Is Baking Chocolate Soy-Free?

Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!

When we bake, we use cocoa powder or Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels to keep our desserts soy-free (since most chocolate contains soy lecithin). But some recipes call specifically for baking chocolate. Is baking chocolate soy-free? 

Baking chocolate, also called bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate, is chocolate with less (or sometimes no) sugar added. When determining if baking chocolate is soy-free, the first step is to check the ingredient list. Here are some examples of baking chocolate ingredients. 

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As you can see, some of these list soy as an ingredient. These are easy: they contain soy. But what about the one that lists “chocolate” as the ingredient? That seems a little strange...

Chocolate, as you know, isn’t just one ingredient. However, the baking chocolate in question is unsweetened; therefore, most likely all of the ingredients are from cocoa. To represent this, they have listed the ingredients as “chocolate”. Since this is pretty confusing for consumers to distinguish the actual ingredients, we don’t agree with this practice. We would prefer that the package list the individual ingredients for a bit more clarity, but technically what they've done is acceptable.

 IMAGE VIA PIXABAY

IMAGE VIA PIXABAY

By comparing the ingredients from the unsweetened chocolate to the ingredients of semisweet chocolate made by the same brand, we can be fairly certain that the unsweetened baking chocolate is soy-free. The semisweet variety lists soy lecithin as an ingredient (this is definitely not cocoa-based and therefore must be listed separate from “chocolate”) and also calls out soy as an allergen. Since the unsweetened chocolate doesn’t call out soy as an allergen and doesn’t list soy lecithin, we believe that it is soy-free. While we haven’t tried this baking chocolate specifically (a final test would be having Ashley eat some and see if she feels bad), we would feel comfortable eating it.

Baking chocolate is a great example of the ambiguity that exists in soy-free products. Soy lecithin is ambiguous in itself because it doesn’t cause a reaction in all soy-intolerant people. Then, when the unsweetened baking chocolate doesn’t provide a clear list of the ingredients, it can be even more challenging to determine if it is soy-free and safe to eat. When you encounter a food like this, remember to be cautious, always check the ingredient list first, and then decide whether you want to eat it or not. It is always okay to turn something down because it potentially contains soy.