Chocolate has been a favourite subject of the Activate team for many years! We have written articles on it in our magazines, waxed lyrical about it in our books and enjoyed chocolate tasting events at our conferences, training days and even national executive meetings. From cream eggs to champagne truffles, with a move towards organic and the fairly traded ‘Divine’, we are all big fans. This week it has been announced that Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bars are going to be ‘fair trade’ by the end of the summer – a step in the right direction.
We have been talking about the unifying and peculiarly feminine draw of the beautifully processed cocoa bean for a long time and encouraging our supporters to use chocolate for events and gatherings. We all remember Mel Gibsons words of wisdom that what woman really want lies somewhere between conversation and chocolate. What could be better than combining the two?
In the present days of economic uncertainty, redundancy and hardship, is there still a place for such a hedonistic pleasure? The research out this week suggests that people are turning to chocolate more than ever. Cadbury says its worldwide global pretax profits were up 30%. The chief executive, Stitzer said the group had seen a particularly strong second half of 2008, helped by the re-launch of its Wispa bar and its new Creme Egg Twisted product. Mars and Nestle are similarly up by 25 and 16% respectively.As consumers face tighter finances they tend to stay in more and seek the comfort of chocolate to boost their well being.
The recommendation to include chocolate themes to your event planning may seem old hat, but it is just as relevant as ever. If your friends and neighbours are struggling to afford nights out, then this is the perfect time to organise a fun and non-expensive treat. Borrow a chocolate fountain or two and try out some different flavours of fairly traded chocolate flowing over fresh fruit. At the Activate November weekend away we experimented with Divine orange flavoured chocolate alongside the traditional milk: it was very popular. Perhaps you could combine a quiz, themed round the cocoa bean and finish the evening off with a short message that includes some chocolate recipes and a recipe for life in all its fullness, as laid out by Jesus. Maybe you could gather a few friends together in your kitchen and try melting and moulding chocolate truffles together as cheap Mothers’ Day gifts.
Here is an internet recipe –
Chocolate Cream Truffles:
8 ounces (227 grams) dark or milk chocolate, cut into small pieces – the better the quality, the richer the taste
180 ml double or whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons alcohol (Cognac, brandy, Grand Marnier, kirsch, rum, bourbon, or Kahlua to name a few) (optional)
For Truffles: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. If desired, add the liqueur. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the truffle mixture is firm (this will take several hours or overnight).
Place your coatings for the truffles on a plate, (cocoa powder, coconut or icing sugar are suitable). Remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. With your hands, or else a melon baller or small spoon form the chocolate into round or mis-shaped bite-sized balls. Immediately roll the truffle in the coating and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or tray. Cover and place in the refrigerator until firm. Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 30 small truffles.
If you have given up eating chocolate for lent, then apologies, just enjoy planning an event now to make the Easter celebration all the more special this year!