April 18, 2012

In love with a chocolate recipe | The darker side of chocolate

Oh, how I love these raw chocolate morsels. They contain basically walnuts, dates and cacao powder — no additional oils — and are so delicious, surely they are what is meant by the phrase, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." As I've previously mentioned, they come from the recipes of Jennifer Cornbleet. I found the recipe in Raw for Dessert, but it appears in different forms in her other books as well. I recommend buying this little cookbook (reviewed here), but in the meantime, I've found the recipe for you online. Jennifer makes the chocolate dessert as a cake, and as cupcakes, but my favorite way to use it is in small chocolate molds. I have two molds, each with 15 cups, each one-inch in diameter and one-half inch deep. Pressed firmly into each cup, the recipe makes exactly 30 morsels. You could also easily form it into balls. I added five to eight drops of liquid stevia to my mixture because I was afraid it might be too bitter for my guests, and I also upped the vanilla to one teaspoon. I didn't use frosting. To find the recipe, follow the link to the Chocolate cupcakes recipe page, and click on "chocolate cupcakes."

There are probably at least 100 similar recipes online for raw chocolate treats, but I love this one for its simplicity, amazing flavor, natural sweetener and lack of additional added fats. (There's already plenty of fat from the walnuts!)

And if that isn't enough, I'm including a video of Jennifer making a larger quantity (in her cookbook the ingredients are exactly doubled for a cake) and forming the mixture into a cake with raspberries on top.


A few words about the darker side of chocolate 
(After reading through the lists, look for the update at the bottom of the page for another viewpoint.)
I used Dagoba fair trade certified cacao powder to make my chocolate. The growing, harvesting and manufacture of chocolate is fraught with corruption, slavery, and even murder. As a consumer, I want to make ethical choices to support companies that sustain, not damage and abuse their workers. But it's harder than I thought. If you read through the following information, you'll see that Dagoba is on the "not recommended" list because they source some of their chocolate from the Ivory Coast, the area most infested with abuses. In researching the chocolate issue, I've found other lists, and they don't all agree. It's complicated, but we can all make an effort to learn more about the food we eat, and try to make better choices, because our purchases have a global effect.

