18 October, 2015

Sweeten your day – thank a cocoa farmer

Divine Chocolate Praline Cupcakes
by Liz Miller of Divine Chocolate

It’s National Chocolate Cupcake Day! Crazy to think that there is a whole day dedicated to one particular type of dessert, but there you go. This year, we celebrate with Divine Chocolate and the cocoa farmers of Ghana who co-own the Fairtrade chocolate company.

Divine Chocolate sources all of its cocoa from the 85,000+ cocoa farmers of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana. Not only does Kuapa Kokoo supply this cocoa, but they co-own Divine Chocolate itself, giving them a share in the profits and a say in the global marketplace. 

About Kuapa Kokoo

The small-scale farmers' cooperative initially set up its own company to buy its cocoa and sell it to the Government Cocoa Buying Board. They named it "Kuapa Kokoo" which in Twi, the local language, means "Good Cocoa Farmers Company". Their motto is "Pa Pa Paa" which means "the best of the best.” In 1997, the members of Kuapa Kokoo voted to invest in a chocolate bar of their own: Divine Chocolate.  

Fairtrade is important to the members of the cooperative because the certification system has helped put in place tools and standards that improve the lives of cocoa farmers. These improvements include:

  • An accurate recording system: Kuapa has a strong reputation for using accurate weighing scales and using scales that are understood by illiterate farmers. The farmers are encouraged to check the scales against things of a known weight. Kuapa has commissioned the production of a "weight stone," equivalent to a full, single sack of cocoa which operations staff members use to carry out official random checks to ensure the village recorder is using accurate scales.
  • Gender empowerment: Kuapa aims to enhance the active and effective participation of women in decision making throughout the organization. Measures have been introduced to ensure that a minimum number of members of the various councils and committees are women. Over time this has ensured women have more influence and make more contributions to the organization. 
  • Guaranteed minimum price: Providing that they meet internationally audited standards such as minimum health and safety conditions and an infrastructure for democracy and equal representation, the producers receive a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price for their goods and the security of long-term trading contracts. 
  • Fairtrade social premium projects: As part of the Fairtrade standards, the cooperative must develop a plan for the spending of the premium, and different projects can be voted on democratically.  As such, Kuapa Kokoo has the ability to receive input from its 85,000+ members and allow them to each have a say in where the money is needed most in their communities. 

Fairtrade Premiums, the extra sum paid to the cooperative, have been invested in schools built in local farming villages, women's training programs that focus on literacy and numeracy, a bicycle program that enables children to get to and from school more quickly, clean water projects and a radio program which gives farmers access to information and resources. 

You can celebrate National Chocolate Cupcake Day with Kuapa Kokoo too! Keep reading for a simply, well, divine recipe to make at home.

Praline Chocolate Cupcakes

These sweet praline chocolate cupcakes have just the right balance of texture, making them flavorful and a joy to savor.

Ingredients 

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Wholesome! Fairtrade Organic Sugar
  • 2 cage-free organic eggs
  • 1/3 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup Divine Chocolate Cocoa Powder

Praline Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Wholesome! Fairtrade Organic Sugar
  • 8 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted

Icing Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup Divine Milk Chocolate or 70% Dark Chocolate
  • 3 tbsp organic milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup Wholesome! Fairtrade Organic Powdered Sugar, sifted

Directions

To make cupcakes:  Place all the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat well until smooth. Divide the mixture between 18 cupcake pans lined with paper cups. Fill them no more than 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 375°F until risen and firm. Leave to cool.

To make the praline, heat the organic sugar and water in a small pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the almonds. Bring to a boil. Boil until the syrup turns into a golden caramel. Pour onto an oiled baking sheet and leave to cool and harden.

To make the icing, heat the chocolate and milk in a pan over a low heat, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Then stir in the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the organic powdered sugar until smooth. Spoon the hot icing over the cakes. Place the praline in a plastic bag and beat with a rolling pin until finely crushed. Sprinkle over the icing before it sets and leave to set.

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