vegan chocolate

i like chocolate. a lot. i blame my mother, because growing up there was always an open bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the fridge, for chocolate emergencies.

when i went vegan, i was slightly concerned that my new dietary choice might hinder my chocolate habit, since lots and lots and lots of "mainstream chocolate" contains milk (or milk products of some kind). snacks that i love but no longer eat due to presence of milk products: milky way bars, m&ms, dove dark squares (or hearts, or bells, or eggs, depending on time of year), cadbury mini-eggs (not the creme ones, these are solid chocolate with a candy shell), reese’s peanut butter cups, sno-caps, big kat (not regular kit kat, mind you), and york patties (which also contain gelatin–something i didn’t realize until after i went vegan).

i was cheered, however, when i learned that there are many dark chocolate bars out there that are indeed vegan. i have preferred dark chocolate to milk chocolate for years now, so it didn’t seem quite so bad once i knew there would still be options. unfortunately for my butt and thighs, i seem to have mistaken veganism for a license to constantly buy New Vegan Chocolate Products That I Haven’t Yet Tried. i cannot go to a store without searching ingredients lists and buying some chocolate thingie in order to see how i like it. it’s ridiculous but it’s also so darn tasty! i can’t break the habit. oh well.

one thing i have learned is that some chocolate is kind of "on purpose vegan" and other chocolate is more "accidentally vegan." the accidentally vegan stuff tends to be cheaper and easier to find, of course. i have also found that a lot of the "on purpose vegan" chocolate leans toward the bitter side of the taste spectrum. while i do love dark chocolate, i still like it to be creamy and sweet, and that has probably been my biggest challenge.

chocolate bars: my very favorite solid chocolate bar is the lindt swiss bittersweet. i can find this at regular ol’ grocery stores and it is wonderful. lindt makes about a million bars, and there are a couple that are too bitter for my liking, but this one (usually in a white label) is awesome. it has pretty much served as a substitute for dove dark chocolate in my life. other solid bars that are pretty darn tasty are the tropical source rich dark and the ritter sport dark. i have also tried dagoba’s dark 59% bar, once, and i liked it. there are tons of vegan dark chocolate bars out there, but in my opinion the cocoa percentage is too high on most of them. if you favor bitter chocolate, though, it’s a bonanza!

chocolate with peppermint: for me, this is its own category because i am so obsessed with it. i have always loved junior mints and york peppermint patties, and the be-all end-all in my opinion is the ritter sport peppermint bar. i discovered these about 8 or 9 years ago, and fell in love instantly. they are without a doubt my very favorite chocolate candy bar in the whole world, infinity. i used to buy them at central market in austin, and then later found them at world market stores (scattered around the US). when i went vegan i was beside myself with joy, because i had already prepared myself to never eat another ritter sport, and then realized that it was So Totally Vegan. hooray! well, the bummer about it is that around the same time i went vegan, peppermint ritter sports kind of went underground. they became really hard to find. they weren’t selling them at world market or central market anymore, and the only places i could find them online were german delis and the like. nothing in america, boo. the good news is that they have resurfaced (temporarily? permanently?) at pangea, and i’m hoping that i can always find a hook-up when i need one. in the meantime, i’ve been buying in bulk when i get the chance.

in the drought when i couldn’t find peppermint ritter sports, i started sampling any vegan chocolate peppermint stuff i could find. there’s a lot of good stuff out there. the dagoba mint bar is good, as is the rainforest bar. both of these are just smooth chocolate with a minty flavor infused into the bar. tropical source mint crunch is delicious–a dark chocolate bar with bunches of crushed up peppermint candies inside. yum. lake champlain makes a similar bar, also tasty.

if you’re looking for chocolate with pepperminty centers (more like junior mints or ritter sports), i’ve got you covered there as well. if you can’t find peppermint ritter sport and are in immediate need, head over to target and buy these after eight thin mints. they are really, really good. or, go to vegan essentials and pick up a bag of sorbee peppermint patties. these taste a lot like andes candies, and they’re sugar-free. while i’m yammering, i feel compelled to say that i really don’t like the green & black’s peppermint bar so much. too strong in all areas.

