By Anay Mridul
It’s time for every vegan to look at Lindt’s chocolate the way its infamously sexy chocolatier does. I’ve spent my fair share of days looking at the red Lindor balls and coaxing them into being plant-based. Lindt has finally obliged by releasing its long-awaited vegan milk chocolate bars in the U.K., so you can ‘dream in chocolate’ this Veganuary. We gave them a try, and here’s what we think.
Made to a “classic recipe”, the Swiss giant is offering the oat milk-based bars in two variants: Smooth and Hazelnut. And here’s the kicker: they’re gluten-free oats, which means the vegan chocolates are a go for coeliacs and gluten-intolerant chocolate lovers. Retailing at £3, the 100g bars are available from January 1 at Sainsbury’s, Amazon and Lindt chocolate stores.
Let’s start with the packaging, shall we? It’s quite similar to the vegan bars Lindt launched under its Hello label in 2020, which were also made from oat milk. With a granite palate, the dairy-free chocolate bars boast the European Vegetarian Union’s vegan label. These feel heavier than you’d expect, which is always a plus when it comes to chocolate.
Same ingredients, different proportions
Both the Smooth and Hazelnut bars use the same “sustainably sourced” ingredients, which include almond paste, with hazelnut pieces being the only addition in the latter. However, the contrast is in the composition. While the Vegan Smooth chocolate comprises 24 percent oats and 10 percent almond paste, the Vegan Hazelnut flavour contains 21 percent oats, 9 percent almond paste and 10 percent hazelnuts.
Some way to go texturally
Unlike its competitors, Lindt’s vegan milk chocolate bars have six rows of five small pieces. This could be intentional, as a smaller surface area could contribute to a melt-in-the-mouth texture. But alas, that’s a drawback here. One of the key desirable features of classic milk chocolate is that meltability, the chocolate coating your tongue and leaving you wanting more. Lindt’s vegan chocolates may have structural integrity, but it boasts none of that silky liquefying characteristic that makes good milk chocolate great.
Nut takes the cake
Straight off the bat, the chocolates smell divine. And true to their form, the flavour is very milky. So much so that if you weren’t a fan of milk chocolate before going vegan, this may not be for you. But for people who, like me, cherish the sweet and milky notes, this belongs in the upper echelon of vegan milk chocolate.
The almond paste is instantly recognisable — especially for customers who have tried the Cadbury Plant chocolate bars, which employ almonds as their base ingredient. And while Lindt’s flavour is slightly more complex — with a prominent hit of vanilla — it’s still two-dimensional. It’s also much less sweet, which is a massive plus.
The Hazelnut is exactly what it’s billed as — the same base flavour as the Smooth, but with a crunchy element. And that takes it to the next level — the hazelnuts provide a nutty balance to the chocolates, as well as some much-needed textural contrast.
The way forward
The fact that a chocolatier like Lindt is offering vegan alternatives may look like a no-brainer in 2022, but it’s actually a big deal. An industry-leading brand innovating to cater to a growing lifestyle is a major event. So Lindt deserves full points for that.
As for the product itself, there’s more work to be done. My biggest gripe is the texture. Cadbury nailed that, and so have many vegan chocolate brands. Lindt’s plant-based bars just do not melt in your mouth, try as you might. It’s almost distracting.
The flavour itself could be more rounded, as the vanilla’s dominance can quietly overshadow the chocolate. And of course, in time to come, new flavours would look to address that. Salted caramel has been a popular taste profile for a while, but even more prominently in vegan circles. It’s something about the salt balancing the sweetness from the caramel and chocolate, as well as the caramel lending a silkier consistency.
It’s nothing groundbreaking, but a solid showing from a leading chocolate brand in time for a record-breaking Veganuary.
The Lindt Vegan Smooth bar gets a 7/10, while the Hazelnut bags an 8/10. They didn’t blow my mind, but they also didn’t disappoint. And given the holy grail that is vegan milk chocolate, that’s saying something.
The Lindt Vegan milk chocolate bars are available at Sainsbury’s, Amazon and Lindt stores and cost £3 each. They can also be found on Lindt’s online shop currently for £1.99.
Lead image courtesy of Lindt.