Feature

Decadent Fair Trade Chocolate Cake

With a whisky and vanilla syrup, chocolate buttercream filling and dark chocolate ganache glaze.

Stop! Don't lick the screen!

Credit: The Forest Cantina

Clean plates guaranteed.

Credit: The Forest Cantina

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I first made this chocolate cake in 2013 for the Fair Trade New Zealand big fair bake competition - which I won! That was pretty exciting. I am passionate about supporting Fair Trade from clothing to food products to toys. I believe in paying people in developing countries fairly. I think sometimes we can be disconnected about where our food comes from, especially things now grown in our own countries. I think it's important to take responsibility for ensuring people around the world get paid fairly for the produce we buy, and to treat people with the respect they deserve.

I used Fair Trade sugar, cocoa and chocolate in this cake. I also used a wonderful locally made chocolate from the New Zealand Wellington Chocolate Company, which is fair trade and organic. Click here for the Australian guide to Fair Trade Chocolate or check out the Australian Fairtrade Guide

So heavenly! I have since improved the recipe, here it is below...

For the cake
1 Tbsp instant fair trade coffee granules (or fair trade espresso coffee of your choice)
¾ cup water
2 cups fair trade un-refined organic sugar
1¾ cups plain flour
¾ cup fair trade organic cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla paste
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 free range eggs
1¼ cups milk
½ cup butter, melted

To serve:
Wild blackberries
Chocolate pearls
Editable gold leaf

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
1. Grease and line the base of a 23-25cm cake tin with baking paper. Butter and flour the sides.

2. Dissolve the coffee granules in water, then place all Ingredients into a food processor and process until well combined and smooth. Pour the runny mixture into the cake tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45mins, Or until a skewer is inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Every oven is different. I set a timer for 20mins, then rotate the cake, and re-set for the remaining time. When the kitchen smells like cake, that is a good indication that it's pretty much done (but do a final test)

3. Once cooked, cool in the tin before turning out on a wire rack.

For the ganache
200ml cream
200g chocolate (I used Wellington Chocolate Company fair trade organic 70%)
20g butter

Method
1. Break or cut chocolate into chunks. Set aside.

2. Heat the cream until it almost reaches boiling point then remove from the heat.

3. Put chocolate into the hot cream and leave for 2-3 mins without stirring, just let it sit. Whisk well. Put the ganache in the fridge until it has firmed up a little, so its not runny when you top the cake – I left mine for about 30mins or longer.

For the chocolate buttercream
4 tablespoons cocoa
4 tablespoons hot milk
200 grams butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar

Method for buttercream
1. Dissolve the cocoa in the warm milk to make a smooth thick paste and allow to cool. If it's too warm it will melt the butter in the frosting.

2. Beat the butter and icing sugar together until it is pale and fluffy in texture. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture. Thin with extra milk, if required.

For the whisky/vanilla syrup
1/4 cup Trade Aid Fair trade un-refined organic sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup whisky – I used Bruichladdich Organic whisky
1 tspn vanilla paste (or a vanilla bean split in half, seeds scraped)

Method
The syrup will impart a wonderful flavor and also keep the cake moist. Although it does tend to lose its whisky taste after a few days.

1. In a small saucepan heat the sugar and the water until dissolved. Add the whisky and the vanilla and cook on a med/high heat for about two minutes or until the strong alcohol smells softens slightly. Don't over reduce though. It should taste very strong and will dilute into the cake. Cool and set side.

TO ASSEMBLE
If your cake its really 'domed', cut the dome off to even it off. Split the cake in half with a serrated knife. I used a flat tray to push the cut top onto so it didn’t break. Put the bottom half onto a cake stand. Pat half of the whisky syrup over the cake with a pastry brush. Top with the chocolate buttercream. Add the other half of the cake on top (I flip the cake so the flat cut part is on top and the rounded part will be touching the whipped frosting) Brush with remaining vanilla whisky syrup. Top with the dark chocolate ganache glaze, smoothing with a palate knife, moving it down the sides too. I decorated my cake with chocolate pearls around the edges and wild blackberries that I picked from my backyard. I 'kissed' each blackberry with edible gold leaf. It comes on a small sheet and I just pressed it from the sheet to the berry. If you want to get a nice clean cut between the layers of the cake, the cake must be chilled – if you can wait that long.

For more delicious recipes please visit The Forest Cantina