Friday, October 14
Today I have a Mexican brownies recipe for you. And it’s fair trade. And it’s delicious. Are you ready? Let’s go!
I love Mexican chocolate. I was first introduced to this wonderful flavor by my Mexican college roommate Estela. She brought me Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate tablets from home and I hoarded, um, I mean cherished them. (Okay, hoarded. I would not allow anyone to use that chocolate willy nilly!) Fast forward to today and basically if we go anywhere and anything is Mexican chocolate flavored, I order it. The hint of cinnamon and chile peppers paired with chocolate just makes me happy. (And it reminds me of Estela, too, which also makes me happy!)
Fair Trade USA approached me to help celebrate their Fair Moments campaign this month, which is all about showing how our small everyday decisions can have a huge impact, something I really believe. For the post I wanted to share a recipe that used lots of great fair trade ingredients, but for some reason I was having a hard time settling on something. Then, as I was sitting in my kitchen staring at a pile of fair trade goodies with the kids, discussing what we could make, Cate mentioned brownies. Then the cinnamon started chanting, “Abuelita, Abuelita, Abuelita” and I knew Mexican brownies had to happen. (Okay, maybe that last part didn’t happen, but whatever. Close enough.)
Brownies are one of our family’s favorites and probably the most frequently baked item around here, after chocolate chip cookies, of course. Anna and I decided to make the Mexican brownies together and had a great conversation about what fair trade means. We talked about which ingredients in the recipe were fair trade and about how they are ingredients we use all the time. It was really cool neat sharing this with my daughter and I was grateful I could show her how we actively support such a great cause day to day.
The best part was taste testing with Anna and my mom, trying to get the perfect amount of cayenne pepper and cinnamon in the brownies. In case you’re wondering, we succeeded. The brownies came out awesome and everyone in the family loved them (even my mom who was most certainly suspect when I used the words “cayenne” and “brownies” in the same sentence). The cinnamon and cayenne flavors come through but in a subtle way and without too much heat.
Before we get to the post, let’s do a Fair Trade giveaway! One lucky, randomly-selected winner will receive a package from Fair Trade USA with the following goodies:
- Wholesome Vanilla Frosting
- Cascadian Farm Organic Soft Baked Squares
- Marich Chocolates
- Mighty Leaf Tea
- Chuao Chocolates
- Honest Tea
- Larabar Chocolate Cherry Bites
- Frontier Natural Products Co-Op Cinnamon Sticks
- SunSpire Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
- Spectrum Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
- Arrowhead Mills Organic Coconut Flour
- Immaculate Baking Co.’s Organic Chocolate Chip Mix
- Lundberg Family Farms Organic Jasmine Rice
- High Brew Coffee Cold Brew
To enter this Fair Trade giveaway, please do the following:
- Leave a comment on this post! (Optional: Tell us your favorite fair trade ingredient that you use all the time!)
- Bonus entry: Like Fair Trade USA on Facebook! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
- Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
- Follow This Week for Dinner on Pinterest! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
- All comments must be posted by Midnight PT on October 31, 2016.
And now, the recipe! I basically just used Ruth Reichl’s “A Better Brownie” recipe, which is one of my most favorite brownies. The brownies come out super fudgy and rich with this amazing crusty top that is to die for. Click here for the original non-spicy version. If you want to try the spicy version, here you go!Mexican BrowniesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeThis is one of my favorite brownie recipes, originally written by Ruth Reichl. I've given the recipe a Mexican twist with sugar and spice and everything nice...and Fair Trade!Author: Ruth Reichl (with Jane Maynard adaptations)Serves: 16Ingredients
- 5 ounces unsalted high-fat butter (I use regular old salted butter!)
- 5 ounces unsweetened fair trade chocolate
- 2 teaspoons best-quality, fair trade vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons fair trade ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fair trade cayenne pepper
- 4 farm fresh organic eggs (Jane note: my eggs are not farm fresh, everything turns out fine!)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose white flour (spooned into a cup and leveled with a knife)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Butter a 9x9 or 8x8 square pan and line the pan with parchment paper. Butter the bottom and sides once again.
- Melt the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
- Beat the eggs and salt in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and beat on high for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has turned very light and thick. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating on low until just mixed.
- Gently stir in the flour until it just disappears.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350ºF. Bake for 40 minutes; the brownies will be quite fudgy and a toothpick should come out not quite clean. Cool on a rack.
- Lift the brownies out of the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper. Set on a cutting board and cut into pieces.
The little plates in this post are from Q Squared NYC, in case you need to buy them because they are the CUTEST.
Thursday, October 1
It’s October, which means many things. Halloween. Pumpkins. Apple picking. And Fair Trade Month!
I absolutely LOVE working with the folks at Fair Trade USA and I am so happy to help them celebrate Fair Trade Month once again! Today we have a Ugandan farmer’s story to share, a giveaway and a FANTASTIC recipe, one that I’ve been meaning to share with you for years. I also have a super simple request, which I’ll get to when we start talking about the giveaway. Are you ready? Let’s go!
