A Chocolate Coconut Brownie for Fairtrade Fortnight

A couple of years ago, I took part in a Fairtrade baking challenge with a prize for the bake containing the most Fairtrade ingredients.  I honestly thought that with nine ingredients I would win, however one of my colleagues managed to use twelve and swiped the prize.  What this exercise taught me, as well as not being a sore loser, was how many Fairtrade products there are.  Not so long ago, it was only really the chocolate and coffee that you could buy in Oxfam and various health food shops, but now there is a Fairtrade stamp on everything from tea, beer, fruit and spices to clothes and beauty products.  Many supermarkets, particularly the Co-op, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose are committing to having more and more Fairtrade products in their range, hence helping workers and communities in developing countries across the world.

Yesterday I visited the Divine pop-up shop in Covent Garden.  Divine is a pioneering chocolate company and 45% of its shares is owned by the cocoa farmers.  Its board also comes from a range of forward-thinking charitable organisations across the UK such as ChristianAid and Comic Relief.

From this visit, I was inspired to go back to the idea of baking something using a number of Fairtrade ingredients, this time without the competitive element.  Fairtrade chocolate, cocoa and sugar can be found in most supermarket baking aisles, so the task of buying ingredients for a Fairtrade brownie is an easy one.  Baking the kind of brownie that has a thin crust on top and an almost molten chocolate centre is slightly trickier – you need both a good recipe and the balls to take it out of the oven at the right time, even though it looks completely uncooked.  For the former, I have Felicity Cloake’s failsafe brownie recipe from her Guardian column (works every time), and for the second I have a number of friends who are happy to eat any baked goods, even those that fall apart because they are so underbaked.

To this particular brownie I have added two extras:  milk (not dark, please) chocolate chips that no brownie should ever be without, and some desiccated coconut, which adds a delightful graininess but no real flavour.

(Mostly) Fairtrade Chocolate Coconut Brownies
Adapted from a recipe by Felicity Cloake

  • 250g Fairtrade dark chocolate (I used Divine’s 70% dark chocolate)
  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150g Fairtrade caster sugar
  • 150g Fairtrade light soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk, lightly beaten
  • 60g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 80g desiccated coconut
  • 80g milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180ºc / 350ºf / gas 4.  Grease a 20cm x 20cm square cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Be careful not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.  Once melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy.  With the mixer still running, gradually add the eggs, a little at a time, until fully incorporated.  Turn the speed of the mixer up to high and beat for five minutes until the batter has a sheen and has increased in size.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and carefully fold in the melted chocolate, being careful not to beat too much air out of the eggs.   Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, coconut and chocolate chips in a small bowl before gently stirring them into the mixture.

Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes.  A knife inserted into the centre of the cake should not come out clean, but a little sticky.  If you feel it is not quite done, return to the oven for a further three minutes, but be careful not to overbake.  Leave to cool for an hour before cutting into squares.


Divine Chocolate Fairtrade Fortnight Pop-up Shop, Covent Garden


It’s Fairtrade Fortnight, which is an annual awareness campaign run by the Fairtrade Foundation that aims to get us really thinking about where our food comes from and how the trade and consumption affects and benefits the local communities in developing countries.  Of course, many of us are aware that Fairtrade has made an enormous difference to workers in these communities by offering better prices, better working conditions, fairer terms of trade and, most importantly, a focus on sustainability so that the communities can continue to trade in a sometimes uncertain future.  It used to be the case that only a few specialist products were Fairtrade, however as time goes on, more and more products are proudly displaying the badge; everything from the traditional Fairtrade products of coffee, chocolate and bananas to less likely items such as clothing, beer and honey. 

During Fairtrade Fortnight there are a number of events to engage with people around this issue.  A couple of years ago I took part in a Fairtrade Bake-Off with a prize for the most Fairtrade ingredients.  I thought I had it in the bag with nine, until my colleague swiped the prize with a massive twelve.

For the second year, Fairtrade chocolate supremo Divine have opened a pop-up shop in Covent Garden for Fairtrade fortnight.  This has coincided with the launch of two new flavours:  a 38% milk chocolate with whole almonds, and a 70% dark chocolate with mango and coconut.  Of course, Divine chocolate is readily available in a number of shops and supermarkets, but having a shop entirely devoted to their range certainly appeals to the chocoholic within me.  Little samples are available of their various bars, of which I tried many, and there is a little coffee machine at the back (Fairtrade, obviously).  In addition to this, they have a counter at the back selling some delicious looking baked goods including millionaire’s shortbread and little macarons.

There are a number of events on at the pop-up throughout Fairtrade Fortnight including sampling, chocolate workshops and meeting the cocoa farmers.

I ended up going home with an incredibly gluttonous four bars:  milk chocolate with toffee and sea salt, dark chocolate with mango and coconut, orange milk chocolate and dark chocolate with chilli and orange.

Divine Pop-Up, 53 Monmouth Street, London WC2H 9DA.  Open until Sunday 9th March.