Chocolate is one of those foods we all hate to love but always have around. However, there are times when using chocolate isn’t a good idea. Instead of completely ruining your meal or dessert, use an adequate substitute.
What Is Chocolate?
This sweet food is a mix of ground and roasted cacao that are sweetened. Chocolate can be either ground, liquid, or block. While often considered candy, chocolate can also be an ingredient in making sauces, desserts, ganache, and more.
Chocolate can come in many forms and levels of sweetness. There is milk chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and white chocolate. These days, though, you can find added flavors, like vanilla, coconut, hazelnut, or caramel.
Why Replace Chocolate, Anyway?
Here are some of the reasons why someone would have to avoid using chocolate:
- Cocoa Allergy: While not very common, cocoa does cause an allergic reaction in some people. Because it is the main ingredient in chocolate, this food needs to be avoided.
- Lactose Intolerance: Since chocolate is made with milk and dairy products, those with sensitivity should avoid eating a lot of this food as it can cause discomfort.
- Vegan Diet: Since veganism asks people not to consume any animal products, regular chocolate is out the question as it contains butter and dairy.
What Can I Replace Chocolate With?
If you need to prepare a dish and can’t use this ingredient, these chocolate substitutes will be a perfect addition to your recipes:
For Baking Brownies, Cake, and Cooking
#1. Cocoa Powder
This choice may seem obvious, but many of us don’t use cocoa powder regularly. This alternative is the product of the extraction of cacao beans so it has a strong cacao flavor but without the fat, sugar, or calories. Use cacao powder when baking things like cakes and brownies, but also if you are cooking and want to add flavor.
You can surely find cocoa powder in any grocery store, usually by the baking section. To substitute for chocolate, add about ½ teaspoon for every tablespoon. You can also consider adding a dash of cream, milk, or a dairy-free substitute for creaminess.
See More: Cocoa Powder Shelf Life
#2. Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs are the cacao beans themselves after being roasted and broken into small pieces. These nibs are crunchy and taste like chocolate without the added sugar or milk.
You can find them in most grocery stores, by the baking section, but you may have better luck at an organic supermarket.
Use these nibs as you would chocolate by grinding them to a powder or simply baking the pieces as they are. Cacao nibs are a great addition for brownies, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods.
#3. Dark Chocolate
While technically still chocolate, this kind of chocolate is 70% cacao, so the flavor is strong and not too sweet. Eating this chocolate is not bad for your health when consumed in moderation, as it is high in antioxidants.
Use dark chocolate when baking cakes, brownies, cookies, and melt it for use in sauces.
You can buy dark chocolate in any grocery store, but there may be more variety at an organic or health store. Use the same amount as the recipe indicates, but keep in mind that you may need to add more sugar to counterbalance the bitterness.
For Smores, Ganache, and Cookies
You may have never heard of carob, but this is a tropical pod originally from the Mediterranean. The pulp is first roasted and then ground into a powder that looks and tastes similar to cocoa. This choice is naturally low in calories and fat, and it is vegan-friendly.
Use carob when making ganache, cookies, brownies, and when cooking sauces or marinades. You can find carob in most health or organic stores, either as a powder, liquid, or chips. Use the same amount as you would chocolate, but consider adding a sweetener too.
#5. Almond Butter + Cocoa
While the flavor of almond butter is completely different, you can mix in cocoa powder and make for a tasty butter. Use this mix when baking brownies, cookies, or when you want to make healthy smores.
You can buy almond butter anywhere these days, as it is a high protein snack that also has a good amount of essential fatty acids.
If you want to replace chocolate, your best bet is mixing ½ teaspoon of cocoa powder with 1 ½ tablespoon of almond butter. Keep in mind that almond butter has a nutty taste and is very dense.
#6. Chocolate Milk
This is not a vegan option, but using chocolate milk can work great in place of chocolate.
Use chocolate milk when making ganache, brownies, cookies, cake, and other baked goods. However, keep in mind that this is a liquid, so you may have to change the number of liquids in the recipe.
You can find chocolate milk in any grocery or convenience store, as it is a common drink for children. You may want to reduce any sugar you use because chocolate milk is very sweet. If you want, mix in a bit of cocoa powder to make the flavor stronger.
Carob is the only other choice that truly tastes like cocoa but doesn’t contain any. This pod is also roasted and ground into a powder or liquid, which makes it similar to cocoa powder. It is also low in calories and fat.
You can eat dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa, but if you prefer to spare the sugar, eat something sweet like yogurt or whole fruit. Another good snack idea is almond butter or peanut butter with apples. In moderation, you can eat chocolate when you crave it.
If you don’t have any semi-sweet chocolate, use the same amount of unsweetened chocolate or cocoa and add a bit of sugar. You can also add milk chocolate, but keep in mind that it is much sweeter.
Chocolate is a treat for most of us, and sometimes we indulge in desserts and sauces that use this ingredient. Yet, these days we are all trying to be healthy, and that may mean no more chocolate. Use any of these 6 alternatives for all your chocolate-rich recipes and for very tasty flavors.
See more: Does chocolate go bad?