In 1866, German inventor Henri Nestlé found a way to turn whole milk into a powder.
His neighbor on the Lake Geneva happened to be Daniel Peter, chocolate business owner. Eager to use Henri’s technology, Daniel started experimenting to mix Nestlé milk powder with cacao. It wasn’t an easy task. The first results were grainy and not appealing. But Peter didn’t give up.
Milk chocolate was born in 1875, and Switzerland became its kingdom.
141 years have passed since the breakthrough invention, and many things have changed in the meantime.
As medical research goes on, milk is slowly losing its reputation as a healthy food, and chocolate makers are adapting to a growing demand for dairy-free chocolate.
The global market for milk alternatives reached $5.8 billion in 2014 and is going to reach nearly $10.9 billion by 2019. Soy, almond, rice and coconut milk are among the most popular choices. On the other side, the sales of traditional milk are drastically shrinking. Many are the reasons for this increasing demand for dairy-free products.
Consumers are not happy with the antibiotics and growth hormones often found in dairy milk. The belief that milk is good for human bones is being debunked. Unethical dairy farming practices are also pushing consumers away.
In general, in the seek of healthier, cleaner and ethical foods, an increasing number of consumers is switching to a plant-based diet.
Craft chocolate makers are following the trend.
Cacao lovers can now enjoy a vast range of craft chocolate that satisfies the taste buds without containing milk or butter. From two-ingredient bars to nutty white chocolate, dairy-free chocolate bars are trendy and delicious.
Most of the craft bean-to-bar chocolate bars on the market happen to be dairy-free by default.
Different types of cacao have different flavors. The mission of craft chocolate makers is to let consumers see these differences. For this purpose, many of their bars only contain two ingredients: sugar (usually cane sugar) and cacao (including cocoa butter). With the only addition of sugar, the intrinsic flavors of the cacao can rule the scene.
Even without a dairy-free sticker or a vegan certification on the packaging, these bars don’t contain any milk or butter. Consumers can check the ingredients’ list to cast any doubt.
Industrial chocolate is not to be trusted so easily instead. Many dark chocolate bars from big manufacturers like Lindt and Ghirardelli contain dairy despite a high cocoa percentage or “intensively dark” claims on the packaging.
DAIRY-FREE MILK CHOCOLATE
Also those who enjoy a sweeter flavor and a smoother texture will find their dairy-free chocolate fix.
Chocolate makers can easily substitute the dairy component in milk chocolate. Most of them prefer to use coconut among all the alternatives.
Shredded coconut is usually ground together with cacao to obtain coconut milk chocolate. Cocoa butter is generously added to give extra-creaminess, while vanilla is sometimes used to sweeten up the mix. Craft chocolate makers care that the coconut remains a soft background for the flavor of the cacao. If done in the right way, the taste of coconut in the chocolate bar is barely detectable.
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Chocolate lovers are guaranteed the texture and sweetness of regular milk chocolate, but with simpler and healthier ingredients that can be counted on the palm of a hand.
DAIRY-FREE WHITE CHOCOLATE
Super sweet adventurers will definitely enjoy white chocolate made with dairy-free alternatives.
It seemed unthinkable to create white chocolate bars without dairy. Craft chocolate makers got all their creativity out and introduced the impossible to the market.
In the making of dairy-free white chocolate, the use of flavorful cocoa butter is key. Also the choice of sugar, vanilla, nuts and other ingredients is fundamental, as the delicacy of cocoa butter can’t hide any off-flavors. Some of the preferred ingredients used in dairy-free white chocolate are coconut sugar, fresh vanilla beans, coconut, rice syrup and dairy-free milk powder.
Most of the craft bars on the market have an intense nutty flavor. This is an exciting feature that contrasts with the flat and monotone flavor of regular white chocolate.
OTHER DAIRY-FREE BARS
Dairy-free chocolate doesn’t stop at dark, milk and white. There is a whole lot more.
Nuts are the perfect ingredient for amazing dairy-free chocolate.
Hazelnuts, coconut, cashews, pistachios. Craft chocolate makers use nuts in many ways for a nutty flavor and a creamy texture. They can be included in dairy-free chocolate bars in their raw state, powdered, as a dairy-free milk or even turned into a butter. For consumers that need to stay away from nuts, there are still lots of dairy-free chocolate alternatives.
Rice puffs, quinoa and cocoa nibs are additions that give dairy-free chocolate an extra kick. Many inclusions can enrich a chocolate bar even further: fruits, teas, flowers, spices, herbs, coffee. The offer on the current chocolate market is infinite.
Dairy-free chocolate is in rising demand and craft chocolate makers managed to make it as delicious as its regular counterpart.
What is YOUR favorite dairy-free chocolate?
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.