Tuesday 26 April 2011

Easter eggs

About five years ago we decided to stop eating non-Fair Trade cocoa products.  A report from the BBC had recently come out documenting the ways in which children are abused to make our chocolate.  I can't find the original report, but this story contains much of the same information.  My recollection of it is that nearly 1/2 of the world's cocoa is grown in the Ivory Coast and 1/3 of that is cultivated on plantations using child slave labour: children who are taken under false pretences or simply stolen from their parents.  They were then worked hideously hard, "encouraged" by beatings with bicycle chains.

We decided we wanted no part in that.  If we had to buy our chocolate directly from a child who was clearly being so mistreated, we wouldn't just buy it and walk away: we'd try to help that child.  Just because we can't see the child being abused doesn't mean it's not real - it just means that we need people to tell us about it.

Over the course of about a year we gradually removed regular cocoa products from our diet.  Where we could we replaced it with cocoa produced by adults who are paid enough to be able to send their children to school.  Where that wasn't possible we simply went for something cocoa-free.

We found some low GI chocolate-free muesli bars for me to eat when I get hungry but can't get out of bed.  We drink Fair Trade cocoa mixed with sugar instead of milo, and occasionally make our own decadent hot chocolate mixes.  Unfortunately we haven't found any commercial bakers who use Fair Trade products so we bake our own muffins, brownies and cakes with Fair Trade chocolate (now available at most supermarkets) and cocoa.  No one makes icecream with Fair Trade cocoa either, so I occasionally make chocolate icecream in our icecream maker and otherwise buy chocolate-free icecream.  I've even learned to make something similar to nutella, which is yummy and rich if not as creamy as the real thing.

Whenever it gets too hard, I remind myself about the kids and the bicycle chains.  I'm doing this as I want no part in that.  It's happening far away but it's real.

The one last problem was Easter eggs.  The only Fair Trade ones available commercially in NZ are plain hollow chocolate, and my favourites are chocolate marshmallow eggs and creme eggs.  For five years I've tried to make my own marshmallow eggs, learning from my mistakes but never making a satisfactory product... until now!


It took me one whole day to make the marshmallows, followed by shorter stints over a week or so to chocolate coat them and stick them together.  I think they would take an able-bodied person three evenings after work to make them, or maybe two.  They look good, taste yummy, took only a week to make a batch of 35 and don't need any ridiculously expensive ingredients or supplies to make.  They even have yolks!  Success :-)

I don't think I'll be making my own creme eggs any time soon, though ;-)

If you'd like to make your own chocolate marshmallow eggs, instructions are up on our website.

PS.  We accept with gratitude all gifts that come our way, regardless of the source of any ingredients in them.  We will ourselves only purchase Fair Trade cocoa and cocoa products but we don't require others to do the same.  Our relationships with our friends are very important to us and any gifts are accepted in the spirit they are given.


  1. I can vouch for their absolute deliciousness :)


  2. I tried making creme eggs this year, but they were pretty embarrassing. My son and I have not mastered the technique of dipping the filling in chocolate without ending up with a big glob. But that's my excuse to try making them again - practice makes perfect right!

  3. Now that's exciting! What did you use for the filling? Were you working off a recipe? I just assumed that they would be too hard, but I'd love to have a go if someone's work out how to do it :-)

    And not getting them right first time sounds like a great excuse to have another go and make more chocolatey yumminess! These were my 5th try - even more than that, really, as I did some experimentation this year making mock-ups with store-bought circular marshmallows in the lead-up to Easter.