As the nights draw in and the holidays creep ever closer, chocolate also moves straight to the forefront of everyone’s minds, transitioning into festive themed gift boxes in offices and living rooms across the world.
Who wouldn't want a vegan easter egg? Or vegan chocolates at Christmas?
Many people assume vegans miss out on this chocolate bonanza, but they’d be wrong! With the growing emergence of new vegan brands and bars, vegans have more chocolate choices than ever before.
So, if you’re a vegan looking to pick some up for yourself, or you’re shopping for vegan friends and family, here’s everything you need to know when looking to purchase a vegan chocolate fix.
What chocolate is vegan?
Quite simply, any chocolate that is without traces of dairy, or other animal products.
Usually, vegan chocolate bars contain few ingredients, and typical bars are made from high concentrations of cocoa powder, sugar, cocoa butter (a butter that is completely vegan friendly as it is just made from the fat of the cocoa plant) and vanilla.
Sometimes flavours will vary to include other ingredients such as almonds, almond butter, fruits, and soy lecithin. These are also completely vegan friendly as they contain no animal byproducts.
Is dark chocolate vegan?
Dark chocolate is the best vegan example of them all! Dark chocolate usually consists of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla extract. If the dark chocolate is flavoured, such as with fruits or nuts, these will be the only added exceptions.
However, it is always best to double check the ingredients depending on the brand. Some dark chocolate bars that have fillings, such as dark chocolate peppermint bars, will contain butterfats which are made using milk.
Plus, if the packaging has warnings that the bar may contain milk on its dietary information, it’s best to stay away from it. Usually somewhere within the manufacturing milk will have been used to bind the chocolate, either inside the cocoa butter or mass.
Vegan dark chocolate is increasingly popular in supermarkets and the best supermarket vegan dark chocolate is British brand, Montezuma’s.
Vegan milk chocolate
Remarkably, vegan milk chocolate is starting to become more commonplace in the market! As milk chocolate gets its creaminess from the ingredient in its name - milk, many vegan manufacturers have used this as a starting place to be able to produce their own alternatives.
Typically, vegan milk chocolate is nicknamed ‘mylk’ and will comprise of cacao, coconut oil, coconut milk - or other alternatives, such as almond or oat milk - and sweeteners like sugar or maple syrup.
Vegan white chocolate
White chocolate has always been a controversial subject. As it contains no cocoa solids, its title as a type of “chocolate” is always hotly debated.
White chocolate usually derives its creamy taste and texture from its blend of cocoa butter and milk, which is why for a long time it has been left off of the supermarket vegan confectionery shelves.. Until recently!
Vegan white chocolate is recently beginning to take on a surge in popularity thanks to supermarket own brands bringing out their Free From versions.
Within these vegan white chocolate bars, the milk element that gives white chocolate its distinctive flavouring is instead replaced with coconut oil, maize flour, cocoa butter, sugar and plant-friendly vegan additives such as the glucose alternative, Maltodextrin and dietary fibre Inulin.
Other alternative ingredients that make up the bars can include rice powder, tiger nuts, bourbon vanilla extracts and bourbon vanilla pods. As with milk chocolate, it’s always best to check the ingredients. If the dietary information suggests that it may contain milk, yet there’s no obvious animal byproduct source, it’s still one to avoid.
Vegan Chocolate Hamper
Looking for the perfect gift for a vegan chocolate lover? Take a look at our Vegan Chocolate Hamper. It's full of handpicked delicious chocolates that are sure to put a smile on their face!
Our recommended vegan chocolates:
If however you’re a little busy to craft your own vegan chocolate, or you’re just looking for where to buy vegan chocolate, we’ve got some recommendations for you!
Our top five vegan chocolate products are:
This organic mylk chocolate uses a mix of cocoa butter and mass, entwined with hazelnut paste, bourbon vanilla extract and tiger nuts to produce a super smooth, creamy tasting melt in the mouth vegan milk chocolate experience.
