In case you weren’t aware, we are currently in the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight, an initiative launched by the the Fairtrade Foundation to encourage us to be more aware of the origin of the produce we buy, and how it came to reach our table.
I’m using coffee in this week’s recipe and, as it happens, coffee was the very first product to come under the wing of the Fairtrade movement, back in the late 1980s. The coffee in question had been sourced in Mexico and was marketed in the Netherlands under the brand name Max Havelaar.
Max Havelaar was a fitting choice.
It was the name of a fictional character in a famous eponymous 19th century Dutch novel written by Eduard Dekker, writing under the pseudonym Multatuli. In Multatuli ‘s novel, Havelaar, a naive Dutch civil servant, becomes horrified by the exploitation of Indonesian farmers and workers by the colonial Dutch government. His attempts to prevent such abuses of power are consistently thwarted by government corruption and crooked local businessmen. The book achieved fame outside the Netherlands, and encouraged more and more European citizens to question the role of their own governments in exploiting third world countries and their citizens.
The Dutch Max Havelaar fair trade coffee initiative quickly caught on, with the idea soon being replicated in countries like the USA, the UK and most of Europe.
The principle behind Fairtrade products is that the farmers and workers who grow these products are better protected against exploitation, as is the environment in which they work.
They may cost a more than the cheapest option, but when you buy a Fairtrade product you know that the growers are getting a fair price for their goods, that workers producing them have decent living conditions and that sustainable, environmentally friendly practices are encouraged.
The Fairtrade logo is prominently displayed on the label, making it a simple matter of choice for us consumers as to the kind of world we want to encourage and support.
On to the recipe, which I have created in association with Suma Wholefoods Cooperative. Suma are a strong supporter of the Fairtrade movement and stock a large range of Fairtrade products.
Under the terms of our arrangement, every couple of months I select products from the Suma Wholefoods range which Suma provide free of charge. From these I create an original recipe which appears on the Suma website as well here, on the Circus Gardener’s Kitchen.
I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I do like coffee in desserts such as tiramisu and ice cream. In this recipe a rich, intense, velvety, vegan coffee ice cream is accompanied by naturally sweetened pecan biscotti to make for a delicious, classy dessert.
coffee ice cream with pecan biscotti
for the coffee ice cream
15 g good quality instant espresso coffee powder
400 ml organic coconut milk
160 ml organic coconut cream (in liquid form)
80 ml maple syrup
10 g ground arrowroot
30 ml Kahlua or similar coffee liqueur (optional)
for the biscotti
1. Pour 100 g of the coconut milk into a saucepan and add the coffee powder. Place over a gentle heat, stirring or whisking until the coffee has dissolved into the milk. Remove from the heat.
2. Pour the coconut milk and coffee mixture, remaining coconut milk, coconut cream and maple syrup into a blender along with the coffee liqueur, if using (if not replace with an additional 30 ml of maple syrup to get the right level of sweetness). Add the ground arrowroot and process until the mixture has a smooth consistency and even colour.
3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes then pour the ice cream mixture into an ice cream maker, and churn. Once it has set, tip the ice cream out into a freezer proof container. Cover the container with a lid and freeze for at least 4 hours. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and leave to stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving.
4. Now for the biscotti. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C (300°F, gas mark 2). Toast the pecan kernels in a hot, dry pan, for 2-3 minutes until very lightly browned and giving off an aroma. Tip the nuts onto a cold plate to cool, then chop roughly.
5. Place the flour, ground almonds, arrowroot, baking soda and sea salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the maple syrup and the chopped pecans and mix into a stiff dough.
6. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shaping it into a long log about 4 cm in diameter. Flatten the log slightly to create a more oval shape when viewed end-on. Carefully place the log onto a lightly greased baking tray and place in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven. Set to one side for 10 minutes, by which time the log will have cooled slightly and started to firm up.
7. Carefully cut the log diagonally into 2cm slices using a sharp knife. Place the slices on a clean, lightly greased baking tray and return to the oven for 15 minutes or until the biscotti are dry and lightly toasted. Carefully turn them over and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Once cool, serve alongside a scoop or two of the coffee ice cream.