From: Care2 make a difference
- There are a number of fair trade companies that are serious about sourcing their chocolate ethically.
- The majority of organic chocolate is grown in Central and South America where slavery has not been an issue. Because of the limited supply of organic chocolate, most farmers receive a fair price.
- There are a select number of farms in West Africa who receive a fair price for their chocolate and are slave and child labor free.
If you’re confused now about which companies to trust you’re not alone. For some, refusing to buy chocolate from companies that source from the Ivory Coast – no matter their certifications or promise of due diligence – is the only option. Other consumers choose to buy chocolate from the select companies that are attempting to address the slave trade issue directly. These companies purchase their supplies from farmers or farming co-ops on the Ivory Coast who do not participate in the slave trade. Below you’ll find a list of companies in both categories, so the decision is up to you.
No matter what chocolate choices you make, remember that food is power. And as consumers our greatest weapon is what we “choose to consume.” Just because we’re used to grabbing items off the shelf without thinking doesn’t mean we should be. There is a story behind each item we purchase. From the underpaid migrant workers who picked the oranges piled high, to the children enslaved and maimed for each Hershey’s kiss. Do your research and take back your power to change these practices. (emphasis mine)
On the recommended list and fabulous.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/fair-trade-chocolate a-myth.html#ixzz1sPb2Q4UM
Chocolate we feel comfortable recommending
- 365 Dark Chocolate Bar (Whole Foods Market)
- Alce Nero's dark chocolate
- Alter Eco
- Allison’s Gourmet
- Amano
- Angell Chocolate Bars
- Askinoise
- Café Gratitude
- Chocolate Ibarra
- Chocolates El Rey
- Chocolatl
- Chuao Chocolatier
- Cocolo (Australia & New Zealand)
- Coconut Bliss (they were recently bought by a dairy company)
- Coco-Zen
- Cotton Tree Chocolate (70% bar - only in Belize)
- Crispy Cat
- Dandelion Chocolate
- Denman Island Chocolate
- Eat Pastry
- Edensoy
- Endangered Species (Organic dark chocolate only)
- Equal Exchange
- Essential Living Foods
- The Fearless Chocolate Company
- Frontier
- Gnosis
- Gone Pie Vegan Bakery
- Go Macro's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Crunch
- Goss Chocolate (dark and special dark chocolate, nibs and cocoa powder)
- Justin’s Nut Butter
- Kakaw Belizean Chocolate (Belize)
- Kallari Chocolate
- Kopali Organics
- La Siembra - Cocoa Camino
- Live Superfoods (their name brand only)
- Love Street Livin
- Loving Earth (New Zealand)
- Lulu's Chocolates
- Madécasse's Chocolate
- Madre Chocolate
- Mast Brothers Chocolate
- Michel Cluizel (Dark Chocolate, Single Estate)
- Mindo Chocolate
- Nada Moo
- Nature’s Path
- Navitas Naturals
- Newman’s Own
- New Tree
- Nutiva (hemp protein powder chocolate shake)
- The Oakland Chocolate Company
- Obsessive Confection Disorder
- Organica (Venture Foods)
- Organic Fair
- Plamil
- Rapunzel
-René Rey Chocolates
- República del Cacao
- Righteously Raw
- Sacred Chocolate
- Salazon Chocolate
- SaviSeed
- Scarborough Fair (New Zealand)
- Scream Sorbet
- Shaman Chocolates
- Sjaaks (Eli's Earth Bars)
- Sunflour Baking Company
- Sunfood's Chocolate
- Sunridge Farms
- Sweet Earth Chocolates
- Sweet & Sara
- Taza Chocolates
- Temptation
- Theo Chocolate
- Turtle Mountain (organic only)
- Ulimana
- Ultimate SuperFoods
- Veganica Pty Ltd (Rawganic Chocolate & CocoLuscious Coconut Ice Cream) Australia
- Vivani
- Whistler Chocolate
- Wild Boar’s Dark Chocolate (Hagensborg Chocolates)
- Zenergy Powerballs

Cannot recommend
- Scharffen Berger (owned by Hershey)

Cannot recommend but are working on the issues in various ways
- Bonvita
- Callebaut
- Chocolove
- Chocoveda
- Deliss Chocolate
- Divine
- Go Max Go
- Guittard Chocolate Company
- Lake Champlain Chocolates
- LEDA Chocolate (Australia & New Zealand)
- Liz Lovely Cookies
- Mariposa Baking Company
- Pangea
- Rescue Chocolate
- Svelte
- Sweet William (New Zealand)
- TradeAid (New Zealand)
- Terra Nostra
- Whittaker's (Australia & New Zealand)
- Xan Confections

Cannot recommend but at least responded
- Dagoba (owned by Hershey)
- Dr. Fuhrman’s Cocoa Powder
- Earth Balance
- Enjoy Life Natural Brands
- Lindt
- Lucy's Cookies
- Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine
- Missionary Chocolates
- Olive & Sinclair's Chocolate
- Peter's Chocolate
- Poco Dolce
- Ritter
- Smith Organic Chocolates
- Theobroma Chocolat
- Tofutti
- Valrhona
- Whole Food Market Chocolate Chips
- Wilbur Chocolate
- YisRoYal (gourmet vegan cookie dough)

Cannot recommend: companies that would not disclose (no transparency for customers)
- Clif Bar
- Glutino
- Imagine Foods/Hain Pure Foods (Soy Dream, Rice Dream, SunSpire and Tropical Source)
- Indie Candy
- Kinnikinnick Foods
- Moonstruck Chocolatier
- NuGo - Nutrition to Go
- OCHO Candy
- O’Natra
- Q.bel Foods
- Recchiuti Confections
- Salish Sea Chocolate Company
- Trader Joe’s
- Vosges

