If the crumbly texture, bland taste and unsatisfying mouthfeel put you off vegan chocolate, chances are good you haven't tried it lately. With more people following a vegan diet, companies have responded by making some of the world's most delicious chocolate — vegan or not.
If you are looking for an authentic chocolate taste, Enjoy Life Semisweet Chocolate Mini-Chips are a great choice. These miniature chips can be used in baking or snacked on right out of the bag.
What to know before you buy vegan chocolate
Percentage of cacao
The percentage of cacao influences the bitterness of your vegan chocolate. The more cacao in the chocolate, the less room there is for other ingredients such as sugar, plant-based milk or flavorings.
Dark vs. milk
Vegan or not, there are two main types of chocolate: dark and milk.
- Dark chocolate: This type is usually vegan. It has a higher percentage of cacao with added cocoa butter and sugar. Dark chocolate is frequently used in baking so that bakers can control the amount of sweetness in their final product.
- Milk chocolate: Milk chocolate still contains cacao, but milk — dairy or plant-based — is added for a smoother mouthfeel. Milk chocolate is typically sweeter than dark chocolate.
Another type of chocolate, rose chocolate, has a pink color and a delicate citrus undertone. This is not a common type of vegan chocolate.
As for white chocolate, this is not technically chocolate at all as there is no cacao in it. The addition of milk solids means that it’s usually not vegan.
Form of vegan chocolate
This tasty vegan snack is available in many different forms, including:
- Candy bars
- Baking chocolate
- Chocolate-covered fruit, nuts, pretzels and chips
- Other confectionery treats
Vegan chocolate features
Ethically sourced ingredients
Like with many of the world's gourmet ingredients, it's important to know where your food comes from and if it is produced fairly. Ethically sourced cacao provides a living wage and a fair market price to cacao farmers across the globe.
If in addition to a vegan diet you are also avoiding other common allergens, check the label of your vegan chocolate. It should be free from:
Another benefit to vegan chocolate is that it may have less sugar than its traditional counterparts. While this is not always the case, the higher the percentage of cacao, the more likely it is to have less sugar.
Vegan chocolate cost
Chocolate prices vary wildly. Because there are so many different options for the form of chocolate, the cost ranges from $6-$50. This covers everything from a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels to a 5-pound bag of vegan baking chips.
Vegan chocolate FAQ
How is chocolate made?
A. Chocolate is naturally vegan, but the difference is in the milk powder or solids added when the cacao beans are made into chocolate.
- Cacao beans are cut off the tree by hand.
- The beans are dried and then roasted at a low temperature.
- The nib — the meat of the bean — is separated from the shell in a process called winnowing.
- Nibs are ground to cocoa liquor and then placed under high pressure to separate into cocoa powder and cocoa butter.
- In some cases, chocolatiers use cocoa liquor to make chocolate by adding more cocoa butter and sugar.
- Gourmet chocolate is produced by conching. This process mixes and heats the cocoa liquor to further develop flavor.
- The chocolate is tempered by heating and cooling to specific temperatures, then molded into pistoles for delivery.
- Chocolatiers may add flavoring, sweetener and dairy or plant-based milk to make other confections with the tempered chocolate.
What are the different types of vegan chocolate?
A. Chocolate comes in different types that can be used in different culinary applications.
- Baking chocolate: Baking chocolate is available unsweetened, bittersweet or semisweet. It is used for things like fudge, cookies and frostings.
- Couverture: This is a gourmet type of chocolate used in pastry and candy making. Its silky, smooth texture comes from a higher percentage of cocoa butter.
- Raw: Raw chocolate has not been processed or mixed with other ingredients. Most raw chocolate is vegan.
- Modeling chocolate: When sugar or corn syrup is added to melted chocolate in larger quantities, it creates a paste that can be used to decorate cake and pastries.
- Cocoa powder: Cocoa powder is the other product produced when nibs are ground. This is typically vegan, but you should check the ingredient list. Some varieties designed to be used to make chocolate drinks have added milk solids and powders.
Which vegan chocolate should I get?
Best of the best vegan chocolate
Enjoy Life Semisweet Chocolate Mini-Chips: available at Amazon
Our take: This 5-pound bag of mini chips satisfies your chocolate cravings and is perfect for baking and snacking.
What we like: Made from just three ingredients, these chips are also free from the most common allergens, including nuts, soy, gluten, peanuts and tree nuts. They are non-GMO verified and kosher.
What we dislike: This packaging does not hold up well in high temperatures. Order extra in cooler months.
Best bang for your buck vegan chocolate
Nutiva Organic Vegan Hazelnut Spread: available at Amazon
Our take: If you have missed the creamy taste of Nutella on your morning toast, this is a great substitution.
What we like: This spread uses real cocoa plus other healthy ingredients such as flaxseed flour, coconut oil and chia seed oil. It is also available in dark chocolate. It has 40% less sugar than the other leading brand.
What we dislike: This product is manufactured on shared equipment. This means that there may be traces of dairy. If you are allergic to dairy products, use caution.
Honorable mention vegan chocolate
Snackers Only Store Peanut Butter Bites Topped with Chocolate Coating: available at Amazon
Our take: These tasty vegan treats are individually wrapped for snacking on the go.
What we like: They are gluten-free peanut butter rice crispy treats covered in vegan chocolate. They don't have high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Whole grain brown rice bumps up the protein to 2 grams per bar. Counting calories? Each bar has just 100 calories and 4 grams of fat.
What we dislike: Some people thought these tasted more like an energy bar than a chocolate treat.
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Suzannah Kolbeck is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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