What Is Vegan Chocolate: Busting The Myths
So, you have read the books, watched the docs, read the blogs, and have decided without a doubt the vegan lifestyle is for you. There is just one issue holding you back: CHOCOLATE! Sure, most people are hung up on the cheese or ice cream, but not you, my chocolate-loving friend. What about the chocolate brownies, chocolate chip cookies, or just a good chocolate bar to snack on? Are these chocolate goodies out of your life forever? Absolutely not!
There are many myths about dairy-free and vegan chocolate, but we are here to debunk them and put your chocolate worries at ease so you can enjoy life as a Vegan. Whether you are making a transition to a vegan lifestyle, have a vegan friend, or want to cut dairy, you will be eating plant-based decadent chocolate treats again before you know it (or maybe, you’ll just never stop).
Chocolate: The Basics
Before we jump into the myths of vegan chocolate, let's talk about what basic ingredients are in chocolate recipes. The three main ingredients are cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and generous serving of sugar (or a sugar-freesubstitute for sugar-free chocolate).
Milk products, or milk substitutes like coconut milk, are added for milk chocolate and white chocolate. Depending on the chocolate bar, more ingredients can be added like coconut oil, emulsifiers, vanilla and other flavorings, as well as toppings like sprinkles or sea salt. This mix of ingredients makes most chocolate bars a mix of mostly carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fat. As far as micronutrients go, chocolate typically provides some calcium, potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.
The process of getting cacao seeds into chocolate is pretty extensive, and the total time required to complete the process is pretty staggering. First, the seeds must be harvested, fermented, and roasted. Once roasted, the seeds are ground and turned into a liquid or chocolate liquor, which is composed of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Once the fat (cocoa butter) is pressed out, you are left with cocoa solids.
Once the chocolate liquor is pressed, you are left with the fat, which is cocoa butter. Cocoa butter does not have a strong flavor, but it adds to the mouthfeel of the chocolate and gives it that silky-smooth feel. Even though butter is in the name, there are no animal products used to make it.
Sugar comes in many forms, so as a vegan, you have to be aware of what you’re consuming. Some sugars are made using bone char to get that super white color, so be mindful of this when reviewing your chocolate ingredients. Coconut, beet, and organic sugars are not processed using bone char, so look for these things on the labeling.
Milk solids are used in some dark chocolate, but not usually. Milk chocolate and white chocolate almost always contain milk solids or milk powders. However, in vegan chocolate, coconut, soy, oat, and nut milks can be substituted for a vegan product.
Myth: Only Dark Chocolate Can Be Vegan
False! The best vegan chocolate products that come in all different types of chocolate. There are some products that are naturally vegan and some that use milk alternatives but do not fret. Your chocolate days will not be limited to the more bitter dark chocolate varieties if you’re not a fan.
In fact, MiiRO loads our chocolate bars with nut milk specifically so we can still achieve the ultimate creaminess of a non-vegan milk chocolate bar, but you can still eat this guilt-free. Yeah, we’re changing the chocolate game.
Vegan Dark Chocolate
It‘s true that most dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa (we’re talking over 70%, so way more cacao than typical semi-sweet chocolate) is usually vegan. A good quality dark chocolate is made with cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar. Milk products are not added to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate does not need to be labeled as vegan to be vegan, but as with any dietary needs, it is always a good idea to double-check the label. Lower-quality dark chocolates often have fillers, so stay away from those.
Vegan Milk Chocolate
As the name implies, yes, there is milk in milk chocolate. Lucky for us, there are products on the market that use milk substitutes so we can all enjoy that creamy chocolate. Traditionally, milk chocolate is made with cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids or powder. In vegan milk chocolate, a milk solid alternative must be used for it to be vegan. Make sure your milk chocolate is labeled as vegan.
Vegan White Chocolate
It’s highly debated whether white chocolate should actually be considered chocolate or not. To us, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it is a duck. Until chocolate is out of the name, white chocolate is chocolate to us! White chocolate is sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, and vanilla. It does not contain cocoa solids, which is the reason for the debate. Like milk chocolate, the vegan variety of white chocolate uses alternative milk solids, like coconut, soy, or rice.
Myth: Vegan Chocolate Does Not Taste Good
False! Just like with traditional chocolate, there is good and bad quality vegan chocolate. There are tons of chocolate brands out there that add fillers to make their chocolates, which never taste great. If you make sure you have a good quality vegan chocolate made with quality ingredients, it will taste great! We are going to let you in on a little secret, okay, it’s not exactly a secret, but the only way to know which vegan chocolate is your favorite is to try them.
There are many different vegan chocolate price points as well, so pick a few options within each price point and within the different types of chocolate. There are also vegan chocolate candy bar options out there to explore. Now that you are an adult, you can eat as much chocolate as you want. Ah, the perks of adulthood.