Cannot recommend: companies that did not respond
- Agostoni
- Ah!Laska
- Alternative Baking Company
- Amy’s
- Betty Lou’s
- Blue Diamond
- Chocolate Decadence
- Chocolate Inspirations
- Double Rainbow Soy Cream
- Eskal Noble Choice (Australia/New Zealand)
- Gelateria Naia
- Global Organics
- Good Karma
- Green & Black's
- Halo (Pro Bar)
- Heaven Sent
- NÓI SÍRÍUS's chocolate (dark)
- Premium Chocolatiers
- Rose City Chocolatier
- Sanitarium (Australia/New Zealand)
- Santa Cruz Organic
- Uncle Eddie's
- Wonderfully Raw
- ZenSoy

Note: Last Updated April 10th, 2012

Here's another list:
Directory of ethical chocolate companies
from: slavefreechocolate.org/directory-chocolate/
"Generally, if the chocolate is organic, has a fair trade label or the cocoa is listed as being sourced from anywhere other than Ghana or The Ivory Coast then it’s slave free."
UPDATE 4-20-12
After expressing my chagrin and surprise at Rescue chocolate not being on the "recommended list," an equally surprised friend said this, "Anyway, I read about Rescue Chocolate's stance on fair trade and chocolate sourcing on their FAQ page, and then I read more on the Food Empowerment's web site about what it means to be on each list, and then I emailed Rescue Chocolate and told them I was confused and to please explain. We'll see what they say."

Here's an excerpt from what they said, "I'm not quite sure how the Food Empowerment Project decides to put companies in its various slots. They used to have us in the un-recommended slot. I contacted them and explained how we use couverture from Callebaut, which really is completely responsible in its production processes around the globe. That prompted the FEP to move Rescue Chocolate up a notch, but not any higher. I can only theorize it is because my labels do not carry a fair-trade logo (for the reasons you saw on my website).

I would stop producing Rescue Chocolate in a heartbeat if I thought there were human beings harmed or exploited because of it. Even though Rescue Chocolate's mission is to help animals, I happen to believe that we are all part of the same web of life.

If your favorite chocolate is on the "wrong" list, write to them for clarification. If they believe they are being misjudged, they may give you the information you need to make a decision to continue to support them. In any case, they will know that their customers care about the integrity of the companies that get their money.


  1. Such important (and thorough) information. The more consumers care, the more companies will have no choice but to react with compassion.

    1. I wish it weren't so complicated, though. I may start writing to companies I want to buy from so they know it's important to me.

  2. I am so glad that you shared this information. I have been a supporter of The Food Empowerment Project for quite some time and love all the work that they do-especially the creation of this chocolate list. I refer to it whenever I buy chocolate :) I hope that more folks will become aware of the chocolate slavery issues and make better choices when purchasing chocolate.

    1. Thanks. I know a lot of people already know about this particular food issue but it can't hurt to remind everyone of the impact our food choices can have on the world. Looking at the list also reminds me of how confusing it can be to make a good choice.

  3. I'm amazed that those chocolate are basically just your standard raw truffles- They look totally smooth and downright professional. Absolutely love those molds!

    It is hard to think about how rotten the chocolate industry is deep down... I think there are a lot of people still who would be shocked to learn this.

    1. Yes, the molds are definitely fun to work with — I love them! Even though this is a pretty basic recipe, none of the people I've served it to lately had any idea what they were eating, and they all loved the truffles. I think it's cool that no matter how familiar a recipe may become, there are still tons of people for whom it will be new.

      The chocolate issue is such a complicated one that even when you think you're buying cruelty-free chocolate, it's easy to forget that a brand like Clif or Larabar, may be using slave-trade chocolate in their bars. And it doesn't help the confusion when the same company may appear on one group's "OK" list and another's "don't buy" list.

  4. I have the same chocolate mold! Love it....

    But more importantly, thanks for this excellent and informative post. Gone Pie is really proud of being on the FEP list. It saddens me to see how many vegan companies do not seem to understand just how important ingredient sourcing is!

    To my fellow bakers, check out Sweet Earth Chocolate. Really good fairtrade chocolate for baking.

