We recently launched our latest creation into the world - a 58% Venezuelan Oat M*lk bar.
But how, and why?
To answer both questions here’s LAND founder and head chocolate-maker, Phil Landers:
“Just eat my dark chocolate” - that used to be my default response to someone asking if I had a vegan or dairy-free option - and it’s true, all of our dark chocolate bars are vegan-friendly. And yet, people were not satisfied with my answer, often skulking away while giving me evils.
So what had I done to deserve such animosity? Deep down I knew the answer - sometimes dark chocolate just won’t cut it.
I don’t say this lightly. As a bean to bar chocolate-maker a large part of my job involves searching the globe for cocoa that has the potential (so long as I do the other parts of my job correctly) to produce good chocolate. And simply put, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the more intense the spectrum of flavour you get, which we bean-to-bar chocolate makers love - we live to showcase the amazing natural flavour of the cocoa bean.
This isn’t to say that you cannot produce very high-quality milk chocolate that showcases the natural flavour of the cocoa bean - of course you can. Here at LAND we currently produce two bars that aim to do just that.
The key is this - not only do these bars showcase the amazing flavour potential of our carefully sourced cocoa beans (Guatemala and Venezuela for our high percentage milk bars), they also give you the nostalgic satisfaction of a sweeter chocolate.
The fact is people crave the creamy-sweetness that milk gives chocolate, and when that’s what you’re craving, dark chocolate, however delicious, simply won’t cut it. It’s a taste that only dairy can satisfy, but as with everything in life, things change.
It’s hard to ignore the ongoing rapid growth of the alternative milk market. So I decided it was time to challenge myself to produce a chocolate for the dairy-free market. A milk chocolate - without the milk.
Sampling the current market I quickly realised the problem with what’s currently on offer. Most milk alternatives such as coconut give off such a strong flavour that it becomes a coconut-flavoured chocolate rather than a milk alternative.
So I started experimenting.
After a few failed attempts I came across oat flour and soon found it created that perfect balance of creamy and sweet without overpowering the natural flavour of the cocoa.
But which cocoa bean to choose? This was my next challenge - finding a cocoa bean with a flavour profile that would complement the oat flour.
The Puerto Cabello bean from Venezuela was one of the first beans I ever worked with and I knew the natural creamy, nutty, caramel notes would lend itself nicely to the oat flavour, creating an overall profile which matched that of a dairy-based chocolate. It also generally has little to no acidity in the bean, again something which lends itself to making a more traditional tasting milk chocolate.
It took a while but I finally had the right bean, the right milk alternative, and after probably too many weeks of excessive tweaking and adjusting, I had a chocolate I was happy with.
So if you’re after that sweet, creamy, nostalgic milk chocolate without the dairy, then why not try our new 58% Venezuelan Oat M*lk bar.
Good for you, good for the cows.