We are often asked what the real difference is between milk chocolate and dark chocolate and whether one is better for you than the other.
Not all chocolate is created equal, but it’s all equally delicious. When it comes to milk vs. dark, they each have their own perks and quirks for you sweet tooth chocolate lovers to keep in mind. You may already know that milk chocolate tends to be softer and sweeter than dark chocolate, but is there much more to it than that?
Chocolate is one of life’s little pleasures thanks to its indulgent flavour. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit a chocolate factory, or work in one everyday like the team here at Langleys, then you might have a good understanding of what differentiates types of chocolate. Otherwise, every time you’ve taken a bite of chocolate, you might have wondered what gives your preferred kind of chocolate its edge.
Chocolate is made from cocoa, which is extracted from cocoa beans (also known as cacao beans). The cocoa beans can be separated into cocoa solids and cocoa butter, and these elements can be combined in different ways to give us the different kinds of chocolate: milk, dark, and white. Technically, white chocolate isn’t really chocolate because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids, instead only sugar and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is the fatty component of the bean, and cocoa solids are the remaining part, which is generally roasted and ground into a powder before it can be used in chocolate production.
What do chocolate percentages mean?
The chocolate percentage displayed on the label or wrapper of any chocolate product refers to the percentage of the bar that is made from pure cacao beans. Today, most inexpensive store-bought chocolate bars include very low amounts of actual chocolate overshadowed by cheap oils and artificial chemical additives. In fact, legally, a bar is only required to contain 10% of cacao to be called chocolate.
What is dark chocolate?
In the most simplistic of terms, dark chocolate is chocolate that doesn’t have milk solids added to it. That means the basic ingredients include cacao beans, sugar, an emulsifier like soy lecithin for proper texture, and additional flavouring. Due to it not containing milk, and only limited sugar it is better for you than milk chocolate; and because of the high concentration of cocoa, it helps to reduce cravings, so you don’t have to eat large amounts to feel satisfied. The “darkness” of dark chocolate can vary depending on the percentage of cocoa solids. Chocolate with 30% cocoa is considered ‘Sweet Dark Chocolate’ while very dark chocolate is typically 70-80% cocoa solids. The richness of dark chocolate contributes to its bold, sometimes slightly bitter taste; this is why some dark chocolate is described as “bittersweet.”
Here at Langleys we use a minimum cocoa of 54.5% across all our dark chocolate products, and when combined with delicious flavours we believe we have the perfect combination and balance of ingredients.
What is Milk Chocolate?
Milk Chocolate is the most widely distributed type of chocolate, and it describes a specific type with certain percentages. It starts with solid chocolate and then has milk added in liquid, powdered, or condensed form. At Langleys we typically create our milk chocolate using a minimum of 33.6% cocoa and minimum 20.8% milk solids. When combined with our delicious flavours, we believe we have the perfect balance of ingredients for milk chocolate lovers.
Health benefits of eating chocolate
Eating dark chocolate has well known positive effects on health. Studies show that eating a single 1.4 ounce bar can lower hormone levels that cause emotional stress and anxiety. Due to the high contents of antioxidants in the cocao bean, not only does dark chocolate reduce cravings by eating a small amount, it has benefits for cardiovascular health and lowers blood pressure.
Milk chocolate on the other hand, contains more fatty ingredients including milk and cocoa butter. The antioxidants present in the cocoa solids will have the same effect as dark chocolate, but due to the smaller percentage of cocoa solid, the benefit is much less.
White chocolate does not have the same health benefits. It is a source of empty calories with a standard 1.4 ounce bar of chocolate having 225 calories and lots of sugar and saturated fast. However, as it does not contain chocolate it is caffeine free so ideal for those who are sensitive to caffeine.