    1. I think everyone needs this mold! My decorative baking (and raw baking) skills are limited, and the mold makes me look good!

      Thank you so much for your comment, and for being on the list! I wish all bakeries were as committed to fair practices. And I wish you were closer to Seattle. :)

  5. Hi Andrea! Long time, no see!
    How good are Jennifer Cornbleet's recipes? So tasty, and so uncomplicated! They're my faves. Particularly her marinara and walnut meat balls and cashew freezer fudge! Yuuuuum

    And thanks for all of the info on fair-trade choc. It's an important issue - and it's so easy to get complacent in life.

    1. Mathew, shouldn't I be the one saying long time no see? Good to see you back. I'd have to say that every recipe I've tried from Jennifer's books has been easy and delicious — sushi with not-tuna paté for example.

  6. This might be pathetic to admit - but I've tried chocolate from at least 90% of the recommended companies. Now, making a list of the ones I haven't tried and finding them today :)

    1. I laughed out loud when I read your comment, Ashlae. I don't think it's pathetic at all, on the contrary, it's great that you have chosen to support ethical businesses. :) Continue on you quest to seek the best!

  7. These are sort of like raw brownies, right? I love that, walnuts and dates, yum. They were my fave before I stopped eating dates.

    I agree we have to be careful before eating any old chocolate. Humans are animals too.

    1. Yes, raw brownies, raw chocolate cake — all pretty much the same recipe — and all so delicious. It's sad that you had to give up dates, but seeking health is the most important thing for you right now. I wonder if you could sub sweet potato for dates. Can you eat sweet potato?

  8. I love those kinds of recipes, and this sounds like a good one. And whoah on all those chocolates!! Interesting how you really have to be a detective these days regarding what you eat. I felt sorry for the folks at Rescue Chocolate. . . though seems they are not hurting for customers. :)

    1. I'm so glad Laurie emailed the recue chocolate people. I'm going to keep buying rescue chocolate and question other favorites who don't appear on on of the acceptable lists.

  9. I see you've dropped the "u" and now have just molds. How freeing.

    As far as the chocolate mess - booooo! I'm so bummed out when I hear about stuff like this. I wish everyone would treat everyone and every animal with kindness and then we wouldn't have to worry about such things. I buy Hershey's all the time, but I guess they do horrible things that I didn't know about. I wish the kind companies would make their items as affordable. Just because we want to eat cruelty free, doesn't mean our budgets are limitless. You're so active, you should work on that next. :-)

    By the way, I watched the video all the way to the end, and I think you would have done a much better job if: you were holding the camera, and you put the raspberries on the cake! But, it sounds tasty and easy.

    1. I hear you about the cost of good business practices, and really appreciate the appeal of affordable food. Here's my view, for what it's worth. The process of turning raw cacao into chocolate is a horrible, labor intensive task. The cost can be reduced by using inhumane labor practices including slave labor and even murder. Should I, as someone who lives in a powerful country that is able to procure cheap food, be able to walk into a store and buy anything I want from anywhere in the world, because others suffer to make that food cheap? I think of chocolate as a luxury item, and luxury items cost more than, say, broccoli. I don't buy cheap chocolate for everyday use. I savor small amounts, and try to buy from companies who practice fair trade. The key word here is "fair." Being fair to the people who work to produce the chocolate means, yes, I have to pay a higher price, because the companies have to pay a higher, fairer, price. There are hidden costs to cheap chocolate — someone pays for it, even if it isn't us.

      I kind of like the way she put the raspberries on the cake, all haphazard-like. I'd probably do it like that, too. :) As for holding the camera, maybe ...

    2. Yes, I agree we're in a powerful, wealthy country. And, I'm sure - very, very sure - that my husband's wages far surpass anything those people who do forced labor - or even those that do not - can even imagine. But, relatively speaking, in our country, in our town, we are very modest in terms of income. And, sometimes I look at what I've spent for a family of five on good, wholesome, nutritious, fresh food, and I wonder if we'll make it through the month. Ah, we just gotta keep doing the best we can. Chocolate will have to become a rare treat around here, I think, if I have to choose between it and fruits and veggies and grains. But, I do agree completely with what you said; it's just very hard to try and do everything.

