BANANA COCONUT CHOCOLATE ALMOND BREAD

While many of you are safely inside your home keeping warm and staying far away from the snow. What better way to spend your down time then making some delicious banana coconut chocolate almond bread. The recipe comes from Fair Trade USA who retrieved it from Barefoot & Chocolate.

Banana Coconut Chocolate Almond Bread made with Fair Trade Certified Ingredients

Ingredients:

Preparation Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Mash up the bananas with a fork in a large mixing bowl.  Add the egg, sugar, vanilla, salt, butter, shredded coconut, and almonds. Blend until well mixed.  In a separate bowl mix the flour and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture into the wet mixture in a few batches and mix until well blended.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the sides and bottom of a standard 4X8 bread pan. I like to leave the paper a little long so there is paper draping over the edges of the pan. This allows you to simply lift the loaf out of the pan once its cooled. Fit the parchment paper into the bread pan, creasing the paper to align with the seams of the pan. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan, lightly dust with flour. Pour in all the batter.  Dollop Almond-Coconut Chocolate Spread along the top of the loaf. Use a skewer to swirl the spread into the banana bread mixture until the spread is mostly covered by the batter.

Place the bread into the center of the oven. Bake for approximately 1 hour at 350F. Test the bread to ensure doneness by inserting a clean knife into the center. Keep in mind it will continue to cook bit after you take it out of the oven.

Enjoy!

Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Cacao & Blueberry Oatmeal

In Punxsutawney, PA Groundhog Phil saw his shadow earlier today on February 2, 2014. According to legend, there are six more week of winter ahead this year. Unfortunately, this forecast is not surprising, but I believe anyone living one the east coast would agree that we would prefer spring to come sooner rather than later. Although, more snow is on its way tomorrow I have a simply recipe courtesy of Fair Trade USA that should make your mornings a lot better.

Makes 4 servings
Cooking + Preparation time: 12-15 minutes

4 cups of water
2 cups of rolled oats
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of Fair Trade Certified Casacao Cacao Powder 
½ cup of blueberries
½ teaspoon of Fair Trade Certified ground cinnamon
Almond, soy, rice, or regular milk (optional)

1. Combine water, oatmeal, and salt in a saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil; then lower heat and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until water has been reduced, or oatmeal has been cooked to the consistency of your liking (about 7-8 minutes).

3.Take oatmeal off the heat and stir in Casacao Cacao Powder (a little goes a long way!).

(Add the optional Soy, rice, almond milk)

4.Serve oatmeal in a bowl and add the blueberries and sprinkle ground cinnamon (equal parts per serving).

Add or substitute with other great fruits, such as bananas and strawberries for variety.

Enjoy!!

Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Fair Trade Plum Tart

After successfully making a fair trade blueberry pie, I decided to try another fair trade dessert, once again using a recipe from my favorite cookbook Simply in Season.  The plum tart recipe (on page 157) was in the summer section, and appeared to be relatively easy, so I decided to try making it.

The recipe calls for:

Tart crust

(Optional) 1 tablespoon of tapioca (I did not use any tapioca)

“Small blue plums” (The recipe referred to them simply as “small blue plums;” I assume it refers to damson plums, however, if you know of another variety of plum that fits that description, please share in the comments section.)

3/4 cup of sugar

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

For the tart crust, I used the Shortbread Tart Crust recipe (on page 335):

1 cup of flour (up to 1/3 a cup of whole wheat pastry flour can be used; I decided to use 1/2 a cup of flour and 1/2 a cup of whole wheat pastry flour)

1/3 a cup of butter

2 tablespoons of powdered sugar

In order to create a fair trade plum tart, I used fair trade sugar and fair trade powdered sugar.  I also used a rather special ground cinnamon; more information about this cinnamon can be found here.

Fair trade SucanatePowdered Sugar

First, the oven needs to be preheated to 350 degrees F.  The shortbread tart crust recipe was surprising simple.  The 3 ingredients (flour, butter, and powdered sugar) are mixed together in a bowl “…until crumbly, with no pieces bigger than a pea,” (Simply In Season, p. 335).  The mixture is than pressed into a 9 inch pie pan.

Once the mixture was pressed into a pan, I started the filling.  Although the recipe calls for small blue plums, I was unable to find any damson plums, and when I went to Linvilla I was told that they are not yet in season.  Instead, while I was at Linvilla, I purchased Shiro sugar plums and another type of plum.  I plan on making the tart again later this month when the damson plums are ripe.