random tasty things: you may have heard about the maya gold bar, made by green & black’s. it’s kind of famous. i’m not really a fan of fruit (or nuts) in my chocolate, but after hearing lots of raves for the maya gold bar, i decided to give it a shot. it rocks. there’s not fruit in it, per se. it’s more like a solid chocolate bar with yummy spicy/fruity flavors lurking inside. in a similar vein, latest on my list of "yay, it’s vegan!" is the dagoba lime bar, which i first tried a week or so ago, and i can’t wait to buy more. it is a solid bar with limey flavors, and macadamia nuts. i’m making an exception of my usual "no stuff in my chocolate bar!" rule for this one.

a word about dagoba bars: proceed with caution. there are some good ones, and there are some scary ones. unfortunately for me, i started with (what else?) the chai bar, and i was really unpleasantly surprised by how weird it was. there’s pepper in it. as my husband pretty accurately put it, "this tastes like bad breath." and actually, i just realized that i first tried the chai bar before i even went vegan, and that one’s milk chocolate, so don’t eat it regardless. heh. anyhow, it took me several months to even bother trying another type of dagoba bar (but i’m glad that i did, or i would have never discovered the super-duper lime bar). i am fascinated with the concept of their lavender bar, but i can’t get past the idea of dried blueberries in there. not for me.

hey, what about the beloved sno-caps? never fear! there are vegan non-pareils! dig if you will, the picture: girl least likely to, standing in the ghirardelli store off michigan avenue in chicago, catching sight of a gigantic container of dark chocolate non-pareils. same girl snatching them off the shelf and reading the ingredients list immediately. reading it again. reading it twice more, just to be safe. squeee-ing out loud and rushing over to husband with exciting news. purchasing non-pareils and carrying them around downtown chicago like precious gold. bringing them home and eating herself sick on them for the next few weeks. (tip: they are really good right out of the fridge, dragged through a little bit of peanut butter.) i have also found an awesome candy shop 30 minutes from my house that makes vegan non-pareils, and have promised to whip me up a batch whenever i like. i love them.

okay. but what about chocolate for the fridge door? ah, chocolate chips. good for cookies, good for brownies/bars, good for snacking. my two favorite kinds of vegan chippers are ghirardelli semi-sweet and tropical source semi-sweet. mmmm. ghirardelli also makes a double chocolate chip, which are more bittersweet, and larger in size. i’ve been able to find ghirardelli chips in pretty much any regular grocery store. my co-op carries the tropical source chips.

one note: i love refrigerated chocolate. i always store my bars/candies in the fridge. it’s possible that some of these lovely treats might taste different at room temperature (i.e., more or less bitter). i only say this because i know it’s kind of weird and i’m going for full disclosure. heh. oh, and if anyone knows of a really good vegan peanut butter cup, i’m still looking for one.

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21 comments

  1. Hmmm, chocolate. I really have to stop on the way home to get some good chocolate.
    I’m partial to http://chocolove.com/rich_dark.htm
    The package says it might contain a trace of milk, so maybe it won’t work for the vegan set.
    I thought I was the only one who kept chocolate chips in stock at home just for snacking 🙂

  2. I went through the same angst, but, as you mentioned, there are alternatives! And I didn’t know about the Ghirardelli chocolates! I’ll be checking them out tomorrow when I go grocery shopping! Hooray!!!

  3. This was very informative! I don’t have a good store-bought candy substitute for peanut butter cups, but I do have a recipe for homemade ones that are really tasty. I’ll have to send it to you as soon as I can find it. Otherwise, I just had a Liz Lovely peanut butter cookie that is coated with chocolate on the bottom and was amazingly good. My mouth is watering just thinking about all of this. Bad.

  4. timbu, i don’t have a problem with “may contain traces,” but it’s true that some vegans avoid products with that note. “traces” potentially come from shared machinery (meaning that chocolove makes some bars that DO contain dairy), and they aren’t even necessarily there, so i don’t worry about them. i will keep my eyes open for your bar; i’m pretty sure i’ve seen chocolove at my co-op. thanks for the tip!
    Hanuman, just to clarify (i hope i didn’t get your hopes up just to dash them!), not all ghirardelli dark chocolate is dairy-free. unfortunately the dark squares and bars still have milk in them, boo. but like i said, the semisweet and double chocolate chips are great, and the non-pareils!! they also make hot cocoa without milk.
    cym and bee, i’m glad i could help/entertain. 😉
    pleather, i’ve never had a liz lovely cookie, but that one sounds fantastic. and you reminded me, *i* have a recipe for chocolate peanut butter bars! heh. maybe we should swap.

