Vegan Chocolate: Facts and Myths
As the popularity of vegan lifestyle is rising, more fast food brands are coming up with vegan alternatives and new businesses are starting up such as beyond meat and impossible burger. At the same time, we see some brands are charging high premium for a mediocre product just because it is vegan. And vegan chocolate, my friends, is one such product.
Last time when I went to whole foods, I was surprised to see a $7 vegan chocolate bar. It had a nice packaging; it looked a bit rough and I was not a fan of how it tasted. Nevertheless, the main catch of this chocolate was that it was vegan. We know how often milk products are added to chocolates and that is why we believe chocolates are not vegan. However, this is not always true!
Last year I got a chance to visit Lindt Chocolate factory in Zurich, Switzerland. I am not a big fan of chocolates, but when I learnt that chocolates are vegan, I suddenly developed appreciation for them. Lindt chocolate factory doesn’t only teach you how different kind of chocolates are prepared, but they also offer all you can eat in 15 minutes chocolate buffet. This gets even more exciting as you get discounted chocolates to buy as souvenirs some of which you can find only inside the Lindt chocolate factory in Zurich.
How Chocolate is Made
How chocolate is made?
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- Cacao seeds are collected
Cacao seeds are the major ingredient in chocolates.
- Fermented and Roasted
Cacao beans have very intense bitter taste. To overcome this, cacao beans are fermented, cleaned, dried and then roasted.
- Separation of Cacao Shells
Cacao shells are separated to product cacao nibs.
- Preparation of Chocolate Liquor
Cacao nibs are grounded to form cocoa mass and then heated to form chocolate liquor.
- Preparation of cocoa solids and cocoa butter
Chocolate liquor is cooled and processed to form cocoa solids and cocoa butter (vegan) which are major ingredients in chocolate bars in different composition along with sugar and milk products.
Vegan Chocolate Ingredients
The chocolate bars that we eat today is a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder. This combination changes dependent on which chocolate you are eating. Milk, in its natural form, is not used in chocolate making because of higher water content, which can affect the texture of chocolate.
Dark Chocolate or Vegan Chocolate Ingredients: Contains cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. The darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao content and lesser the sugar and no milk! Therefore, it is safe to assume that dark chocolates are vegan. To be safer, go for dark chocolates that have more than 60% of cacao.
Milk Chocolate Ingredients: Contains cocoa solids, cocoa butter or vegetable fat, sugar and milk powder. These chocolates are sweeter, and they are not vegan.
White Chocolate Ingredients: Contains cocoa butter or vegetable fat, sugar and milk. It contains no cocoa solids and it is debatable whether they are really chocolates or not 🙂
Common Questions about Vegan Chocolates
Ideally chocolate in its pure form is a plant product. Vegans can safely eat darker chocolates with cacao above 60%. These chocolates have only cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar and no milk content.
Almost every popular chocolate brand has darker chocolate bars whether it is Lindt or Godiva. Just look for chocolate bars with higher than 60% cacao. Therefore, you do not have to run after the mediocre chocolates that some high-end grocery stores are selling at a high cost just because they are vegan.
Cadbury’s classic Dairy Milk is a milk chocolate, which contains milk as the name suggests. Cadbury does have a dark chocolate called Cadbury’s Royal Dark. Unfortunately, Cadbury does not mention the percentage of cacao on it. However, by the definition of semi-sweet chocolate, it seems Cadbury’s Royal Dark contains milk content. Cadbury’s Bournville is another dark chocolate famous in India and in the UK. It has less than 50% cacao and thus it is safe to assume that it is not vegan.
Many Lindt chocolates are vegan, just look for the bars with higher than 60% cacao. Lindt also produces chocolate bars containing 99% cacao. Isn’t it great? Higher the cacao content, purer the chocolate!
Vegan Chocolate Recipe
Use only highest quality chocolate or cocoa in your recipe to keep the vegan goodness of your food. There are different kind of chocolate products available to help you with cooking or baking but try to use only the following:
- Unsweetened Chocolate liquor – This is pure chocolate. You might not like it if you try to eat it straight, but it is perfect for cooking and baking.
- Bittersweet: It is like chocolate liquor, but it also contains sugar and/or vanilla.
Hope you enjoyed this article and learnt more about vegan chocolates and their ingredients and recipes. The idea is that you do not have to buy those expensive chocolate bars in high end vegan shops and grocery stores. They are charging high premium just because they market those bars as vegan, which is in trend these days. In reality, we have been eating vegan chocolates for long time!
If you have any questions or suggestions leave them in the comment box below! I will love to read and respond to them.