Vegan - the final frontier!
“Do we make a vegan chocolate” – this is one of the more popular questions we’ve been asked by potential customers since we launched in 2020, and repeatedly by Giles’ lactose-intolerant cousin Tim!
When we appeared on Dragons’ Den, we were blown-away by the 5 offers we had, but even more so because Debra Meaden offered without even eating the chocolates – being vegan! But equally, Steve had promised that he wouldn’t make a vegan chocolate unless he was happy with the taste.
The short answer is that while our entire existing range is vegetarian, we didn’t really know where to start – Steve has been designing yummy chocolates for over 20 years, but always with milk (usually dried for mass-market brands) at the heart of the chocolate. Our R&A range goes that step further, using organic fresh cream for a truly indulgent, deeply rich and creamy chocolatey experience…but this clearly won’t work for our friends who are plant-based, or lactose-intolerant!
So, step one, and arguably the hardest step of all was how to create creamy taste, but, um, without the cream…
There is an abundance of choices when it comes to dairy alternatives, after a little research, and a check with Steve’s good friends Emma and Lee (committed vegans and chocolate-lovers), we settled on the popular Oatly ‘Creamy Whippable’ – it has a lovely lusciously thick pour and a creamy, gently nutty flavour.
Also, being oat-based, it typically is the best from an environmental perspective.
Although interestingly where your milk comes from also has an impact (European farms are typcially at the better end) and while we don't have data for organic, we suspect it's better still...
Then we replaced the honey with Agave syrup
…this comes from the agave plant whose blue variety is used for Tequila! (Relax, there’s no alcohol in our chocolates…yet!)
And finally, on to the making – this was Steve’s 3rd micro-batch, so once he was happy with the recipe in his kitchen (after about 10 prototypes), it was actually just like making any other chocolate from our range.
Ironically, this plant-based chocolate got the first seal-of-approval from lactose-intolerant organic dairy famer Mike! (see our social media) – we had a secret sample for him to try while we were out in the fields with his cows and luckily, he loved it!
So, we do really hope you love it too – for those lucky enough to try one of the 100 pouches we made in this first micro-batch (releasing on Friday 15th September at 12pm) – do let us know how you find it – if enough people like it, we may even make another batch in the new year…
Steve & Giles
P.S. Finally, a BIG shout-out to Maisie, Steve’s niece who has been helping us from the start and is a star member of our extended team – she even created the ‘Dreamy’ name for this batch, after tasting it. She has recently got married (congratulations!) and started a new job – we wish her good luck!