Six vegan chocolate brands that taste better than dairy ones

Coco Caravan date bar

If you can’t consume dairy products, it’s hard to get a chocolate fix when you need it. Thank goodness for these six artisans of vegan chocolate! Each different in their own way and easy to find, they are supplying the demand for quality, delicious vegan chocolate one bar of rich cocoa at a time. Read on to discover your next best friend.

Divine

Divine Dark Selection

This fair-trade company is owned by chocolate farmers all over the globe, so both you and the farmers get a good deal with every bite. Divine chocolate, available in bars, eggs and cute novelty shapes, is divine by name and divine by nature. A personal favourite is the 70% dark chocolate with raspberries; the cocoa flavour is robust and creamy, while the tartness of the fruit pieces pokes through.

Booja-Booja

Booja Booja Hazelnut crunch truffle

As a vegan, you tend to lose hope of receiving a scrumptious box of choccies on a special occasion. If this sounds familiar, point your friends and family in the direction of Booja-Booja, makers of rich, indulgent vegan truffles. They literally melt in your mouth (I thought this was merely a turn of phrase until I tried these), plus they’re dairy, gluten and soya free with a leaning towards organic ingredients.

Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat Fruit and Nut frenzy slab

Unlike a lot of chain chocolatiers, Hotel Chocolat have gone to really good lengths to accommodate vegans. The vegan chocolates have much more cocoa and less sugar than their milky counterparts and have won awards for their quality. The fruit and nut frenzy (pictured above) is a heavenly slab of crunchiness, chewiness and sumptuous meltiness.  Yes, it’s so good I made up descriptive words.

Moo Free

Moo Free mini moos

One of the most commonly available vegan chocolate brands (try Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Holland and Barrett), Moo Free makes fun everyday treats that are affordable and satisfy a chocolate craving. They make mini bars, big bars, buttons, advent calendars and eggs. In other words, with their rice milk based goods, they make sure vegans can join in with occasions like everybody else.

Coco Caravan

Coco Caravan

This start-up’s chocolate is so pure it’s almost unbelievable: no additives, no preservatives, no dairy, no gluten, no soy and no refined sweeteners. With just two key ingredients – ethically sourced raw cacao and unrefined raw Coconut Blossom Nectar – Coco Caravan makes and package everything by hand in Cardiff. The bars and sweet treats come in exciting flavours and varieties, making vegan chocolate fun.

Montezuma’s

Montezuma truffle grand collection

Family owned British company Montezuma’s pushes the mould when it comes to vegan chocolate. They specialise in making perfect matches between different spices, herbs, essential oils and cocoa strengths. It’s not just bars here – they have moreish truffles, chocolate engulfed fruits and luxury drinking chocolate, all of which are an absolute joy worth savouring.

Know any other vegan chocolate companies? Share your favourites below or tweet us @Creative_Hacks and we’ll spread the word (and have a nibble).

Amy sig

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How to make vegan wild fruit crumble for less than a quid

crumblebaked
Autumn is here. Coats are being worn, cups of spiced coffee are being cuddled and tummies are craving hot food. Our antidote to wintery chills? Homemade fruit crumble, warm from the oven and oozing with sweet berry juice.

This crumble is super cheap to make – less than 30p a serving – and it tastes like home. We saved money by foraging for our own blackberries (which, as it turned out, were yummy – thanks, nature). The recipe is below, and it is really simple. Plus, it’s vegan friendly and pretty healthy for a desert as it has no junky additives or processed ingredients. Enjoy!

Ingredients

(makes four servings)
70g porridge oats
40g margarine/sunflower spread/soya spread
40g plain flour (gluten free and wheat free versions work, by the way)
35g Demerara sugar/8g of sweetener (truvia-based is better for you)
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
Golden syrup/honey (optional)
Your choice of fruit – enough to fill half of the ovenproof dish (we chose berries, but apples, pears or peaches work well too)

Before you start, preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade and lightly grease an ovenproof dish. If you are using frozen fruit, defrost it before starting the method.

Method

1. Melt the spread by microwaving on a high setting for thirty seconds, stopping to stir it halfway.

2. Pour the melted spread into a large bowl, then sieve in the flour and add the dry ingredients (oats, sweetener, cinnamon). If you wish, you can add a good squeeze of syrup or honey at this point for added sweetness. Mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula.

crumblehands3. Once the mixture is combined, put down your stirrer: it’s crumbling time. Put both hands into the bowl and pick up a handful of the mixture with each hand. Allow the mixture to slowly fall through your fingers back into the bowl, crumbling it and breaking up the mixture as it falls. If this seems too messy, you can pinch big clods of the mixture and sprinkle it back into the bowl by rubbing your fingers together.

4. Now you have crumbled the crumble mix, you can build your oaty monster. Pour your berries or other fruit into the ovenproof dish, making sure that there are no gaps where you can see the bottom of the dish. Pick up your bowl of crumble topping, hold it above the ovenproof dish and pour the crumble topping evenly – you want to build an equal layer of crumbly mix on top of the fruit.

crumblemix5. With your spatula or wooden spoon, smooth over the top of the crumble to pack the oaty topping tight into the ovenproof dish. Once it’s looking even and tightly packed, put the dish into the oven and allow to cook for ten minutes. Give it a check once this time has passed, as you don’t want it to burn. If the topping is still light, leave it in for an extra couple of minutes until it’s turning golden brown. Then, remove it from the oven and rest it for five minutes. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt, thick custard or ice cream (find our recipe for delicious homemade ice cream here).

