MG, you really don’t have to go through what I went through to enjoy some vegan food! I say “enjoy” and here is the current crux: too much vegan food is good for the planet, but unappetizing for anyone who loves food.
Have you tasted any of the dozens of vegan chocolates on the shelf? Most of them are extremely sweet, weird flavoured and have a very long list of ingredients. At Original Beans, we have an ingredient mantra for all our products: “No more than four!”
Few people in the world of chocolate know more about those four than Vera Hofman, Original Beans’ taste and product leader. Vera has the perfect chocolate tastebuds. She picks up the smallest taste details. In many ways she is the antithesis of a Dutch woman: petite, lively, and totally into food. So much so that she changed the track of her career mid-ways to move from Holland’s leading professional training institute to Holland’s leading craft chocolate company.
Vera tells me that the first big hurdle in making vegan “m!lk” chocolate was the EU law. By law, a cocoa product is required to contain minimum 35% total cacao solids (including not less than 18% cacao butter and not less than 14% dry non-fat cacao solids) to be called chocolate. Of course, Vera would never make a “chocolate-like” product, but only the real thing.
From 2016 to 2019 she led our product development team through lots of experimentation. They ate their way through the vegan m!lk chocolates of the world, seeking inspiration from big commercial brands to small craft chocolate makers. They tried out recipes and tried again. None had THE X factor. Some were too fatty or too soft, some tasted too much of biscuit or others of caramel, some would not hold up to the required shelf life.
One day by mid 2020, Vera found her missing perfect protein: almond protein. Turns out, almonds are neither easy to source sustainably nor in good amounts and quality. Then, at the end of the year she got word from a colleague about a special quality source of almond protein - from a special organic almond project in Spain.
“Now we started all over again”, Vera says, “but this time with new fun and confidence.”
And here I am, ten years later, loving my life’s first vegan m!lk chocolate and thanking my colleagues for their persistence: not too sweet and creamy with a light delicate taste of almond gianduja, this is real chocolate. (It is also by law with 50% total cacao content!)
Delicious, vegan, climate-positive. Or: climate-positive, delicious, vegan. Turn it as you may, the Esmeraldas 50% Vegan M!lk is the kind of chocolate you want to take home.
Whether you eat vegan for the environment, for your health, or for animals, you have the power to change the world, simply by changing what chocolate and therefore what food you decide to consume. Taste the rare and preserve it!