Over time, Valentine’s Day has changed from a day to celebrate martyrs to a romantic day filled with hearts, flowers, cards, and of course, chocolate. But in the past few years, chocolate production has come under public scrutiny because of numerous reports about human trafficking and child labor associated with growing and harvesting cacao. (The award-winning film The Dark Side of Chocolate by director — and friend of Bon Appétit — U. Roberto Romano documents how prevalent these are.)
Just as Valentine’s Day has evolved, it’s time to change our chocolate habits and support organizations with fair, humane, and sustainable practices.
A year ago, on Valentine’s Day 2011, Bon Appétit did just that by announcing that we would use Cordillera baking chocolate companywide. This Fair Trade Certified™ chocolate is a blend of Criollo and Trinitario cacao beans grown and processed in Colombia, whose farmers receive a better price for their beans — and where more of that money stays in the community. (Read more about Cordillera from Bon Appétit Fellow Sarah Piper.)
This Valentine’s Day, we have asked our chefs to share some of their creations and recipes with you, as well as with CNN’s iReport readers, where our chefs have submitted their very best in a Fair Trade Chocolate recipe contest — you can find the recipe for the Chocoloate Bavarian pictured above there.
- 10 ounces Cordillera Chocolate
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon light agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
Line 10 miniature muffin tins with paper liners. Thoroughly mix the peanut butter, sea salt, and agave nectar in a bowl. Set aside until chocolate is ready.
Melt the Cordillera chocolate and canola in a metal bowl over gently boiling water or double boiler. Stir with a heat-resistant spatula. Do not allow any water to come into contact with the chocolate.
Place 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate into the paper-lined muffin cups. Next place 2 teaspoons of the peanut butter mixture in the center of the chocolate. Cover with more chocolate to cover the peanut butter.
Refrigerate until set. Can be stored in the refrigerator, but allow to sit for 5 minutes at room temperature (to soften) before enjoying.
For the macaroon filling:
- 8 ounces dark Chocolate
- 9 ounces cream
- 1 ounce soft butter (at room temperature)Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl.
Bring cream to a boil in a small pot. Pour over chocolate and stir to combine.
Mix in soft butter until smooth. Allow to set slightly for 1 hour before using.
For the macaroon shells:
- 5 ounces water
- 18 ounces granulated sugar
- 12 egg whites (14 ounces), divided
- 18 ounces almond flour with no skin
- 18 ounces powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 325 (or if convection oven, 300F). Sift almond flour, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar together through a sieve into a bowl. Pour 7 ounces of egg whites on top and mix to combine with a spatula to a thick paste. Set aside.
Place remaining 7 ounces of egg whites in a 5-quart mixing machine with a whisk attachment.
Put granulated sugar and water in a pot and mix a little until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, start whipping egg whites on medium to high speed. Continue to boil sugar for 4 minutes.
Take sugar off heat. Turn down mixer speed to low. Pour sugar slowly into egg whites, trying to avoid pouring it on the whisk attachment. When sugar is completely added, turn speed up to medium. Whisk for about 5 minutes until cooled slightly.
Place half of egg white mixture on top of almond mixture and mix with a spatula until combined. Add remaining egg whites and mix until combined.
To prepare baking pans, spray four sheet pans lightly with baking spray. Line with baking paper. Spray again lightly. Pour batter into disposable piping bag. Cut opening in the piping bag. Holding bag in a vertical position, pipe batter onto pans to a 1 inch flat disk shape. Continue until all of the batter is piped. Allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Bake macaroons for 10 -11 minutes. For a convection oven it may only take 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely and then carefully remove from paper.
Fill piping bag with filling (recipe below). Pipe filling on flat side of macaroon shell, then sandwich with other side gently pressing so filling is flush with shell size. Decorate with a little drizzle of chocolate and cocoa nibs.