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Fair Trade First Hand

Posted on October 18, 2013 8:44 AM by Amy Lipsitz

Our Director of Sales, Allyson Myers, travelled to the Dominican Republic with Fair Trade USA this week for the World Cocoa Foundation meeting. On her trip she attended a Fair Trade Farm Tour and saw firsthand how fair trade dollars impact cocoa communities.  

Does Fair Trade really make an impact in the lives of farmers?

YES!  Before I saw the results of Fair Trade efforts firsthand in the Dominican Republic, I wasn’t sure how much (or little) impact fair trade really had. The Fair Trade price premiums are paid to the farmer cooperative, not to the individual farmers. Then the cooperative board solicits proposals from the coop farmers (10,000 of them in total!) and considers different ways to spend the fair trade premiums at year end.  The value of the fair trade premiums for a year is $1-2 million annually for the Conocado Coop, which has a huge impact on the community. 

I visited a school in near the Conocado Coop that previously didn’t have adequate space for 300 students and the roof leaked when it rained.  With Fair Trade premium dollars, the community was able to build additional classrooms and reinvest in their community by educating the youth.

I also visited a Mulit-Use Community Center and Computer Center that were built with Fair Trade premium dollars.  The computer center gives children a place to learn and use technology.  Classes are held in the mornings and afternoons, with different children attending each session. The building also included a central multi-purpose room where the coop and community members come together for meetings and functions.

Cocoa growing regions are far from Vermont. What do Vermont & the DR have in common?

Both VT and the DR have strong agriculture roots and communities.  Encouraging young people to stay in farming is a challenge; the pay is low and the work is hard.  The Agriculture Ministry of the DR is working hard to make cocoa farming an attractive livelihood and encourage youth to get into farming.  We seesimilar efforts here in our state, trying to retain young people after graduation. Both Vermont and the DR have strong dairy industries and just as many of

Vermont’s dairy farms are organized into coops so are many of the DR’s cocoa farms.

Does Fair Trade do enough to transform the challenges facing our industry?

No, while Fair Trade makes an impactful difference with price premiums and fair labor practices, there is still much more work to be done in order to alleviate poverty.   I visited with a farm family at their home and asked them, “How much more income would you need in order to make farming attractive to your children, rather than them choosing other occupations in the cities?”  They told me that they would need about double the current income they receive. Food insecurity, education, fair wages, and fair labor practices all must be addressed.   Erradicating poverty is a slow process and Fair Trade demonstrates that measurable results are possible.

Fair Trade dollars are making huge impacts in cocoa communities and beyond but there is still work to be done! Spread the word about fair trade via #befair and prove how fair you are here:

A Sweet – and Meaningful- Valentine’s Day

Posted on February 9, 2010 12:03 PM by Meghan

Lake Champlain Chocolates is honored to take part in a Valentine’s Chocolate and Wine Tasting event at Hudson Terrace in New York City on February 11th.
The event will celebrate the launch of the Global Giving Circle’s Global Cocoa Project where you can indulge yourself by sampling incredible and interesting wine-infused chocolates, Coconut Almond raw vegan chocolate, chocolate martinis, a chocolate crepe station, chocolate specialty cocktails, dessert wines, rieslings, a champagne bar and…. well, you get the idea- there is going to be lots and lots of amazing chocolates and drinks to try!
You can also buy Valentine's Day chocolates and gifts at the event or online, with proceeds going to the Global Cocoa Project, making your purchase that much sweeter!
The Global Cocoa Project is a collaborative initiative produced by Project Hope & Fairness and the Global Giving Circle. The goal is to provide cocoa farmers around the world with the tools they need to improve the quality of their cocoa production. Additionally, they will be providing basic needs such as wells and sanitation systems, which will radically impact the daily lives of the farmers and their families. The project also aims to educate Americans about the realities of the cocoa industry and leverage the power of knowledgeable, concerned consumers to help make cocoa growing a profitable and sustainable occupation.
For more information please visit:


Exhausted from Black Friday shopping? Need a special treat? Come to Lake Champlain Chocolates for a free hot chocolate tasting on Saturday from 12pm until 4pm at our Factory Store & Cafe to sooth yourself back to recovery!

Unwind with a flight of four all-natural drinking chocolate samples from around the world:

Traditional - just like the classic cocoa you were raised on, brought to the gourmet level
Mocha- a delightful coffee flavor with a hint of cinnamon
Aztec - spicy with cayenne, cinnamon, and vanilla
Old World - made with pure dark chocolate shavings (54% cocoa)

Just to recap-

When: Saturday,November 28th 12pm-4pm
Where: 750 Pine St LCC Factory Store & Cafe, Burlington, VT
Why? Because you deserve it! 

So come to our factory and take a break from that holiday shopping. Hope to see you there!

