Fairtrade Chocolate….still just as important as last year

Spencer Cocoa || cityhippyfarmgirl

It seems we are heading into the chocolatey part of the year. The time of year when if you peruse supermarket aisles you might see a sea of mass produced, overly packaged chocolate all at really accessable prices.

Now how do these chocolates manage to stay at these comfortable prices? Well, there is a good chance it will be made of compound chocolate- which means it could well have palm oil in it. Food miles are a given. And the work in order to harvest the cocoa? Well it wouldn’t be surprising if it was done under child labour conditions.

So how do we not buy into that whole rather dirty circle? Well, simply put, don’t. Vote with your dollar. Buy fair trade and consider what you’re buying before you do so. What you are really buying into?

Fair trade chocolate. Still just as important as last year.

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Spencer Cocoa– Single plantation chocolate, grown in Vanuatu and made in Mudgee. (pictured above, this chocolate is divine!)

World Vision Fair Trade Chocolate Guide (Australian based- but many of these brands are available internationally, so would still be relevant.)

Tribes and Nations– stockists of Fair trade easter eggs.

Chocolatier– does Fair trade options for Easter.

 

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Chocolate, Community and Choices

beetroot brownie || cityhippyfarmgirl

I’ll let you in on a little secret. This place here, is my number one place to eat out. It doesn’t happen often, actually hardly at all really, but when it does…oh it’s bliss. Sheer bliss.

While this blog is not about food reviewing (and never will be) I can’t help but want to stand on my pedestal and shout…”you really should go there!”

Once in that blue moon period when I do go out, I want to go somewhere that holds similar beliefs to me. Going somewhere where the selling points of a dish are “Salmon from Alaska, oranges from Malta, cheese from Turkey and wine to wash it all down with from Italy”. Nope, it just doesn’t cut it for me, I’m seriously not interested. Tell me the bacon is from a small scale farmer a few hours away, the milk is from the outskirts of Sydney, the eggs are organic and the plated greens were grown three metres away in the small backyard. Now that’s going to make me sit up and pay attention.

Also add to it being some of the best tasting food I’ve ever tasted and I will be scrambling for any opportunity to get a table again.

Now when time ticks by and life gets in the way, their cookbook will be tiding me over. The pages talk of how they started, seasonal eating, not wasting anything and community– all topics of which I’ll happily devour every page, (which is includes this rather tasty Chocolate Beetroot Brownie.)

beetroot brownie || cityhippyfarmgirl

Coming back for a moment, to that wonderful C word that I love so much- community. It’s important to me here in blogland. It’s important to me in ‘real life’ and is also one of the big things that has struck me every time I’ve been lucky enough to eat there. (And it really is a privilege to eat out , for anyone!) Community is something that really seems to jump out at you, even just walking down the street. You can tell that this is a close knit area that really looks out for each other, (which also includes famed sourdough legend, Iggy’s just a few doors down.)

Living in a big city, if you are lucky enough to be in the position of choosing to go out for a meal, then considering where your dollar is going just makes sense. It makes wonderful sense. Combine a little chocolate and community in with those choices and you have yourself a pretty great combination I think.

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Tell me, what are some of your favourite community minded places (or books) to eat or hang out at? 

 

The inconvenience of Fairtrade Chocolate at Easter

fairtrade easter eggs || cityhippyfarmgirl

easter eggs || cityhippyfarmgirl

Easter eggs is tricky business in this household. It’s not something I grew up with a great deal. My grandparents would always buy us a modest sized egg to eat as fast or slow as we wanted and that was kind of it. No easter egg hunts, no mysterious rabbits leaving Easter themed gifts and household bombardment of chocolate. It was all kept rather simple.

As an adult I get that, I totally get that. But as a child I wanted to be ill on chocolate easter eggs, I wanted to swim in it like every other child seemed to be doing but me.

So as an adult and now parent myself I come to this tricky line. While Easter doesn’t hold a strong gift giving significance to me, I do like giving a little chocolate something as I remember the joy I had of eating the same. I like adding a hunt for it, as hey, it’s exciting- who doesn’t like a good hunt? But, and it’s rather a big BUT…

I don’t want to buy those chocolate eggs that have been on the supermarket shelf since just after Christmas.

I don’t want to buy those eggs that have food miles to the moon and back.

I don’t want to buy compound chocolate that has palm oil in it’s ingredients.

I don’t want to buy that chocolate that has a multitude of layers of packaging.

