Making Thanksgiving Desserts Fair Trade

Every year for Thanksgiving, my husband makes two desserts from scratch that he brings to the family Thanksgiving feast.  Fortunately, because he has been brought up to speed on the impact of his purchasing Fair Trade products, he didn’t blink at all at my suggestion he swap some of his standard ingredient purchases for Fair Trade food items.  One dessert was a White and Dark Chocolate Ice Box Cake (including Green & Black’s Organic White Chocolate and 72% Dark Baking Chocolate).  But here, I’d like to share his other creation.

Espresso-Chocolate Speckle Angel Food Cake

Espresso-Chocolate Speckle Angel Food Cake


1 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (he used Woodstock’s Organic Powdered Sugar)
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
12 large egg whites
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar (he used Wholesome Sweeteners Organic & Fair Trade Sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (he used Frontier Vanilla Flavor)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (unfortunately, we could not find any Fair Trade instant varieties!)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (he used Divine 85% Dark Chocolate), grated on the fine holes of a hand grater, or in a rotary grater
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted as a chocolate drizzle (again, Divine Chocolate)

STEP ONE:  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray (notice we used a cake pan with a cathedral design).

STEP TWO:  Sift the cake flour and confectioners’ sugar together onto a piece of waxed paper three times; set aside.

STEP THREE:  In the 4 and 1/2 quart bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, using the wire whip attachment, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat at high speed, adding the sugar gradually, until the whites are glossy and stiff, but not dry.  Add the vanilla and espresso powder and continue mixing until just incorporated.  Scrape the mixture into a large bowl.

STEP FOUR:  In three batches, resift the flour/sugar mixture over the whites and gently fold in with a large rubber spatula until just combined.  Gently fold in the grated chocolate until combined.  Scrape the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan.  Using a knife, loosen the cake form the pan.  Let sit on a cake rack for 5 minutes and invert onto another cake rack.  Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

STEP FIVE:  To garnish the cake, dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle the glaze over the top and sides of the cake.

STEP SIX:  Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

“Go Bananas for Fair Trade” Event

On October 9 and 10, we held our “Go Bananas for Fair Trade” event on our campus. On Tuesday and Wednesday we gave out Equal Exchange Fair Trade bananas in front of the Lion statue. with the help of Professor Olear’s BA 100 (Introduction to Business) students. After two days of standing in the rain we gave out all 611 of our bananas. Thanks to the Fair Trade Town committee in Media who assisted us with securing the donation of all of the bananas.

On Thursday and Friday of the same week, the staff in the cafeteria baked up some delicious Fair Trade banana pancakes and muffin specials, and sold 55 of them. We have submitted our numbers in Fair Trade Towns USA, and are now waiting to see if we won the”Go Bananas for Fair Trade” challenge. If we win, Penn State Brandywine can select to receive free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for a year! So keep your fingers crossed for us.

Here is a picture of our beautiful setup for the banana hand out.

And here are our two awesome banana suits that worked really hard to give out bananas.

Contributed by Louis Donaghue, Fair Trade Intern

How to host a “Go Bananas for Fair Trade” event on a college campus

The “Go Bananas for Fair Trade” event at Penn State Brandywine, a nationwide campaign organized by Fair Trade Towns USA, was a huge success! As we continue on our journey as a Fair Trade University, we continue to work this fall semester toward raising awareness of the Fair Trade movement on campus, specifically with the first-year students, staff and faculty. On October 9-10, 2012, we hosted an event where campus and community members could come to campus and receive a FREE Fair Trade banana, information about the different Fair Trade labels, and take a Fair Trade banana quiz on an iPad. Be sure to read about the lead up to our event and the resulting success! We hope that our experience can help other campuses learn how to best host a Fair Trade banana event!

Go Bananas for Fair Trade 2012

For starters, we consulted the Go Bananas website and found their Resources page for setting up a banana event. This was very helpful! But there were some other considerations we had to make, especially doing this event on a college campus.

