The Chocolate Life

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Hello chocophiles! 

I've been lurking for a year or so, I'm so excited to finally say hello. I have a tiny little chocolate shop in New Paltz, about 80 miles from NYC. Everything we do is organic, fair-trade, and vegan. We primarily use TCHO couverture, their organic and f/t lines.

We use all dark chocolate, obviously, because I can't find a decent vegan milk chocolate or white chocolate. I know there was a thread about this a while ago with people looking for readymade dairy-free vegan chocolate, but I have tried every single one on the market and they are such low-quality and don't have a good mouthfeel. There are some rice milk milk and white chocolates on the market, but they are truly vile. I'm looking for some artisan quality, delicious white and/or milk chocolate. I feel like coconut milk powder would work instead of the milk powder typically used in white chocolate, but not being a chocolate-maker, I really have no idea. Whenever possible we use coconut milk as our primary milk because it's tastier and fattier than soy milk or any of the other vegan milks out there, so I feel like it would make a good white or milk chocolate... ? Who knows! I know that Will Powder sells a powdered coconut milk that might be a starting point. (http://www.willpowder.net/coconut.html).
I'm been lobbying TCHO for years to get into the vegan white chocolate market, but while they are lovely people and I adore them, surprisingly, they are not reorganizing their entire company to suit the needs of their smallest wholesale customer! Shocking. So I'm looking for a chocolate-maker (being, as I am, a mere chocolatier without interest in the bean-to-bar world) to custom make us (and the world—I'm telling you, this could be a great market!) some super high quality milk and white chocolate couverture. 
If you have any leads, I'd love to know them. My email is lagusta@lagustasluscious.com, or you can just post here. 
Thanks a million. 

Tags: chocolate, introduction, milk, vegan, white

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I too have been keeping an eye out for a decent vegan white and/or milk chocolate. To date, I haven't found anything worthwhile. I'm sure I have tasted all of the same vegan options that you have. I had high hopes for one white chocolate but the cost would be astronomical to use in a business setting. I read about a vegan milk chocolate by Callebaut that was only available in Europe. I've been trying to track it down but so far no luck. I just don't I think that any manufacturers (large or small) have discovered a decent formulation for vegan options. Add to that the cost of the ingredients and I think that is why you haven't had any luck.
Andrea

Yeah, that seems about right, thanks for the info. I have been looking into Charm School Chocolates vegan white chocolate, but the flavor doesn't exactly thrill me, and it's cost prohibitive. Here's to hoping someone fills this hole in the market sometime soon! 

I was holding out hope for the Organic Nectars white chocolate. I may be more sensitive to very sweet things now being vegan, but I thought the white chocolate was very sweet. I only tried one bite - maybe I should try it again :). Their milk isn't what I was looking for at all. Their price is too high as well to use in any bulk capacity.

The other thing to bear in mind is that these vegan white and milk chocolates won't be "real" chocolate so they may not temper like you expect if they temper at all.

If you ever find something worthwhile let me know ans I will do likewise.
Andrea

Yeah...really not a fan of theirs, which is sad because it's also made near me, in Upstate NY, and their cashew ice creams are nice. Their white chocolate isn't temperable, I don't think, but Charm School says theirs are. I'm wary of theirs because the second ingredient is....TOFU!! Which weirds me out. 

Yes, will definitely let you know if I find anything! 

Hmmmm, tofu? I would think the water content of tofu alone would knock it out of the realm of possibilities... I actually haven't tried Charm School. I am not quite as worried about it being able to be tempered since I want it primarily for fillings.

I took a look at your website. It looks really great. You have great creativity in your flavors, especially since they are vegan. You are further along than I am in the recipe development phase of vegan chocolates. Of course you probably spend far more time on it! I still haven't found a "ganache" formulation that I am entirely happy with as I like it really creamy but don't want to use vegan butter. I don't mind using coconut oil or coconut milk but sometimes get too much coconut flavor coming through. I just need to play with it more.

