With more people than ever committing to a vegan diet, it can be hard to find indulgent treats that truly cut the mustard and are also free of animal products. Dairy free chocolate has been increasing its shelf space recently, but has often left chocolate lovers’ sweet cravings unsatiated.
Sauce came across Chilled Angel’s dairy free chocolate truffles in Apple a Day Juice Bar in Stone, and although we’re not vegan ourselves we had to try them. The man behind this relatively new brand is Carl Hill, who has been nicknamed Chill ever since he was a child. His partner’s name is Angela, hence Chilled Angel.
Until early 2019 Carl worked in IT, although he wore many hats as a programmer, web designer and video editor for the company that employed him. He had already made his steps into the world of dairy free confectionery on Angela’s behalf.
“Angela has been vegan for years, but I couldn’t get vegan birthday cakes or things like that,” Carl explains. “If there’s a need to do something I will just make it.”
“Vegan chocolate is generally really bad,” adds Angela. “It tends to be tasteless. Sometimes the ingredients are good – it’s healthy – but it’s awful and you’d rather not bother. Carl’s chocolate is just amazing. The only problem is, now he’s started to build the business up I don’t get any!”
Carl’s current range includes truffle style chocolates with classics like the peanut butter cup, chocolate ganache, coconut cup and cinder crunch alongside rum truffles. He also makes filled bars – strawberry creme topped with dried strawberries, peanut butter, peppermint – as well as crystallised ginger and fruit and nut bars, all using the same dark chocolate as the starting point. An enquiry about an Easter egg inspired versions filled with chocolate buttons and cinder crunch pieces. Everything he makes is gluten free as well as vegan friendly.
“It basically started with things she liked,” Carl says. “I wondered if I could put the cinder crunch flavour in a bar, and I tried the peanut butter cup in a bar too. Then I started experimenting and came up with the peppermint, the fruit and nut, and the crystallised ginger. The fruit and nut came about because they were things that were in the cupboard.”
It has taken a lot of trial and error to get to this stage, and Carl’s still working towards perfection. Some initial attempts had too low a melting point, and the moulds for the bars have to be kept bone dry to prevent any bloom – a white discoloration – on the finished product. New products are generally inspired by requests from customers and friends, and Angela of course.
“I’ll try it, then Angela tries it, and I’ll perfect it until it tastes good. I’m planning to try a version with no refined sugar, but that’s still in development. But I think at the end of the day people have chocolate because it tastes nice.”
At the moment, Carl sells his creations through the Chilled Angel website, through Etsy and on Amazon. He’s always looking for new stockists who are interested in carrying all or part of the range, and they’ll soon be available in Newcastle too. Angela has been a yogi for 15 years as well as offering holistic therapies including reiki, and is set to open Home Holistics yoga studio on Garden Street this April.
“At the moment, Apple a Day Juice Bar and Mo’s Deli and Cider Store in Stone stock our chocolates,” adds Carl. “And Lady Rouge Tattoo Parlour on Wolstanton High Street. She tried them and said, ‘They’re amazing, I want to stock them’. And they’re flying out. It’s hard to keep up with demand. We’re also doing some vegan fairs, which is a good way to meet new people.”