When we started making chocolate-coated nuts and dried fruit products, like raisins and cranberries, we really wanted to stick to items that did not have any milk in them, since all our other items like cinnamon almonds and buffalo peanuts were also dairy-free. Turned out that people who buy dairy free, those who follow restricted diets, like vegans, those who keep kosher, and people who are lactose intolerant do not have a lot of non-dairy chocolate products available to them. We decided this was a niche market we wanted to serve.
When we went to look for chocolate coatings that were non-dairy, we were surprised to find that even most dark chocolate had either dairy products like milk, milk fat, or whey in them. Or in some cases, no milk ingredients, but made on equipment that also produced dairy based chocolates. There were several dairy free options (and there still are these options), but each had its own set of problems. There were non-dairy dark chocolates from Europe that were available, but they were very expensive. There were coatings with artificial ingredients like hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. These coatings are made to keep the cost of the product low, but have a waxy feel and taste. So in our search we found a dairy free option that tasted great, was not dark chocolate and obviously not milk chocolate, had no artificial ingredients, but what is called in the chocolate business, a compound. A chocolate compound is a technical term and it means that it uses cocoa for the flavor of chocolate. It also means that it uses some other oil besides cocoa butter. In our case, the oil is palm kernel. The coating is not only dairy free, but also uses fair trade cocoa, cane sugar, and vanilla, is soy free and gluten free, vegan, uses RSPO oil, and has no added preservatives or colors.
Tasty chocolates and chocolate compounds often use only basic ingredients like cocoa, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter or some other vegetable oil, and sugar. Milk is added for milk chocolate, obviously. To get these ingredients to the form of chocolate that we know, it takes a lot of mixing which gets the cocoa and sugar super smooth and well mixed with the cocoa butter or vegetable oil. This mixing process uses metal beads that grind the cocoa and sugar. This process is called conching. The finest chocolates are conched for 72 hours or more!
We are so glad we found a dairy free coating that might be different than milk or dark chocolate, but is chocolatey just the same and tastes smooth and delicious on our almonds, peanuts, raisins, and a host of other centers. And there is more to come! We now have available to us true dark chocolate that is made in the USA and is also dairy free. We’ll let you know when we have the dark chocolate items available, just leave us your email address.