    3. I try my best, but it's really hard, I agree. You're already doing more than most people by being vegan. The hidden cost of food goes beyond chocolate. Most people don't even think about the real cost to animals, the environment, the health-care system, of consuming animal products. I didn't mean to imply that you were personally gobbling chocolate at the expense of the the workers who produce it, but we are in a position to require fairer practices with our hard-earned and limited dollars. Whew. I usually try not to do this sort of thing on the blog, but every so often I mention a thing or two. I meant no judgement or offense, truly. All we can do is our best.

  10. Great post, Andrea! Mike and I have really started to pay more attention to what we purchase. It can be so overwhelming, but worth it.

    1. Thanks, Molly! Overwhelming is the truth. All we can do is try our best to support ethical companies.

  11. I love chocolate now I can be sure it is made with love :) Thank you for the great list!

    Nicole <3

  12. Thank you for posting this; I didn't know about the darker side of the chocolate industry although sadly, it makes sense that there would be one. I was disappointed that Go Max Go is on the not recommended list, but I'd rather know the truth. I'm going to flag this post so I can check it the next time I go chocolate shopping. Thanks again.

    1. I recommend writing to your favorite chocolate company to ask what their status is. Things change, and not all lists are in agreement. One fair-trade site said they if the chocolate is fair-trade and organic, it's most likely OK.

  13. Thanks so much for this very thorough list. This would be a good thing to print out and keep in my purse. It will come in handy for sorting through the options the next time I buy chocolate. After seeing them on your list, I tried Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups for the first time. They were excellent. I'll definitely be buying them again.

    1. Justin's is good, though I'm not a big pb fan. My new favorite chocolate is Kallari 85% cacao. I've never tasted anything like it — so creamy and amazingly delicious. Whole Foods has it in the gourmet cheese section.

  14. Replies
    1. You're welcome. Thanks for the comment. :)

    2. Ha, I'm sorry - I mostly only am able to sit at the computer or with my phone when I'm nursing, and I only have one hand. Comments might be short in the near future. But I'm absorbing all of the info! :)

    3. I was being sincere. I'm impressed that you even have time to read, let alone comment on, blog posts! I'd imagine you'll have your hands occupied for some time to come — in the most pleasant of ways. :)

  15. Wow, this is agreat resource post Andrea. I was hoping larabar, trader joes and vega would be in the better list. at least theo is there. hope they continue with their practices.

    The fundraiser is now live. I changed it to an auction. Thanks for the book. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping to generate some decent amount. http://hobbyandmore.blogspot.com/p/fundraiser-for-vspca.html

    1. I'm not happy that some of my favorites aren't on the "good" list, but I'll write to them before I give up.

      I hope the auction is a big success.

  16. The recipes from Jennifer Cornbleet are so awesome! I've loved everything I've made from her cookbook. The molds are a great idea, especially the small bite size, that's all I really need - just a bite of sweetness.

    Very informative post on chocolate, thanks for all the research. I kinda knew about it but just not how deep. :-(

    1. The recipes I've tried have been easy as well as delicious. She's really made raw food accessible. I LOVE the molds — I've used them much more than I thought I would.

  17. Thanks for posting all your findings and work. This has become a lot more important to me and there is some confusing information out there. Especially for example Dagoba, which carries the label, but is owned by Hershey's which is definitely not fair trade. I will be referring to this again!

    1. I agree that the information is confusing, and not all the lists are in agreement. I was surprised by Dagoba, too. I'm going to keep encouraging people to write to companies asking about their practices and their place on the list. Even if their answers aren't satisfactory, at least they will know people care about these issues. And it may turn out, as with Rescue Chocolate, that they are a good company that may be mistakenly on the "bad" list.

  18. I'm a little late to seeing this, but thank you for this post. It's important information.


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