Yes, you read that correctly.  The words Cake and Truffle in the same sentence.  There’s frosting in there too, and lots of dark chocolate.  This delightful bite-size treat makes a great dessert – or if you’re like us here at Lake Champlain Chocolates, enjoy them with your morning coffee.  It’s never too early for chocolate!

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake
3 scant cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 c sugar
1 c Lake Champlain Chocolates Unsweetened Cocoa
1 ¼ c butter melted (2 ½ sticks)
2 1/3 c warm water
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla

2 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 c confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
(you can use 1 cup of store-bought frosting here if you’d like)

Chocolate Coating
24 ounces Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% dark chocolate, tempered if desired (coating will harden better if it is tempered)
White chocolate to garnish, if desired

To make cake:  Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in the wet ingredients.  Beat until smooth.  Butter a pan and dust with flour.  Bake in oven at 350º for one hour or until toothpick is removed dry. 
(You’ll find this recipe on the back of our baking cocoa tin!)

Allow the cake to cool for about thirty minutes before “stirring” it and dumping the crumbled cake into a large bowl.  Using a big spoon or your hands, combine the cake and frosting until well-incorporated.  Roll the cake into small balls, about half the size of a golf ball.  Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and refrigerate for about an hour.

Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler, tempering if you choose to do so. Using a fork (or a chocolate fork if you have one), dip each cake ball in the chocolate, coating it completely.  Return to wax paper and allow to cool.

If you’d like to decorate the Cake Truffles, melt white chocolate to just liquid – make sure it doesn’t get too hot, you’ll have a hard time handling it.  Pipe the white chocolate onto the cooled "truffles".

Makes about 75 Cake Truffles

Chocolate Recipe of the Week : Devil Dogs

Posted on November 12, 2009 2:35 PM by Admin

By Blythe


Early November always reminds me of Devil Dogs. 

My father's birthday is at the beginning of the month, and when I was growing up we would celebrate with a full-size Devil Dog Cake.  The individual versions were also a favorite treat with friends and family.  These devil dogs were so popular in fact that my mom would send them as birthday care packages to our close family friend's sons when they went away to college.  I remember seeing the thank-you notes and reading how they had to be hidden from roommates and other kids in the dorm. 

Just prying open the plastic lid on the Marshmallow Fluff now brings back fond memories of the weather turning colder and the anticipation of biting into one of these chocolatey marshmallow-frosted confections.  Having tried other versions of devil dogs and whoopie pies since then, what always brings me back to this recipe is the filling.  The blend of shortening and marshmallow pairs perfectly with the texture of the chocolate cake.  I consider Fluff to be the secret ingredient.  And now that I work at Lake Champlain Chocolates, I'm proud to incorporate our baking cocoa into the recipe.  They came out so chocolatey this time, one of my coworkers asked if I used the 70% New World Drinking Chocolate to make them!
Who can argue with a little cake that fits in your palm?  In my mind, they are the stuff of legend!               

2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 c Lake Champlain Chocolates Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
3/4 c shortening
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla

3/4 c shortening
3/4 c confectioners sugar
6 tbsp Marshmallow Fluff
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa in a large bowl.  Separately, beat together shortening, sugar and egg.  In a small bowl, combine milk and vanilla.  Add half of the shortening mixture to the dry ingredients, followed by the milk mixture and then the remaining shortening, mixing well after each addition.

On cookie sheets lined with parchment paper drop tablespoons of batter about two inches apart, making sure there are an even number of cakes to pair later.  Even out slightly with the back of a spoon.

Bake 400º for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the filling, beat together the shortening and Confectioner’s sugar.  Add Fluff and vanilla, mix until well-combined.

Makes about 12 individual cakes.

When I was trying to decide on a recipe for this week, I thought it was time for a classic chocolate cake. However, while scanning the pantry to see if I needed to stock up on any ingredients, my tin of Aztec Hot Chocolate stared back at me, as if to say “I Dare You”.  Never one to turn down a challenge, instead of reaching for the Unsweetened Cocoa, I pulled out the Spicy Aztec.  A little nervous about recipe improvisation when cayenne pepper was involved, I was pleasantly surprised when the cake turned out with a strong likeness to our famous hot chocolate.

I realized the chocolate cake would need the perfect frosting.  Since we’re making a cake from hot chocolate, I decided to go with the theme, and make a Cinnamon Marshmallow Frosting I came across in Vermont’s own Eating Well Magazine. And with a last-minute nod toward our Organic Spicy Aztec Bar, I pulled out my stash of pepitas – the Mexican pumpkin seeds that are sprinkled throughout our Aztec Bar – and scattered those on top.

2 c flour
1 ¼ c Lake Champlain Chocolates Aztec Hot Chocolate
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (use less if you like less heat)
2 heaping tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2/3 c vegetable oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 c warm water

Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease two 9” cake pans and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, spices, baking powder and baking soda.  Make sure they are well-incorporated.  Separately, combine the vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla and warm water.  Add the wet ingredients to dry, mixing until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely in cake pan on cooling rack.

