In a World that criticises you for craving chocolate, sends you a scrumptious moist brownie recipe then reminds you that sugar is the devil, what the hell are we supposed to do? Eating nice stuff seems to be synonymous with feeling guilty.
And of course, for those that can't eat the real stuff, carob options are like comparing chalk and cheese. Why would you bother?
Now I have a sweet tooth. I grew up on Cadbury's Dairy Milk (yep we had a chest freezer full of it - but that's another story) and clearly turned out alright! I'm a little fussy (particular!) with my choco preferences and am rather partial to the modern flavours that are jazzed up with ginger, salted caramel and coconut. I was always a fan of Whole Nut and a Fry's Chocolate Cream, so anything nutty and minty is a goer for me.
So I was intrigued when I came across Heavenly Chocolate; a 100% vegan product that is free from dairy, gluten, wheat, soy, palm oil and GMO ingredients. It also has a very low sugar content (less than 4% compared to 55% in other chocolate brands) and who am I not to rise to a taste challenge...I mean research project!
Heavenly is a small family run business which began from an idea at their kitchen table around 2 years ago. They make their bars by hand, in Salisbury. I love hearing the backstory of a small business and can really relate to the roller-coaster ride of building something wonderful.
I took advantage of their introductory taster pack - a selection of 3 mini bars that I was able to choose myself. And of course, there's nothing more uplifting than having chocolate arriving through your letter box between the bills and Slimming World fliers.
I chose Coffee, Salted Caramel and Mint.
All 3 were 43% cocoa solids (compared to mass produced milk chocolate bars at ~25%) and each one with 4 sizeable pieces in a 25g bar - perfect for snack time and for anyone that struggles to stop after the first few chunks of a bigger bar.
They also do a dark chocolate that is 73% so very much on a par with your typical dairy chocolate bars at 70% and above. I'll be trying that on my next order!
Stephen Conway aka Willy Wonka has clearly done his homework and like many nutrition nerds, I got a buzz from reading about monounsaturated fats, dental health and diabetes on their website which has a very friendly and genuine feel to it.
The relatively short list of ingredients includes rice, maize and chicory fibre, prebiotic inulin and plant based sweeteners. Whilst some of these may not suit those with FODMAP sensitivities, he's thought of pretty much everything else in terms of who this bar might appeal to.
There was a enough of a satisfying snap when breaking a piece off, much like you get with a high % cocoa bar.
Instead of dairy, they use organic rice cream and they all tasted nice and creamy, with a smooth mouth feel.
None were too sweet and you don't get that funny after taste you do with 'cheap chocolate' or other low sugar or sugar free choc.
The mint was clean, fresh and definitely aeroesque! I only got to eat half of this bar because for some mysterious reason, the rest disappeared despite being hidden in my secret cupboard! I believe my 7 year old discovered it and clearly had no hesitation in finishing it off for me!
The coffee was like having a mocha and would be a good post dinner option although for me, I felt it could have had a stronger coffee hit.
The salted caramel is exactly what it says it is - the saltiness really comes out if you let it melt in your mouth or suck it, but that does require a hell of a lot of patience! I think this was my favourite but I'm really keen to try the hazelnut, coconut and dark ginger.
A fantastic option if you are consciously working on reducing your sugar intake, vegan or not.
If you suffer from sugar surges and crashes these bars could help lessen all the consequences of the sugar rush, combat the mid-afternoon lull or hormonal emotional outburst towards you desk buddy or partner [I'm saying nothing].
Ideal for anyone who is lactose intolerant and who refuses to be subjected to advent calendar style ‘chocolate’ options.
For those wanting to look after their teeth (or their kids teeth) whilst living life.
For those wanting to support a small, ethical business that has moral values and uses 100% recyclable packaging.
So yes, chocolate heaven does exist!