Okay, vegan chocolate chips. I have been meaning to write about them for forever because I have gone through so many brands and have finally determined my favorites!!
I have three different criteria for chocolate chips. I need one that is good for melting (no separating, nice thick texture), one that is good for eating raw (smooth, less sweet), and finally, one that is good for being baked (holds its shape very well).
My absolute favorite for melting is Guittard semisweet baking chips. They are on the sweeter side, but they melt super easily and quickly in the microwave and they firm up extremely well in recipes like ganache. Raw, Guittard doesn’t melt very well in your mouth and tastes a bit cloyingly sweet, though. And baked, it’s fine, but definitely not my favorite.
For eating raw (sprinkled on almond milk yogurt, etc.), definitely try Ghirardelli 60 percent bittersweet chocolate! The chips are slightly larger, perfectly melty, and simply really good! Don’t bake with them, though! They become weird chocolate smears. And when you melt them, they get a little curdly. Both Guittard and Ghirardelli are sold for about two dollars a bag at WinCo (versus 3-4 dollars at Fred Meyer).
Update 4/25/17: I just learned that Ghirardelli has a small amount of milk fat. I sincerely apologize for the mistake! I am going to keep what I wrote about it, because some people, including me, can handle it. If you are a strict vegan, have a dairy allergy, or any multitude of reasons, try Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips. They are also sold at WinCo. I don’t think they taste as good as Ghirardelli, but they are probably my best pick for eating raw. Once again, I sincerely apologize for the inaccuracy.
For baking into things, Kirkland Signature (Costco, huge bags!) chocolate chips are the way to go! They are pretty cheap and hold their shape really well when baked into things. They melt okay, but when eaten uncooked, they taste gritty.
Notice how I haven’t mentioned ‘Enjoy Life’? They are the big brand that you find when you are looking for dairy free chocolate chips. I don’t like them. They cost an arm and a leg (six dollars) and they taste like they are artificially flavored, but they are higher in sugar than most other brands! They also don’t melt well and have a gritty mouthfeel. Another few brands to stay away from are ‘Simple Truth Organic’ and ‘Trader Joe’s’ brand of chocolate chips. They are simply not good.
All the chocolate chips mentioned in this post have no gluten, dairy, eggs, or honey. If you have a specific brand of vegan chocolate chips that you like, write a comment and let me know! I hope this is useful for anyone new to dairy free-ness!