fair trade chocolate


Delicious Chocolate Snacking with barkTHINS

I enjoy cooking, and because I work from home, I’m able to make semi-elaborate dinners on weeknights. But we’re also a family on-the-go thanks to having two children in competitive hockey, so I make sure to have a good supply of snacks on hand.

Our go-to snacks are fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, and cheese and crackers. But we also love having a little something to satisfy our sweet tooth… like chocolate!

There are many benefits to eating dark chocolate, a super food that contains several important nutrients. Made from the cocoa tree seed, dark chocolate has antioxidants that helps lower blood pressure and fight disease. Bonus!

Have you ever paired chocolate with wine? After a long work-week, I enjoy unwinding in front of the TV with a glass of wine and some chocolate. Who am I kidding?! I also enjoy an afternoon pick-me-up to keep me going the remainder of the afternoon!

The only trouble is, there aren’t many good options for a delicious gluten-free, non-GMO and Fair Trade chocolate snack…. until I tried barkTHINS®.

barkTHINS® are thin pieces of Fair Trade dark chocolate combined with delicious and simple non-GMO ingredients. They contain no artificial colors or flavours – why? Because barkTHINS are made with delicious natural ingredients… we’re talking almonds, pretzels, toasted coconut and pumpkins seeds.

For the first time, Canadians are able to get their hands on all four barkTHINS® flavours:

Delicious Chocolate Snacking with barkTHINS

Often I find dark chocolate to be quite bitter, but barkTHINS have a smooth taste without the bitter finish. barkTHINS have quickly became a favorite treat in our house. The only challenge is trying NOT to eat the entire bag!

My son claimed the Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt, which was fine because I can’t have gluten/wheat. He loves the crunchiness of the pretzels combined with the deep chocolate flavour.

The toasted coconut is dangerously addicting! There is something about the combination of the chocolate with the nuttiness of the toasted coconut that makes it impossible to stop at just one or two pieces.

The dark chocolate combined with the crispy almond or pumpkin seed with sea salt has just the right amount of sweet and salty goodness. Inspired by the Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt flavour, I decided to make a batch of gluten-free pumpkin cookies and added barkTHINS for an extra burst of deliciousness!

Gluten-free soft pumpkin cookies with barkTHINS

I also love getting behind a company that is Fair Trade Certified™ and use non-GMO ingredients. Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers receive a fair price, allows farmers to invest in techniques that bring out the flavours of the region, and strictly prohibits slave and child labour.


Where can you buy barkTHINS?

  • Costco
  • Walmart
  • Sobeys
  • Loblaws
  • Metro (in ON and QC)
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Overwaitea
  • Federated Coop
  • London Drugs
  • Jean Coutu
  • Rexall

barkTHINS offer a delicious twist on chocolate – they call it SNACKING ELEVATED and I would have to agree!

Which flavour of barkTHINS would you like to try first?

Delicious Chocolate Snacking with barkTHINS

Disclosure: I received product from barkTHINS and wanted to share it with you. This post is sponsored by barkTHINS, however, all opinions are completely my own and are based on my experience.



Flourless Fair Trade Chocolate Cake Recipe

by Cathy Rankin, recipe by Dana Jackson

When women come together, good things happen.  A friend of mine is in large part supporting a group called Creative Social where creative minds come together.  She happens to be amazing in the kitchen!  So when I wrote my article on fair-trade chocolate, it was meant to be for Dana and I to converge and support as the group was intended for.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day and in support of my article and fair trade chocolate, here is a recipe for foodies everywhere, compliments of Dana Jackson of HotPinkApron.com.

This is a delicious gluten-free, flour-less fair-trade chocolate cake recipe.  We’re preparing it in a 6″ pan, making it ideal for small dinner parties or intimate date nights.

The chocolate flavour is rich and the dense texture is that perfect mix between cake, brownie and fudge.  This is a household favourite with fresh berries or homemade jam, and a dollop of fair trade certified ice cream.  Yum!  For this recipe and many other chocolate based recipes of mine, I use the fair trade certified cuisine Camino brand products found in most major grocers.

Follow Dana on Twitter @hotpinkparon for more recipes and adventures in eating well.

Flour-less Fair Trade Chocolate Cake


1 bar (100g) of fair trade certified, fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (Not unsweetened. You can substitute for a dark 70%+ chocolate.  I use camino brand bittersweet 71% dark chocolate bar.)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus additional to butter the pan

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup fair trade certified, unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional for sprinkling (I also use the Camino brand 100% cocoa powder.)

no flour chocolate cake


Preheat oven to 375°F and butter a 6-inch round or spring-form baking pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter paper.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/4 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven for 30 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack for at least 10 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.  I recommend letting this cake completely cool to room temperature, approximately 2 hours, before serving.

Dust cake with additional cocoa powder and serve with berries and ice cream, if desired. This cake will keep, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container for one week but after the first taste I wouldn’t count on it being around for longer than a day. 🙂


Recipe and photos courtesy of:

Dana Jackson of HotPinkApron.com.

Cathy Rankin is a freelance writer and mother of one wonderful little boy, teaching her daily how not to sweat the small stuff.  Follow her on Twitter.

Chocolate Lovers: You Don’t Want to Read This

by Cathy Rankin

Sometimes ignorance really is bliss, but once you have the knowledge, it is hard to turn back. That was the case with me one night, typing away minding my business with the TV on in the background.

A late night show called Crime Inc. was covering the harsh realities of child labour.

Narrator on screen: “And believe it or not, one of the worst industries for child labour is the cocoa bean.”

Cocoa Bean: The main ingredient in chocolate.

I’ve heard it! I can’t go back now… what you don’t know about chocolate.  After doing a little digging on my own, here is a general overview of what I found.

The cocoa bean thrives on the Ivory Coast of Africa.  This west African nation is the leading world supplier of cocoa, second being Ghana. Cocoa farmers are paid very little for their product, driving them to continue to find lower labour costs.

Not only are the children working on these farms very young, investigators and labour initiatives such as the ILR (International labour Rights Forum), discovered that the children are forced to work long hours, using dangerous tools and pesticides without proper safety or training. Many also suffer cruel treatment and frequent beatings.

Major cocoa companies have made voluntary commitments to to self-regulate for “child labour free” cocoa but the changes required to ensure this simply have not happened.

So what can we do?


Just being aware and educating yourself is a great first step. Take a few minutes and do some searching on your own, you will quickly find many sources and in-depth articles on this topic.

Fair Trade

Search for a store near you or online that sells fair trade chocolate, paying the farmer a fair wage for the product purchased. In Toronto you can visit “Delight” located at 3040 Dundas Street West, for not only fair-trade, but organic. Smaller communities may require online alternatives.

One Person, One Change

This Valentines, what if each of us asked for something other than chocolate? Every small action counts. Support your local businesses, ask for a pedicure at a nearby salon or something from local gift shop.

Through this article, I am just a messenger, not the expert so please explore on your own. And let us know what you plan on doing or asking for on Valentines!

A list of Fair Trade Chocolate:  http://www.worldvision.com.au/Act/DontTradeLives/GoodChocolateGuide.aspx

Where to find fair trade products?

Visit http://fairtrade.ca/ and use their Fair Trade Finder.




International Cocao Initiative (ICL)

International Labour Rights Forum (ILR)



Cathy Rankin is a freelance writer and mother of one wonderful little boy, teaching her daily how not to sweat the small stuff.  Follow her on Twitter.