Christmas is just around the corner. Supermarkets will be stacked to the rafters with plastic tubs brimming with chocolate at what seems to be a total bargain. Is it too good to be true, or is someone, somewhere paying the price? Firstly, in the name of transparency, I am not a vegan. I became vegetarian at the beginning of this year as a result of my concerns around the impact of intensive farming on the environment. Since making that decision, day by day, week by week I become increasingly aware of the food products I choose to bring into my home. I am not perfect by any stretch, I will never claim to be but I am learning a little bit each day.
What’s the alternative?
With supermarkets abundant in over packaged chocolate that has questionable ethics, I decided to go on the search for a better option. I decided to bring to you a small selection of the most amazing treats I could find. I have hand selected each and every product for either their ethos or their thoughtful packaging, in many cases both!
I’m not gonna lie, I have an EXTREMELY sweet tooth. I blame my grandfather as apparently he always had a pack of boiled sweets on his person at any given moment. So there you go folks, I am absolved of responsibility, it’s in the genes 🙂 So, in no particular order…
Brontie & Co
Brontie is an inspiring and motivated woman who made a big change in her life, in order to make her dreams of producing raw chocolate a reality. She knew she wanted to make a difference with every purchase. Brontie created her company to help people feel healthy and happy, which I personally think is pretty awesome. The entire range of her products is ‘free-from’ and only contains natural sweeteners such as lucuma, coconut palm or carob. Their cacao is fair trade and organic.
Chestnut Tree HouseThe Hot milk Chocolate No. 3 is completely free from dairy, gluten, nuts and soya and of course it is Vegan. This is the perfect drink for a chilly winter day, around the campfire or if you just if you need a little boost from the Cacao and lucuma. Its intensely indulgent and creamy flavour will be a real treat for the senses. I am a hot chocolate lover and this is pretty special. It can be mixed with water, or for a creamy version, whatever milk you fancy.
Chestnut Tree HouseI’m totally addicted to the whole sweet and salty thing, so when I saw the coconut & pink salt bar I was pretty sure that was the one for me. It doesn’t disappoint. Beautifully creamy, slightly bitter, with a subtle hint of salt that isn’t overpowering and I was onto a real winner. Not too bitter, just right. This is artisan chocolate at its very best.
Chestnut Tree HouseI was a little more apprehensive over the sweet orange & cardamom bars I have to say, but I really needn’t have worried! The bar contains 85% cacao and being raw (not cooked above 42 degrees), it’s just about the closest to heaven in a chocolate bar you’re going to get. When I opened the packet I was immediately hit by a glorious scent of orange, which made me want to try it that instant!
As a company, they are completely committed to their environmental values. All packaging is recycled and compostable across the whole range. Brontie & Co donates a large percentage of its net profits to charities close to their hearts.
I’ve already mentioned my sweet tooth downfall. Stopping eating meat was the easy bit to be honest. The slightly harder part was finding out all the food that contained meat by-products. Now, if you’ve been vegetarian or vegan a long time this will be second nature to you. To me, it’s been a learning curve. One thing that I *had* to find, was something to satisfy my sugary desires. Along the way I’ve found a few lovely treats but when I was researching companies for this blog post, I came across Sweet Lounge. If you are looking for some vegan / vegetarian / free from delights for the sugar obsessed in your life then look no further.
Chestnut Tree HouseI tried two of their vegan products. The first was the ‘Fiesta’ chocolate. These are a yummy little mix of hazelnuts and almonds, coated in dark or white vegan chocolate and coated in a crispy coating of colourful sugar. Perfect for having on the side in a little bowl for your guests to nibble on through the day.
Chestnut Tree HouseThe second treats I chose were the divine vegan ‘fruity pillows’ flavoured with Calabria organge & lemon. I literally have no words for how amazing these are!! Gelatine free and complete heaven for my penchant for sugariness. I was so excited that I pretty much ate them one after the other until they were…gone (with a little help from my husband).
Chestnut Tree HouseThe Sweet Lounge are a really lovely treat if you were looking for something extra special. The packaging is luxurious, and initially I was a little concerned about whether it was a bit excessive and not particularly eco friendly. In actual fact they are doing what they can to make thoughtful packaging whilst maintaining the glamorous look they are going for. The outer cardboard is made from 100% recycled cardboard and is recyclable. The plastic boxes that the sweets are packaged in can be recycled or repurposed around the home. You might also challenge the fact their sweet treats are imported from ‘around the globe’, and this is something I question myself. It is the only product in this blog post that is not manufactured in the UK. I can tell you now, it is not easy to find high quality confectionary produced here in the UK so I made an exception for these lovelies.
Chestnut Tree House
The one thing that struck me when I came across Nutty Cacao was how fun the products appeared to be. They didn’t take themselves too seriously, but at the same time were passionate about bringing you treats that were vegan, gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free and contain 100% all natural ingredients. Oh, and of course they are lovingly made here in the uk.