I have always loved the opportunities that Fair Trade provides for farmers, but after visiting Malawi earlier this year, it holds an even stronger hold on my heart. Fair Trade works with farmers in Malawi and I love knowing that the good people of that country are benefiting from what Fair Trade has to offer. One of my biggest takeaways from that trip was that we need to find sustainable ways to help people and advance development. Fair Trade is one of the tools that can help us do just that.
Click on the infographic above to zoom in.
The Fair Trade farmer I would like to share with you today is Chelimo Annet, an inspirational coffee farmer & member of the Coffee A Cup Cooperative Society in Uganda. Chelimo has been farming coffee since 1994 and has 500 coffee trees. She supplements her income by growing bananas & eggplant.
Chelimo says that one of the primary benefits of being in a Fair Trade cooperative is that she is able to get coffee seedlings. Some of her trees are very old and don’t yield as much coffee as they used to, so raising young coffee trees is important. Another big benefit has been the additional income she receives for her coffee, which has enabled her 6 children to attend school. EVERY SINGLE PERSON I met in Africa used increased income to send their children to school before anything else. Participating in Fair Trade co-ops gives people the chance to give their children the one thing they want more than anything else – an education. It’s powerful stuff. When I read how she was able to send her children to school, oh man, my heart.
Now that we’ve met Chelimo,
I think it’s time for a giveaway! Fair Trade would like to share some of the fruits of their farmers’ labors with you! Today one lucky commenter will get a package of wonderful Fair Trade goodies, including products from:
- Cascadian Farm
- Lake Champlain Chocolates
- Numi Organic Tea
- Frontier Natural Products Co-Op
- Barefoot & Chocolate
- Alter Eco
- Pura Vida by S&D Coffee
- Spectrum Essentials
To enter the giveaway, please do the following by Midnight, PT on October 31, 2015 (prize must be shipped within the U.S.): Leave a comment on this post! Easy peasy! Bonus Entry: Please pretty please repin this pin by clicking here. Be sure to leave a separate comment on this post letting us know you did! My recipe is part of a Fair Trade USA recipe rally and the two recipes with the most repins on the Fair Trade pin board will earn the winning bloggers a trip to visit Fair Trade farms in the Dominican Republic. Honestly, I would write about Fair Trade no matter what and it’s totally fine if I don’t win, but it would be fun! 😉 Bonus Entry: Like Fair Trade USA on Facebook and leave a separate comment letting us know you did!
This giveaway is now closed. Comment #26 Kim was the randomly-selected winner. Congrats, Kim!
Last but not least, today’s recipe. I have been making these Mini Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes since long before the blog existed. It was sort of my crowning glory recipe. I found it in the Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, a cookbook I received as a wedding gift. I’ve had it on my “blog post topics to write about” list for years because these little cakes deserve a big blog post. I was actually having a hard time figuring out what recipe I wanted to make with the Fair Trade goodies I received and then it hit me: lava cakes! What better way to use a bag of fair trade chocolate chips than to create molten lava chocolate. NONE, I tell you.
This chocolate lava cake is the real deal. No cheating by putting a piece of candy in the middle. No chocolate chips mixed in the dough to make it seem gooey. This cake is naturally volcanic and wonderful and rich and chocolatey and gourmet and wonderful. The cakes are not hard to make, I promise. I mean, you are gonna get a few dishes dirty and figuring out when to take them out of the oven is tricky, but the recipe is straightforward and uses ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen. And you have the chance to use several fair trade ingredients, from chocolate chips to cocoa to vanilla, all common fair trade products.
That’s it for today! An awesome fair trade farmer, a delicious giveaway, and one of my favorite recipes EVER. Happy Fair Trade Month! And good luck on the giveaway!Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes (a.k.a. Chocolate Lava Cakes)Prep timeCook timeTotal timeAdapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking BookAuthor: Jane MaynardServes: 9Ingredients
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1¼ cup good quality semisweet chocolate chips (you can use bittersweet, too, but it will be CRAZY rich)
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup flour
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over medium-low heat. Once melted, set aside to cool.
- Add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl. Beat on high with a stand mixer or hand mixer for 5 minutes. Mixture should be pale yellow and thickened.
- While eggs are mixing, grease 9 5-oz. ramekins then coat with granulated sugar. Set aside.
- Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat on medium speed until just mixed, about 30 seconds total.
- Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt into the bowl. Beat on low speed, just until blended, about 15 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula and give it one more quick stir by hand.
- Spoon batter into prepared dishes, dividing evenly. Ramekins should be about ⅔ full.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes, until the cakes have risen slightly, feel firm at the edges and are softer in the center when pressed gently with your finger. The hardest part of this recipe is taking the cakes out at the right moment! Too soon and there is too much lava, too late and there is no lava. The cakes will have risen about a ¼ inch and look cooked on the top surface. The center should feel softer than the edges and be a dimple. Rest assured these cakes are still gooey goodness even if you pass the lava stage, so don't stress.
- Cool in dishes for 5 minutes, then, using pot holders, invert each cake onto a serving plate. Cool 15 minutes before serving. I personally just keep the lava cakes in the ramekins - I think it's prettier this way, it's easier, and it's just as delicious!
- Optional: serve sprinkled with sifted powdered sugar and chocolate spirals and raspberries. I never do this. I just care about eating the cake as quickly as possible.