Andrea

Aww, thanks! Vegan ganache is not tough at all! Ours is a classical ganache recipe, but with full-fat coconut milk and coconut oil--if you use the deodorized kind, I promise you you won't be able to taste the coconut flavor—particularly if you flavor the ganache, but even with our plain flavor no one could detect coconut. Now, what was tricky for us was caramel and toffee recipes! The tough thing with coconut oil is using less of it than you would butter—since it's all fat and butter is only about 80% fat (I think?), you need to use less otherwise your stuff will get oily. It's a process of trial and error, like everything, I suppose. 

I am still marveling about the tofu in that formulation. It really didn't have such a bad snap, is the weird thing. We try so hard to live down the 1970's lentil loaf-esque perception of veganism that we use almost no soy and I'd sort of cringe having "tofu" on our labels. Sigh. 

Do you have a shop? I'd love to see your stuff!

I will have to order some deodorized coconut oil and play with it some more. I've been using undeodorized to date. Thanks for the tips. There really is a lot of trial and error when veganizing some recipes.

I am amazed about the tofu as well. I wouldn't worry about the old perceptions about tofu. Anybody who is vegan now and is seeking out high quality products including chocolates probably won't give it a 2nd thought. The only issue I see would be the people who think that they will have an increase in estrogen from too much soy. I've read a fair amount about it this and do not see any scientific studies to back up the idea of an "estrogen reaction" to tofu. That said, you seem to have plenty of options for the person concerned with their soy consumption.

I actually don't have a shop. I basically make enough to be in business but we give most of it away.

I have a good caramel recipe but have never gotten into making toffee. I am looking for a good soft caramel filling to replace the one in Andrew Schott's book that calls for white chocolate. It is so soft and creamy I just don't know how to recreate it in a vegan way.

Wow, sounds like you've got a good thing going on! 

For our white chocolate, we blend cocoa butter, scalded coconut milk, powdered sugar, lots of vanilla ex and vanilla bean, and a little salt—it's not temperable, but we use it as a filling, so that's OK. It's pretty nice, but "real" vegan white chocolate would be nicer, that's for sure. 

I'm wondering how many of you vegan "purists" know that most granulated sugar used in chocolate is FAR from vegan?  Take Lantic Corporation (Roger's Sugar) for example.  In Canada, they have three factories.  TWO of them use Bone Char (charred, carbonated, bones from the livestock industry) to help whiten the sugar.  Both factories process sugar from cane.  The third factory, here in Alberta processes sugar from sugar beets, and doesn't need whitening, so bone char isn't used.  There is nothing on the packaging that tells the consumer that bone char is used, other than to know which code comes from which factory.

 

If you're so in love with TCHO, where does their "vegan" sugar come from, and is it processed with bone char?  A good question I would ask given that 1/3 of chocolate is sugar....

 

Cheers.

Brad

Ha! Thanks for the gotcha question. Of course we know that! I've had long talks with TCHO, and their sugar is most definitely vegan. In our shop we use Wholesome Sweeteners sugar, which has a lot on their site about how it's vegan. It's always so funny to me when nonvegans try to trick vegans. We're all trying to do our best, remember. : ) 

I'm not trying to trick people at all.  You wouldn't believe how often "raw" and "organic" and "vegan" are thrown around by clueless morons who don't take the time to research their ingredients, (or in some cases out right liars who just want to use the words to sell more product).

 

kudos to you for doing your research.  It's people like you who make a big difference in an industry so full of deceptive practices.

 

Cheers

Brad

Well that definitely happens—particularly with "raw" and "organic." As someone who truly does use organic chocolate (it's my understanding that most cacao plantations don't really use pesticides anyway, so I'm not sure how helpful the designation is, but it's important to our market, so we do buy organic), and pays through the nose for it, it's awful for me when other companies use it recklessly. Ugh.

"Raw" though--that designation can just go away, as far as I'm concerned. Who decided raw chocolate is a good thing? God, it's awful. We're always trying to educate people about it, since we get a bunch of health-foodie types in our shop who equate raw with less sugar and healthfulness and somehow think our chocolate is evil because it's not raw. Ah, fads! 

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