Vegan Dark Chocolate

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The vegan chocolate is posing resplendently, admiring its non-waxy, richly flavourful self.

Hello, my fellow earthlings! Today I am writing about vegan dark chocolate. As its name attests, it is completely free of any animal products whatsoever, including dairy. (It is also gluten free!) As such, I felt leery of calling it “dark” chocolate, because this implies there is also a vegan milk chocolate out there. However, when I gave it more thought, I concluded there probably is a vegan milk chocolate recipe out there that relies on something like coconut butter and / or coconut cream to achieve a more familiar milk chocolate-like taste – albeit with a coconut spin.

This recipe is high in fat and, depending on how much maple syrup you use, low in carbs. Even if you use the full 6 TBS of maple syrup, this still has fewer carbs per serving than commercially sold chocolate. So I would describe this recipe as keto-friendly.

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An even closer close-up. Oh, baby.

This recipe does not include any coconut products, which normally feature heavily in vegan dessert recipes. I am going to further develop this recipe, but for now, it is coconut-less. For those with coconut allergies, this must be a welcome relief. I cannot imagine how difficult life must be for people who cannot eat dairy, yet who also have coconut or nut allergies, as dairy-free cuisine is heavily reliant on these things.

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Melting the cocoa butter. I neglected to chop mine finely, as I specify below in the method section, and so it took much longer than it should have to melt the cocoa butter. I could have ridden horseback along the beach in the time it took to melt this stuff.

Some of you are likely wondering why I bothered making vegan chocolate at all. If I’m being fair, vegan chocolate does have the reputation of being oddly textured, not chocolate-y, and / or a multitude of other yucky things. This chocolate, gleaned from Minimalist Baker, throws all of that on its head: It is damned good. It tastes like high-end chocolate with 85% cacao content. The texture is silky and rich, even when the chocolate is freshly plucked from the freezer. It isn’t waxy at all, which many commercial chocolates are. The chocolate flavour is deep and true, achieved by using cocoa butter and cocoa powder in concert. (And there isn’t a hint of coconut taste!) Out of curiosity, I tried a piece of plain cocoa butter – I’d never tasted it in this form before. I was expecting it to be oily; instead, it is rich and smooth. And, not surprisingly, it tastes like unsweetened chocolate! It does form the central ingredient of commercially produced chocolate, after all.

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The cocoa butter is more melted here, allowing you to see what it looks like in liquid form. It’s yellow!

I didn’t know how this chocolate would taste before I made it, of course. I still haven’t offered an explanation as to why I made this recipe. Nice circumlocution, eh? 😉 I have had to cut dairy out of my life for the time being, save for rare – very rare – excursions back into its seductive embrace. Why? Allergies! I now ride the dairy-free train full time, cheerfully waving my ticket and irritating the other passengers with my enthusiasm. For, my friends, I feel better. My inflammatory markers nearly disappeared after cutting dairy out of my life, and I’m not alone in suspecting that most people react in an inflammatory way to dairy consumption. I don’t miss it, actually, except for butter and icing. This blog did begin life as a dessert blog, after all.

Oh, die Ironie.

Since I hadn’t tasted dairy-based chocolate in months, I asked a friend of mine to taste this recipe, just in case my tastebuds had gone off the reservation. He said what I initially said – that it tasted like really expensive dark chocolate. I rejoiced that my taste buds are still with me. 🙂

We can talk about my egg allergy another day.

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As you can see, everything melts together beautifully! Just a few lumps of cocoa powder to smooth out, and things are ready to engage in a guitar solo.

Vegan Dark Chocolate

Yield: About 1 lb. of chocolate

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups cocoa butter, finely chopped (if it isn’t finely chopped, it will take forever to melt; cocoa butter is actually fairly hard at room temperature, unlike coconut oil, for example)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process is fine)
2 – 6 TBS maple syrup (2 TBS yields a very dark flavour; 4 TBS is probably akin to the flavour of chocolate with 60% cacao content)
2 tsp. vanilla paste or vanilla extract*

Optional ingredients (for topping the finished chocolates and / or mixing into the batter):

unsweetened coconut flakes
sea salt or Kosher salt
dried fruit
…and whatever else tickles your fancy 🙂

Method:

Line an 8×8″ baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Alternately, you can set up cupcake liners (I’m guessing you’ll need up to 24 normal-sized cupcake liners for this recipe) on a cookie sheet.

Melt all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan over med-low heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, add any optional ingredients, such as coconut flakes or sea salt.

Pour into prepared container(s). If decorating the tops with coconut flake, sea salt, or something else, now is the time to do this. Freeze or refrigerate until firm.

If using a lined baking dish, try to cut the chocolate into even 1″ squares. It’s okay if it cracks into triangles or other weird shapes. If using cupcake liners, unmould. Transfer to an airtight container.

Store in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months. (The original post specifies 1 month, but I’m 3 months along and the chocolate is still fine. You’ll have to decide for yourself how long you feel comfortable keeping the chocolate around.) You can store small amounts in the refrigerator if you’re sure you will eat them within a week or so. I’m not actually sure storing in the freezer is even necessary, but I haven’t tried just the refrigerator, so I cannot speak with authority about that.

*Instead of vanilla, you can use orange, raspberry, or mint extract – any flavour you like, really. You can also omit the extract or paste altogether, although I think it adds a nice richness of flavour to the chocolate.

Source: Minimalist Baker

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