We hope you enjoy the making, baking and eating of your crumble. Ours faced the wrath of two spoon-wielding twenty-somethings and it was berry nice (hehe). Share your crumble success story with us on Twitter or in the comments below.

Amy sig

How to make the best chocolate brownies in the universe

The Great British Bake Off continues to captivate us along with the rest of the nation. Those ambitious cakes, buns and breads have got us craving our own slice of kitchen creativity.

Some of the showstoppers from this series have been truly inspired (Luis’ epic dragon battle scene made from biscuits, anyone?), but occasionally it’s fun to take a leaf out of Norman’s cookbook by making something simple that tastes out of this world.

These brownies are a great example of that – my mum makes them whenever I visit home, and they’re so unbelievably scrummy that I had to share the recipe with you. For chocolatey, fudgy, melt-in-your mouth goodness that even Paul Hollywood couldn’t find fault with, follow the simple recipe below.

Ingredients

(makes 8 big brownies or 16 bitesize brownies)
200g butter
200g dark chocolate
3 medium eggs
250g caster sugar
112g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Before you start, preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade and line a deep baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Method

browniechoc1. Melt the butter and chocolate together by microwaving on a high setting for one minute.

2. Using an electric whisk, beat together the eggs and sugar for two to three minutes, until pale. Add the melted chocolate (oh boy…) and continue mixing until it’s blended in.

3. Sieve the flour and then add it to the mix with the salt and vanilla essence, stirring well to ensure that there are no lumps. It will look seriously irresistible at this point, so we don’t blame you if a couple of spoonfuls go missing…

4. Resisting the urge to eat the entire mix, pour it into the tin you prepared earlier and bake for 35 minutes. Once baked, the top will be cracked and flaky, looking just as yummy as it tastes.

icecreamwithbrownie5. Turn out from the tin and leave to cool, before cutting into squares (bigger is better in our opinion, although miniature brownie bites are fun too). Alternatively, serve when they’re still warm from the oven with a generous dollop of our homemade ice cream (find the recipe for that here).

We really do believe that these are the best brownies in the universe, but if you think you can top them, share your best bakes with us on Twitter or in the comments below.

Matt

How to make delicious homemade ice cream without an ice cream machine

icecreamcone
Apparently summer’s nearly over. The sun’s going away, and he’s not coming back for a long time. It’s a darn shame, but I for one refuse to let the absence of a big ball of fire in the sky define my fun. Some of my favourite foods arrive with summer, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to them just yet.

Take ice cream, for example. It’s delicious all year round, regardless of the weather. That’s why, during a weekend family visit, my mum and I decided we’d make our own batch, thunderstorms outside be damned.

I’d never made ice cream before, probably due to my assumption that you need one of those fancy, whirring machines for it. Turns out you don’t, and you too can try your hand at this yummy recipe with a few basic ingredients that you probably already have in your fridge and cupboards.

The deceptively simple process is also incredibly satisfying, if a little time consuming. But really, what else are you going to spend your time doing on a rainy Sunday? You’ll be glad you made the effort when you pull that first tub out of the freezer, open the lid and find a perfect batch of creamy, cold deliciousness. Try classic vanilla before venturing on to more exotic flavours.

Ingredients

(makes approximately 16 servings)
750ml whole milk
4 large eggs
350g sugar
2 vanilla pods split and scraped
OR 2 spoons of pure vanilla extract
750ml heavy cream
6 trays of ice cubes
200g rock salt

Method

1. Beat together the milk and eggs in the pan. Add the sugar and vanilla, and cook over medium-low heat. Constantly stir the mix with a whisk or spoon until it appears slightly thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Stir in the cream, then pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl and cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for three hours (a little longer is fine, but no more than 12 hours).

icrecreamwhisk3. Next comes the fun part: turning your milky mix into fully-fledged ice cream. To do this, fill a larger bowl with the ice and stir in the rock salt. While this will help to unleash the extra cold energy you need, it will also cause the ice to start melting… better act quick. Make a nest in the ice for the bowl containing the mixture to sit in, then grab an electric whisk and go at it for ten minutes, being careful not to spill too much into the ice bowl (you can cover half the bowl with a tea towel to help prevent this). The texture won’t look or feel much different yet, but the mix should be notably colder.

4. Let the nesting bowls sit in the fridge for ten minutes, before moving them to the freezer and covering with a tea towel. Leave for 45 minutes, then remove – your mixture will probably have thickened slightly to resemble a moussey pudding. Whisk for another five minutes, or stop when it starts to resemble melting ice cream (hey, it’s working!).

5. Pour the mix into a plastic tub and freeze for a minimum of two hours, overnight if you’re patient enough. Open it up to discover your icy genius, and serve up in cones, bowls or (my favourite) with chocolate brownies.

icecreamwithbrownie
Nice, eh? Let us know how yours turned out – bonus points if you send a photo. Oh, and keep an eye out for a post on the ludicrously moreish chocolate brownies we had our ice cream with. We’ll be sharing that recipe with you quite soon. I’ve yet to find a better dessert combo.

Matt