Looking for the best vegan chocolate truffles for a sweet and dairy-free Valentine’s Day?There are plenty of chocolatiers producing vegan goodies, from vegan chocolate selections to pralines and nougat to caramel. Have a peek at these tasty sweets for your sweetie!
What Is a Truffle?
The exact origins of truffles are unclear, but they are thought to have been invented in the mid-to-late 1800s. Truffles are named after the edible fungus—which shares a similar appearance. The recipes vary from region to region, and many different variations have gained widespread popularity.
Truffles are traditionally made by coating ganache with either cocoa powder or chocolate. While the strictest definition of truffles must include traditional ganache, there are many variations, adaptations, and similar recipes—including vegan ones.
Richard Webster, the founder of dairy-free brand Vegan Chocolatier, told LIVEKINDLY that people define “truffle” differently.
“Some people call anything that is a round ball a truffle,” explains Webster. “But some people refer to the centre as a truffle, if it’s got that crumbly centre as opposed to a caramel centre. I don’t think there’s a rule anymore.”
“We’ll make the shell, which is basically milk chocolate,” continues Webster. “We use almond milk in our centers, liquid almond milk. You mix that with your flavorings, and mix some of the base chocolate with that and whisk it up.”
Healthy vegan “truffles” are also popular, with dates, cashews, coconut oil, and cocoa powder as go-to replacements for the ganache filling. These substitutions can even be used in cheesecakes and other desserts, in order to replicate the flavor and texture of truffles or soft praline.
Is Chocolate Vegan?
Chocolate is a cacao-based food that comes in varying sweetness. It is one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world. Chocolate as we know it today generally comes in white, milk, or dark varieties.
Adjusting the quantity of sweetener, cacao, and milk creates a difference in both appearance and flavor. Dark chocolate, with high cacao content, is often naturally vegan and lower in sugar. In contrast, milk and white chocolate use more additional ingredients, and often dairy.
Coconut, rice, or oat milk are popular modern replacements for dairy milk in chocolate. Dried rice powder makes a particularly versatile ingredient, and creates a mild but creamy, milk chocolate-like texture.
According to Vegan Chocolatier, adapting dairy-free milk and white chocolate recipes for mass production can provide a bit of a challenge. “There’s a reason not many people are doing it, I think,” explains Webster. “Partly because veganism is new, but also partly because it’s quite tricky.”
For Vegan Chocolatier, subtle differences in the recipe can make a big difference to the end result. “We wanted to do something a little bit different with the milk and white—which differentiates us,” says Webster. “And everything is made by hand. It’s all dipped by hand, all the shells are made by hand.”
Different companies have different attitudes to chocolate making, and in some cases being dairy-free isn’t necessarily the same as being vegan. Some mass-produced chocolate can involve human exploitation. You can view the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate List for suggestions of ethical vegan chocolate.
Is Nougat Vegan?
Nougat is a type of confection that, traditionally, falls into one of three categories.
Chewy, white nougat uses beaten egg whites and honey. This variety was first popularized in Italy and Spain. Brown nougat, typically, does not include egg whites, and is darker in color and crunchier in texture. Viennese nougat, despite its name, is closer to a chocolate and nut praline.
Whereas white nougat traditionally contains eggs, both brown and Viennese nougat can be made vegan using traditional or semi-traditional recipes. For the former, caramelized brown sugar and nuts are the primary ingredients. For the latter, hazelnut paste, cocoa butter, and brown sugar form the base.
Modern, mass-produced nougat—as it is found in candy bars—is often made using variations of traditional recipes. Many varieties contain hydrolyzed soy protein or gelatine, milk powder, and sugar syrups instead in place of more traditional ingredients.
But even non-vegan nougat recipes are adaptable. Aquafaba—the water drained from soaked chickpeas—is an incredibly versatile egg-replacer. It can be incorporated along with sugars and vegan syrups to create the nougat base.
Mashed banana and powdered egg replacers are also common additions when adapting vegan confectionary. Coconut oil is popular for vegan nougat, as well as in other dairy-free chocolates including truffles and caramel.
Caramelization, by definition, is the removal of water from sugar through the application of heat. And the word caramel can refer to several different varieties of sugar-based confection. Toffee, brittle, crème brûlée, crème caramel, praline, and nougat can all use this process, and the texture and means of preparation vary depending on the desired outcome.
While some sugar-based caramels can be naturally vegan, others contain dairy products for flavor and texture. Caramel sauce often combines heated sugar with cream and butter to create a smooth, viscous liquid for desserts and puddings.
