If you thought becoming vegan meant giving up on treats, think again. Zimt Chocolates are delicious enough to convince even the most ardent dairy fan to try something new.
Founder of 100 percent raw, vegan, and ethically sourced Zimt Chocolates, Emma Smith took her first step toward a plant-based lifestyle at age 12. And chocolate was always a part of her life. “My mom’s side of the family is German, so there was always chocolate around. I always remember those Lindt chocolate bunnies at Easter time!”
Smith didn’t start out a vegan. “I thought I was vegetarian. I know now [I] was pescatarian, since I was eating fish. My mom said I wouldn’t get enough protein otherwise!
“Pre-internet days meant I didn’t have the right nutritional information, because of course there’s plenty of protein in a vegetarian diet.”
But a new vegan friend when she was 17, combined with her compassion for animals, led Smith to explore this new way of eating and living. “I knew that, ethically, this is what I was drawn to. Being vegan gives me so much satisfaction, knowing I can have an impact [on] just by living as I do.”
New vegan meets raw vegan chocolate
The next logical step, of course, was to create her own raw vegan chocolates. “Since I’ve always been entrepreneurial, even as a kid, I decided that I wanted to create a raw vegan chocolate company.” And Zimt Chocolates was born.
But why chocolate?
What most people forget is that chocolate, or cacao itself, is vegan. It’s the addition of dairy, or dairy products, that changes it. What is surprising is that the texture of raw chocolate, made with beans that haven’t been roasted, is incredibly smooth and creamy.
It’s that smooth, velvety texture Smith discovered in Europe on a post-university backpacking trip. “It’s so good! I found it in health food stores everywhere in Europe, but [I] back home in Vancouver,” she says.
The taste test
As a non-vegan myself, this writer has to admit the first taste of Zimt’s Maple Smoked Salt and Rosemary bar was a revelation: it’s easily as velvety smooth as my favourite regular (non-vegan) chocolate. It wasn’t at all grainy, as I might have expected.
And that’s the reaction Smith says she gets all the time: “People are just shocked that it’s vegan, and ‘it tastes just like good chocolate!’”
Is Smith a vegan Willy Wonka?
“No, not at all!” she replies. “I remember buying a Vitamix in the early days when I was experimenting with my chocolate. I’d never used one before, and when I turned it on, I just screamed! It was so loud and overwhelming; I thought I was going to blow up the house!
“I also once experimented with floral flavours and made my mom lavender chocolate. She took one bite and said, ‘This tastes of soap!’ Sometimes I think I’d be better on reality TV than making chocolate.”
Where does the raw vegan chocolate flow?
With Zimt Chocolates gradually becoming available across North America, there are plenty of exciting projects in the pipeline. Says Smith, “I just want to make veganism fun for people; that’s my goal.”
Zimt’s philanthropic efforts include the company’s commitment to donate 1 percent of all sales to organizations that support animal, children, and women’s rights.
What’s in the immediate future? Maybe a trip down memory lane: “I’d love to create some vegan chocolate Easter bunnies; that’d be so fun. The only problem? I’d probably eat them all!”
Double Chocolate Mousse Cups
A little gift from Emma Smith at Zimt Chocolates, serve these delicious mousse cups to your favourite Easter “bunnies.”
- 200 g Zimt Baking Chocolate, melted until smooth
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) aquafaba (cooking water or canned water from a can of chickpeas or other beans)
Chocolate dessert bowls
In silicone or other flexible containers, or muffin tins lined with paper liners, and using half the melted chocolate, paint the inside of each muffin container, then set in fridge to cool. You may need to “paint” on another layer, so you may want to save some chocolate for the second coat.
While dessert bowls are cooling, in double boiler or medium saucepan over very low heat, melt remaining chocolate. Using electric mixer, beat aquafaba until peaks form. Add 1 Tbsp (15 mL) or so of whipped aquafaba to melted chocolate and stir gently until incorporated. Gently fold chocolate aquafaba mixture into remaining whipped aquafaba, pouring in spoonful by spoonful, and very lightly stir, just enough to incorporate it.
Chill mousse in fridge. Gently peel chilled chocolate bowls from their moulds. Place bowls on plate, and fill with mousse! Top with berries or shaved chocolate.
Serves 4 (or maybe just one hungry bunny!).
How does this vegan feel about “mock meats”?
“I don’t eat a lot of ‘mock meats.’ I really like the concept of making vegetables or legumes the focal point of my meals. I cook a lot from scratch and know where everything’s coming from.”
If she’s cooking for someone who loves meat, Smith says, “I’d probably go with jackfruit tacos; you get that meaty texture, and it tastes great. Or I do a mean vegan mac and cheese with coconut ‘bacon’ (broader shreds of coconut seasoned with tamari and liquid smoke that, when baked, taste like bacon bits) and nut-based cheese.”