chocolate vegan.

This afternoon I enjoyed a lovely snack of coffee and cake – and not just any cake. A gorgeous, chocolate, dairy-free, vegan slice of heaven.

During a recent jaunt to the city I made sure to visit Whole Foods Market, my personal mecca of vegan and vegetarian tasty treats. This time I remembered to pick up their vegan chocolate cake. It’s marketed as ‘Dairy Free Chocolate Cake’ yet the organic ingredient list is clearly devoid of eggs – in other words the scary V-word is nowhere to be found but vegan it is.

The cake is moist, rich and unabashedly decadent to be sure. It is adorned with a fabulously smooth and satisfying chocolate ganache. One day my own dairy-free ganache will be as good as this – mine has a habit of solidifying on me, whereas this ganache remains pleasantly moist.

Ah, chocolate – you have no equal. I will forever be your servant.

The rich chocolatey goodness of this fine cake got me thinking about vegan chocolate in general, particularly the fine, handmade variety. Around me it seems to be somewhat of a scarcity. I’m not referring to vegan chocolate in bar form, which is quite plentiful – I am no stranger to Green & Black’s Organic Maya Gold (such sweet heaven and fair trade). I’m thinking of artisan chocolates – those very fine, invariably expensive sweet delights referred to as chocolate truffles.

I’ve heard rumours here and there of fine vegan chocolate that can be had far, far away (Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, for example), but alas – none in my immediate Torontonian vicinity. Vegan’s aren’t the only ones who might appreciate some fine chocolate – I have many a lactose intolerant friend who would embrace some fine dairy-free chocolate goodness.

I made a few enquiries and found that the following chocolate makers offer some dairy-free, vegan options – all of which are available in Canada:

Kerstin’s Chocolates – Dark chocolate is vegan.

Teuscher – Swiss chocolate legend – select dark chocolate is vegan.

Lagusta’s Luscious – Often raved about, these American chocolate artisans don’t ship outside of the US, but Canadian buyers can get them through The Vegan Store.

Dolphin Natural Chocolate – this Canadian chocolatier contributes a percentage of their profits to the Environmental defense Fund. Check out their Vegan Mix, a selection of chocolates including Mint Crisp, Organic Peanut Butter, Roasted Almond and Solid Dark.

There are a few more chocolate artists from whom I am waiting to hear back – will update when I do.

In the mean time, if anyone has a favourite vegan chocolatier, please share with this addict.

organic vegan cornmeal muffins.

I picked up an organic Cornmeal Muffin mix at the market that just happens to be completely free of nuts, eggs, and dairy. It’s put together by Muffins Inc. The company also sell their muffins ready made and in other flavours like chocolate chip, carrot, and dutch cocoa.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the fact that when I emptied the bag of dry ingredients into the bowl they were separate from each other – not that they were bagged separately, but rather that it was obvious that the flour was placed in the bag first, then the cornmeal, etc. What I mean to say is that the ingredients weren’t all mixed together. That’s not a critical element of buying a mix but when I peered into my mixing bowl it looked as if I had poured the ingredients individually myself.

I don’t know why that pleased me so much but it was amusingly unexpected.

All I needed to add was cold water, oil, and vinegar – it didn’t specify what type but I used apple cider vinegar. It suggested sunflower oil but I didn’t have any so I used canola oil instead. Then I mixed at high speed for 5 minutes with the electric mixer and voilà – ready to go into the oven for 25-30 minutes. The easiest thing I’ve made in a long while.

I baked them for 28 minutes which perhaps wasn’t quite enough time – I thought they were a little pale but then thought maybe I’m used to corn muffins with more cornmeal in them. They tasted sweet but pleasant. Very simple to make for sure – not a bad thing to have in the cupboard if you need to make something fast.

They were lovely cut in half and toasted with a little earth balance spread melting in.

how sweet it is.

The sugar saga continues. See my original post regarding the use of bone char in the Canadian sugar industry for the backstory.

The Canadian Sugar Institute addressed my enquiry about their website content today.

This is what they wrote:

Thank you for contacting the Canadian Sugar Institute with your comments regarding an inaccurate statement on our website. While it is true that resins are now the most widely used filtering agent for sugar cane refining in Canada, you are correct that Rogers Sugar does in fact use bone char (an animal product) in its Vancouver refinery as part of the filtering process. Redpath Sugar and Lantic Sugar do not use bone char.

The accuracy of the information given to the public is taken very seriously at the Canadian Sugar Institute. Please be assured that this misinformation was an oversight on our part and that it was not our intent to mislead the public on this issue. We intend to clarify this issue by correcting the information on the website as quickly as possible.

It is important to note as well that while bone char can be used in the filtering process of sugar cane, sugar is a natural plant product and no residues from bone char will remain in the final purified sugar. There is no animal material present in the sugar that we consume.

Thank you again for your helpful comments.

I’m very pleased with their response – bravo to them for taking the steps to correct their mistake.

The information they provided in their response regarding Lantic’s non-bone char status conflicts with Lantic’s website (which indicates that they DO use bone char). This may be due to the fact that Rogers now owns Lantic and the Lantic site is merely a reflection of the Rogers site (Rogers USES bone char). On closer inspection of the Rogers and Lantic sites one can see that their FAQ sections are in fact identical (including question #5 which makes reference to the use of bone char).

I believe that The Canadian Sugar Institute is being truthful in their response to me despite what Lantic’s site is saying about itself. This would indicate that Lantic is bone char free along with Redpath.

So yay for Redpath and Lantic and boo on Rogers.