Fairtrade Chocolate, Almond + Smoked Salt Blondies
For two weeks each year, thousands people around the UK come together to celebrate the people who grow our food, people who live in some of the poorest countries in the world. This year Fairtrade Fortnight is focusing on the individuals – in particular the women – who grow the cocoa in the chocolate we love so much.
Fair trade to me is the idea that your food has come from a place where people are treated fairly and with respect. The love and energy that they put into their produce shines through to your plate.
Chocolate is an especially important ingredient in my house – whether it’s a few dark squares as an afternoon pick me up, or a bar of chocolate for a tray of these delicious guys.
These blondies are somewhat bottle blonde. Though they don’t have the cocoa or hefty amount of chocolate that a brownie would (which makes them a blondie), I do use muscovado sugar, which turns them a deep dark brunette. If you like you could use a lighter sugar, though the deep maltiness of muscovado works so well. The topping is blonde, however – it’s a quick, fudgy meringue-like almond topping which keeps them looking a bit blonder.
Sometimes I make these with a blend of spelt and rye flour, as I like the deep rich back note that the rye brings. The smoked salt adds something and works so well with the almonds and chocolate, I use a Welsh one, but if you can’t get hold of it, normal flaky salt will work just fine. These can also be made with coconut sugar and aquafaba which would make them vegan.
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon flaky smoked sea salt, plus a pinch
250g white spelt flour
180g coconut oil or unsalted butter
125g dark muscovado sugar
125g golden caster sugar, plus an extra 50g
3 medium organic eggs
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract or paste
125g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), chopped into large pieces
100g almonds, skin on, roughly chopped
50g golden caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 200oC/180oC fan/gas 6. Grease a 20cm square baking tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Place the baking powder, salt and flour in a bowl and mix together with a whisk to get rid of any lumps.
Place the coconut oil or butter in a pan and melt it. Add the sugars and whisk until it has mostly dissolved, then pour into a bowl. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Separate one of the eggs and keep back about 1 tablespoon of the white, then put the rest into the bowl with the yolk and the rest of the eggs. Beat the eggs, coconut oil and vanilla extract together with a whisk. Fold in the flour mixture and chocolate. Once everything is incorporated, pour the mixture into the lined tin.
Whisk the tablespoon of egg white until fluffy, then add the almonds, the extra 50g of caster sugar and a pinch of salt. Spread over the top of the blondie mixture with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until crisp on top and still a little gooey inside.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin, slice into squares and try not to eat them all.
Photo: Ana Cuba
Recipe from The Modern Cook’s Year