Shiro Sugar Plums are the yellow plums on the left

Shiro Sugar Plums are the yellow plums on the left

To prepare the plums, the stems need to be removed.  Next, the plums need to be cut in half and have their pit removed.  Once the plums are prepared, they need to be placed in the tart crust “…cut side up, making slightly overlapping concentric circles starting at the outside,” (Simply In Season, p. 157).

Next, the sugar and cinnamon need to be mixed together,  This mixture is then poured over the plums.

unbaked plum tart

The tart can then be placed in the oven to bake for 45 minutes.  As tempting as it is to start eating the tart as soon as it comes out of the oven, it really needs to cool a bit before it can be sliced.

plum tartI enjoyed the fair trade plum tart (although I preferred the fair trade blueberry pie).  I thought the tart crust was excellent, and very simple to make.  In my opinion, the Shiro Sugar Plums were more suitable for the tart then the more traditional plums, and next time I would like to try making it using the damson plums called for in the recipe.

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper

Fair Trade Blueberry Pie

I recently baked a fair trade blueberry pie; I used a recipe from my favorite cookbook, Simply in Season.  Simply in Season is organized, as its name suggests, around the seasons, with recipes focusing on foods that are “in season” for that particular time of year.  In the summer section I found a recipe for blueberry pie under the label Fresh Fruit Pie (on page 160).  There were several different pie options, but I chose blueberry 1) because I like blueberry pie and 2) because I had a ton of blueberries.

The recipe calls for:

3 cups of blueberries

2/3 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of tapioca (I used corn syrup because that is what I had)

(Note: The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of rhubarb, but I am not a fan of rhubarb in pies, so I did not include any.  I did, however, substitute 1/2 cup of blueberries in place of the rhubarb.)

I also decided to make homemade pie crust for the pie, which can be found in Simply in Season on page 334 in the All Seasons section.

The pie crust recipe calls for:

1 slightly beaten egg

5 tablespoons of cold water

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

2 cups of flour

1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup of chilled butter

1 teaspoon of salt

To make the pie fair trade, I used fair trade sugar (you can see the fair trade logo on the Organic Sucanat).

pie_crust_ingredients

I started the pie crust before the pie’s filling because the crust needs to be chilled between 20 and 30 minutes before it can be rolled and baked.

First, the egg, cold water, and apple cider vinegar need to be combined in a bowl and than set aside.

Second, the flour, whole wheat pastry flour, butter, and salt need to be cut together; the cookbook recommended using a pastry blender.  I just used a butter knife and my hands because I do not own a pastry blender, and this worked fine for me.  According to Simply In Season, “Quickly cut together with a pastry blender until chunks of butter are nearly pea-sized,” (p. 334).  It is important to be fairly quick, because it is important that the butter does not become too warm.

Thirdly, the wet ingredients need to be mixed into the dry ingredients using a fork; the ingredients should form a dough ball.  The cookbook suggested cutting the dough ball into 3 pieces; I cut the dough into two pieces.  The dough is then chilled for 20-30 minutes ( I chilled my dough for 30 minutes).

pie_dough_ball

While the dough chilled I prepped the blueberries.  This involved rinsing and sorting and took more time than I had initially anticipated.  This is also a good time to preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

blueberries

Once the blueberries were prepped it was time to take the dough out of the refrigerator.  The two dough balls were rolled flat (using a rolling pin and a dusting of flour on wax paper) for a roughly 9 inch pan.

rolling_pie_crust

To move the flattened dough, “Fold carefully in half, then in half again, and place point of crust in center of pie plate, opening crust to fill pan,” (Simply In Season, p. 334).  Once in the pan, the crust needs to be trimmed with a knife to fit the pan.  Also, sprinkle a dash of sugar on the the crust that rests in the bottom of the pan.

pie_crust_in_pan

Once the pie crusts are prepared, the filling needs to be started so the pie can be placed in the preheated oven.  The sugar, corn syrup, and blueberries need to be mixed; I did this by hand in an effort to mix the ingredients thoroughly while avoiding damaging the blueberries.

Once the filling is mixed, it can be poured/scooped into the pie crust.

Once the filling is in the pan, the second pie crust can be moved (in the same way as the first one) and placed on top of the filling.  Like the first crust, it should be trimmed to fit the pan.

Using a fork, press the outer rims of the pie crusts together and cut vent holes in the top.

The pie should be placed in the oven at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.

The oven’s heat should be reduced to 350 degrees F and the pie should bake for another 25-30 minutes.

blueberry_pieA picture of the finished product; it tasted great, despite (or perhaps because of) the amount of liquid in the center.

blueberry_pie_slice

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper