Dark Chocolate vs. Milk Chocolate

February 13th, 2019

We’re not shy about our love of chocolate. We love to infuse it into recipes both sweet and savory. We find ways to incorporate it into our wellness routines. We even take time out to celebrate it year after year. So it probably goes without saying that we’re open to trying all types of chocolate. Still, getting a better understanding of the differences between two of the most popular types of chocolate, dark and milk, is probably worth it. Whether you’re a dark chocolate devotee or think milk chocolate is the must-have, here’s what goes into these marvelous morsels.

What Is Dark Chocolate?

In the most simplistic of terms, dark chocolate is chocolate that either doesn’t have milk solids added to it or contains very few (for chocolate to be classified as dark in the U.S., it must contain no more than 12 percent milk solids). That means the basic ingredients of dark chocolate include cacao beans, sugar, an emulsifier like soy lecithin for proper texture, and flavoring like vanilla. The “darkness” of dark chocolate can vary depending on the percentage of cocoa solids. For example, a bar with 30 percent cocoa is considered “sweet dark,” while very dark chocolate is typically upwards of 70, 75, and even more than 80 percent cocoa. The richness of dark chocolate contributes to its bold, sometimes slightly bitter taste; this is why some dark chocolate is described as “bittersweet.”

Tempering chocolate

Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Didn’t know dark chocolate is actually considered healthy? Well, you’re in for good news, because this addictive snack has a long list of health benefits, including the following:

  • 70 to 85 percent dark chocolate contains nutrients like fiber, iron, magnesium, and zinc
  • It’s a source of antioxidants
  • It can help support healthy blood pressure
  • It can help support healthy blood flow to the brain
  • Because of the high concentration of cocoa, it helps to nix chocolate cravings fast; you don’t have to eat a ton to feel satisfied

Dark Chocolate Q&A

Don’t be in the dark when it comes to dark chocolate. Here’s what you need to know.

Is dark chocolate keto-friendly?

Dark chocolate can be included in a keto diet if it adheres to the strict carb limits the diet requires. Choose chocolate with a 70 percent or higher cocoa content and little to no added sugars.

Is dark chocolate Paleo?

Dark chocolate isn’t technically a food that was consumed by cavemen. But it can be enjoyed (in moderation) on a Paleo diet if it has a high cocoa content and no added sugars or soy lecithin (the latter aren’t considered Paleo-friendly). You can shop Paleo-approved chocolate here.

Is dark chocolate vegan?

On its own, cocoa is vegan as it’s a plant-based ingredient. But not all dark chocolate qualifies as vegan. Some dark chocolate products contain dairy, including whey and casein, so read labels carefully to find vegan dark chocolate.

Does dark chocolate have caffeine?

Yes. All chocolate has some caffeine, and dark chocolate bars can contain as much as 31 milligrams per serving (about the same as a can of Coke). So if you’re feeling a little more zippy after that nibble of chocolate, now you know why.

Dark Chocolate Nutrition Facts

Here’s a rundown of the nutritional benefits of dark chocolate, based on what you’ll find in a Thrive Market Organic Paleo 85% Dark Chocolate Bar:

  • Serving size: 1 ounce
  • Calories per serving: 168
  • Total fat: 12 grams
  • Saturated fat: 7 grams
  • Trans fat: 0 grams
  • Total carbs: 11 grams
  • Sugars: 4 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

Dark Chocolate Products

Get your chocolate fix with these delightfully dark must-haves.

Lily’s Sweets Stevia Sweetened Dark Chocolate Bar

This gluten-free, fair trade certified, non-GMO dark chocolate bar skips the added sugar in favor of plant-based stevia and natural vanilla, which cuts calories by about 25 percent without sacrificing sweetness.

Theo Chocolate 70% Cocoa Orange Organic Dark Chocolate

This delightful combo pairs organic, sustainably farmed dark chocolate with the zesty essence of fresh oranges.

Chocolove Hazelnut Butter Dark Chocolate Cups

Craving a little indulgence? Sink your teeth into rich, dry-roasted hazelnut butter coated in decadent dark chocolate.

Recipes with Dark Chocolate

Join the dark side with these rich and luscious dishes.

Vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Give cheesecake a dairy-free spin with cashew cheese, maple syrup, peanut butter, and an unexpected crust of dark chocolate protein bars.