Myth:You Cannot Bake With Vegan Chocolate
False! Do not despair; chocolate chip cookies will not be a thing of the past as a vegan, because MiiRO offers baking chips that are perfect for your adventures in the kitchen. There are delicious vegan chocolate chips out there that are perfect for your baking needs. You could even switch it up and bake a chocolate cookie with white chocolate chips. Seriously, the possibilities are endless!
Are you thinking about your favorite chocolate cake? Silly question, right? Of course you are. Well, chocolate cakes are made with cocoa powder. We haven’t mentioned cocoa powder, but it is already vegan! One thing you will want to do is find a vegan-specific cake recipe. Cakes are just not the same when you use vegan substitutes for traditional items. You could even add in vegan chocolate chips to give your cake an extra chocolatey punch.
Myth: Vegan Chocolate Does Not Melt
False! Vegan chocolate melts just like traditional chocolate. That’s because chocolate’s melty goodness doesn’t always stem from a non-vegan ingredient. We’ve uncovered the truth behind what makes any type of chocolate — vegan or not — melt so well. The secret? Fat content!
Fat adds flavor and richness to dishes that can be hard to resist. The fat in chocolate comes in the form of cocoa butter, one of the building blocks of chocolate (alongside chocolate liquor and sweetener). The higher the fat content, the more oomph you’ll get from your favorite snack.
Vegan chocolate can contain just as much cocoa butter as non-vegan chocolate. This is where MiiRO’s vegan chocolates truly shine. We emphasize using high-quality cocoa butter in our chocolate bars and baking chips. The result of this kitchen magic? High-quality vegan chocolate that melts beautifully.
Long story short, when it comes to melting chocolate, the fat is where it’s at! As we have learned, that’s all cocoa butter is, so once heated, it will melt.
How Can I Melt My Vegan Chocolate?
The best way to melt your chocolate is in a bain-marie, or double boiler, because there is less risk of burning your chocolate. The microwave is a good alternative if you want to be faster, and to be honest, have fewer dishes.
If you choose to use your microwave instead of a double boiler for your chocolate-melting needs, we have a tip. Microwave your chocolate in small increments of time – about 30 seconds or so — and stir in between heating sessions. The number of times you will have to heat your vegan chocolate in the microwave will depend on the amount of chocolate you need to melt.
Microwaving in short increments ensures that there are no hot spots and that everything gets an opportunity to melt evenly. Once the chocolate is scalded, there’s no turning back. Avoid that misstep, and you’ll create luxuriously smooth melted chocolate that’s ready for any recipe.
What Can I Make With Melted Vegan Chocolate?
What is better than a chocolate-covered strawberry? Exactly, nothing! Whether you are having a romantic night in or celebrating the fact that you got through a Monday, chocolate-covered strawberries are the perfect chocolatey snack. Luckily, making this special treat is easy to make at home. All you need are ripe strawberries and vegan chocolate! Simply melt the chocolate in a bain-marie or the microwave and give those red strawberries a dip. Put them in the fridge to harden and bring them out when you are ready to enjoy.
MiiRO’s Vegan Peanut Butter Baking Chips also lend themselves well to melty, delicious vegan recipes. For example, you can take these Easy Vegan 3 Ingredient Cookies from delicious to downright dazzling with the addition of some melted peanut butter chips.
Once your cookies are out of the oven and cooled, melt your vegan peanut butter chips using the microwave method described above or a double boiler. Drizzle the melted mixture over your cookies with a spoon, and let it solidify at room temperature. This yummy cookie recipe calls for nut butter, so you can really pack a peanut punch if you double up on the PB. And who wouldn’t want that?!
You can also try using melted Dark Chocolate Baking Chips on top of bananas, pretzels, cookies, vegan marshmallows, or even on top of your favorite ice cream.
Myth: Vegan Chocolate Is Not as Good for You
False! First of all, cacao is a superfood! Naturally, the darker the chocolate, the more health benefits it can have. Once more ingredients are added to chocolate, whether vegan or traditional, the potential health benefits are reduced. However, there are vegan chocolate products on the market that are made with health in mind. Some brands are conscious of their sugar levels, protein, and fiber. A chocolate treat you don’t have to feel guilty about? Yes, please!
As you can see, there are many myths about vegan chocolate, but the truth is, if you are a chocolate lover like us, vegan chocolate will be just as good to you and maybe even better! Vegan chocolate has all of the same options as traditional chocolate, you can use it for cooking in the same ways.
What are you waiting for? Go out and get some vegan chocolate varieties, and have yourself a chocolate party! When you choose MiiRO, you can indulge in a white chocolate bar, some chocolate peanut butter cups, or even a peanut butter chocolate bar. There’s something there for you, and your options are basically endless.
The best way to find what you like is by trying them. Try your new chocolates in baked goods, as a snack, or melted over ice cream. Invite your friends over for a treat. Most of all, have fun with it! You don't have to feel like you are missing out if you are new to being vegan or if you have a newfound milk allergy. The options are endless!
Dark Chocolate | The Nutrition Source | Harvard
Ingredients in Chocolate: What's in my Bar? | Cacao Magazine
8 Scientific Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate | Everyday Health