Who fancies freshly baked breakfast banana bread to start your morning? It’s just fabulous toasted and spread with peanut butter. This recipe is more of a bread than a cake and isn’t too sweet, though it does have a wee bit of honey in it.
Our local cafe, Olive & Co, does a mean coffee cardamom chocolate cake. It’s more of a torte really as it contains no flour. I’ve been wanting to try making something similar for ages and with the arrival of the new Divine chocolate baking bars, the time seemed right to give it a go. I give you my coffee cardamom chocolate mousse cake.
Christmas in July? What a strange concept. But it’s a real thing for brands, who need to showcase their Christmas products to the media. Every year London is alive with Christmas in July events and this year I got to go to a couple of them. The main event for me was the Fairtrade Foundation’s press day which not only highlighted some of the Fairtrade products available, but had a cookery demonstration too.
Thick, rich and velvety, this vegan hot chocolate is dairy-free. It’s a high treat for vegans and non-vegans alike. It’s a must for any breakfast feast, but is probably best saved for special occasions.
Well the festival of chocolate is nearly upon us. I do know, of course that Easter is a very special occasion in the Christian calendar and for many others is about the celebration of Spring, but for us chocoholics, it’s a very good excuse to indulge. So here’s a review of some Easter chocolate bites.
Certified by the Soil Association, bearing the Fairtrade symbol and an Ethical Award winner, Seed and Bean is an organic company to be admired. Read on to see my review of some of their delicious and unusually flavoured chocolate bars.
A rich decadent three layered chocolate cashew pie for a special occasion. It’s a biscuit crust, filled with dark chocolate ganache and topped off with a creamy confection of cashew nut butter, cream cheese and whipped cream.
Fairtrade products have had a lot of bad press recently, but it is an important concept to which I feel we should adhere. As far as chocolate goes, according to the Fairtrade Foundation, Fairtrade is enabling small scale farmers in Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and the Dominican Republic to trade their way out of poverty. This is done by not only giving them a premium on the price they get for their cocoa but giving them long term contracts which provide stability allowing them to invest in their farms and communities. For more information on how lives in West Africa have been improved by Fairtrade, you can read the report from Fairtrade International, published earlier this year.
Divine was one of the very first chocolate companies to adopt the Fairtrade ethos and they have remained true to their principles ever since. The company is unique for a British mainstream chocolate business in that it is part owned by a co-operative of cocoa farmers in Ghana. You can read all about it here. Divine are one of the main sponsors of Chocolate Week. They have come up with two new chocolate bars as well as some new chocolate recipes especially for the occasion. I’m very keen to try both the 70% dark chocolate with mango and coconut and the milk chocolate with almonds. They have also helped organise a number of events around the country. Visit their website to find out what and where these are.
Living in Cornwall, means it is not always possible to attend some of the food events I would ideally like to. A celebration of twenty years of Fairtrade held in London a couple of months ago was one such. The diversity of products now out there carrying the Fairtrade label is really quite amazing. I remember when there was only tea, coffee and chocolate and they were hard to find. As I was unable to make the celebration, I was kindly sent a few of the products that were being showcased on the day. One of these was a bar of Divine chocolate.
Divine Milk Chocolate (38%) with Spiced Toffee Apple – I was very excited by this new bar on the block, not a flavour combination I’d come across in chocolate before. With the apple season fast approaching I wanted to keep this for a suitable appley occasion. Turned out this was Bonfire Night and I made these rather wonderful spiced toffee apple bonfire cakes. But meanwhile, I had to try a little of it. A mixture of apple pie and toffee apples, this was as good as I was hoping it might be. Pieces of crunchy toffee and chewy cinnamon flavoured apple punctuates Divine’s signature high cocoa content milk chocolate. One piece lasts a satisfyingly long time and leaves fruity spicy notes in the mouth which are just perfect for autumn.
Divine has always decorated its outer wrappers with traditional West African symbols called Adinkras, each of which has it’s own special meaning. This was the first Divine bar I’ve seen where the Adinkras are imprinted on the chocolate itself.
I also have my sights set on these two new recipes on the Divine site (photographs courtesy of the Divine):
|Hazelnut & Raspberry Dark Chocolate Truffles|
|Lemon and Chocolate Tarts|
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for more chocolate tasters for #NationalChocolateWeek and don’t miss out on these:
Thanks to the Fairtrade Foundation for sending me these products to try. I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.
Whilst every month is organic month in this household, I do like to support the #OrganicSeptember campaign. I have always been a strong believer in organic food, not so much for the health benefits, although that is important, but for the environmental ones. Growing food organically is the least harmful way of meeting human needs whilst allowing insects, birds and other wildlife to survive.
Organic food doesn’t have to be expensive; we live on a pretty tight budget. I buy some of our staples such as oats, rice, lentils and dried fruit in bulk which reduces the cost considerably. We also grow many of our own vegetables. Just buying one or two regular items that have been produced using organic ingredients can make a positive difference.
Certified by the Soil Association, Seed and Bean are officially the UK’s most ethical chocolate brand. Their bars are organic, fair-trade and ethically produced. They are the only company to score 100 out of 100 in the good Shopping Guide’s ethical index. They have a direct relationship with their cocoa bean growers in Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and on the Sao Tomé Islands off West Africa, ensuring a better income for the producers and a more sustainable crop. As you would expect from a good quality product, all of their ingredients are natural and only real fruit is used. Founded in 2005 by principal chocolatier Stephen Rudkin, the bars are still handmade in small batches in Northamptonshire. I was particularly pleased to find that the inner “foil” wrappers are actually made from something called nature flex which is fully home compostable. I wish I’d known about this before, but the message doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the wrapping, which is where it probably should be if they want people to compost rather than throw.
The Seed and Bean range is currently made up of eighteen different flavours, including seven award winners. The two most recent award winning bars are an extra dark (70%) with Cornish sea salt and a rich milk (37%) with Sicilian hazelnut and almond. I have reviewed the former, but have not had the pleasure of trying the latter and sadly it wasn’t in the bundle of ten I was recently sent to try. Some other flavours I’d like to try but weren’t included are the dark chocolate (58%) lemon and cardamom, dark chocolate (72%) pumpkin seeds and hemp oil and the milk chocolate (37%) tangerine. Twelve of the bars are suitable for vegans. Interestingly, I noted from a previous review of the milk chocolate Cornish sea salt and lime that the cocoa content has gone up from 30% to 37%, which in my book makes it even more delicious. In fact the four milk chocolate bars all have a cocoa content of 37%, which although I’d prefer to be higher still, is much better than most chocolate bars you’re likely to come across.
Whilst my mouth waits with anticipation to savour the inner secrets of the bars, my eyes feast on the multi coloured outer packaging – a veritable rainbow of colours. The graphics are eye-catching and the colour of the wrapper reflects the flavour of the bar. Really I don’t think I can improve on their own words: “we fill our days with the soulful pursuit of creating kaleidoscopic moments of pleasure”.
Of the ten I was sent, some have been reviewed on the blog, some I’m planning to bake up a storm with and two I couldn’t resist trying out almost immediately. You can see which ones those were below.
In the end, I made some oaty ginger chocolate chip cookies with the just ginger bar.
You can find Seed and Bean bars at various independent shops around the UK, Ireland and Europe. You can also buy them direct via their online shop. The bars weigh 85g, all but the milk chocolate and the dark chocolate bars which have recently gone up a size and are now a hefty 100g. They all vary in price but cost around £2.30.
Coconut & Raspberry (66% dark) – cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, coconut oil, raspberries, soya lecithin, vanilla extract.
With its subtle flavour of coconut and fruity taste of raspberry and a backdrop of smooth dark chocolate, this is really rather wonderful. It’s a combination I’ve not come across before, but it works very well. The raspberry leaves a tart and refreshing taste in the mouth. Whilst the chocolate is smooth, there is texture from the powdered raspberries which makes me want to munch rather than savour. For a dark chocolate, this is really rather moreish.
Chilli & Lime (72%) – cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla extract, chilli powder, lime oil.
Lime is the first flavour to hit the senses; a rich aroma of lime and chocolate emanates enticingly from the bar and when the chocolate touches your mouth, it is lime you can taste. It doesn’t take long though for the chocolate and spice to catch up and gradually your mouth fills with the warming power of chilli. I found the balance of both lime and chilli to be just right. Both were noticeable, but neither overwhelming and they worked in tandem with the smooth dark Dominican trinitario chocolate to give a particularly pleasurable experience. This chocolate is rich though and a couple of squares at any one time is enough to satisfy.
Thanks to Seed and Bean for sending me some chocolate bars to try out. I was not required to write a favourable review and as always, all opinions are my own.
It’s been a while since I did a round-up of chocolate treats. I’ve had a few sent to me over the last several months and now feels like a good time to let you know about them all. I hope you enjoy my mega review of chocolate treats.