Violet Crumble

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

Origin

By Ben Shewry

Published 2012

  • About

Despite being separated by almost a century, I feel as if the creator of the Violet Crumble, Abel Hoadley, and I are kindred spirits. Hoadley was an innovator and a romantic. He created the Violet Crumble, the well-loved Australian chocolate bar, in 1913, and named the confection after his wife’s favourite flower, the violet. In New Zealand, I had grown up with Crunchie bars, which are similar to but not as crisp as the Violet Crumble. New Zealanders, myself included, love the aerated toffee named ‘honeycomb’, made from sugar, golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda), which is what makes both Crunchies and Violet Crumbles so addictive. As my style began to develop, I created several dishes about my motherland, but I desired to create something that spoke of my new home, the city of Melbourne, which is how my idea of a ‘Violet Crumble’ dessert took hold.

Part of my research when working on new dishes is to study the history and background of ingredients, so as I began to develop my version of the Violet Crumble, I realised I knew very little about chocolate. Sure, I’d eaten my fair share of chocolate throughout my life, but it wasn’t until I saw the BBC’s Panorama documentary ‘Chocolate — The Bitter Truth’ that the not-so-sweet side of chocolate dawned on me. It was a hard slap in the face, a wake-up call. What the show revealed was so horrific it brought me to tears. In a terrible paradox, I realised that an ingredient bringing joy to so many children in the developed world was causing such pain and suffering to thousands of children in West Africa. The documentary revealed that more than 40 per cent of the world’s cocoa is sourced from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. The United Nations estimates that there are more than 15,000 children in the Ivory Coast, some as young as eight years old, who are enslaved to cocoa plantations. They are often stolen from their families, deprived of a real childhood, with no chance for an education and therefore no ability to earn an income as an adult. With no hope of salvation, these children eke out a precarious existence, exposed to poisonous chemical sprays and are subjected to harvesting the cocoa pods by hand with a machete.

The next day, I rang my chocolate supplier.

Me: ‘Where is the cocoa that you supply us grown?’

Supplier: ‘Um, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.’

Me: ‘Can you confirm or deny if any children were used in the production of this chocolate?’

Supplier: ‘Ahh, I’ll need to call the manufacturer in Spain.’

Me: ‘Did you watch the BBC chocolate documentary last night?’

Supplier: ‘No I didn’t.’

Me: ‘We will no longer be buying any chocolate from you.’

And I hung up the phone. I emailed the chocolate manufacturer with questions and never got a response.

That day I took chocolate off the menu completely and with my friend and chocolatier Tad Lombardo began the hard process of trying to find an ethical chocolate producer. This took three months of searching, but I eventually found a producer who could guarantee that no child slavery had been used in its production and that they paid above Fairtrade prices for their cocoa. And the chocolate tasted better because of it.

To Finish

  • 30 g (1 oz) ethically produced dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)*, finely grated
  • 10 g ( oz) candied violets, ground into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle
  • 10 g ( oz) candied violets, lightly crushed using a mortar and pestle
  • 8 unsprayed fresh violets, petals picked

Place a small teaspoon of the butterscotch in the base of each bowl. Next, crumble some of the honeycomb into the bowls. Place a scoop of violet sorbet on top. Sprinkle over some of the grated chocolate followed by a large dessertspoon of the frozen chocolate. Scatter some more honeycomb over the top and sprinkle over some of the violet powder and crushed violets. Scatter over a few fresh violet petals to finish.

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