cake. Once cool, transfer to plate and generously dust with Fairtrade drinking chocolate, or slather with chocolate sauce topping.
- Chocolate sauce topping
- 2 tbsp Fairtrade cocoa
- ¾ cup of Fairtrade cane sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- 3 tbsp butter
- 5–6 pieces of Fairtrade dark chocolate (optional)
Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and cook until the sauce reaches the soft ball stage (see fudge recipe above). Allow to cool a little before dribbling over the cake.