A Definitive Guide To Vegan Chocolate
It's no surprise that the Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.” Smithsonian Magazine explains that chocolate may be more than 2,000 years old. It has been used throughout history, from brewing it for a bitter tea to fermenting it for an alcoholic beverage. Studies suggest that dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and increase cardiovascular function. Adding milk to this beautiful food seems silly.
What Is Vegan Chocolate?
The simple answer is that vegan chocolate is chocolate without any animal ingredients except milk. That's pretty awesome. Of course, “vegan chocolate” isn't a one-size-fits-all category, but plenty of choices exist. Look for the label “plant-based.” Your Favorite Vegan Chocolate is Made in the USA According to the Vegan Society if you can find a bar of American-made vegan chocolate, your chocolate is most likely vegan. This is because, for the most part, US companies aren't using non-human animal ingredients to create chocolate.
Vegans, like vegetarians, may shy away from consuming animal-based foods. But sometimes, it can feel like they have to compromise with the foods they love, which is why so many find it so hard to find a good, healthy vegan option. There are two kinds of vegan chocolate: milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
Dairy-free dark chocolate uses cocoa butter instead of milk. Dark chocolate contains two primary ingredients that are not vegan: dairy and honey. To be clear, there are lots of great vegan dark chocolates that use only cocoa butter, so your options are plentiful. Plus, some use nothing at all.
When it comes to making vegan chocolate, you're going to have to do without the lactose and dairy products found in regular chocolate. Vegan chocolate can range from bland to blandest. There are a lot of varieties on the market, but there are a few leading brands that will ensure your sweet tooth is satisfied.
The results are very similar to regular chocolate but with a more neutral flavour. Vegan chocolate doesn't contain animal ingredients, like animal fat, animal milk, or animal extracts, including colourants. It's not just ethical—it's delicious. All of the cocoa used in vegan chocolate is edible, and all of the ingredients used in its production are naturally derived. It's available in various delicious flavours, and it's one of those things you can incorporate into your diet without even realizing it.
Vegan chocolate is incredibly versatile. It can be used as a sweet or savoury ingredient. It's customizable like every chocolate product—you can add extra vegan ingredients like cacao butter and sea salt for that extra depth of flavour. Most people associate vegan chocolate with products made from soy or almond milk, as these ingredients are the most common in vegan chocolate. However, many vegan chocolates are also suitable for dairy-free and vegan-allergic diets.
Benefits Of Vegan Chocolate
Vegans have less risk of severe health problems from consuming dairy. Unlike cow's milk, animal-based dairy is exceptionally high in lactose and provides less protein and fat. If you're looking for vegan chocolate but aren't sure what to buy or how to make it, we've got your back.
We've talked to several vegan chocolatiers to get the scoop on the best brands and see if you can create your own with a simple kit. We've also found brands to satisfy anyone's sweet tooth, whether you're vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free. These are the brands you need to get your hands on, from smooth, creamy bars to dark chocolate truffles.
For vegans, non-dairy chocolate, or chocolate-based chocolate, it doesn't mean you can't indulge! Milk chocolate, or vegan “milk” chocolate, is made by adding a little bit of non-dairy milk, which is not lactose, to chocolate in the manufacturing process. Chocolate, aside from tasting amazing, is also packed with great nutrients. One cup of dark chocolate packs 23 grams of fiber, which provides valuable minerals and essential fatty acids.
This adds to the nutritional value of chocolate and makes it a well-rounded, nutritionally dense treat. Additionally, antioxidants found in dark chocolate have been linked to a lower risk of developing cancer. Milk chocolate has more fat, so you'll consume more calories but gain less for your body. Some studies show that chocolate may be suitable for cardiovascular health, lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It's also been shown to have beneficial effects on memory and cognition.
These excellent health benefits of vegan chocolate have serious appeal. If you're vegan, you can enjoy enjoying the ultimate in chocolate decadence guilt-free, or at the very least, guilt-free for one of the most popular treats in history. Heart Health – Vegan chocolates are rich in flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and increase cardiovascular function. Additionally, milk chocolate has higher levels of fat and other additives than dark chocolate.
Indeed, natural, unsweetened cacao isn't an ideal choice for a vegan diet — it's made with cocoa butter, which is saturated fat. However, it's a source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are healthy fats. Many vegan chocolate companies offer options, but you can also go for brands that use vegetable oils, such as canola, palm, and soybean oils.
However, most people ask whether or not they can get a balanced diet without nutrient-rich chocolate. “True chocolate, or chocolate in any form, should never be limited or substituted for whole foods,” nutritional therapist Terry Jordan explains. “Instead, plant-based chocolate provides the important minerals and nutrients that are critical to a healthy diet and lifestyle.”
Many varieties of chocolate contain high levels of antioxidants that can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, thus prolonging your life and improving your health. Chocolate provides more nutrients than you may realize, including fiber and potassium. There are numerous health benefits of eating chocolate, but our favourite is a natural mood enhancer.
What Are The Ingredients In Vegan Chocolate?
