Chocolate is enjoyed by so many people around the world. Some people simply love the taste of it while others love the feeling it gives them eating it. Many people worry that when they switch to a vegan diet, their chocolate options will be significantly limited.  Fortunately, this is not the case.   There are many vegan treats that people can enjoy, especially chocolate!

Is Dark Chocolate Vegan?

Well, it depends. While most dark chocolate bars are made with a high percentage of cocoa (a plant-based product), there are some brands of dark chocolate that add milk, whole milk powder or milk fat, so you’ll have to read the label to be sure.

Most dark chocolates are made between 55-80% cocoa; generally, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the lower the percentage of other ingredients.

A vegan chocolate bar should generally be made from high concentrations of cocoa and cocoa butter with some added sugar (yes, all of these are vegan because they all have plant-based origins). Even though cocoa butter has the word “butter” in it, it is derived solely from cocoa beans.  In fact, cocoa butter is an excellent substitute in many vegan recipes.

One cautionary note: some dark chocolate bars may include add-ins (called inclusions) like salted caramel and toffee bits that contain milk and are non-vegan. Also, some chocolate has added dairy products to create a smoother texture and a sweetening component (lactose).  Again, make sure to read the label if you are not sure.

So, to make sure you’re getting the best vegan milk chocolate or vegan dark chocolate, check the label and steer clear for things like skim milk powder, milk fat, whole milk powder, milk solids, and animal products.  White chocolate is typically made with milk powder as a major component, so make sure it says vegan white chocolate.

What excites us the most is that as soon as you receive your CocoTerra chocolate maker, you will have full control of the ingredients in your chocolate.  You’ll be able to make vegan white, milk and dark chocolate using ingredients such as oat milk powder, soy milk powder and rice milk powder.

In the meantime, check out our delicious sugar-free vegan coconut chocolate recipe after you finish reading!

Vegan Dark Chocolate

Happily, many fine dark chocolate brands are vegan by nature, using only cocoa mass, cocoa butter and sugar.  

Vegan Milk Chocolate

There are more and more vegan milk chocolate bars coming to market.  They use milk substitutes like soy milk, almond milk, oatmilk, rice milk, or other plant-based milk substitutes to get that creamy texture and an added bit of sweetness without significantly changing the taste and texture.  In fact, some of the milk substitutes add an excellent flavor component that elevates the taste of the chocolate.  

Vegan White Chocolate

There is even vegan white chocolate that uses the same types of substitutes to bring the delicious world of white chocolate into the world of vegan options. 

In short, there are a variety of vegan chocolate options available in retail stores that are identified and marketed as vegan.  And while many of the dark chocolate brands are in fact vegan (even when they aren’t identified as vegan), check the label and you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised. Fortunately, with the increasing popularity of plant-based dairy substitutes, more brands are making vegan chocolate options.

Checking the Label

So, let’s get into the details here.  How can you tell if your favorite chocolate bar is vegan-friendly or if it contains non-vegan ingredients?

A quick label check should give you all the information you need to know.  Go to the ingredients section of the label and review the ingredient list.  Cocoa mass, cocoa solids, chocolate liquor, and cocoa butter are all vegan.  If you find milk powder, milk solids, or milk fats on the list, put the chocolate bar back on the shelf.

If you are scanning the chocolate shelves at the store, reach for a chocolate bar that is around 70% cocoa.  First, you’ll know it’s a good, high-percentage dark chocolate (really anything above 50% is considered good). And second, remember what we said before, the more cocoa, the less likely it is to contain milk or other non-vegan ingredients.

Is Cocoa Butter Vegan?

Pure cocoa butter contains zero dairy products in it. Cocoa butter is derived from cacao beans and is entirely plant-based in origin. Cocoa beans are composed of about 50% fat and that fat, when extracted from the beans, is called cocoa butter.  

Many products that contain cocoa butter also make heavy use of dairy products, therefore they may not be vegan, such as standard milk and white chocolate.

Cocoa butter is not typically combined with any other product in its raw form. There should be no milk or any other dairy ingredients present in the products you see for sale on store shelves (although it never hurts to check the label!).

How to use cocoa butter?

As you may have already deduced, given that cocoa butter is pure fat, there are plenty of uses for cocoa butter!

Of course, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate are made with cocoa butter. But in addition to these, many other chocolate-based products also contain cocoa butter, including your favorite chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and chocolate ice cream. Again, whether they are vegan or not depends on the recipe.

