Dark vs. Milk Chocolate: What’s the Difference?

Dark vs. Milk Chocolate: What’s the Difference?

Chocolate traces its origins way back to 2000 BC in Central America. Back then, people drank bitter fermented chocolate drinks mixed with spices and even wine. Modern technologies have enabled manufacturers to grow and harvest cacao, then turn it into all these different kinds of chocolate products we love to buy and consume today.

Chocolate comes in different types, which include dark chocolate (also called plain chocolate) and milk chocolate. Both are true chocolates and they taste similarly. Chocolate has a distinct taste and it’s hard to miss its unique taste whenever it is present in what you drink or eat.

Dark chocolate and milk chocolate are not exactly the same.

What’s the difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate? The main difference between the two comes down to the percentage of cocoa solids they contain. To be considered dark, the chocolate must contain a minimum of 35% cocoa solids. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, normally contains a minimum of 10% cocoa solids.

These are the typical standards. However, by checking product labels, you’ll find that manufacturers vary in the percentages they use. For instance, Hershey’s milk chocolates contain 30% cacao, while Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolates contain 45% cacao.

You can find different types of dark chocolates in stores. They can be labeled dark, semi-dark, semisweet, bittersweet, or unsweetened.

Milk chocolate is true chocolate. It contains cocoa, sugar, and one additional ingredient: milk. This type of chocolate was initially sold as chocolate bars. Daniel Peter first produced this type of chocolate in 1875. He used condensed milk and cocoa to create the first milk chocolate bar. Today, powdered milk is the preference to minimize excess water content. But some manufacturers still use condensed milk.

What are Other Differences Between Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate?

There are more differences between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. One big difference between these two sweets is the taste. Dark chocolate has a bitter taste and even becomes more bitter the higher the cacao percentage. It is also usually less sweet compared to milk chocolate.

On the flip side, milk chocolate is sweeter in taste. It is also milky since it contains more milk solids than dark chocolate.

In relation to that, another difference between them is the texture. Because milk chocolate contains more milk solids, it naturally has a creamier texture than dark chocolate. Meanwhile, dark chocolate has a chalky texture.

Dark chocolate and milk chocolate are also different when it comes to health benefits. Many doctors recommend dark chocolate over milk chocolate for the higher nutritional properties it contains. And the darker the better. One serving, typically 28 grams (1 ounce), of dark chocolate (60% cacao) provides 50 mg. of magnesium, which is important for our bodies to counter fatigue and muscle problems such as cramps.

Dark chocolate also provides iron. 3 ounces of dark chocolate with 45% to 69% cacao solids give you 7 mg. to 10 mg. of iron. Iron helps transport oxygen throughout our bodies. It is essential to sustained health and energy.

One more difference is in the amount of fat and calories they contain. Dark chocolate is higher in fat and calories. There are 600 calories and 40 grams of fat in 100 grams of dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids). Milk chocolate, on the other hand, contains only 500 calories and 30 grams of fat per 100 grams.

Can You Use Dark Chocolate in Place of Milk Chocolate in Recipes?

Yes, you can definitely use dark chocolate to substitute for milk chocolate in recipes, and the other way around. Milk chocolate is sweeter, so you might need to add a little sugar and maybe also some milk to your recipe.

Alternatively, you can use milk chocolate in place of dark chocolate. You can add some dark cocoa powder to make up for the lack of strong dark chocolatey taste that your recipe needs. And you need to lower the amount of sugar because milk chocolate is sweeter than dark chocolate.

When Should You Use Dark Chocolate?

Use dark chocolate the way you would milk chocolate. It is a matter of preference. In saying that, dark chocolates can make for richer brownies and semi-dark ones for chocolate chip cookies. Use dark chocolates for your mousse or ganache. Melt them gently using a double broiler to drizzle on your vanilla ice cream.

If you want to skip on coffee today but want to drink something strong, why not make yourself a cup of hot chocolate using dark chocolate? Here is how to do it:

  1. Prepare 1 cup of full cream milk.
  2. Chop ½ cup of dark chocolate into little pieces (about 80 grams) and transfer to a small microwave-safe bowl.
  3. Heat your milk in a small saucepan just until the sides start to bubble. Use medium-low heat.
  4. Melt your chopped dark chocolates in the microwave in 30-second intervals.
  5. Stir your melted chocolate into the heated milk.
  6. Sprinkle some cinnamon, add some vanilla extract or top with miniature marshmallows. If you feel like it, put all these for a treat well-deserved!
  7. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!

When Should You Use Milk Chocolate?

Use milk chocolate the way you would dark chocolate. Some people, however, find that it is easier to use milk chocolate on no-bake cakes and pies. Also, milk chocolate melts easily so they make good s’mores, toppings, and more.

Is White Chocolate Real Chocolate?

This is an ongoing debate among chocolate connoisseurs. Unlike dark chocolate and milk chocolate, white chocolate is not true chocolate. It is made from at least 14% milk solids, sugar, and at least 20% cocoa butter (theobroma oil). While cocoa butter comes from cocoa beans, it does not contain the cocoa solids that are found in real chocolates.

Final Thoughts

  • Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa solids than milk chocolate.
  • Milk chocolate is sweeter and milkier, while dark chocolate is less sweet and bitter.
  • Dark chocolate has a chalky texture, but milk chocolate has a creamy texture.
  • Milk chocolate has lower calories and fat than dark chocolate.
  • Dark chocolate has a higher magnesium and iron content than milk chocolate.