Right now, we’re such fans of iChoc that we have an exclusive offer running across the brand: if you purchase 10 for £2.15 each, you can save up to 12%! Or, you can nab their 6 bar selection box for £13.99 right here!
Yes, vegan chocolate is not adverse to getting classy! Vegan chocolate confectionery Booja Booja uses 55% cocoa solids, organically grown cocoa powder, cane sugars, vanilla and coconut oil to produce a masterpiece of a truffle that is both smooth, decadent and delicious.
In their luxury champagne truffles, they embody these ingredients with up to 7% Fine de Champagne, a cognac blend of eau-de-vie that originates from the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne growing areas.
Ombar Coco Mylk is not only a silky smooth, caramel tasting vegan milk chocolate - it’s also a superfood as it contains bio live cultures! Coconut cream infused with cocoa butter, coconut sugar and vanilla pods gives this chocolate a deliciously creamy taste.
Meanwhile its inclusion of lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic live culture, promotes good gut health, working to improve or restore gut flora. A treat and a health boost? Awesome!
Superior in name, superior in style. Vivani’s vegan dark chocolate is award winning, and for good reason. Produced from small farming cooperatives deep within the rainforests of Ecuador, the delicate thinness of this bar intensifies its 70% cocoa solids taste.
Sharp cranberries give a tantalising tang when they meet the smooth combination of organically manufactured cocoa butter and cane sugars.
Regarded as the finest cocoa, the ‘Arriba’ derivation gives the chocolate a unique, sumptuous taste that will leave you yearning for more.
We couldn’t let a top five list go by without mentioning the Raw Chocolate Co. Proudly announcing that their bars are free from “anything that doesn’t need to be there” this fun chocolate bar is not only good for your taste buds, but good for the environment too.
Made from nothing but virgin cacao butter, the lucuma fruit native to the Andean valleys, coconut palm sugar and vanilla, this UK produced bar is a creamy, toffee and vanilla tasting treat.
Vegan sweet tooth? You might find these other articles appealing...
- Vegan Sweets Hamper
- Vegan Chocolate Hampers
How to make vegan chocolate
Thanks to the massive influx in popularity, many keen vegan chocolate artisans are now beginning to experiment with making their own types of vegan chocolate once they see how few ingredients it contains.
Homemade vegan chocolate makers have been discovering that cocoa butter is the key ingredient that binds everything together, and gives you that sweet treat kick, and have come up with quick recipes involving only a handful of ingredients so that vegans and vegetarians can try it for themselves!
If you want to try your own, here’s a quick, 6 ingredient, less than 30 minute recipe from Minimalist Baker that you can get crafting!
- 230g finely chopped cocoa butter OR 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 3-5 tbsp maple syrup OR sub agave nectar
- 65g unsweetened cocoa powder OR cacao powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch of sea salt (optional)
- Cacao nibs (optional)
- In a large saucepan, add 2 inches of cold water and then bring it to the boil over a medium high heat. Set a medium sized glass or ceramic mixing bowl on top, making sure to not touch the water.
- Add the chopped cocoa butter or coconut oil to your mixing bowl and leave to melt for 2-3 minutes.
- Once the cocoa butter or coconut oil is melted, add either the maple syrup or agave nectar and, using a whisk or wooden spoon, mix until the substance is both fluid and thoroughly combined.
- Remove your bowl and set it down on a flat surface. Turn off the stove-top heat and set the saucepan to one side.
- Add in either your cacao or cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt (optional). Whisk together until there are no clumps.
- If desired: Pour the mixture into 12-14 mini cupcake liners, or 7 large cupcake liners and top with either sea salt or cacao nibs
- Transfer the chocolate to the freezer or refrigerator to set. Let the chocolate set for up to at least 10 minutes.
- Enjoy! Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for around 1 week, or alternatively in a freezer for up to 1 month.