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.