Although a few ingredients on the market claim to mimic the taste of real chocolate, we feel that a large amount of the time, they are way too sweet and don't pack enough flavour or nutrients. Many vegan chocolate brands are filled with sugary ingredients, such as palm oil and some sugar alcohols. Well, if you're going to make “chocolate” from something, why not chocolate.
Even though many people do not typically choose “dairy-free” or “vegan” when shopping for a sweet treat, it can be super simple to turn this otherwise animal-derived product into something delicious without all the cruelty of the dairy and eggs. If you have access to a juicer (or it can be obtained from various places, including Amazon), you can easily make your own pure vanilla extract by simply chopping up a vanilla bean. (To make a great, delicious, creamy sauce to top off your vegan chocolate cake, check out this recipe.)
Some recipes suggest grinding dates, but they are hard to find these days, and they can be costly. A couple of years ago, Nielsen Consumer showed that vegan chocolate sales had risen more than 50% since 2012. Plant-based chocolate makers are capitalizing on this growth by making vegan chocolate for all kinds of reasons.
Some, like Vermont-based Buono Vita, use natural cocoa powder, like all other types of chocolate. Still, other vegan chocolate makers, such as Toblerone, also make vegan chocolate with milk protein, or “milk chocolate.”
Finally, Nestlé is the first company to source cacao beans from Sumatra, where farmers traditionally harvest their cocoa beans using traditional cocoa methods, with minimal environmental impact.
To make completely vegan chocolate, you have to replace the milk with something that won't clog arteries and boost your blood sugar. Most vegan chocolate is made from soy, nut and rice milk, almond and coconut milk, or both.
Nearly all chocolate contains at least two ingredients: cocoa butter and chocolate flavourings (usually milk solids, like soy, coconut or almond). While there are many artificial alternatives to the fats in cocoa butter, such as palm oil and coconut oil, a soybean oil-based cocoa butter substitute called Keif is being marketed to replace coconut or palm oils.
Because the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat, it does not make a suitable replacement for butter. Soak some pitted dates in a cup of boiling water for 30 minutes, and then drain the dates and spread them on parchment paper to dry. They'll have the same taste and smell as coconut oil. Mix 1/4 cup of the soaked dates with a tablespoon or two of the Keif in a food processor. Set aside for two weeks, and then grind to a fine paste.
Chocolate results from fermentation and moulding of the cacao fruit (the seeds of the cacao tree) with the fruit's endosperm and juice. According to Pure Bites, cacao beans can be raw or roasted, and the process involves using boiling water and a highly ventilated spot to let the bean ferment and reduce down into a thick paste.
The endosperm remains the main ingredient for chocolate, and it is usually roasted with anise, menthol, or aniseed oil. After steeping, it is left to cool and then ground in a stone grinder. The paste is then put in a pot and heated until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes the cocoa butter to form. The sugar and cocoa powder are added, and the mixture is allowed to cool and gel. This is usually done over an hour or so.
What Chocolates Are Vegan?
Most of the popular brands of chocolate include cocoa butter, so unless you're keen on waiting until you can get it imported from South America or Asia, you should be able to find a vegan chocolate bar in your local grocery store. Most vegan chocolate bars are mostly (but not exclusively) made with soy lecithin, which is a yellow or brown powder.
Soy lecithin helps the chocolate hold its shape, and a majority of the chocolate you find in the vegan aisle is plant-based. For example, Hershey's Special Dark is made with soy lecithin, while some Trader Joe's offerings use soy lecithin. Other chocolate brands also use soy lecithin, including Dove and Guittard, Lindt and Dark Matter depending on your dairy preference.
Vegans may find this hard to believe, but several brands of chocolate are vegan and safe to enjoy. Below, we've compiled a list of some of the more popular brands of vegan chocolate. Worthington – Two of the company's most popular vegan chocolate bars are the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle and White Chocolate Pretzel Truffle. Each bar features a unique combination of dark chocolate and raspberry, blended with candied orange rind.
Forget Chocolate (WCA) – WCA's flavour lineup ranges from three to 14 different bar flavours. Still, the Dark Chocolate with Almonds and Sea Salt is a notable favourite, with a dark chocolate filling and a sprinkling of sea salt. Other popular vegan chocolate bars include:
Mizar – This Ecuadorian brand features a wide variety of vegan-friendly chocolates. The world of vegan chocolate is very complicated, but a few things are certain: Most vegan chocolate contains soy lecithin or coconut lecithin. Most vegan chocolate contains guar gum, a natural thickening agent found in many foods, including tapioca and applesauce.
Where Can I Buy Vegan Chocolate?
If you're looking for vegan chocolates, I suggest you start at Petal Chocolate in Chicago. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, owner Leila Kosmal opened her first shop in 2007, and her new factory and chocolate shop is a dream come true. Kosmal uses all-natural ingredients, including chocolate from sustainable farms. You can try their vegan chocolate truffles, handmade treats or actual chocolate bark.
I discovered Petal Chocolate after it was featured on the TV show America's Test Kitchen, and they genuinely take the vegan challenge. If you prefer larger, harder candies, then you'll like The Cocoa Beanery in Costa Mesa, California. Just look on your supermarket shelves!
