I discovered sugar free chocolate by accident, I am sort of embarrassed to say. I had thought "wouldn't it be great if somebody could make sugar free chocolate" and hadn't got any further. Looking for some would have been the obvious next step, I just seem to only be able to manage one thing at a time on this journey. And then, of all places, I spotted some in the checkout aisle of the New World Chaffers supermarket.
New World Chaffers is a particularly well stocked supermarket it has to be said. I go there for a few specialty items that I can't find in other supermarkets, and they charge much better prices than the specialty shops. But I must say I would never have thought to look there for a sugar free chocolate.
So anyway, I bought some, formed a few opinions, then went looking for more options. The obvious place to go next was Commonsense Organics. There is a new store in Johnsonville where Reuben and I had a lovely time last week. He bundled himself in to the babies' playpen to play with puzzles (and looked positively gigantic) while I preached the horrors of fructose to the staff and discussed the delights of researching chocolate. One of the just as delightful staff members has made it her job to test out the chocolate so that she can tell customers about it - good of her to put her hand up for that job.
Between New World and Commonsense Organics I have found three brands of sugar free chocolate, and within those there are a number of flavour options.
"well.. naturally" - yep, that's right, that's the name they chose to call their chocolate. Sweetened with stevia and erythritol (looks to be ok, especially if you only have it in chocolate, have a read here). These guys make a dark choc, milk choc, and a few flavours including almond and mint. Stevia can have a significant after taste, and I do notice it in this chocolate. In the dark chocolate, it's not unpleasant. The taste comes on a while after you've eaten your three squares and I, unsophisticated as I am, am very happy to down a glass of milk afterwards which takes it away completely. However the milk chocolate of course has more stevia, and the aftertaste is quite strong strong and unpleasant, and indeed is more of a "during" than an "after" taste. I don't recommend the milk chocolate, but the dark is really quite good, and I'll have it again.
I have also tried the "almond chip" flavour. I'm a fan of nuts and chocolate. The chips are a pathetically tiny size and there's a measly amount, and given that they charge more for the flavoured choc, it's a complete waste of money.
Plain bars cost $2.75
Flavoured bars cost $3.25
From New World Chaffers (and presumably Thorndon)
"Cavalier Belgian Chocolate" - sweetened with stevia and erythritol. They only do flavours (as far as I know) - orange / banana with cocoa nibs / lemon and lime. A bit of a shame as the chocolate seems quite good but the flavours aren't hugely appealing to me. The orange was quite nice, the lemon lime was gruesome, and I can't decide whether I'm brave enough to try banana. Faritrade, which is a huge tick, but boy you pay for it. It's about half the size of the "well .. naturally" bars. Not organic.
From Commonsense Organics
"Loving Earth" Raw Organic Chocolate - sweetened with evaporated coconut nectar.* All raw. All organic. Fairtrade. Slightly different texture to ordinary chocolate, but I love this stuff. There are 3 flavours, I've tried the coconut and the maqui berry, and am keen to try the mint (when I win the lottery). Although all are sweetened with coconut nectar, one has extra coconut that really brings out the flavour. It's lighter and more of a milk chocolate. I love coconut and chocolate together. Maqui berry is a superfood and while this choc doesn't taste berry-ish to me, it's a darker chocolate with a slightly more powdery texture and is presumably doing me a world of good. The mint version also has an algae ingredient, which must work wonders of some kind. Fairtrade. A measly 35g for a whopping price, but if you get all your money's worth of enjoyment out of it, well... why not? Re-mortgage? I'll be making this a priority in my budget, if I can.
From Commonsense Organics
* I have recently bought a jar of "coco nectar syrup" (coconut nectar) from CSO and read later that it has 10% fructose, so presumably there is a small amount of fructose in this chocolate. For the moment I am happy that it's going to be a negligible amount, as the nectar is just one part of its make-up (the proportions are not written on the packaging).
On the bottom is Loving Earth's darker Maqui berry, and next up is their milkier coconut chocolate. Third from the bottom is well.. naturally's dark chocolate with some measly almond chips, and on top is the orange filled choc from Cavalier.
Sugar free chocolate washed down with a glass of cold milk. Not a bad way to spend an evening (or morning). Remember, too, that some of these could be a great addition to your sugar free baking.
What do you think? Will you be prioritising your health when it comes to chocolate consumption? Are you are chocolate fanatic? When it comes to straight chocolate, I'm not the world's biggest eater, though I like a little at the right moments. I have definitely found that I want it way less now that I have reduced my fructose-eating ways, and I have no doubt that you will too if you can just take some time and effort to kick that habit. And fill in the gaps with some other great options.
This topic isn't over yet. It sounds like CSO in Wellington may have some further options, and I've found some glucose sweetened chocolate online that may be winging its way to me shortly...