Chestnut Tree House The lovely Claire behind the genius of Nutty Cacao set out to create amazing treats, that everyone can enjoy in a healthy and balanced way. Guilt free sweet treats? Hand them my way. The chocolate cups are made from raw chocolate so they are the healthiest version of a chocolate treat you are going to meet.
Chestnut Tree HouseI tested three different flavours of ‘cups’ that come in packs of two. The first is rocky road, a tasty mix of apricots, almonds, cashews and coconut which also come in a box of bitesize nibbles as well. These are quite a solid chocolate compared to the others and have a lovely crunch to them. The second are the coconut cups. Think of standing under a waterfall in tropical heat, sipping directly from the shell of a freshly picked coconut. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but if you are a fan of coconut then these are the jokers (as my husbands nan would always explain if anything hit the spot). I love the squishy coconut against the crunchy chocolate. They really are a little bit lovely. Finally, if you are a nut butter lover, then the the peanut butter cups are definitely number one on your list. These were my favourites as I am totally sucker for all things peanut! With a hard chocolate outer and yummy peanut filling you will really enjoy this treat, and guilt free too!
Chestnut Tree HouseI really love the simple packaging. It is fun and colourful, made from recycled card and in turn, can be recycled. The fun little faces really make me smile, and I love ‘one for you, or two for me’!
If you enjoy camping like me, marshmallows are a staple part of woodland and campfire life. The thought of sitting round the fire whilst other people were toasting marshmallows and chewing on s’mores is pretty much unthinkable (#firstworldproblems).
Chestnut Tree HouseI had come across Ananda’s a few times out ‘in the wild’ at craft and Christmas shows. Made in Derbyshire, Ananda’s Marshmallows are suitable for Vegetarians, Vegans & Coeliacs. Made in the UK by hand, in small batches and contain completely genuine and natural flavours. The business was established in 2008 when Ananda had the same plight as me, but was unable to find good quality marshmallows available here in the UK. Ananda’s was born thereafter. They are a small family run business and are true to their values of producing treats that are cruelty free and totally awesome.
Chestnut Tree HouseAs it’s Christmas, it seemed only right to try out some of their lavish Marc de Champagne & Strawberry marshmallows. I have to be honest, I always looked at ‘vegetarian’ marshmallows as some sort of substandard affair *ducks for cover*, when I had seen them in the past. I honestly (honestly) could not have been more wrong! I am totally in love with these little pillows of loveliness. They have so much more substance and ‘bite’ than (non vegan) marshmallows I have tried in the past. They don’t have that ridiculous sickly sweetness either. They were lovely enjoyed just as is, and we enjoyed them toasting them on the open fire too. It’s a win win!
Chestnut Tree HouseI also tried their totally amazing ‘Rockin’ Round ups’. Basically a gourmet wagon wheel. Again (I’m clearly quite a sceptic when it comes to sweet things) I was soooooo impressed with how tasty these were. In fact, having finished the ones I had, almost immediately ordered more to appease my new found addiction. The biscuit is crunchy, the marshmallow is squidgy, the texture is yummy. So basically its totally delicious! I would be more than happy to give these as a gift as they are a little bit special, and you guessed it, would love yo receive them too 😉
Chestnut Tree HouseThe packaging at Ananda’s is recycled and recyclable. They recycle 90% of our waste and reuse outer packaging whenever possible.
Mummy Makes Fudge
Crumbly fudge is my downfall. Sweet & delicious and I can’t resist it! I have been buying fudge from Liz of Mummy makes fudge for a few years at local craft events in Sussex. So to my absolute delight, that this summer Liz had been experimenting due of popular demand, and now makes a vegan version too. The fudge is hand-made in small batches and they believe in the old fashioned way. It’s definitely a no fuss, meltingly delicious kinda treat which definitely appeals to my rustic nature.
Chestnut Tree HouseI tried three flavours. Salted caramel, chocolate and Vanilla. This fudge is A.mazing! I totally love all things salted caramel, I know it’s a bit of a thing of the moment right now but I can’t resist it. The salty sweetness has me in a spin. The vanilla has a lovely simple flavour and the chocolate has a rich, depth that leaves you wanting for more (and more). If you like fudge that tastes home made, melts in the mouth and satisfies a buttery craving, this is definitely the one for you.
Chestnut Tree HouseYou can buy from Yumbles and find Liz all over Surrey and Sussex with her amazing fudge!
That’s my lot! I hope you enjoyed reading about all these yummy treats as much as i’ve enjoyed tasting them. I would love to hear what treats satisfy your cravings so drop me a comment below if you can share something delicious with me.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas xx
Chestnut Tree House
This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.