And I sure as chocolate eggs don’t want to buy that chocolate that sources it’s cocoa from child slavery conditions.

To give my children a small inexpensive chocolate treat at the expense of all that? No, no I wont. I simply will not buy into that.

I make this decision by thinking about where my dollar goes. I am happy to pay more for an ethically made chocolate that is produced as locally as I can source. Not because I want to buy something more expensive but because I value all those things above and think chocolate should never be cheap. I will pay more for a chocolate that I know won’t have palm oil in it. And I will plan ahead, take the time to find out where I can buy them, avoiding last minute unconsidered purchases. I think chocolate is a luxury and a pretty amazing one at that.

So this Easter, I want to treat that small gifted chocolate with a little respect and hopefully pass that on, even just a little to my kids. Showing that every last delicious sweet crumb that I buy is to be valued, (whether they eat it quickly or slowly it doesn’t matter). I don’t see buying fairtrade chocolate as an expensive inconvenience, it’s a carefully considered treat…and that’s the way I think it should be.

easter chocolate || cityhippyfarmgirl

Where to buy some Fairtrade Easter Chocolate

World Vision Fair Trade Chocolate Guide (Australian based- but many of these brands are available internationally, so would still be relevant.)

Tribes and Nations– stockists of Fairtrade easter eggs.

Spencer Cocoa– Single plantation chocolate, grown in Vanuatu and made in Mudgee.

Chocolatier– does Fairtrade options for Easter.

lamington cake

 lamington cake- cityhippyfarmgirl

lamington cake- cityhippyfarmgirl

Lamingtons and I have never had a firm friendship. They were always the thing of old fashioned bakeries, afternoon tea at someone else’s house or a slightly squished white paper bag to bring home for my mum as little treat. 

A favourite for childhood cake drives and always guaranteed at the local church sweets stand. It wasn’t for me though. No matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t get past the dryness. Not even a lamington with jam and cream in the middle could save these iconic coconut squares of Australia for me.

They just weren’t my thing.

Until now that is. Now that I’ve drowned it in a sweet milky goodness that can only be attributed to a can of condensed milk. I can almost hear the collective gasps of the CWA. Shrieks of, you can’t put condensed milk in a lamington!

But you can. And I did. And perhaps in doing so I have wiped out all ability to name it still a lamington. However I’m sticking to it, and this is my lamington cake.

lamington cake- cityhippyfarmgirl

Lamington Cake

125g butter

3 eggs

150g (2/3 cup) sugar

2 tsp vanilla

225g (1 1/2 cups) s/r flour

50g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut

125mls (1/2 cup) milk

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1 can condensed milk

50g cocoa

Cream butter and sugar. Add in vanilla, beaten eggs, and milk together than fold in dry ingredients. Bake in a greased and lined spring form pan (approx 23cm) at 180C for about 35-40 minutes. Bake until golden in colour.

While cake is still hot, leave it in the cake tin, prick it all over with a skewer or fork then pour on the condensed milk mixture. (Whisk together in a bowl, condensed milk and cocoa together beforehand.)

Leave cake to soak up mixture, occasionally bringing the condensed milk back to the centre to soak in at the top a little more. Once room temperature, pop into the fridge for a couple of hours (or over night.) Take the cake out of the tin and cover in desiccated coconut.

lessons in chocolate cake

chocolate cakechocolate cake

When the lovely Mariana posted her family recipe for chocolate cake recently I decided I needed to give it a crack. Me and chocolate cake still aren’t particularly firm friends. I had fiddled about last year with my sourdough starter chocolate cake (Number Five Chocolate Cake.) I had also mentioned in this post my head start into baking a dry old chocolate cake recipe as a teen.

Being more of a Lemon Meringue Pie kinda gal, it’s hard to get good perspective in such very important matters such as chocolate cake. However, for the sake of my chocolate cake inhaling young family I would do it. I would make the cake, (as everyone needs to have a chocolate cake recipe up there sleeves right?)

Lessons learnt in Chocolate Cake

1. Chocolate cake baked in a square tin sounded like a good idea at the time but when it came time to present it on a plate I slowly realised- out of all my missed matched plates, not one of them were square. Round tin it is next time.

2. Fold that flour into the mixture, don’t over beat it. I know this, and yet I still have moments of forgetting. This was one of those moments.

