Time to take a walk on the dark side. We’ve bravely sampled ten of the richest, smoothest and most delicious dark chocolates from around the world. Find out which of these plant-based and vegan-friendly treats is number one.
This article is part of an ongoing chocolate review series comparing different forms and flavours of vegan-friendly and plant-based chocolatey goodness to find out which is the ultimate treat. See the rest of our delicious research here.
We are back with round two of our plant-based and vegan-friendly chocolate mega review. This time around, we focused on a selection of dark chocolates ranging from classic dark, fruit infused as well as a few dynamic flavours that are sure to pique the interest of both casual chompers and chocoholics alike. As a refresher, our sample comprises a collection of international brands and features a mix of bars and full-sized chocolate blocks. We rated each on tastiness, texture, aroma, and how close each came to the description provided by the maker. So, without further delay, let’s meet our treats!
There is a new heavyweight in town. Tony’s Dark Almond Sea Salt brings a fun twist to the classic formula in a huge block of chocolatey goodness. Contains surprising pops of salt and big pieces of almond amidst a sea of thick and chewy dark chocolate. It’s hard to believe this is only 51% cacao. We love the unique block design and social impact; the company advocates for fairtrade chocolate production and includes and awareness infographic in the wrapper.
- Facts: 180g, fairtrade, 51% cacao, Belgian chocolate.
- They say: A golden match of dark chocolate, sea salt and almonds.
- We say: Exceptionally smooth, yet crunchy. Once you get past the almond chunks, it is a chewy experience. Unique design makes it hard to split, but great taste makes this easy to eat.
- Rating: 4/5
A dark block of chocolate with a hint of toffee. The block is a fine example of classic dark chocolate and the sweet (yet subtle) infusion of evaporated coconut nectar ensures there is no bitter aftertaste. Packed in recycled materials that are compostable and printed with vegetable inks.
- Facts: 80g, organic, gluten free, direct trade, 72% cacao, made in Australia.
- They say: Deeply earthy taste with sweet toffee tones.
- We say: A very crunchy yet smooth dark chocolate that leaves a lite after taste.
- Rating: 3.5/5
This bar is exactly what you would expect from a dark chocolate. It is rich yet lacks a bitter after taste, due in part to the natural sweeteners, though coming in at 70% cacao, this is definitely not a sweet-tasting chocolate. Its thin pieces are crunchy and have a slight aroma of cacao. Overall, a great choice when you want a little hit of straight-up dark chocolate.
- Facts: 40g, organic, fair trade, 70% cacao,1g carbs per serve, made in Switzerland.
- They say: Velvety dark chocolate with natural sweetener and no added sugar.
- We say: No surprises here. If you are after a fast fix of dark chocolate that’s low on carbs and calories, this is a great go to bar.
- Rating: 3/5
Dark And Fruity
Does the perfect dark chocolate exist? If not, Vego Dark is as close as you can get. This chocolate bar contains an assortment of berry delights, including blueberry, raspberry and cranberry pieces. Along with the smooth, dark chocolate, chopped almonds and hazelnuts, the bar has plenty going on yet comes together to provide a harmonious taste. Each piece is a real treat, with the slight aroma of berries enticing you before each bite. While it’s easy to tear through a whole bar by yourself, remember that sharing is caring. Slow down and enjoy each nutty crunch, let the sweet and sour berries dance across your palette and savour the smooth, dark chocolate that melts in your mouth. An easy recommendation.
- Facts: 85g, organic, fairtrade, 60% cacao, made in Italy.
- They say: A combination of divinely dark chocolate, nuts and berries.
- We say: The perfect dark chocolate bar. Delicious berries, nuts and great tasting chocolate. What’s not to love?
- Rating: 5/5
Bennetto is on to a winner. The New Zealand-based chocolate maker has struck a perfect balance of tangy raspberry and rich, dark chocolate. Both flavours balance each other ensuring the experience is not too tart or bitter, yet leaving an eclectic aftertaste that will have you reaching for more. You’ll find generous pieces of raspberry scattered around the smooth chocolate body. If you like your dark chocolate to have a twist of berry, it’s worth giving Bennetto a try.
- Facts: 100g, organic, fairtrade, gluten free, 60% cocoa, made in Switzerland.
- They say: A flavourful pop of freeze-dried raspberry in rich, dark chocolate.
- We say: Generous pieces of raspberry throughout this crisp bar of dark chocolate. The raspberry adds a tang, almost tart like aftertaste that perfectly complements the bold flavour and light coconut smell.
