Vegan Chocolate: All the Good Stuff in a Plant-Based Diet!
Making the decision to “go vegan” and never eat meat or consume products derived from animals is a major life decision. For some people, just the notion of giving up bacon on their breakfast sandwich is a deal-breaker. But the vegans I know, whom I admire greatly for their commitment to their health, the Earth, and our animal world, are all foodies of the highest degree. They understand good food and how to prepare it, using all the best ingredients.
That’s what we do at Dean’s Sweets, too. We understand good chocolate, how to prepare it, using all the best ingredients. Making vegan chocolate is not a matter of taking something away – dairy in this case – it is a matter of working in the best ingredients to bring forth the best flavors. Our vegan options are not broken-down versions of “regular” chocolate, they are combinations of ingredients that bring the flavors up to their highest points.
If you’re vegan through and through or simply making efforts to move to a plant-based diet, here’s what we do for the vegan in you:
Dark Chocolate Vegan Sweets
The sweet spot for vegan chocolate is any dark chocolate at 70% or higher. The 70% denotes the amount of cacao in the chocolate; the other 30% is simply sugar. In milk chocolate, by contrast (not vegan), the percentage might be 33% cacao, while sugar, cocoa butter, and milk products define the rest of the chocolate blend.
So to enjoy vegan chocolate, select anything 70% dark chocolate or higher, for example, our dark chocolate nonpareils, brandied orange peel bar, or espresso beans. Or as the various holidays roll around, we have dark chocolate bunnies for Easter, turkeys for Thanksgiving, snowmen all winter long. It’s a strange twist that these chocolate animals are actually vegan, but they are!
Vegan Hot Chocolate
The first drinkable chocolate comes from the Mayans from roughly 1,000 BC and was definitely vegan. The warm or cold mixture consisted of crushed cocoa beans, chili peppers, and water. Today, you have many more alternatives for what to mix with your cacao, including numerous vegan options. Our Double Dark and Aztec hot chocolates are created to allow you to add anything you enjoy most, including oat, almond, soy, rice, hemp, or pea milk, if that’s your thing. Instead of using dried milk fat the way most store-bought hot chocolates are made (think Swiss Miss), we leave that part out. That way, our Aztec and Double Dark hot chocolates are non-dairy and vegan. (Full disclosure: Our third flavor of hot chocolate, White Mocha, is not vegan because we have added white chocolate to the mix, which does contain some dairy.)
Vegan Chocolate Truffles – Chocolate at its Best
A chocolate truffle is traditionally made with a chocolate and cream center, the ganache, making them 100% not vegan. However, with some know-how and chocolate wisdom, Dean swapped out the cream in four of our truffles to create four of our best loved and 100% vegan chocolate truffles. There’s no hocus pocus on these, just really good ingredients.
“The vegan truffles a patient brought me yesterday are THE best I’ve ever had – and I travel around the world for work constantly. I’m not sure what is in these truffles, but keep putting it in them. You now have an addict as a customer.”-Miles R. Cone DMD, MS, CDT, FACP, owner of Nuance Dentistry, Portland, Maine
- Stout: We use stout beer from Allagash instead of cream in this truffle. This adds to the intensity of the dark chocolate and highlights what many people like in beer and dark chocolate, the bitterness.
- Orange: Using orange juice instead of cream makes the citrus really pop. We started making two different orange truffles, one with cream and one without. Because we like the strength of the vegan truffle, we now only make this non-dairy version.
- Coconut: Coconut milk is the answer to making this truffle vegan. Adding more coconut to the coconut just seemed like the sensible and delicious way to go.
- Chai: All those scrumptious spices work into a concentrated tea we make for this truffle. The result is a powerful bite of flavor surrounded by dark chocolate.
Whether you’re one of the nearly ten million vegans in this country because of environmental issues, health interests, animal ethics, or all of the above, chocolate fits right into your plant-based diet. The cocoa plant has been delivering good stuff in the form of (what we now call) chocolate for millennia. At Dean’s Sweets, we’d like to think we’re delivering that good stuff for all the vegan foodies to the highest degree, too.