3. Chocolate cake doesn’t need to have 250g of dark chocolate in it to be a chocolate cake, (hooray for that actually!)

4. When making a stove top icing, ensure the tea towel being used in order not to burn yourself doesn’t catch fire as it rests casually in the flames. (For the record, burnt tea towel smells a bit funny.)

5. When the recipe says “move fairly quickly” when pouring on the icing, do so. It’s said for a reason. If you don’t, it leads to an unsatisfying ‘scratchy’ looking top. Followed by a little high pitched squeal, tiny foot stomp and mutterings of…oh please be smoooooth again.

6. Plopping small squares of chocolate in the middle doesn’t really hide the unsatisfying scratchy looking icing.

7. And finally, really… Not a single other person really cares whether- a) the icing was smooth, b) the cake mixture slightly over beaten, and c) that there wasn’t an appropriate square plate to go with the square cake*. It was gobbled up and declared the best chocolate cake ever. So dear Mariana, I think it’s a hit.

* There was however a slight voiced concerned and furrowed brow with the burnt tea towel incident, (for safety reasons of course.) But I say, who doesn’t like a little excitement in the kitchen now and then.

Mariana’s Forever Chocolate Cake Recipe 

chocolate cake

make it a wonderful one

 cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirl

It’s that time of year when there is a whole lot of fruity looking buns with crosses lingering around and a suspiciously large amount of chocolate on offer.

Whether you celebrate this time of year for religious purposes or like to rejoice with the Goddess Eostre. The changes of Autumn and Spring being celebrated, quiet time in a church, happiness over a long weekend with loved ones, or simply enjoying some time out with a good book.

What ever you get up to… make it a wonderful one.

cityhippyfarmgirl(And if by chance you feel like making some hot cross buns, here’s a few to get you started.)

Hot Cross Buns

200g currants/raisins

200mls hot water

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp dark malt flour

1 tsp dried yeast

250g sourdough starter

100g sugar (2/3 cup, more if you like them sweeter)

250mls milk

100g softened butter

11/2-2 tsp salt

4 1/2 cups flour (675g)

Soak the fruit in the hot water, leave for a couple of hours/ over night.  Mix all ingredients together, except for the salt. Autolyse period 20-45 minutes. Add the salt and mix again, then turn out on to a lightly floured bench to knead until you get a lovely smooth ball of dough. Pop the dough back into the bowl, plastic bag over the top and leave to prove.  A couple of proves and folds over the next few hours. Then out onto lightly floured surface again and divide into 16 or so portions. Roll into balls, or simply divide to get a more square shape. Pop them on a lined baking tray, cover and leave for another prove.

Crosses

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Mix together and spoon into a piping bag just before they hit the oven.

Then bake at 210C for approximately 15-25 minutes, (depends on the size, bake until golden.)

Glaze

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes and then brush onto hot buns.

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Hot Cross Buns- commercial yeast recipe

Hot Cross Buns- whole sourdough recipe

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns- semi sourdough recipe

chocolate hot cross buns


hot cross buns

Goddess buns. I definitely liked the sounds of that.

I was doing some reading on the history of hot cross buns. Along with the obvious Christian links, the Anglo Saxon goddess Eostre is also connected. (She also seems to be a goddess that not a lot was known about.) A cross being placed on a bun to represent the four phases of the moon. Eaten during the time of the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Well how about that… fascinating isn’t it this wonderful world we live in.

I also found out that Chocolate Hot Cross Buns seem to be an Australian/ New Zealand thing. It seems we have far more non fruit loving people down under than the rest of the world- which suits Mr Chocolate just fine, as dried fruit and he aren’t firm friends. The nose wrinkles a little and head pulls back in a sharp subtle manner… sultanas?!
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Chocolate however, no problem what so ever.
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Would the Saxon’s have approved of these Chocolate Hot Cross Buns in honour of the Goddess Eostre? I like to think so, after all, chocolate is, food of the gods.
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cityhippyfarmgirl

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

250g sourdough starter

1 tsp dried yeast

100g sugar

250mls water/milk*

100g softened butter*

600g flour

200g dark chocolate drops**

100mls water

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp dark malt flour

2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together, except for the salt. Autolyse period 20-45 minutes. Add the salt and mix again, then turn out on to a lightly floured bench to knead until you get a lovely smooth ball of dough. Pop the dough back into the bowl, plastic bag over the top and leave to prove.  A couple of proves and folds over the next few hours. Then out onto lightly floured surface again and divide into 16 or so portions. Roll into balls, or simply divide to get a more square shape. Pop them on a lined baking tray, cover and leave for another prove. The dough is ready to be baked, when you press it in and it lightly springs back.