Like many items in the dairy and egg sections, vegan chocolates are just as readily available. Dairy- and egg-free “chocolate” can be easily found in the dry goods section, while the newer plant-based products are located in the dairy or baby food sections. There are many vegan chocolates available, but some of the most famous brands in the industry are Kind, Fromagination, and After The Bar.
Is Dark Chocolate Vegan?
For some people who follow a plant-based diet, dark chocolate is the only source of chocolate that they can eat. This means that they cannot eat any other type of chocolate. When making vegan chocolate recipes, the texture and taste can vary from vegan to vegan. Some chocolate recipes may require chocolate substitutes, which are available at most grocery stores.
It is essential to read the ingredient labels to ensure you use vegan substitutes and not animal by-products. Dark chocolate is made from either the cacao bean or cacao butter. The cacao bean is higher in sugar and fat content and lacks the protein found in cacao butter.
While cacao butter does contain some protein, the chocolate variety used in vegan baking doesn't. That doesn't mean dark chocolate isn't completely vegan! It simply means you'll need to know what to look for when purchasing chocolate. Avocado dark chocolate: This is a great way to consume healthy cacao and avocados simultaneously!
While it doesn't contain the protein found in cacao butter, it has the same amount of calcium and fiber as regular chocolate. Avocado dark chocolate can be challenging to find but is available from places like TreatWell and Holistic Health Mama.
Is White Chocolate Vegan?
Not at all! Not all white chocolate is vegan, so you need to be careful. Many vegan versions of white chocolate are made with coconut milk or with other milk-like products. It's also great to know that these vegan white chocolate raspberry truffles are paleo, dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free if that's your thing. What is vegan about vegan white chocolate? Vegan white chocolate gets its rich colour from agave nectar.
Some brands may use vegetable oil instead of sugar for taste, but these ingredients aren't necessary. Well, the FDA lists “milk chocolate,” “cream,” “chocolate powder,” and “chocolate liquor” as vegan, but some chocolate lovers use these terms in a loose sense. And it may vary from store to store. If you're a vegan, you can enjoy white chocolate without a lick of guilt. And if you're not vegan, you can enjoy the sweet taste of white chocolate with no fear of egg, milk, soy or refined sugar.
How To Make Vegan Chocolate?
With an easy, no-compromise, pure vegan chocolate chip recipe, of course. Cacao powder is loaded with protein, B vitamins, and minerals and makes a phenomenal base for vegan chocolate. This cacao powder recipe is also naturally high in cacao butter, an antioxidant-rich base for beautiful and intense chocolate flavours.
What you'll need:
- 1 cup cacao powder,
- 3/4 cup water,
- 3/4 cup organic cane sugar,
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract,
- 1 tbsp natural unsalted sunflower oil,
- 1 tbsp coconut oil,
- 2 tbsp cornstarch,
- 2 tbsp chopped walnuts,
- 4 whole eggs,
- 1 cup whole rolled oats, and
- 2 tbsp chopped almonds.
A great place to start is with Trader Joe's. Look for dark chocolate (or beets!), and look for the ingredients “glucose syrups” and “powdered cocoa.” Even better, find vegan chocolate milk that's good for dessert and has only eight ingredients (not including cocoa butter!)—all-natural ingredients and delicious names like Cocoa Chai Mint, Dark Chocolate Coconut Bliss, Maple Marshmallow, White Mint Chocolate Chip, and Coffee-Chocolate Almond.
There are quite a few recipes out there, many more than when we first started learning about it. It helps to understand the differences between various types of vegan chocolate—and it helps that we just so happen to live in a world where Soylent exists.
Depending on the recipe, using plant milk may be the only ingredient or the most significant ingredient, like in a variation of a White Russian, for example. There are a few common ingredients. If you're making the cocoa, dark chocolate, or “cacao,” then you'll likely need to buy some cocoa powder or cocoa butter, which are the fats in cocoa beans. However, cacao butter is typically called for when using a “cacao bean,” so you should use it if you can find it.
How Much Does Vegan Chocolate Cost?
First things first, vegan chocolate isn't expensive to make. If you make a double batch of vegan chocolate and divide it between five people, it only costs $1.40 for an 8-ounce bar. This is compared to $3 for a whole bean dark chocolate. Not too bad for chocolate we all enjoy. It's pretty affordable to go vegan, especially if you shop at Whole Foods, Sprouts, or Trader Joe's.
Whole Foods has a variety of varieties of vegan chocolates at an average price of $3.99. Sprouts offer vegan chocolate at an average price of $1.69, and Trader Joe's has seven different kinds of chocolate at an average price of $1.79. Not all of the chocolate you find at the grocery store is vegan. Make sure to read the labels carefully and avoid products that contain milk or cream. It's also a good idea to search the ingredient list on a few different products so you can see if any of the ingredients list the word “dairy.
In my professional opinion, the best way to enjoy chocolate is when it's “bad.” Anything with sugar or gluten in it is essentially just candy, so it's unnecessary to continue on and on about the ethics of eating it. I'll stick to my delicious dairy-free bars, and you should stick to yours.
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