Vegan Xmas Chocolate Tin

As vegans we don’t like to miss out and at Christmas especially! Although it’s only the beginning of November you might want to get started on your Christmas tin and space out your chocolate purchases. I first saw the idea of a chocolate tin on Floral Frosting’s Instagram account a couple of years ago and thought I’d give it a go.

The aim is to get a mix of vegan chocolates so you can have a tin full of a variety of treats like those non-vegan Quality Street or Roses tin.

So first off you need a tin. Most people have an old tin about which formerly had sweets or biscuits in. If your tin isn’t that inspiring feel free to decorate in any way you see fit. I had this lovely London bus shortbread tin which was given to me in my pre-vegan days and it has been hanging around on top of my kitchen cupboards ever since. I covered the “all butter shortbread” labels with some stickers I got from vegan zine – Brightzine recently.

Now for the treats! I like to get things that are all individually wrapped but that’s up to you. Also by giving yourself a little bit of time you can hold out for special offers.

First up we have Benedick’s mints, these are individually foiled wrapped discs with flecks of crunchy minty bits. I got these on special offer for £2.50 in Tesco.



Another from Tesco is their fondant truffles (these are made by Choices so you might see them under that brand in other supermarkets). These are gold foil enrobed (that’s a good word isn’t it?!) caramel cups and remind me of the ones you can get in Quality Street. These were £2.



Now a pound shop favourite – Jameson’s Ruffles, the raspberry ones are a firm favourite but this is the first year I’ve seen the peppermint ones. These are coconut based and covered in dark chocolate and at £1 a bag you’re onto a winner!





I saw this ice cream flavoured glaciers in the pound shop too so although they were a little outside the remit of being chocolate based I thought I’d give them a go, my tin – my rules!



It was another trip to Tesco that saw me pick up these strawberry and orange cremes. I had seen them online but not in store on my previous visit so I tweeted Tesco to make sure they were in stock in my local store and what aisle they were in. I think their packaging has changed since I saw thetlm online which confused me. A box of these will set you back a pound so you can’t go wrong really.

So that’s where I’m up to, I think that’s a pretty good mix but if I see something that just must go in I’ll add it.

What are your faves that you wouldn’t have your tin without? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Vegan Xmas Chocolate Tin

Review and Interview -Solkiki Chocolate

In December my Sister-in-law and I went to the Animal Aid Christmas Fayre which takes place each year at Kensington Town Hall. While we were there we met Bob from Solkiki Chocolate and tried many samples of their chocolate! I could listen to Bob talk about chocolate for hours, he is so passionate and I learned a lot about chocolate making in those few minutes we spent with him! I bought some chocolate for my Sister-in-law as part of her Christmas present and as it was birthday recently I asked her and my Brother to return the favour.

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Solkiki make dark, milk and white vegan chocolate, they also sell cocoa beans, cocoa butter and cocoa nibs. I chose a dark bar, two milk and one white bar.

I will start right to left with the dark Maranon 68. I find when tasting these types of (actual) chocolate (not confectionary) that are complex you have to treat it like wine tasting and proper think about what you are tasting and all the different flavour notes. This is not a bar I could just munch through but have a square or two at a time and really enjoy it.

The next bar is the Maranon 60 salted caramel dark mylk. This uses the same bean as the previous bar. This is a milk chocolate but has a high cocoa content so is darker than your typical milk chocolate. I find it so amazing that this bar doesn’t have any additional flavourings in it and it is simply the process of the chocolate making that brings out the caramel flavour. A little salt is added to compliment the flavour.

The next bar I chose was the Bocas Del Toros 49% Mylk Notes of Sweet Coffee and Cream. This is another delicious rich milk bar. I’m not sure what percentage of cocoa milk chocolates usually contain but I certainly know it’s not as high as 49%! When you buy commercial confectionary you are tasting milk and sugar, to actually taste the chocolate you need to get your hands on some proper chocolate people!

Lastly we have the Hazelnut Cream White Piedmont Gianduja. This is a newer bar which I hadn’t tried before. I love iChoc’s White Nougat Crisp bar which was my previous favourite white chocolate but this has now superceded it! This is deliciously creamy and tastes like the centre of a praline. This also reminds me of the mini vegolino chocolates from Vego. This is could seriously munch down in one sitting but I am rationing myself!

I also received some cocoa butter which I think I want to make into a body butter, I just need to look up how to do it!

I wanted to wax lyrical about how Solkiki work and their ethics but I knew I couldn’t do as good a job as Iris and Bob themselves so I reached out to them with a few questions which they obliging answered.

