Most dark chocolates are already vegan, but is it possible to get a delicious creamy milk chocolate without dairy?
This year, 400,000 people signed up to Veganuary; a pledge to become vegan for the whole of January. Vegans are people who follow a plant-based diet, meaning they can’t consume ingredients that come from animals, such as eggs, butter, and milk. As milk chocolate clearly includes milk in its ingredients, you may believe that vegans are deprived of this sweet treat. However, luckily, you’d be wrong! Nowadays, there are countless vegan milk chocolate alternatives on offer.
It may come as a surprise to non-vegans to know that they’ve probably already eaten vegan chocolate without knowing it. The cacao bean, which forms the main body of all chocolate treats, comes from a tree, and thus is 100% vegan. After processing, the cacao bean is transformed into a fine cocoa powder, which can be combined with cocoa butter and sugar to create dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is therefore an accessible vegan-friendly chocolate treat that can be found in any supermarket. However, what if you don’t like the bitter, rich taste of dark chocolate? Most people either go for white or milk chocolate instead, as addition of the milk adds a creamy element to the chocolate, and turns the chocolate into a slightly lighter product. However, a chocolate bar becomes unsuitable for vegans once milk is added to the cocoa mixture.
So, how can vegan milk chocolate exist?
Well, the answer is fairly simple! Cow’s milk can be replaced with milk substitutes to create an almost identical taste and texture to that of typical milk chocolate. Nut milk has proved to be hugely popular in the UK. Ranging from almond to hazelnut, nut milk is a vegan alternative to cow’s milk, and it is simply made by straining the liquid from crushed nuts. Depending on the type of milk, each can carry its own flavour: hazelnut milk, for example, retains a lot of its hazelnut flavour, whereas cashew nut milk has a much more delicate taste.
If you’re not so keen on nut flavours then vegan chocolates containing oat milk are a great option. Oat milk is naturally creamy, leaving your chocolate silky smooth. For those who suffer from intolerances, rice milk is one of the safest milk alternatives you can find, although it is important to remember to check the packaging in case there are traces of other ingredients.
Don’t settle for less
Eating vegan chocolate does not mean that you’re eating second-rate, inferior chocolate. Just because you may be cutting the traditional milk ingredient from your chocolate, this does not mean that you’re sacrificing quality. It must be remembered that the quality of chocolate depends on the quantity – and quality – of cocoa used, not the type of milk.
At Hotel Chocolat we use high amounts of cocoa solids in our milk chocolate to ensure that none of the rich, deep flavours of cocoa are lost. Our Nutmilk Chocolate Batons, made with 45% cocoa solids, blend earthy cocoa notes with mellow finely milled hazelnuts, creating chocolate bites which can be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike. Although we use no milk in the ingredients, our batons remain staggeringly creamy, and have a melt in the mouth texture almost indistinguishable from more traditional milk chocolates. These batons can be easily offered to everyone, although their divine taste and texture may mean that they’re too good to share.
Vegans can also enjoy their eggs at Easter too: our Free-From Splat Easter Egg for Milk Chocolate Lovers is a playful twist to a broken egg, and it encapsulates all of the indulgent taste of milk chocolate. Whether given as a gift, or found tucked away in some inconspicuous location, it is a delight for all to savour. The best thing about it? It can be enjoyed by all, as it is entirely free from dairy, gluten, nuts and wheat.
The great thing about vegan milk chocolate is that it can be used in the same way as that of its milk chocolate sibling. Whilst there may be some who hold the predisposition that it is no good for baking, this is simply a misconception. Vegan milk chocolate can be added into a vegan cake, whipped into fudge, or melted into ice cream, just in the same way as that of milk chocolate. We believe vegan milk chocolate is a worthy plant based alternative to chocolate, and definitely worth a try.
Whilst vegan milk chocolate may seem like an alien concept to some, it is really not all that different from milk chocolate made from cow’s milk. At Hotel Chocolat, flavour always comes first, so our vegan milk chocolate goes through four stages of taste testing before we put it into production. As mentioned previously, it is the quality of the cocoa which makes the chocolate. Whatever dairy alternative is used, good cacao beans will always result in a delicious, irresistible chocolate bar for all diets.