  5. Oh. Oh. Oh. The Liz Lovely cookie. I have written epic pieces on the heavenly joy that is the Liz Lovely cookie. You must leave the house immediately and find them. Go on. Go. Now.
    Now, I’ve never been a chocolate peanut butter addict, but I have to say, I am quite taken with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Soy Delicious – they make it under a couple of different names, but it is dee-lish.
    This was a great entry. We vegan chocoholics bow to your expertise on the subject!

  6. Occasionally my daughter asks for chocolate.
    I have been thinking about making her pudding this week but these sound llike good options as well. I hope it does not have her bouncing off the walls
    ..wait a minute she already does that. 😉 Oh well it is the weekend.

  7. Have you tried the Terra Nostra Milk Chocolate? Because it’s like a milk chocolate kick in the face if you like kicks in the face.

  8. Have you tried the Terra Nostra Milk Chocolate? Because it’s like a milk chocolate kick in the face if you like kicks in the face.

  9. Danielle, i love peanut butter zig zag! i think that’s one of the ice creams you’re talking about… yes?
    i really do need to find me a liz lovely cookie. 🙂
    Isa, i was about to be all, “milk chocolate?” but then i googled and realized it was a non-dairy, rice-milky thing. excellent! i avoided talking about (vegan)milk chocolate in this entry because i’ve been pretty underwhelmed thus far, but i’ve never tried terra nostra before… thank you for the suggestion!

  10. update for timbu: i was at the bookstore a few days ago, and as i approached the counter i blurted out, “oh! chocolove!”
    i bought one of the rich dark bars you recommended and i just finished eating it a few minutes ago. mmmmm, that was tasty. thanks again for the tip!

  11. update for timbu: i was at the bookstore a few days ago, and as i approached the counter i blurted out, “oh! chocolove!”
    i bought one of the rich dark bars you recommended and i just finished eating it a few minutes ago. mmmmm, that was tasty. thanks again for the tip!

  12. OK, I know it is an old post but just let me say.
    Thank You. ThankYouThankYouThankYou.
    I have been dying for some Junior Mint Action. I’m gonna run right over to Wheatsville to see if I can find some Ritter Minty Guys Sporty Thing. (Can you tell I have trouble remembering product names?)
    I’m totally nominating you for the Best Vegan Food Hook-Up Award.

  13. Wow, thanks for this post! It’s great. Also, Ritter Sport Dark is in fact my all time favourite chocolate product, ever. And I am a HUGE fan of dark chocolate (not milk chocolate or chocolate bars at all) so it’s a relief to learn I can still eat these, guilt free! Thanks

  14. Wow, thanks for this post! It’s great. Also, Ritter Sport Dark is in fact my all time favourite chocolate product, ever. And I am a HUGE fan of dark chocolate (not milk chocolate or chocolate bars at all) so it’s a relief to learn I can still eat these, guilt free! Thanks

  15. I know its old but I just stumbled upon your comments on Ritter Sport Peppermint and had to comment. I too think this is the most wonderful chocolate in the history of the world. I discovered it on a trip to Britain some time ago, and at home, as you say, I was able to find it occasionally. Then, suddenly, it disappeared – just that one flavor!
    I emailed Ritter in Germany and they replied that they stopped selling Peppermint in the US. They didn’t say why!
    The wonderful news is that I was in Atlantic City NJ last week, at the Tropicana casino, where there is a new upscale shopping area called “The Quarter” – kind of a Cuban theme. Anyway, theres a store there called Zeytinia Gourmet Food & Marketplace, and guess what! THEY HAD RITTER SPORT PEPPERMINT! I bought 3 (why only 3? because I have no will power). So now, at least, I know where to find them. Also, as you may have found by now, there are some places online in the US that will ship them. Just Google “Ritter Sport Peppermint”.
    I’m NOT a Vegan – In fact I have standing orders that I be shot on sight if I even LOOK at a Vegan dish, but I do love my chocolate.

  16. This post is ancient i am aware, but i stumbled upon this as i was sitting down and beginning a quest to find the greatest vegan chocolate. I will now go out and hunt a Rittler, as i never knew they were suitable until now: and they look/sound incredible.

  17. Haha… Peppermint flavored chocolates are one of the best snacks today. The combination of sweet chocolates and refreshing mint rocks, dude! You won’t worry much about your breath when you eat this because of peppermint is aromatic. By the way, peppermint is also used as one of the ingredients for homemade mouthwash. =)

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