Have you made the decision to lead a dairy free lifestyle? Thinking about it? This not only impacts what you eat everyday but most importantly, your chocolate options! Learn about dairy free chocolate and how certain ingredients, the type of bean and cocoa content affects the taste and texture of chocolate. This Easter - be sure to share these points with those you love... nothing quite like a subtle hint!
'Milk Chocolate' What Is It Made Of?
You may think that I am stating the obvious: milk chocolate is simply milk, right? However, it is not as obvious as it might seem. Although it may state milk on the packaging, this is not representative of the milk that you and I know of. When looking at the manufacturing process, if milk was added in its normal state it would cause the chocolate to separate. Therefore it is necessary to remove the water from the milk before it is mixed with cocoa solids. This can be done by drying the milk to create a milk powder or, by creating condensed milk which has a lot of added sugar and has a runny syrup consistency. The runny texture works well with the cacao solids to create a velvety chocolate taste and feeling.
Dark Chocolate - The Options
If you are new to choosing dark chocolate varieties, you might be surprised to learn that not all dark chocolate is bitter. This is due to the cocoa solids percentage; something with a high percentage will be darker than something with a lower percentage, it can range from 60%-99%.
Cacao Bean Flavour Favourites
Learning about the different types of bean can help find the right chocolate for your tastebuds. The variety and range of chocolate bars available on the market, is diverse and wide. As a rule, flavour comes down to they type of bean used in production, this bean will dominate the flavour in the recipe.
Peruvian Criollo Beans
My favourites are the 'Criollo' beans, mainly grown in the Peruvian rainforest. It is a high quality cocoa bean that is very aromatic, it lacks bitterness and is considered the luxury bean. Choose chocolate from Peru or that state criollo beans; the lack of bitterness makes it a great transition chocolate from milk chocolate to smooth dark chocolate.
Forastero, "the outsider", makes up 85% of the world's cocoa production, considered very strong with earthy flavours. Mainly grown in Africa, Ecuador & Brazil. If you like dark chocolate then this type of bean type is for you. If you already are keen on dark chocolate then there are many varieties suitable for your taste.
Dairy Free Milk Alternatives
Coconut milk or creamed coconut are delicious alternatives to milk; these give the chocolate notes of coconut whilst making it naturally sweeter too.
Coconut sugar plays an important part in a dairy free chocolate lover's lifestyle - it is a great and common alternative to refined sugar. Slightly healthier versions include raw cane sugar, coconut sugar or coconut nectar.
Chocolate that is sweetened with refined sugar alcohols tends to have a rather metallic taste and an unnatural tasting twang. Consuming excessive amounts of refined sugar can also result in more trips to the bathroom - and no one really wants that!
Raw Chocolate Products
Cacao butter in raw chocolate making actually controls a lot of the taste; it is very easy to make and you learn about the chocolate percentages and how easy it is to reproduce the different raw chocolate varieties. When purchasing this product it is likely to look much darker than conventional milk chocolate however, it tastes incredible! The quality of ingredients, the attention to taste with the cacao powder, sugar (coconut or raw cane sugar) and creamed coconut brand really do make this chocolate indulgently creamy yet dairy free.
With raw chocolate, a little goes a long way so you don't have to eat a lot to get that sweet, rich 'fix'! If you want to be confident that you are buying a dairy free product, the vegan label could help you to quickly identify whether or not the chocolate contains any dairy. Chocolate packaging often has the vegan label on the front, if not, have a quick browse of the ingredients on the back to be sure.
When buying supermarket chocolate, I prefer to spend my money on high quality dairy free chocolate that has been created for chocolate lovers! Especially because I know how rich the difference is! There are many delicious brands out there - both in supermarkets and health food shops.
I hope that this has given you a little insight into the world of dairy free chocolate - not so scary, right? There are so many options out there, often far better tasting and certainly far better for you, than conventional chocolate that is packed with excessive levels of refined sugar. Dairy free chocolate provides an amazing array of taste explosions; there are so many to sample to find what suits you best. Only one thing for it... delve right in and try them all!
Want to learn even more about Raw Chocolate? Read this blog