What does the name Solkiki mean?
-It means The Sun and The Godess of Nature.
What made you want to be chocolate makers?
– We couldn’t find high quality vegan chocolate and we couldn’t find chocolate that was ethically produced to high enough standards.
Can you briefly explain how your production chain works from bean to bar?
– EVERY step of the process has a BIG impact on the flavour of the bar!  Our farmers carefully choose the correct time to harvest, and immediately begin fermenting their cacao beans.  It’s very important to ferment cacao beans correctly and how this is done is greatly dependent on the type of cacao. They then guage quality of their fermented and dried cacao and set their price.  If we like it, we buy it.  If it’s not perfect we have to walk away.  We inspect the beans in our workshop and clean them thoroughly.  We often roast the cacao to develop flavour, but this also degrades the nutrients slightly, so sometimes we prefer not to roast. Also, sometimes cacao is really interesting and delicious before roasting, so we like to show off the flavours of the unroasted cacao sometimes too. Either way, we then get rid of the husk and grind the cacao into a paste before adding sugar and maybe other ingredients.  When the chocolate is ready we temper the chocolate liquor and pour it into our bar moulds. When bars are set, we heat seal each bar and box it individually for unbeatable flavour protection.  Then we’ll write the best before date on each box, and if we’ve been so fortunate we add an award sticker to the front of the box. As one of the UK’s very few bean to bar chocolatemakers, we have complete control over every aspect of the process.  Any change to any aspect of the process will influence the end result, it’s very creative and exciting, often frustrating too, but mostly fun!
What makes you different from other small/artisanal chocolate makers? Every chocolate maker has their own techniques, experience, approach, range, recipes and preferences. We think that is great, because we all come up with different results because of this and you can out a lot of creativity in the chocolate. Also, there are 2 full time, full spectrum chocolatemakers at Solkiki.  Both Iris and I can perform all steps of the process from bean to bar which works very well for us and allows us to be very productive and step in and help each other out when we need to. We learned everything in chocolate making by a lot of trial and error. There is a lot to learn about making chocolate, but not many places where you can learn this, so our experience is very valuable to us. We’ve been making chocolate now for about 9 years, but officially as Solkiki since a a year. We are one of a handful of global teams who make 2-ingredient dark chocolate, with no added fat, and we use different processes for each bean.  We’ve also got a big range of very high quality internationally recognized bars.  We have now over 20 different bars and just this year we have released 2 full time bars, 1 limited edition and 2 exclusive bars for our subscribers.
Why is it important for you to only sell through independent shops and directly through your website?
We like short-chain and direct trade.  We can all change the world based on what we consume and how we spend our money. We feel everyone carries a part of this responsibility.
If someone was new to your products what bar would you recommend they start with?
All our bars are all beloved for different reasons, but they’re all delicious.  Maranon 68 and 60 will redefine dark / dark milk chocolate for anyone.   Toasted White is immaculate and a relatively simple white chocolate, Tahitian Nougat is balanced and complex flavoured white chocolate! Castilllo 85% unroasted is totally unique… a real eye opener!  Hazelnut cream, Bali White, Chilli mint… luxuriant, retro-style, innovative…It’s impossible to recommend a single bar, but I would mention that Maranon took us many months of experiments and was a real challenge that tested both of us and taught us much.
What is coming up for Solkiki in 2017?
New bars!  New equipment!  New collaborations!  Maybe even a surprise that ISN’T a bar of chocolate!

Solkiki sell directly through their website and independent shops/traders. They also attend many vegan fairs all over the country. Just looking at their Instagram feed I can’t believe how far and wide they manage to spread themselves!

Photos swiped from their instagram.

If you have tried Solkiki Chocolate let me know what you think in the comments below. If you haven’t tried them yet head over to their website and let me know which ones you would try first!

Plumes x
Review and Interview -Solkiki Chocolate

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Hope you are all having  great day. I’ve had a lovely morning apart from hitting the top of my head on a low beam. Ouch!

I thought I’d use this post to show you my presents.

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My Brother and Sister-in-law got me the Eden Perfumes bottle that smells like Be Delicious by DKNY. Eden Perfumes are a cruelty free brand that imitate the fragrances of popular non-cruelty-free brands so you can get vegan versions of your fave brands at a fraction of the cost! They also got me the gorgeous green and gold owl scarf and the Elizabeth Shaw raspberry bites. I’m fond of the mint discs but I’ve never tried these raspberry ones so I’m looking forward to trying them.

My cousin bought me the Booja Booja truffles which are my favourites and the red bush tea which we have both been getting into recently.

