My sister has been a vegetarian for 15 years and within the last year decided to go fully vegan. This has inspired me to eat vegan more often myself, both because it’s better for the environment and my health and so that we can share meals together. There are many things my sister had to give up when going vegan, and other things that are just very hard to find. Chocolate falls into this last category. Chocolate itself is already vegan – it’s just a bean. But a lot of chocolate has milk added to it, even if it’s not what you would consider milk or white chocolate. Even if the chocolate is vegan, the filling of a truffle might have animal products in it. It seemed so silly that my sister would have to give up chocolates, especially because they don’t require non-vegan ingredients. So this year for Easter I enlisted her help in making up a couple recipes so everyone could have a great holiday!
As I hinted above, making these vegan was actually very easy. The hardest part was finding the vegan chocolate. Obviously it had to be dark chocolate so it wouldn’t have milk products. But even dark chocolates aren’t necessarily vegan. We searched a number of chain grocery stores for vegan dark chocolate, and ended up finding one brand, Artisan Kettle, that had a product labeled as vegan. My sister also knew that Trader Joes chocolate was vegan.
Once we had the vegan shells, we just needed to choose some fillings. We considered ganache, mint chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, and jam. Coconut was off the table because my sister doesn’t like shredded coconut. We actually tried to make a vegan caramel sauce (with coconut milk) from an unnamed blog, but by the time it was the correct color it was also completely solid… :(. So we went with a peanut butter and a ganache filling, both of which were very easy to veganize with vegan butter and coconut milk.
This recipe is an adaptation of my previous chocolate truffle recipe. Please see that recipe for additional discussion on chocolate, and check out my tips and tricks covering double boilers, and thermometers. For anyone considering making molded chocolates, I highly recommend this video. My biggest change for this recipe is the tempering method for dark chocolate, which I outline below.
Tempering Dark Chocolate – It turns out tempering dark chocolate is not as easy as white chocolate, possibly because it’s so easy to see mistakes in the form of white cocoa butter streaks in the final product. See my tips and tricks for the science behind tempering in general. After having to re-melt everything and start over once, here’s what I came up with for dark chocolate (important differences in bold), which produced good (but not perfect) results:
- Set up a double boiler over medium heat with about an inch of water in the bottom pan
- Add finely chopped chocolate and melt while stirring until it reaches 114-120°F for dark chocolate (I used my instant read thermometer). This temperature should be reached shortly after all the chocolate is melted.
- Add 1/4 the total weight of reserved tempered chocolate chunks (the seed) and stir to cool until it reaches 90°F
- Remove the unmelted chocolate seeds to a piece of wax paper for hardening and later use
- The chocolate is now ready to use, although it may require additional heating or cooling to reach your desired consistency. As long as the chocolate remains between 85-90°F, it won’t lose its temper. Anything outside this range and you’ll want to start the process over!
Vegan Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate ganache filling:
- 1/2 pound vegan dark chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- Put the dark chocolate into a medium bowl
- Bring coconut milk to a simmer in a medium pan
- Pour coconut milk over chocolate and stir to melt
- Once cool, transfer to a piping bag or ziplock and pipe into chocolate shells
Peanut butter filling:
based on this recipe from Food Network
- 1 1/4 cups softened confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Beat everything with an electric mixer until well-combined
- Form into small balls and place into dark chocolate shells
Dark chocolate shells:
makes 70 shells
- 16 oz vegan 66% dark chocolate, 4 oz reserved and the rest chopped fine
- Temper the 12 oz chopped chocolate
- Spoon the melted chocolate into the molds and use and offset spatula to spread to fill all the molds. At the same time, scrape the excess into a bowl so that there’s no chocolate on the edges of the molds.
- Tap the mold on the counter to release air bubbles that will mess up your shape
- Let the mold sit for 3-5 minutes to allow the chocolate to start hardening in the mold
- Invert the mold over a bowl or pan lined with wax paper and allow chocolate to drip out for 1 min.
- Scrape excess chocolate off edges of mold and let sit at room temperature until completely hardened.
- When the shells are hard and the filling is cool, fill the shells. Do not fill the shells all the way or it will be difficult to seal the candies with the bottom layer of chocolate. I would recommend under-filling to over-filling.
- Leave molds on counter to settle while re-tempering the chocolate left from step 6.
- Use an offset spatula to spread the tempered chocolate over the molds to seal the shells. Ideally, you will be able to smoothly spread on the bottom chocolate so that it seals the shells while scraping it off the edges so you’re left with a nice clean edge when you unmold your chocolates. Having under-filled the molds will really help here. Tap the mold against the counter once more to settle the chocolate and remove bubbles.
- Allow to cool completely then unmold. Depending on your mold, putting the chocolates into the freezer for a minute will help with the unmolding.
Boy this was a slog, but they tasted great (especially the peanut butter ones), looked super professional (I got some new molds for the occasion that I love love love), and my sister was very pleased. As a non-vegan, I promise you, you would never be able to tell these are vegan! My main issues were that the chocolate still did not temper perfectly, and the shells were thicker than I desired. For the first, I will try to heat a bit hotter initially and use more seed chocolate next time. For the second, I will make sure to bring the temperature of the chocolate back up to 90°F after tempering so it is nice and thin when I fill the molds.