Crosses

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Mix together and spoon into a piping bag just before they hit the oven.

Then bake at 210C for approximately 15-25 minutes, (until golden.)

Glaze

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes and then brush on to the hot buns with a pastry brush.

Vegan variations

* to make these vegan, omit the butter and milk. Substituting the milk for water.

** use a dark chocolate without any milk solids, and add two tablespoons of great quality cocoa

This post submitted to the always wonderful yeastspotting.

loving that… spelt brownie

speltbrownie

“Often life’s pleasures pass us by simply because we don’t take a moment to focus on them… Make a point of noticing everyday something that uplifts your spirit or tickles your heart… Stop to breathe in the joy of this moment and then tell someone about it. Share your joy and revel in it. When your joy is savoured, and then shared, it is magnified…” ROBIN GRILLE

Weekend get togethers with people that live near and so very far, far away. Time has stretched into years but conversation just flows…loving that.

Deep cups of chai on darkened mornings. Little ones sleep on, just me and my chai and quiet, so quiet…loving that.

Seeing pink faced, sweaty little boys laughing together. Everything is so hilarious… loving that.

Conversations that make you think, ponder, and dig deeper than you would normally venture…loving that.

Seeing her little upturned face to the rain. A joyous smile as rain drops splatter on those soft cheeks…loving that.

Tweaking favourite recipes to incorporate different flavours. Getting the thumbs up from Mr Chocolate, friends wanting the recipe and Monkey Boy declaring me to be the best mama in the world after eating it…loving that.

If anyone else would like to do a ‘loving’ post, (or simply write something in the comments). Please let me know, link back to this post and I’ll do a link up. I would love to know about those little moments in your week that have tickled your heart.

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(For you Karen)

Spelt Brownie

200g chocolate (around about 50% cocoa)

100g butter

100g coconut oil

200g brown sugar

4 beaten eggs

2 tsp vanilla

200g wholemeal spelt flour

In a pot add the chocolate, butter, coconut oil, sugar and vanilla. Gently melt it down and cool it. Add remaining ingredients. Pop into a greased and lined tray.

Bake at 180C for approximately 25-30minutes, and then let it cool in the tin.

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Have a look at some of the wonderful food combinations that Kari is loving at the moment.

new discoveries


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choc agave balls

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New discoveries…

New legs to walk on, and walk she does. At ten months and four days she said, whoooshka! Lets go, lets get busy…and hasn’t looked back.

New magnifying glasses for the boys, show little critters can become big critters at the right angle. There are a lot of new little things to discover.

Holiday time and park mornings are spent exploring. It can be hard work and they need lots of healthy energy giving snacks.

I’ve posted these balls before (here) but have changed around the ingredients a little. My new discovery of the deliciousness of dark agave nectar, was a lovely surprise. I would use it sparingly due to the food miles on it, but it is a wonderful alternative to sugar or honey.

These ingredients are just a rough guide, use whatever you have on hand and like to add to the mix.

choc energy balls copy

Chocolate Agave Energy Balls

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup linseed meal
1/2 cup sunflower kernals
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup honey (use extra agave if you want to make it completely vegan)
2 tbls of unhulled tahini
1 tsp vanilla
sesame seeds/ or extra coconut
Mix all ingredients together, add a tablespoon or two of water if needed to bind ingredients together and roll into balls. Roll again in sesame seeds or coconut.
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This post is going to We Should Cocoa @ Chocolate Log Blog– for a sugar free chocolate combo this month.

Dark Chocolate Honey Ganache Cones

 a little lurker

Dark Chocolate Honey Ganache…

I had been thinking about this combination for at least a year. Dark chocolate ganache… a strong honey… and perhaps some chopped lightly toasted hazelnuts wouldn’t go astray either.

Now pastry or no pastry? A tart could work…

Then I saw the mini cones, done. How easy would that be. Construction began.

Little Monkey liked the sounds of it, he wasn’t leaving my side. No no, not for a second. That little barnacle was tricky to pry off without a wayward chocolatey spoon clasped in his hands.

Left over dark chocolate ganache from the little fella’s birthday cake. Stir in some Leatherwood Honey, and pipe it in to some mini cones. Easy, and now I’m thinking of other possibilities based on this little combination to play with.

What do you think might work?