My mother and I have a small chocolate business in Victoria, BC Canada. We are also fully organic, fair trade and vegan. We are also soy and gluten free. We use Cocoa Barry organic, fair trade 71.7% dark chocolate for all of our products. This has been a great product for us, and it is made without soy lecithin, meaning we can keep our products soy free, which seems to be an increasing issue for people, and especially children. We have a lot of parents very excited about our products because their child is allergic to soy!
We have also been on the lookout for vegan milk and white chocolates. We have only tried one, and that was the Callebaut "Nolac" milk chocolate. The only reason we got our hands on this was because I have managed to form a relationship with the Callebaut rep for Western Canada. When I explained to him what our company was about, he sent us a roughly 5kg sample of it! It came to us in a bubble mailer envelope with no labels or packaging. Its 'milk' ingredient was rice powder, and it did contain soy lecithin, but we were still keen to try it out. At first taste, I wasn't that impressed, it almost had that 'chalky' taste of a low quality chocolates. I tried to make a ganache with it, as our main focus is truffles, but it did not work well at all.. It melted well, but as soon as we added the hot coconut milk, it turned very dark and grainy. Even after it set, it was almost as dark as our normal ganache, it seemed as it had lost all of its milkiness! I then melted some and mixed it with hazelnuts and gluten-free rice crisps to make a veganized version of a 'Ferrero Rocher', this worked very well, and the additions seemed to completely get rid of the 'chalky' taste I first noticed. I tempered some to coat the 'Rochers' with my Rev 2, and though it did temper well, it was very thick. We sold these at our annual Vegan Fest, and were a huge hit! We continued to make them until we ran out of the chocolate.
We were not sure if we wanted to keep this as a regular item, as it did compromise our no-soy policy, but I reached out again to our rep to get the pricing info just in case. He informed us that there are temporarily pulling the Nolac line. He said because they are currently producing the chocolate on machinery previously used to produced dairy milk chocolate, and because they are calling it Nolac (for no lactose) they are concerned that they may run into legal issues because it may actually contain trace amounts of lactose. But he did tell us that they are going to switch over to using dedicated equipment and relaunch it in a few months, and (bonus for us!) they are going to start producing it without soy lecithin as well! We will definitely try it again when it comes on the market. In the meantime though, we will probably try out some other products and would love any recommendations!