Chicken With Chocolate Mole

Chocolate can add layers of flavor to savory dishes, too, like this mole recipe that calls for dark chocolate, tomato paste, bone broth, almond butter, and a blend of warming spices.

Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

There’s no shortage of sweetness when it comes to this super addictive, totally gluten-free shortbread, made with butter, sugar, and loads of chocolate chips.

What Is Milk Chocolate?

As the name suggests, milk chocolate is chocolate that includes the addition of milk solids. It was first produced by a Swiss manufacturer named Daniel Peters in 1879, who incorporated powdered milk with chocolate liquor to create the recipe. In the U.S. today, milk chocolate must contain at least 10 percent chocolate liquor and 12 percent milk solids.

How Is Milk Chocolate Made?

Milk chocolate is typically made from chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, flavorings, and either powdered whole milk or sweetened condensed milk depending on the recipe. First, the sugar and milk are blended and mixed with chocolate liquor and flavorings. This mixture is dried into something called “milk chocolate crumb” and later blended with cocoa butter to be processed into milk chocolate.

Milk Chocolate Q&A

Sometimes looked down upon as a lesser version of dark chocolate (from a chocolate purist point of view, anyway), milk chocolate actually brings quite a bit to the table.

Is milk chocolate good for you?

Yes! When consumed in moderation, milk chocolate (and all chocolate for that matter) has been linked to a lower risk of developing certain diseases. One meta-analysis found that participants who ate 100 grams of chocolate a day had a lower risk of heart disease and stroke compared to those who didn’t eat chocolate. However, because 100 grams of chocolate can also contain more than your recommended sugar intake, it’s probably best to stick to about half this amount daily.

Can you make vegan milk chocolate?

Yep! Vegan milk chocolate swaps out dairy-based milk for a non-dairy alternative like coconut milk, cashew milk, or even almond milk.

Is milk chocolate keto-friendly?

Finding milk chocolate that adheres to the carb constraints detailed by the keto diet can be tricky (dark chocolate tends to be lower in carbs). That said, there are some recipes available for making your own keto-friendly milk chocolate that keeps carbs in check.

Milk Chocolate Nutrition Facts

Here are nutritional facts on milk chocolate, based on what you’ll find in a Tony’s Chocolonely Milk Chocolate 32% Bar:

  • Serving size: 1/4 of bar
  • Calories per serving: 230
  • Total fat: 14 grams
  • Saturated fat: 9 grams
  • Trans fat: 0 grams
  • Total carbs: 22 grams
  • Sugars: 22 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

Milk Chocolate Products

Stock up on these velvety smooth, delicately sweet treats.

Tony’s Chocolonely Milk Chocolate 32% Bar

Nix chocolate cravings and feel good about your snack with this fair trade certified, ethically sourced chocolate made with the basic ingredients (whole milk, cocoa, and sugar) that you probably grew up on.

Unreal Milk Chocolate Gems

What’s better than creamy milk chocolate in a candy shell? How about no artificial colors, preservatives, or additives—and only organic, non-GMO ingredients? These responsibly sourced treats hit the spot and keep it real.

EatingEvolved Cashew Milk Primal Chocolate + Almonds

This vegan, Paleo-friendly take on milk chocolate ditches the dairy in favor of cashew milk combined with organic coconut sugar, cocoa butter, and crunchy almonds.

Justin’s Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

There’s something about the combo of PB and chocolate that’s downright addicting. These mini cups totally nail it with organic, gluten-free peanut butter drenched in creamy milk chocolate that make for a perfect bite.

Recipes with Milk Chocolate

Step up your dessert game with these milk chocolate-infused favorites.

Salted Chocolate S’Mores Tart

This fluffy confection features a cookie crust filled with chocolate ganache and whipped marshmallow topping for an elevated take on the campfire favorite.

S'Mores Tart

Chocolate Almond Braid

Give your dessert a gluten-free twist with buttery, flaky pastry surrounding warm, melted chocolate, crunchy slivered almonds, and cacao nibs.

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Want to wow your guests at your next dinner party? End your meal with this show-stopping chocolate chip cookie that’s baked in a skillet and served in slices.

Sprouted flour chocolate chip skillet cookie

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This article is related to: Chocolate Recipes, Cooking Tips, Dessert, Dessert Recipes

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Jillian Gordon

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