Friday, May 2, 2014

"Loaded Stupid" Brownies

When you have as many die-hard chocolate fans in the household as we do, we tend to be picky about the bars and candy we keep around. My mom and I are almost exclusively bittersweet chocolate devotees, but my sister and dad will choose milk over dark any day. Regardless of the cacao content, we do our best to find brands that are eco-friendly and fairly produced, while still economical. Not that we eat a bar a day or anything, but swallowing the cost of a $5 bar can keep us from actually enjoying it.

Nestle Cocoa Plan

Recently, Nestlé contacted me with a gift of some of our classic childhood favourites - Aero, Coffee Crisp, Smarties and Kit Kat - and an information package regarding their newest initiative: The Nestlé Cocoa Plan. According to their website, their attention to the wellbeing of others and the environment is simply business as usual at  Nestlé - the difference is that it now has a name: Creating Shared Value. Firstly, the company supplies quality cacao saplings to farmers, each helping to produce 20+ years of high-yield, high-quality cocoa beans. Then, Nestlé provides training to those farmers, including how to adopt better farming practices (like properly pruning trees, controlling pests with both responsible pesticide and natural deterrent methods and harvesting while caring for the environment). One of the most prevalent examples of their training initiative their investment in a farmer field schools in West Africa, where 20-30 farmers meet at a local cocoa farm for their training every two to three weeks.

By keeping the supply chain short, Nestlé helps ensure farmers are paid fairly and can continue to farm sustainably, building partnerships with organizations like UTZ Certified and Fairtrade. In fact, the Canadian-based Cocoa Plan co-ops and farmer groups are producing enough cocoa to cover 100% of the cocoa needs to produce Aero, Coffee Crisp, Smarties, and Kit Kat bars in Canada, and at present 30% is UTZ Certified (their goal is to be 100% UTZ Certified in 2014).

Cleaning out the Candy

One of the most important aspects of the Cocoa Plan to me as a teacher is that Nestlé is a strong participant in the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), which is dedicated to ending child and forced labour in the world of cocoa farming by eliminating child trafficking and abusive labour conditions. As a coalition between the public and the cocoa industry, they work to prevent children from being exposed to unsafe tasks and exploitation, at the same time providing assistance to those who have been abused in the past. The ICI also helps to increase access to education, which I believe is a huge leap forward in the fight to become a more cooperative and overall peaceful society.

So, when I opened up my box from Nestlé to reveal a treasure trove of their Cocoa Plan-certified bars, I knew I had to make something with them that shone. I know I could have just noshed away on them au naturale (and I'll admit the Aero met it's fate that way), but I wanted to share the chocolate love - not to mention rid myself of a few other chocolate goodies that were sitting within temptation's grasp. To me, the unequivocal chocolate dessert has got to be brownies. Cakes, muffins, cookies, cheesecakes and puddings, I love you all, but the fact remains that biting into a fudgy, dense brownie square has no equal - especially if you take that simple, cocoa base and load it with as much extra chocolate as you can!

I wound up using my relatively standard cocoa-powder brownie recipe as a jumping-off point, reducing the sugar a fair deal to account for the almost 300g of assorted milk chocolate candy I chucked in! The bars baked up dense and fudgy (the way I love them), with a perfect balance between bitter and sweet, crispy bits and smooth chocolate. In short, bars of awesome. 

Of course, I highly recommend you search out a few types of fair, sustainable chocolate or candy to use in your (rather smart) "Loaded Stupid" Brownies, but really the best part about them is that you can use anything, and everything in your candy stash that you feel tastes good with chocolate!  

"Loaded Stupid" Brownies

Many thanks to Nestlé for their kind gift - it was definitely appreciated!

"Loaded Stupid" Brownies
Makes one 8" or 9" square pan, 16 pieces
"Loaded Stupid" Brownies⅓ cup canola oil
½ cup sugar
8 packets Pure Via All Natural Stevia and Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar Blend
1 tbsp Kahlua
4 tbsp dried whole egg powder + ½ cup warm coffee (or 2 large eggs)
½ cup fair trade cocoa powder
⅓ cup flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
up to 300g assorted chocolate candy, chopped if necessary (see note)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8” or 9” square pan.
  2. In a bowl, beat together the oil, sugar and Pure Via Turbinado and Stevia Blend until well blended.
  3. Add the Kahlua, reconstituted egg/coffee mixture (or eggs) and cocoa powder, mix to combine thoroughly.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix in to just combine.
  5. Fold in the chocolate.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, until the sides just start to pull away from the pan.
    Cool completely before cutting. 
     
*Note: For the chocolate, I used 1 Coffee Crisp bar, 1 box of Smarties, 1 Kit Kat bar and 11 milk chocolate truffles (Lindor)

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 176.3
Total Fat: 10.4 g
Cholesterol: 24.4 mg
Sodium: 21.4 mg
Total Carbs: 20.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
Protein: 2.3 g