My Mum got me the veggie cola bottles, the M&S creme brulee liquer  (which is amazing!) and some festive socks as well as an Amazon voucher which I’ve used to buy some kindle books – Amy Schumer the girl with the lower back tattoo, Mara Wilson where am I now? and Sue Perkins Spectacles.

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My in-laws got me this gorgeous top from Next which I think I’m going to wear for my Brother’s birthday next week. It has flared sleeves and a beaded neckline which is really pretty. They also got me some dark chocolate with coconut from Waitrose which I’m looking forward to trying. They also got me an Amazon voucher which I think I will use to buy a spiralizer or a tofu press.

My Nan gave me some money which I used to buy this bag from La Bante which are all leather-free.

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My cousin and his wife framed a lovely photo of my Nan, Mum and me from their wedding in April.

My Sister-in-law and Brother-in-law got me an M&S voucher which I will use to buy some new tights!

We’ll soon be sitting down to dinner which I can’t wait for!

Hope you enjoy the rest of your Christmas period!

Plumes x

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Lots of Vegan Chocolate!

I bought my Mum a couple of presents from the Viva! Campaign Shop for her birthday. If you haven’t heard of Viva! they are a vegan campaign group who expose animal cruelty by secretly filming inside organisations and campaigning against animal exploitation. As I had paid for postage and packaging on my Mum’s gifts I thought I would make the most of it and buy some chocolate I’d been hearing about and hadn’t come across in my local haunts.

I bought the Vivani crispy cornflakes and strawberry wafer crunch bars, the IChoc (who are owned by the same company as Vivani) white nougat crisp bar and the Coco Caravan chai caramel bar.

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I also picked up another two IChoc bars, the milkless and choco cookie and a packet of Vegolino from the same people who brought you the Vego Bar when I visited the Black Cat Cafe which you can read all about here.

Starting with corn flake bar – I found this really crunchy and it reminded me of the corn flake cakes we used to make when I was little. I think the corn flake pieces could have been a little bigger though. The chocolate didn’t have a rich cocoa taste at first but this developed more as I worked my way through the bar!

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I misread the German on the strawberry bar and thought “waffel” was waffle rather than wafer. The wafer pieces again give a nice crunch but I think they could have been a little bigger. This bar is very sweet and has a strong strawberry flavour. I think this bar is quite original and I can’t think of any non-vegan offering that is similar.

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I have tried the Vivani small bar of the white nougat crisp and the larger bar doesn’t disappoint. I’m not sure why they use the different branding as I prefer the Vivani packaging and designs. This chocolate is really soft and has a lovely hazelnutty flavour, this is definitely one of my favourites and again I don’t think there is an equivalent in the non-vegan market.

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The chai caramel bar is raw dark chocolate flavoured with spices filled with a raw caramel. When I saw this bar online I assumed it was the caramel that was chai flavoured rather than the chocolate. The chocolate is dark and rich and I think the intense cocoa flavour distracts from the spices, I think this would have worked better with a milder chocolate, equally I think the caramel flavour gets a bit lost in this one. Although as the chocolate is so rich I have only been eating one square at a time of this so still have some left!

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The milkless and the choco cookie have a similar appearance the corn flake bar so I haven’t taken extra pictures. The milkless is a mild, creamy chocolate that doesn’t have the aftertaste of some other dairy-free alternatives. I prefer richer chocolate or something a bit different so I think I’d choose one of the other Vivani/IChoc bars over this one. The choco cookie has cookie pieces, similar to the biscuits/cookies of an oreo contained inside and they give this bar an added depth of flavour. I know there are cookie chocolate bars in the non-vegan market but I think most of these have come on the scene since I went vegan so it’s nice to have an animal friendly alternative!

Finally we have the Vegolino mini bars. These are from the same makers the Vego Bar which many hail as the best vegan chocolate on the planet! If you are unaware the Vego Bar is a big chunky dairy-free milk chocolate and hazelnut bar. These Vegolino’s are the Vego Bar’s more elegant cousins. They are small individually wrapped bars of praline gianduja and are best eaten straight from the fridge, especially in the weather we’ve had over the last week! I would describe these as tasting like the praline filling from a Guylian Seashell chocolate, they are beautiful and moreish and my only criticism would be I think they would benefit from a crisp layer of chocolate over the top. Anyone craving a Ferrero Rocher fix wouldn’t go wrong grabbing a bag of these!

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Have you tried any of these chocolates? What did you think? What is your favourite dairy-free chocolate? Let me know!

Plumes x

 

Lots of Vegan Chocolate!