Go Bananas for Fair Trade 2012

Here are a few of the important lessons we learned about “Going Bananas” on campus:

  1. Get permission first! We CANNOT stress this enough!  Our campus has rules with regards to food and food service on campus, and we are sure yours does as well.  Some schools may require that all food be ordered and/or served through your dining services on campus.  We received permission from the business office on campus to obtain the Fair Trade bananas from off campus and to distribute them.
  2. Get the word out. As the Go Bananas campaign ran the first two weeks of October, this was far enough into the fall semester so we were not still trying to get the semester under way.  We used our campus’s social media sites our own social media sites, as well as the template from the Go Bananas website to create 11×17 inch posters with the banana logo/template.  Our local town’s Fair Trade committee was kind enough to include us in an announcement sent to our local paper.  It worked!  In a two-day period, we were able to distribute all of our bananas.
  3. Consider running the event for more than one day. We scheduled the event over two days, as we are a commuter campus and some of our students are only on campus Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays, while other students are only on campus Tuesdays/Thursdays. By having the event over two days, we were able to reach as many student across our campus population as possible.
  4. Expand your volunteer base – connect with a faculty member/course. Early in the semester, we had a faculty member that teachers Introduction to Business ask if her students could help out with the Go Bananas event.  This was a first for the Fair Trade TrailBlazers, having a faculty member be proactive in contacting us and getting her students involved.  We decided that after we secured the bananas, we would let the business students RUN the event!  This was a great opportunity for us to spread the Fair Trade message to 40 first-semester freshmen in the course and to grow our volunteer base.  These students have been asking more and more questions about Fair Trade, and we bet we are going to see them at our future events!
  5. Purchase more bananas than you think you will need. We actually ran out of bananas before the second day of the event was complete.  Our original plan was to just distribute one banana per student/staff/faculty member, but we couldn’t say “no” to the handful of students that asked for bananas and flyers to provide to family members (again, we are a commuter campus where most of our students still live with their families).  This provided us an opportunity to spread the “fair trade” message beyond campus!
  6. Think about jazzing up your bananas with additional ingredients. We wanted to do chocolate-covered bananas, but we couldn’t figure out how to have warm, melted Fair Trade chocolate in the location we were doing the event for people to dunk their bananas in.  We saw some photos online of other universities doing some innovative slicing of bananas and pouring chocolate and sprinkles on top – what fun!  We think taking our event to the next level with more “trimmings” next time will bring a new twist for us the next time, to bring more people back for more bananas.
  7. Choose a good time, overlap with the breakfast/lunch hours. We set our event at 10AM to 1PM both days, so that people could grab a banana between our morning classes and when they arrived on campus.  Don’t be concerned if you don’t have a large group right when you begin, as people will filter in during the event – most likely, as we say, different students in the morning than over the lunch hour.
  8. Choose a good location on campus.  Typically, most groups on our campus set up tables to promote events right outside the doors of the building that has our cafeteria and athletic center.  We decided to set up outdoors in the center of campus, right next to our Lion Shrine statue.  This allowed us to be visible as students left most of our academic buildings between classes, and we could “spread out” and direct people walking on sidewalks to walk over to our display to grab a banana.  We certainly feel that location, location, location really mattered!
  9. Have a backup plan for bad weather.  We booked an indoor location to give out the bananas, in case of really bad weather.  Well, it actually ended up raining BOTH days of our event, but a little wet weather kept us outside and our energy was not dampened – we still had a successful event!  The only part we were disappointed with was that because of the rain, not many students stayed by our tables outside to eat their banana, they went inside instead.
  10. Have a banana costume (or two). We had two banana costumes (Halloween costumes) available for students to wear.  At first, we were not sure if anyone would wear the costume, but then it turned out we had more students that wanted to wear the costumes than we could manage!  Having very energetic students willing to go around campus in the costumes really helped pull people over to our tables and added alot of fun to the activity.  We were a popular spot for photos!
  11. Include an education component. We gave out a half-page flyer with every banana that provided some websites that talked about Fair Trade bananas and a list of where Fair Trade bananas can be purchased locally.  We also included an information table (pictured below) with samples of products and another handout listing the different Fair Trade certification labels and describing what these labels mean.  We even created a banana quiz for people to take on the iPad, which provided a fun way to bring technology and an interactive activity to the event.
  12. Include an advocacy component. Our original plan was to have a petition for our students to sign to get our campus dining services to serve Fair Trade bananas – but, as it turned out, they started serving Fair Trade bananas the week we had our event.  We’re thrilled that they are STILL serving Fair Trade bananas, and we hope this lasts the entire academic year.
  13. Be environmentally responsible – compost those banana peels.  We checked with the head of our campus landscaping, and it turns out he has two compost piles on campus.  He was more than willing to provide a wheel barrel for us to collect the banana peels so he could compost them (see photo).  This was a nice addition to our event and our campus environmental mission.
  14. Take lots of photos, and share the results. We took pictures and tweeted them during the event and posted a collection of photos in our flickr account after the banana event.  It’s a great way to document what we did and to share the results with others.  We hope the conversation continues and people are inspired to try their own event after seeing and reading what we did!

