As a serious chocolate lover, you might think that milk chocolate is simply beneath you. I know—I practically invented that dismissive glance you are about to aim my way. If you still only like dark chocolate—the more bittersweet, the better—you might be missing something. It’s true that milk chocolate used to be mostly sugar and milk with a hint of not particularly distinguished chocolate, and some of it still is. But, if you are that person who buys the best dark chocolates, loves to taste single origins or special blends for the best producers, including the smaller artisan chocolate makers, you might want to open your mind to better milk chocolates, too.
Pass up the usual grocery store offering. Look for milk chocolates labeled 35% to 45% cacao. These contain at least double if not triple the amount of cacao compared with the ordinary bar. They are richer and more chocolaty, and less sweet. You’ll taste the fruity or spicy or nutty notes in the chocolate and the pronounced milk or cream flavors that may vary from fresh dairy to caramel-y, toffee-like, or even dulce de leche. You will be getting more flavor from better cacao, better milk or cream, and less sugar.
The advantage to adding a little milk chocolate to your life? More new tastes and interesting pairings, better triple-chocolate desserts, and more room for creativity in the chocolate kitchen. Better milk chocolate also makes better mousses, frostings, and ice creams, including this luxurious milk chocolate ice cream with salted cashew brittle. I’m in, are you?
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).