- Rating: 3.5/5
Hands down the most creative and interesting chocolate of the bunch. Hailing from Byron Bay, this box of chocolate packs two servings of vegan ganache, sprinkled with raspberries on top and real sour cherries on the inside. The hard outer shell gives way to a creamy and rich inner, with all the notes working together to delight the senses, including the rich berry aromas. Features an amazing design and compostable wrapper.
- Facts: 60g, organic, gluten free, contains probiotics, 57% cacao, made in Australia.
- They say: Tangy, sweet and rich.
- We say: Decadent. From the raspberries on top, to the creamy centre infused with real sour cherries and hard outer shell, you won’t know what hit you.
- Rating: 4/5
For The Adventurous
At 52% cacao, this is a ‘lightweight’ dark chocolate. Yet what it lacks in boldness, it makes up for with a smooth, salty taste, accompanied by rich caramel pieces. Great for those who prefer a lighter experience or are new to the dark chocolate game.
- Facts: 80g, organic, fairtrade, 52% cacao, made in Switzerland.
- They say: A perfectly luxurious chocolate experience.
- We say: Lite and equal parts smooth, chewy and crunchy.
- Rating: 3.5/5
The smoothest operator. Caramel Swayzee is the lightest of the dark chocolates and it shows. Layers of salted caramel sit atop a base of dark chocolate. The experience is best described as ‘more sweet and smooth’ than ‘dark’. A cookie-like texture in parts with a surprisingly bitter aftertaste that is nearly cancelled out by a coconut-like essence. An otherwise delicious bar of chocolate that is packaged using sustainable materials.
- Facts: 45g, organic, direct trade, 49% cacao, made in Australia.
- They say: Silky with smooth dark chocolate.
- We say: A lite chocolate that goes down smooth.
- Rating: 3/5
Fans of chilli-infused chocolate may enjoy this one. We found the dark chocolate and blood-orange gave way to the spicey chilli, which lingers as a strong aftertaste. The blood-orange itself was difficult to detect, but had a very strong aroma of orange oil that was noticeable as soon as the pack was opened. Recommend eating this one sparingly and slowly, especially if you are averse to spice.
- Facts: 80g, organic, gluten free, 70% cacao, made in Australia.
- They say: Bitter-sweet, tingly and spicy.
- We say: Chilli-fiends rejoice, this one’s strong and spicey right from the start.
- Rating: 3/5
Mint chocolate, as with dark chocolate, has a very unique and delicious flavour when done right. Unfortunately, here the two seem to be unable to get along. The mint is almost overpowering, with an aftertaste akin to minty toothpaste and the strongest scent of all the chocolates we tested so far. If you like mint or dark chocolate, it might be worth pickup up one of each, rather than trying this 2-in-1 combo. Pass.
- Facts: 40g, organic, fair trade, 1g carbs per serve, 70% cacao, made in Switzerland.
- They say: Cool peppermint and delightfully dark chocolate.
- We say: Mostly mint. Refinement is required.
- Rating: 1/5
This was a tough one, with several clear contenders. If Tony’s Chocolonely added some berries or Bennetto likewise added some almonds or hazelnuts into the mix, we’d have a three-way tie. Ultimately, Vego Dark, with it’s mix of fruit, buts and delicious dark chocolate takes the crown of best overall dark chocolate. It’s the perfect blend of all three, delivers a great taste and can be enjoyed as a special treat or easily shared amongst friends.
We loved the unique design of Loco Love, with its eye-catching gold foil trim and trippy wrapper (that is home compostable). The details extend to the chocolate itself, with the sprinkles of raspberry helping to make this one feel like a special treat. Tony’s Chocoloney deserves a mention too, firstly for its rather unique block-design (and huge size) and also for the infographic on the inside of its wrapper calling for an end to slave-traded chocolate production. Almost all the chocolates we tested are contributing to social causes (like free and direct trade), but these are usually relegated to a small logo on the product. It’s nice to see a huge visual promoting social impact make its way into a mainstream product.
That got dark, real quick. We hope you enjoyed part two of our Chocolate Review Series. When on the hunt for our sample, we were amazed at just how many plant-based and vegan-friendly dark chocolates were available. It’s also great to see these brands supporting sustainability (through recycled and recyclable packaging) and social causes (free and direct trade, abolishing modern slavery).
Did we review your favourite plant-based chocolate bar? Let us know what you thought and be sure to suggest any others we may have missed. We will be back soon for another round of the series, focusing on chocolate flavours that are a bit more ‘out there’.
Until then, enjoy!