1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
4 teaspoons dried egg whites (see Note), reconstituted according to package directions (equivalent to 2 egg whites)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish

Eating Well’s Ingredient Note: Dried egg whites are pasteurized so this product is a wise choice in dishes that call for an uncooked meringue.

Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler.  Combine 1 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup water in the top of the double boiler. Heat over the simmering water, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the top pan from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute more to cool. Add vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cake and sprinkle cinnamon on top, if desired.

Frosting recipe doubled for two-layer cake.  

Chocolate Cherry Almond Biscotti

Biscotti translates to “twice baked”.  A common mate for your morning latte, this dry “toast” is more like a cross between a scone and a cookie.   While you can guild the lilies as much as you’d like with chocolate drips and drizzles, I prefer the simple flavors of almonds and dried fruit which are typical add-ins for traditional biscotti.  Don’t worry, there is plenty of chocolate in this recipe, but it’s just barely enough so you can still eat it for breakfast.

1/2 c coarsely chopped Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% Dark Chocolate
1 c firmly-packed light brown sugar
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/3  c Lake Champlain Chocolates Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1/2 c dried cherries

To toast almonds: preheat oven to 350º.  Spread almonds on an ungreased baking sheet and toast about fifteen minutes until fragrant.  Allow to cool completely.  Reduce oven temperature to 300º.

Coarsely chop about ½ c of Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% Dark Chocolate.  I didn’t have chocolate chips on hand when I made these, so I unwrapped a handful of our Dark Chocolate Coins and chopped those up.  In a food processor, pulse the chocolate and brown sugar a few times to form a fine crumb.  Set aside.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Make sure these ingredients are well combined – the cocoa powder allows you be sure of this from a uniform color once completely incorporated.

In a medium bowl, over low speed, beat the eggs and vanilla for about thirty seconds.  Add the flour mixture and beat over medium speed until well-combined.  Add the brown sugar mixture, mix well.  Switching to a wooden spoon, fold in cooled almonds and cherries, and mix to combine.

Divide the dough in half on a well-floured surface.  It will be pretty wet, so you’ll need flour your hands as well.  Work each half into a log, about 12-15 inches long and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about six inches between each log.  Bake for about 40 minutes.  Remove from oven, place entire sheet on a cooling rack, and allow to cool for about ten minutes.

Using a serrated knife on a cutting board, cut the slightly-cooled loaves into ¾” slices.  Place cut-side up on cooking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, carefully turn each one over and bake again on the second side for 15 minutes.  If you prefer drier Biscotti, cook for a little longer on each side.

Makes about 30 Biscotti

It’s 10:36 am.  The only evidence of the Double Chocolate Muffins I set on the kitchen counter here at Lake Champlain Chocolates when I got to work this morning are crumbs.  I think they were a hit.

1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 c milk
1/2 c olive oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 c flour (shout out to King Arthur’s Unbleached All-Purpose Flour!)
1/2 c Lake Champlain Chocolates Unsweetened Organic Fair Trade Cocoa Powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% Dark Chocolate Chips

1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375º with rack in center.  Line or generously grease muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, blend sugars, eggs, milk, olive oil and vanilla on medium speed until well-combined.

Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Mix by hand until well-moistened and smooth. 

Gently fold in 3/4 c chocolate chips. 

Meanwhile, make the crumb topping: Mix 1/2 c sugar, 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp cocoa, 2 tbsp olive oil in a small bowl with a fork until mixture resembles a course meal.  Gently fold in remaining chocolate chips.

Fill lined or greased muffin tins with batter and sprinkle with crumb topping.  Bake 20-25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking time.  Makes 12 muffins.

Chocolate Facial Mask Recipe

Posted on August 8, 2008 8:57 AM by Leann
As you know, I’m always searching for interesting chocolate recipes to share and for the most part, they’re edible. But today, I have something a little different. I keep hearing about this but until now, hadn’t known how to make it at home and I’m so excited I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. I found a recipe for a chocolate facial mask you can make in your very own kitchen with things you already have. And from the looks of it, you can almost bake what you don’t use and eat it later. Ok, I’m just kidding about that part but it sounds like something I’ve made for dessert in the past.

To give credit where credit is due, I found it at They have some other great looking beauty recipes so check them out.

Chocolate Facial Mask
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tsp. cottage cheese
¼ cup honey
3 tsp. oatmeal

Mix all ingredients together and smooth onto face. Relax for ten 10 minutes, then wash off with warm water.

It says that this mask is a great moisturizer and is recommended for normal skin. I can’t wait to go home, run a bath and enjoy a chocolate facial. I think I'll really get into it and try using all organic ingredients. I wonder if there are any calories?