Like nougat, there are some naturally vegan caramel recipes. Caramel sauce, toffee, fudge, and brittle can be made with soy cream. Nut butter, cacao butter, coconut milk, maple syrup, agave nectar, and coconut sugar are all popular additions to vegan caramel.
Blended dates offer a healthier and versatile natural replacement for brown sugar. Medjool dates are particularly caramel-like in flavor. Millionaire shortbread, caramel bars, and vegan truffles can affectively incorporate dates as a sweetener.
11 Best Vegan Truffles
Ready for some vegan truffles? Here are our top picks for dairy-free chocolate truffles and vegan selections.
1. Booja Booja’s Award-Winning Truffle Selection
British company Booja Booja has won 125 awards in the last 20 years for its truffles. This vegan chocolate selection box contains some of its greatest hits, including hazelnut crunch, stem ginger, and almond salted caramel. The brand doesn’t use palm oil, maintains healthy relationships with its suppliers, and is 100 percent vegan.
2. Vegan Chocolatier’s Divine Viennese Truffles
These premium vegan milk chocolate Viennese truffles use dried rice milk powder and almond milk for a creamy centre. Vegan Chocolatier also uses 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable packaging. The company aims to make modern, high-quality chocolate that helps people go—and stay—vegan.
“We obviously want to make a successful business, but we also want to make it easier for people to switch, so they don’t have an excuse,” says Webster. “If you’ve got great chocolate”, he added, “then that’s one problem solved.”
3. Moo Free’s Hazelnut Truffles
These dairy-free Hazelnut Truffles are available from Waitrose for £4.99. The truffles use hazelnut paste, rice starch, and coconut oil for a rich centre.
“When Moo Free was starting out in 2010, one of our earliest products was a box of pralines. They were very popular and made an excellent gift for birthdays, Valentine’s day and Christmas,” says Moo Free.
4. Hotel Chocolate’s Gianduja Bombe Selector
The Gianduja Bombe Selector is made with vegan milk chocolate and hazelnut paste. “The silkiest, smoothest dark hazelnut praline made to melt in the mouth like butter,” says Hotel Chocolat. All of the cocoa the company produces falls under the Engaged Ethics Program. Hotel Chocolat aims to have 100 percent compostable, reusable, or recyclable packaging by 2021.
“When I was first creating Cocomels, I wanted to create a dairy-free caramel,” says Chief Candymaker JJ Rademaekers. “My body doesn’t like dairy, my heart and mind don’t like the dairy industry and all of me LOVES caramel. When I discovered that coconut milk made a delicious caramel it struck me: WOW! This is better than old-fashioned caramel, and it’s vegan!”
6. No Whey Signature Truffles
The Signature vegan chocolate selection box from No Whey comes in boxes of 15 or 24. Each tray contains a variety of No Whey’s most popular vegan truffles—including milk fudge, salted caramel, and Grand Marnier liquor flavor. No Whey’s dairy-free truffles are also soy and gluten-free.
7. Beech’s Dark Chocolate Coffee Creams
British company Beech’s uses a traditional recipe and natural flavors to produce Dark Chocolate Coffee Creams. Freshly ground coffee and rich cocoa form the fondant centre of these dark chocolates. Beech’s offers a whole vegan-friendly range, including various fruit, violet, mint, and rose creams.
8. Goupie Hazelnut
Goupie is a Kent-based chocolate manufacturer specializing in “devilishly moreish” vegan and gluten-free treats. Hazelnut flavor “is praline meets rice Krispie cake in the best possible way!” The company uses 100 percent recyclable packaging, including adhesive-free card. Goupie also sources ingredients locally where possible, and always as sustainably as possible.
These Organic nougat pralines are from Vego, the makers of the popular hazelnut chocolate bar. Vegolinos are smooth, creamy, and contain chunks of nougat and hazelnut. “We only use exclusive high-quality ingredients,” says Vego. “Fine Italian hazelnut paste, hazelnut cocoa cream and whole hazelnuts.
10. Hadleigh Maid Artisan Selection
The Artisan Selection box from Hadleigh Maid includes raspberry, chocolate, almond nut butter, and salted caramel. The brand uses 56 percent dark chocolate, and the Artisan Selection is even plastic-free. Each box uses completely recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable materials.
11. G.org.e Classic Selection Box
G.org.e’s Classic Selection box is vegan, gluten-free, raw, and made entirely from “Organic superfoods.” Each box includes hazelnut, coffee, chocolate, coconut, and raspberry flavor dairy-free truffles. Each variety uses a date and cacao butter base with cacao powder and natural flavorings, for “guilt-free organic eating.”