Go Bananas for Fair Trade 2012

Go Bananas for Fair Trade 2012

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

Fair Trade Ingredients Creme Brulee

As promised at the start of summer, we made Fair Trade Ingredient Creme Brulee!

For this recipe I made 4 ramekins of creme brulee.


  • 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks

I have used a few creme brulee recipes in the past, and have made up my own way of concocting creme brulee as I work with a temperamental oven. If your oven behaves itself, then check out this recipe for better cooking directions.

As the recipe above suggested, I added the yolks and the sugar together. However, I like to do things a little bit differently when adding the vanilla. I put 1/4 of the vanilla in with the egg and sugar mixture, and 1/4 in with the heavy whipping cream while bringing it to a broil. I started doing that for the Vegan Chai Cupcakes to enhance the flavor of the Vanilla Soy Milk I use, and it’s a habit that I’ve held onto, though it is not necessary for the creme brulee recipe. I stirred the sugar, vanilla, and yolks together until it was creamy and appeared a little bit darker in color (a darker orange).

After the egg mixture was taken care of, I poured the heavy cream into a small saucepan (though if you are making more creme brulee I would suggest a medium sauce pan) and stirred it continuously for 3-4 minutes. I took the cream off of the stove just before it began to broil. I then poured the cream into the egg mixture a little bit at a time, stirring it together as I did so.

I then put the ramekins into a roasting pan and filled the pan with water. The water should go halfway up the sides of the ramekins, and this ensures that the creme cooks evenly. I cooked the creme at about 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Most recipes I have seen suggest cooking creme brulee anywhere from 250-350 degrees for 25-45 minutes. Depending on your kind of oven. the temperature and time may vary, though I would suggest about 300-325 degrees for 30-40 minutes. The general rule of thumb is to make sure that creme is set and firm. I will usually slide the roasting pan out and gently poke the creme with a spoon to see if it’s ready. A little bit of wiggle in the center of the creme is okay, as the creme will continue to firm up when you put it in the refrigerator, but you don’t want a lot of wiggle.

After the creme brulee has finished cooking, take it out of the oven and let it sit in the bath and cool for 30 minutes or so. Once the 30 minutes are up, wrap the ramekins up in cling wrap and put them in the fridge. I like to give the creme four hours or so to finish firming up, though four hours isn’t a requirement. The recipe I listed above says two hours, and that works as well.

When you are ready to torch the creme, spread a thin layer of sugar over top of the creme. I use a cooking torch to melt the sugar, and I make sure to keep the flame moving. Don’t let it hover over one area of sugar too long, as it melts and burns quickly.

For our Fair Trade Ingredients, I used my favorite Wholesome Sweetener Organic Fair Trade Sugar and Frontier’s Organic Fair Trade Vanilla Extract .

Because Wholesome Sweetener’s Organic Fair Trade Sugar is a little bit coarse, I put the 1 1/4 cups into a food blender to make it finer.


My brother kindly showing off the creme brulee!


The finished product!

-Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

A Call To Arms (Or Spatulas): Fair Trade Media Cook-Off

On July 14 the town of Media will be having its “Knock Their Block Off” Fair Trade cooking competition, and Penn State Brandywine is pleased to say that it will be participating. Registration opens up on July 7, and runs until July 11. I, Sarah DeMartino, the infamous Fair Trade Vegan-Chai Cupcake Chef and TrailBlazer, will be participating and representing my Penn State Brandywine community!  I am eager to share my recipe and see what other fabulous entries are submitted!

The event is hosted by Ten Thousand Villages in Media, and all entries must be submitted to the store between noon and 2 p.m. Judging will start at 2 p.m. and end at 5 p.m. Winners will be announced the following day, July 15, on Facebook and in the store, so you don’t need to be at the store in order to win.

Each entry must include at least 2 Fair Trade ingredients, recipes must be typed up, and only non-alcoholic drinks can be submitted. All entries must be labeled with your name!

So, I encourage people to take up their cooking utensils and cook for Fair Trade! I look forward to seeing what other people prepare and good luck to everyone!

-Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, First Fair Trade Intern

Fair Trade Ingredients Vegan Chai Cupcakes

A friend of mine made wonderful vegan chai cupcakes for me a few months ago, and I couldn’t get enough of them! So I finally decided to satiate my craving and make my own vegan chai cupcakes, only this time they would have Fair Trade ingredients! The cupcakes almost taste almost like carrot cake, but they have a bit of a spicy kick. These cupcakes do take some time to prepare (an hour and a half or so), but if you have the time, I definitely recommend trying them out!

This is a link to the recipe I used:

My journey to make the best Fair Trade ingredient cupcakes took me to the Wegmans in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Most of the Fair Trade items I bought were in the organic and special food aisle. Divine Chocolate, Honest Tea, Wholesome Sweetners, and a handful of other Fair Trade brands can be found in this aisle. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is with the regular ice creams, however (Cherry Garcia being my forever favorite).

Anyway, back to the cupcakes. I substituted in Fair Trade ingredients where I could. For sugar, I used Wholesome Sweetners Organic sugar (and where the recipe calls for confectioners’ sugar, I put the Wholesome Sweetners sugar through a food grinder to make it finer). I also used Zhena’s Gypsytea Fair Trade Vanilla Chai tea blend for the batter. You don’t have to use the vanilla flavor; they also offer hazelnut and a spicier chai if you so desire. I was unable to find Fair Trade vanilla, however. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Wegmans does not stock Fair Trade vanilla, it just means I couldn’t find it.

I used the applesauce instead of eggs, as the recipe suggests for the vegan option, and I couldn’t tell the difference. Applesauce gives the recipe a bit more flavor, in my opinion, as cinnamon and apples go together like a hot day and lemonade. I also used vanilla soy milk (to go with the vanilla chai), and used margarine for the icing instead of butter. For an extra zing, I added a pinch more cinnamon than the recipe suggested. I like my cupcakes with a bit of a kick to them!

I highly recommend this recipe! It was not difficult at all to follow and very simple (and I am not the most experienced baker).

Next up on my Fair Trade cooking recipe list…Fair Trade ingredient Crème Brulee! Let’s see if I can locate some Fair Trade Vanilla first…Wholefoods anyone?

Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

More on those Fair Trade chocolate chip brownies…

Wondering how to make your own Fair Trade chocolate chip brownies?  Of course, we could have the argument that they are not truly Fair Trade brownies, only made with some Fair Trade ingredients… but how about we just celebrate that these ingredients are available not far from the campus!  I followed the standard chocolate chip brownie recipe that you would find on the back of the bag of chocolate chips.  Some bags only have a cookie recipe, so you can make a thick pan cookie.  I spread the dough in a 7×11 glass pan and cut 12 brownies.

I was able to visit the ACME in Broomall to get Sunspire Fair Trade/Organic chocolate chips.  The Giant on Sproul Road in Springfield yielded the Frontier vanilla and Wholesome Sweeteners sugar and light brown sugar.  Yum!

Fair Trade chocolate chip brownie!

Don’t forget that you can visit our map where we continue to add stores that sell Fair Trade food items available within an approximate 60-mile radius of campus.

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin