Stop the Traffik
As has become my Saturday morning habit, I went to the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, and as usual, I tried very hard to ignore the lady selling the chocolate. This time, though, the smiling lady at the wei of chocolate table caught my attention. She offered samples, and I tried everything she handed me. Each of the locally crafted chocolates that she offered was rich with character. "daily gratitude" seemed dark and earthy, and "sensual love" had a soft shove of spice and heat. I'll admit, I wasn't going to buy anything, but when she told me that her chocolate was organic fair trade, I was hooked and reeled in. I walked away with 4 ounces of her third offering, "daily love 75% dark chocolate"--it started with a natural sweetness and finished smelling like flowers on the breeze--nothing overbearing or assertive, which I appreciated. I was going to buy just a small bag, but then the woman at the table told me a story about someone who didn't even like chocolate, baking a cake with wei of chocolate and loving it. When I remembered the Stop the Traffik challenge that R Khooks was sponsoring, baking with wei of chocolate became a mission, and I made sure to buy enough to make one of my favorite recipes.
The wei of chocolate table at the Public Market. "Naturally steeped in antioxidants, luscious pieces of dark chocolate fuse the flavors and benefits of organic herbs and spices to embrace the true nature of wu wei or effortless action."
Later that morning, I went to AJ's Fine Foods to support the Empty Bowls event to benefit Waste Not. Curious, I ventured into the store to look at their chocolate inventory. The baking section offered plenty of popular and high-end chocolates, and the regular candy bar aisle offered even more, but the only fair trade bars were the GAIA Organic Milk Chocolate bar from The San Francisco Chocolate Factory and the Maya Gold bar Green & Black's.
I'm not a huge fan of milk chocolate, and the Maya Gold's spiciness ruled it out for the recipe I wanted to make, so I was glad I'd picked up the wei of chocolate.
Love & Lavender: An almost-flourless chocolate cake recipe for just a few people, with lower-carb, lower-sugar substitutions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Unwrap your chocolates for the cakes. Unwrap a chocolate for you--you should know what your ingredients taste like, after all.
Add 1/2 stick butter or 4 Tb Smart Balance. It's the difference between right and riiiiight. Melt 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave, stir, cool a bit ... smell ... mmm ...
Whisk together 1 egg, 3/8 cup fine sugar (baker's sugar/sugar whirled around in the food processor for a bit) or Splenda, and 1-1/2 Tb flour or organic whole grain pastry flour.
Add 1 tsp ground lavender flower buds to the egg mixture. Even thought the daily love chocolate seemed to have its own floral scent, I wanted to bring a little more into it--sort of like a few sparks of light in the dark.
Combine your melted chocolate with the egg mixture. Smell this, too ... mmm ...
Set three ramekins in baking pan or on baking sheet, and portion out your batter. The cakes will rise a little while baking, and it's pretty rich, so I don't pour much in.
Bake in the middle of the oven until the tops puff and crack, about 20 minutes. Cool just a little.
Garnish with something healthy, like fruit, nuts, or a somewhat frantic dollop of whipped cream and some lavender buds. If you're not a hasty pudding-head like me, you'll remember that the chocolate mint plant you bought at the market last week will make for an even more fabulous garnish. Oy.
Crispy top, soft center, hot, chocolate, moist, rich, scent of lavender, chewy middle ... another bite ...
A little about Stop the Traffik
One of Stop the Traffik's key campaigns against people trafficking is the Chocolate Campaign, a directive to raise awareness of how children are traffiked into slave labor to harvest cocoa beans that eventually become chocolate. An estimated 12,000 children have been trafficked into cocoa farms in Cote D'Ivoire, formerly known as the Ivory Coast, which is a county in west Africa that provides nearly half the world's chocolate. Stop the Traffik offers a list of other "traffik-free" chocolates.
A little about Fair Trade
Fair Trade products come from Fair Trade-Certified farms that are audited to ensure they maintain the basic fair trade principles, which include fair prices for farmers who often see little of the total profit that their produce brings in; fair labor conditions, which allow for what should be basic, guaranteed workers' rights, such as safe working conditions and fair wages, and which prohibits forced child labor; direct trade, which eliminates unnecessary middlemen; democratic and transparent organizations, which guarantees that fair trade farmers and farm workers can democratically decide on how to invest revenues; community development, which allows fair trade farmers and farm workers to invest in opportunities that further fair trade practices, such as scholarships and organic certification; and environmental sustainability, which takes steps to ensure that healthy ecosystems are maintained for future generations.