Cocoa butter is also very popular for cooking.  As a non-dairy substitute, cocoa butter finds its way into many desserts and sweet treats. Cocoa butter can even be used as cooking oil to fry your favorite savory dishes, such as salmon (a nod to the pescatarians out there).  Of course, using cocoa butter for baking is also a great way to keep recipes dairy-free.

Health Benefits of Cocoa Butter

In addition to food products, cocoa butter is also used as an ingredient in many skin cream or moisturizer products. Its texture is smooth and buttery with wonderful skin and health benefits.

Cocoa butter is basically all fat, so if we dive into the science of fats, it’s no surprise that it is composed of fatty acids called triglycerides. What’s interesting about cocoa butter is that it is solid at room temperature (unlike olive oil, sunflower oil or peanut oil which are many common fats we use in the kitchen).  Given its composition and that it is derived from plants, cocoa butter is very popular in products like lip balms and facial moisturizers. 

Always check the label and make sure it’s vegan!

Is Cocoa Powder Vegan?

So if cocoa butter is vegan, and some chocolate is not vegan, you might be wondering, where does that leave cocoa powder?

Like cocoa butter, cocoa powder is extracted from cocoa beans. The powder is produced after the cocoa butter has been extracted from the cocoa beans (this is typically done in a special press).

The dark puck or “cake” that remains after the cocoa butter has been extracted is ground up to produce cocoa powder.  At this point, the powder that is produced is vegan. However, when buying cocoa powder at the store, always check the label. As with chocolate, cocoa powder could contain non-vegan additives.

Cocoa powder is often added to recipes such as cocoa drinks or baked goods to increase or intensify chocolate flavor.  Again, in its raw form, it is vegan. However, if you’re buying pre-made, hot chocolate powder, make sure to check the label. It is usually mixed with powdered milk or similar dairy products and is therefore not suitable for a vegan diet.

If you have a craving for chocolate, we have the best vegan roasted coconut 100% dark chocolate bar that has all the good stuff.

Making the bar itself is as easy as mixing the ingredients up and then spreading them thinly onto a lined tray or into chocolate bar molds. Both methods work very well. After the chocolate sits in the fridge for just 15 minutes, you’ll have a homemade, vegan roasted coconut 100% dark chocolate bar without any processed ingredients.

If you like a touch of sweetness, you can also add a little honey or maple syrup for an unrefined, low-sugar bar instead of sugar-free.

Vegan Toasted Coconut 100% Dark Chocolate Bars

Here is an easy recipe for Vegan Toasted Coconut 100% Dark Chocolate Bars that just might become your favorite recipe.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces / 170g  100% dark chocolate 
  • 1/4 cup / 36g Toasted coconut flakes
  • 3 tablespoons Maple Syrup (optional)

Method

  • Spread the coconut flakes out on a sheet pan in a thin layer. 
  • Bake at 300 F (163 C) stirring every 5 minutes until the coconut is light brown color (this should only take about 5-10 minutes).
  • Chop the 100% dark chocolate into small pieces.
  • Place ⅔ of the chocolate in a dry, microwave-safe bowl.
  • Microwave the chocolate in 15-second intervals, stirring with a spatula after each blast.
  • Continue until all of the chocolate is just melted (don’t be tempted to heat for longer intervals as the chocolate might burn).
  • Finish by pouring the remaining chocolate into the bowl and stir until all the pieces have melted.
  • Stir constantly until the chocolate cools to about 88°F (31°C) – 90°F (32°C)
  • If using a sweetener, add maple syrup to the tempered chocolate and stir until fully incorporated. 
  • Pour the chocolate into your favorite mold.
  • Sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes on top.
  • Tap the mold on the counter to release any air bubbles.
  • Set in the fridge for 15 minutes. 
  • Once set, remove from the fridge and remove the chocolates from the mold.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Dark chocolate with CocoTerra 

New to making chocolate? No problem. Our CocoTerra app makes it easy to create chocolate just the way you like it. You can choose from a variety of vegan dark chocolate recipes or make your own. Choose between single-origin cocoa nibs and blends from around the world, customized with flavorings and inclusions. 

CocoTerra chocolate maker steps: 

  1. Select your mold ring and add any inclusions before you lock it into place.
  2. Follow the machine instructions and add your favorite vegan dark chocolate ingredients.
  3. Let CocoTerra do its chocolate-making magic:
    • Grinding
    • Refining
    • Conching
    • Tempering
    • Molding

Watch the transformation, smell the chocolatey goodness, wait for your chocolate to be molded – voila! – your vegan dark chocolate ring is ready to eat! 

We wanted to share this blog with all the vegan chocolate lovers out there. We hope we have been able to inspire and motivate you to make your own vegan dark chocolate at home once you have your CocoTerra chocolate maker!