13 best vegan and dairy-free Valentine’s Day chocolates you’ll want to keep for yourself

When putting our chocolate to the test, we were on the lookout for ethical brands using natural ingredients and minimal packaging (The Independent/iStock)
When putting our chocolate to the test, we were on the lookout for ethical brands using natural ingredients and minimal packaging (The Independent/iStock)

If you’re looking for a failsafe way of showing your affections this Valentine’s Day, you simply can’t go wrong with carefully chosen chocolate. Thankfully we’ve done all the hard work to bring you this definitive list of the best dairy-free and vegan styles, perfect for 14 February.

It might come as a surprise to learn that most dark chocolate is naturally dairy-free and vegan. After all, chocolate in its purest form is simply made with cocoa beans, found inside ripe cocoa pods, and sugar. It’s only when additional ingredients (such as milk powder or marshmallows) are added that it would then become unsuitable for those who are lactose intolerant or avoiding dairy.

However, it’s not just the bitter, 100 per cent cocoa-styles that are on the cards. It’s also possible to indulge in “milk” chocolate, with the dairy substituted for coconut, soya and nuts among other things, all of which can create an impossibly creamy style you won’t believe is free from milk.

Although none of these chocolates contains added animal products or dairy, please take care if you have a serious allergy, as some of the chocolates we’ve included below are made in a shared kitchen.

When putting our chocolate to the test, we were on the lookout for ethical brands using natural ingredients and minimal packaging.

And 2020 is also a leap year which means, according to tradition, it’s the year women pop the question – although we’re free of those sorts of shackles. Whoever does it, whether you say it with chocolate or not is up to you.

If you’ve been together more years then you care to count or are looking to impress a new crush, these are the best vegan and dairy-free chocolates to show that you’re sweet on them.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Booja Booja dairy-free gourmet selection, 230g: £16.99, Ocado

Booja Booja chocolates are free from gluten, dairy and soya and, despite this, are still some of our favourite chocolates – ever. We’re clearly not the only ones to think so, as this special little box has picked up 30 awards and counting. The chocolatier only ever uses organic ingredients and this gourmet selection packs in 20 of its lightly dusted dark truffles in a variety of flavours. Highlights include the boozy fine de champagne, hazelnut crunch and almond salted caramel.

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Love Cocoa vegan organic dark chocolate truffles, 150g: £14.05, Love Cocoa

From the great-great-great grandson of John Cadbury (yep, that Cadbury), Love Cocoa is a brand following in the footsteps of the household name, and we think could even soon overtake it. We love the eye-catching gold and purple cardboard tube (which can be recycled) and were blown away by the vegan-friendly, decadently dark chocolate truffles. They are slightly irregular in shape (because they’re all handmade) and are finished with a coating of chocolate flakes, crafted from 72 per cent organic, Fairtrade cocoa beans from Peru. Spiked with hazelnuts and vanilla, they melt on the tongue and are so delicious that the thought of sharing them makes us weep.

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Le Chocolat Des Francais ‘la Tour Eiffel coeur’ organic dark chocolate bar, 80g: £6.95, Harvey Nichols

They say French is the language of love but if you can’t quite stretch to a weekend in Paris, we’ve found the next best thing. The beautiful wrapper was designed by a French artist called The Great PHM and features the Eiffel Tower in all its glory. Of course, it’s really what’s inside the rose-gold foil that counts. Thankfully the bar (which is handmade in Paris) totally lives up to its good looks. The silky smooth organic, 71 per cent dark chocolate is made with cocoa beans sourced from Ecuador and Peru. Beautifully balanced, sweet but not overly so, with fruity and smoky notes, let this be a small but very stylish token of your love this Valentine’s Day.

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Divine 70 per cent dark chocolate hearts, 80g: £4, Divine

Well known for its palm-oil free, Fairtrade chocolate bars, Divine has put a romantic spin on its sweet treats for Valentine’s. Instead of a standard bar, these cute, heart-shaped chocolates have been covered in red foil. Made from cocoa beans grown in Ghana by Kuapa Kokoo, a cooperative of cocoa farmers which owns the largest share of the Divine company, the 70 per cent dark chocolate is rich and intense. Suitable for vegans, the chocolate is sweetened with sugar from Kasinthula – a Fairtrade cooperative in Malawi – and flavoured with creamy vanilla from Fairtrade farmers in Madagascar. A feel-good bite, we think these are a great price and an easy one to chuck into your basket when you’re doing the weekly shop.

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Hotel Chocolat 45 per cent nutmilk chocolate batons, 120g: £6.50, Hotel Chocolat

Just because you’re following a dairy-free diet or vegan lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a fan of super-rich dark chocolate, we get it. Thankfully, no one need go without creamy chocolate with these clever nutmilk batons from Hotel Chocolat. What on earth is nutmilk, we hear you cry? Made with finely milled hazelnuts instead of milk, it took the team five years to develop but we think they were worth the wait. Each pack contains 15 delicious, solid chocolate batons. For those with severe allergies, it’s worth noting that although there are no dairy ingredients included, they’re not made in a free-from factory so there could be milk traces present.

