A common misconception I’ve encountered among the non-vegan public is the belief that chocolate isn’t vegan – that milk is an inherent or necessary ingredient. From something I wrote years ago on a much older website:
the thing is, chocolate is basically just cocoa beans. dark chocolate is usually cocoa beans, cocoa butter and sugar – there’s nothing inherently non-vegan about that, assuming that the sugar isn’t refined using bone-char. the marrying of chocolate with dairy in public consciousness is a huge marketing victory for the dairy industry (cadbury’s “glass and a half of full cream milk” being the most obvious example) but the truth is that milk is not an essential part of chocolate, nor is it the best part. vegan chocolate cake is just as good, soy hot chocolate is better and bars of dark chocolate were always more hardcore.
Most good quality chocolate establishments will have at least a few vegan options, and The Chocolate Boutique in Parnell is no exception. Staff don’t necessarily know what ‘vegan’ means, but can hand you a printed list of which truffles in their cabinet are dairy free.
I had three pieces on a recent visit: an espresso crème, a strawberry hard chocolate which contained half a freeze-dried berry, and a Bennetts of Mangawhai dark almond cluster. Other options included a candied orange piece covered in dark chocolate, and a couple of liquor-filled truffles.
Besides individual chocolates, chocolate bars and fancy gift boxes, The Chocolate Boutique makes several kinds of hot chocolate, a few of which are vegan. Pictured is a submarino: steamed hot soy milk with a stick of bittersweet dark chocolate melted in.
The café is open late-ish, until 10pm each night – perfect for dessert if you’re eating dinner nearby, and right on the Inner Link bus route if you’re in another corner of the city, craving chocolate.