Dark vs. Milk vs. White? Chocolate Mystery Uncovered

Dear chocolate lovers,

Today we are here to set the record straight on the difference between dark, milk, and white chocolate. Ever wondered what chocolate snobs mean when they ask about the chocolate percentage in a chocolate bar? We are here to teach you so that you can become one too!

The percentage on a chocolate bar label 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”.

Most large manufacturers mix beans from different origins with little regard for the distinct flavor profile of each individual bean in an attempt to create a standardized and universal chocolate flavor, the one most of us grew up to believe was the only option. The cacao’s true flavor is then further masked by milk, fats, and other artificial flavorings. As a result, most chocolate eaters do not realize the incredible diversity in flavor that cacao can really have.

There is no one true chocolate flavor. Let that sink in… Just like grapes used to make wine, cacao can taste vastly different depending on its origin’s terroir and can range from nutty to tart, floral, or fruity.

But then what is the difference between dark, milk and white? Here we go:

  • Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate should really only contain two ingredients, cacao liquor and sugar. Sometimes cacao butter can be added to make the chocolate smoother. Dark chocolate does not, however, contain any milk products. If you are eating a 70% dark chocolate bar, it means that 70% of the bar is comprised of pure cacao liquor, while the remaining 30% is sugar. Most of our dark bars range from 73-83% cacao.

  • Milk chocolate: Milk chocolate, as the name indicates, includes milk products. Fun fact: milk can only be added to chocolate in the form of powder. In its liquid form, it would ruin the cacao liquor, causing it to instantly clump and solidify. A mixture of cacao liquor, sugar, milk powder, and sometimes cacao butter, is what a milk chocolate bar is made of. Our milk chocolate bars are on the darker side, at 63%.

  • White chocolate: Unbeknown to most, there is actually no cacao liquor in white chocolate! It is comprised of only cacao butter, sugar, and milk powders. Because of its high butter content, its melting point is a lot lower than that of milk or dark chocolates. Given that the price of cacao butter has increased over the years, many large manufacturers sadly use vegetable oil substitutes to make white chocolate, meaning there is sometimes no actual cacao in the chocolate bar!

It is important to note that between dark, milk, and white chocolate, the flavor possibilities are endless. Cacao beans are complex, not uniform. At Exquisito Chocolates, we choose to produce only single-origin chocolate bars and confections in order to allow each bean’s true flavor to be expressed. We encourage you to “taste-your-way” to understanding the wonderful versatility of cacao. It’s educational, right?