Milk Chocolate Meltdown
TGIalmostF. Not only is tomorrow Fri-yay, it is also Milk Chocolate Day. Here at The Pickle we love us some food holidays, so grab a milk chocolate bar, drop, truffle, bonbon, wafer, kiss, nib, jimmy, or nougat and head into our milk chocolate info factory for a sweet morsel to chew on.
The Current Pickle
Milk vs dark vs white. Everyone has their preferences, but how does it all stack up?
Before we jump down that chocolate bunny hole, let’s shine some light on those Fair Trade labels stamped on chocolate packages. You know, one of these:
The Fair Trade certification “ensures farmers receive a fair price, allows farmers to invest in techniques that bring out the flavors of the region, and strictly prohibits slave and child labor.”
Higher quality chocolate for you, higher quality of life for the farmers and their communities...whether you buy milk, dark, or white, or any morsel in between, with Fair Trade everyone wins! ✋
What’s the Dillio with Milk Chocolate's Bad Rap?
In our superfood-obsessed world, it’s easy to feel self-conscious choosing milk chocolate over dark. Well, you can tell your judgmental fellow shoppers, significant others, and roommates to buzz off because their dark chocolate may not be so different from your milky selection.
- Milk chocolate:
- At least 10% cocoa mass (ground up chocolate beans, containing cocoa solids and cocoa butter in roughly equal amounts)
- At least 12% milk solids
- Dark chocolate:
- At least 15% cocoa mass
- Less than 12% milk solids
These are cocoa mass percentages are minimums, and higher quality chocolates typically have higher cocoa mass percentages—milks can be found with cocoa content in the 38-40% range, and we've even found them at 56%! You'll probably see these marked with the relatively new category name "dark milk."
What makes up the rest of the bar? Sugar, for the most part.
Some chocolate makers also add extra cocoa butter for texture (heads-up: this increases the cocoa percentage on the bar!), vanilla for flavor, and lecithin as an emulsifier to get the right consistency on the chocolate so it can be molded into bars, truffles, etc.
On the lower end of the quality spectrum, you'll find PGPR* (a cheap goopy yellowish liquid made from castor beans, used to replace more expensive cocoa butter) and vanillin (a vanilla-like flavor derived from wood pulp with chemicals) mixed into your chocolates. 😖
*Curious who's filling chocolate with the cheap stuff? We’re not going to name names, but we’re also not saying those big chocolate makers are not named in here! 😉 We got your back.
What happened to chocolate being healthy? Is all hope lost?
It’s not EXACTLY salad, but chocolate in its purest form does contain healthy antioxidants that have been linked to lowering cholesterol, preventing memory loss, fighting heart disease and even improving athletic performance.
A Harvard doctor’s prescription for maximizing your health benefit: “The higher the cocoa content of the bar, the better it is for your health. Look for bars with 70% cocoa or more.”
"How do I find the good stuff?" you may ask. Well, we've done the searching for you so you can get straight to the eating. Check out our Pickle Picks below!
The Hot Pickle
We've rounded up the following Fair Trade milk chocolates to take care of you, your tastebuds, the environment, and the farmers. Hmmm, maybe chocolate is BETTER than salad!! 🤔
Check out the phenomenal list of high-quality milk chocolate bars from our friends at Serious Eats. Short on time? Some Pickle Picks off that list include: Fruition Chocolate, Theo, and Videri. Our founders are from SF, so special shout-out to locally made Tcho, Dandelion, and Guittard. But we're NOT hot on the fake hipster brand Mast, beautiful as their wrapping may be. Moving beyond the bar, Mars and Pfizer have combined forces to sponsor a study to determine if extract from cocoa has the same health benefit as a bar. If you’d rather take a pill than eat chocolate, Wayne says:
Finally, if there’s any remaining inferiority complex about your milk chocolate preference, check this chart out…turns out most people around the world prefer milk chocolate to dark…including those fancy French, Swiss, and Belgians known for their gourmet chocolate!