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I am sensitive to Caffeine as I suffer from a rare sleep disorder; I don't consume anything with caffeine rather on rare occasions.

I miss the taste of Chocolate sauces such as Hersey's.

How could I prepare a (vegan) decaffeinated chocolate-like sauce for pancakes, ice cream, and similar foods, if it is even possible by food engineering in December 2019?

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    What about white chocolate? Is that sufficiently chocolate-like for you?
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 3:44
  • @FuzzyChef nice point --- I doubt that, sadly...
    – user79730
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 4:05
  • You kinda don't @JohnDoea, unfortunately.
    – GdD
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 12:01
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    ... today I learned that chocolate (or rather: cacao) has caffeine. How can I live on this planet for close to 40 years and not be aware of that fact? Since it's in the bean, I think you're pretty much out of luck. Chocolate substitutes simply don't taste like chocolate, at all.
    – Gimby
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 12:31
  • Humbly I think I am out of luck with finding a substitute particularly; I am as I am with other things.
    – user79730
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 0:13

7 Answers 7

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There's actually very little caffeine in chocolate. So little in fact that decaffeinating it in any kind of economical fashion is next to impossible. Scientists have done it in the lab, but doing it on a scale where you could actually buy it at a reasonable price remains out of reach for most. If you feel like chocolate leaves you 'wired' it's probably down to the theobromine which is another chemical present in chocolate which is structurally very similar to caffeine, but it has a more pronounced affect on your body and heart rate than your head usually.

I'm not sure if this would work, but you could try steeping cocoa powder multiple times. Caffeine (and I'd assume theobromine as well) are very water soluble. For example, with tea approximately 75% of the caffeine will dissolve out of the tea leaves into the water after a single steeping. If you took cocoa powder and steeped it in hot water, and then filtered it through a coffee filter, and did this a few times you should be able to eliminate most of the caffeine and theobromine. You could then use the cocoa powder to make some sort of chocolate-like sauce by adding in some sweetener and coconut oil to make it vegan.

Or you could use carob.

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    "There's actually very little caffeine in chocolate." How "very little" depends on the type of chocolate. Dark chocolate can contain 25mg per ounce (or more), which is only a bit less caffeine than a can of Coke (32mg). While theobromine can also have significant effects from chocolate, the amount of caffeine is not necessarily insignificant to those sensitive to it. (Admittedly, the Hershey's sauce brought up by OP is less likely to contain as much caffeine.)
    – Athanasius
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 16:43
  • @Athanasius, it's not "no caffeine," but compared to coffee, it's not much. According to some slightly dubious sources I found in a quick search, there's about 1.5 mg of caffeine per gram of cocoa powder and around 12 mg of caffeine per gram of coffee bean.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 21:10
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    @Juhasz: I wasn't comparing it to coffee -- but "not much" is relative. Again, for those sensitive to caffeine (as OP claims to be), it can still be significant. I too am very sensitive to caffeine, and a can of Coke before bedtime would likely keep me up half the night. Eating an ounce or two of some dark chocolates has too on occasion.
    – Athanasius
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 0:26
  • I read once that it would take 15 standard-size Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars to equal the caffeine in one average cup of coffee. Sorry, I don't recall the source. I too am sensitive to caffeine - I drink only decaf, even in the morning - but I eat dark chocolate every day. I can't eat too much or too close to bedtime, but even the dark is not close to the caffeine in coffee - in moderation. Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 22:06
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There are products which are used as a substitute for cocoa. Carob comes to mind. While it obviously doesn't have the same aroma, you can still try making the substitution. Just use carob powder instead of cocoa powder.

If you also have to replace cocoa butter, it becomes more difficult. No other fat performs exactly like cocoa butter, but at least this is a sauce, not a chocolate bar. So shea butter can work, or, if enough liquid is included in the recipe, coconut oil. The fats alone won't taste of cocoa, you'll have to replace a "cocoa powder plus cocoa butter" or "dark chocolate" ingredient with a "shea butter plus carob powder" substitution.

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While chocolate is technically very low in caffeine, it has a not-insignificant amount of theobromine, a metabolite of caffeine. Unfortunately, if you are so sensitive to caffeine that Hershey's chocolate syrup (and I would suspect decaffeinated coffee) affects you, there may not be much you can do with raw chocolate. While CO2, solvent, and Swiss Water Process decaffeination could be applied to cocoa, there don't seem to be many on the Market. A quick search brings up a product called Wondercocoa. An avenue you may wish to explore is synthetic chocolate flavoring, or natural extracts of chocolate flavor and making your own syrups with them.

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Use cocoa butter (purchased at most health food stores). This fatty extract of the coca bean has only trace amounts of caffeine. Supplement this with high quality carob powder. You'll get the chocolatey flavour without the caffeine.

Also try melting down a high quality carob block and adding a touch of almond butter or a little bit of refined coconut oil (has no coconut flavour).

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This is more of a future thing right now (January 2024), but it looks like there are some cocoa-free chocolate substitutes being developed that might work for this, for example one that's based on sunflower seeds and oats processed in a similar manner to cocoa (fermenting and roasting), or one that's based on barley and carob. Specifically these two are only selling B2B in a limited area right now, though the sunflower stuff (ChoViva) sounds like they might plan to sell directly at some point.

Both of them claim you can use their product like regular chocolate, which sounds like using it for chocolate sauce would be possible. Though I do want to note at least the sunflower/oat stuff seems to be mainly used as an ingredient in cereals, "chocolate" chip cookies and the like, where any chocolate taste might well just be placebo - you expect chocolate, you taste chocolate.

At least for the former, they apparently developed their product using a fancy food processor and some kitchen-scale fermenters, so if you're really dedicated, you might be able to reverse-engineer something similar.

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Carob Beans might be a reasonable substitute for Chocolate.

I have provided a link to an Encyclopedia page on Carob Beans.

Carob beans do not contain any caffeine.

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Hazelnut spreads.

Nutella has skimmed milk in it, but I'm sure that there are similar spreads available that are vegan. They taste pretty chocolatey, and you can spread them on things like pancakes and ice cream easily enough.

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    nutella tastes like chocolate, because it contains chocolate. There are spreads which don't contain chocolate, but they don't taste like chocolate.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 26 at 0:06
  • @rumtscho I that nick012000 (the op, or original poster, of the answer) meant to write about Hazelnut butter (like peanut butter or cocoa butter), not Nutella specifically. Nutella is chocolate and Hazelnut butter mixed together, but Hazelnut butter without chocolate is just fine. Commented Jan 26 at 5:10
  • @SamuelMuldoon we both can only speculate, but I disagree with your assumption. The poster explicitly mentions Nutella and there are other products on at least the European market that are me-too products typically called hazelnut spread and following the hazelnut +.chocolate recipe of Nutella, nut butters are labeled as such, not nut spread.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 26 at 5:17
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    @SamuelMuldoon if nick012000 meant to write about hazelnut butter, then my comment is even more pertinent. Hazelnut butter doesn't give a chocolatey taste to a sauce.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 26 at 6:33

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