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Rococo vegan dark chocolate roasted hazelnuts, 250g: £11.95, Rococo

Handcrafted in London, Rococo has taken the best nut of all – the hazelnut – and wrapped it in ethical and sustainably sourced rich dark chocolate before giving it an extra special, gift-worthy sprinkling of gold shimmer. This cute little bag is tied with Rococo’s gold and red fabric bow – all ready to hand over to your loved one.

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Playin Choc just choc box organic Peruvian cacao milk chocolate, 100g: £5.95, Playin Choc

This fun brand was designed for children, so only uses organic ingredients and no refined sugar. Maya, its founder, was looking for a dairy-free alternative for her husband and son who are both lactose intolerant, so developed a recipe with three simple ingredients – cocoa beans, coconut and vanilla. Creamy and delicious (you can’t detect the coconut), this grown-up version contains 10 chocolates which look a bit like dominos. Although instead of dots, you’ll find one half says play, while the other has a heart shape. The packaging is completely recycled, recyclable and compostable – yes, even the clear film, which is made out of plants. Who said you can’t play with your food?

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Willie’s Cacao praline truffles, dark chocolate with sea salt, 110g: £8.99, Willie’s Cacao

Impossibly rich and decadent, these truffles are made with single-estate dark chocolate from Venezuela with the welcome addition of roasted hazelnuts – perfectly suitable for vegans. Lightly dusted in cocoa powder with a slightly chewy middle, we adored the subtle flecks of sea salt, which make these chocs decidedly grown up. The red and gold box features a unicorn – all you need to decide is who to hand it over to.

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Seed & Bean the vegan collection chocolate hamper: £40, Seed & Bean

Why give them one bar of chocolate this Valentine’s Day when you can give them 12 flavours of deliciously dark chocolate, all presented in a pretty wicker basket? Seed & Bean only uses ethically sourced, 100 per cent organic ingredients and makes its chocolates in small, handmade batches here in England. Highlights include hazelnut and Cornish sea salt but we also loved the fruity coconut and raspberry, lemon and cardamom and the completely unique orange and thyme. With plenty to share, these 12 bars might even keep you going until next Valentine’s. Probably not though.

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Cocoa Runners the Valentine’s collection: £29.95, Cocoa Runners

Prepare to cuddle up and get cosy because Cocoa Runners has created a vegan collection especially for Valentine’s Day. Each box will contain four very special craft chocolate bars from around the world. You may prefer the nutty notes of New York’s Fruition or the more fruity flavours found in Solkiki’s version made here in the UK – both of which are created with cocoa beans from Peru. Tasting notes are included, as well as space for your own notes. Whether you both agree is another story. All four bars are suitable for vegans.

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Creighton’s Chocolaterie cherry amore, 100g: £4.75, Creighton’s Chocolaterie

Mother and daughter dream team Andrea Huntington and Lucy Elliott set up Creighton’s Chocolaterie back in 2011 from their Bedfordshire kitchen, with everything handmade in small batches. They treat their chocolate like a fashion collection, changing seasonally, and this limited edition flavour is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Ideal for loved-up vegans, this pretty bar combines rich dark chocolate with cherries and golden flecks of marzipan – a winning combination.

Available from 20 January

Selfridges selection vegan pralines, 95g: £9.99, Selfridges

Home to the UK’s largest vegan chocolate counter, Selfridges has entrusted Brighton-based chocolatier Be Chocolat to create its own-brand vegan pralines. The slim, rustic-looking pack contains beautifully layered pralines, created with 60 per cent dark chocolate from Ghana, crunchy hazelnuts and almonds and a golden speckle design on top. Indulgent and creamy, we’d never have guessed this was vegan had they not told us.

Available from 22 January

Chococo foiled chocolate lobsters, 125g: £10, Chococo

As lobsters fall in love and mate for life, what could be a better way of showing your true feelings this Valentine’s Day then with this dark chocolate crustacean from Chococo? Covered in shiny purple foil and finished with a “you’re my lobster” gift tag, this vegan-friendly gift uses 67 per cent Madagascar dark chocolate which is rich, powerful and dairy-free. Inside you’ll notice it’s been hand-finished with a dusting of edible shimmer – just another lovely little touch from Dorset’s excellent brand Chococo.

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The verdict: Vegan and dairy-free Valentine’s Day chocolates

For us, you simply can’t go wrong with the failsafe Booja Booja and this gourmet pack is sure to go down a treat. We were also mightily impressed with the decadent Love Cocoa vegan organic dark chocolate truffles, however, if you have a little more to spend, Cocoa Runner’s Valentine’s collection is sure to win you brownie points.

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