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Milk vs. dark chocolate - think carefully before you choose

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Diane in Bexley Feb 13, 2008 08:36 AM

From Feb. 13 NYT article, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/din..., interesting discussion of milk vs. dark chocolate. For years, I hid my preference for milk chocolate so as not to seem too "bourgeois". Which do you prefer?

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  1. linguafood RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 13, 2008 08:57 AM

    Not sure why one would have to make a 'final' decision. I've always found the snobbery that comes with high-content cacao chocolates (say, anything over 75%) to be quite laughable. While I really enjoy dark chocolate for its rich flavor, I will generally not go over 70%. I always liked and still like milk chocolate, but I grew up on some pretty decent quality -- Lindt, Milka, Côte D'or...

    But, whatever you do -- don't even bother offering me Hershey's! That stuff is vile.

    13 Replies
    1. re: linguafood
      Ruth Lafler RE: linguafood Feb 13, 2008 09:19 AM

      But everyone is different -- I grew up with Hershey's and find most European milk chocolates too milky-sweet (milk, after all, has sugar (aka lactose) in it). Reading these boards, I've seen people describe Hershey's as having a "sour milk" quality, which to me makes it less cloying.

      What I'm really getting into, though, is high-cocoa solids milk chocolates (50% or more). They combine the smoothness of milk chocolate with more of the complexity and depth of flavor of dark chocolate.

      I totally agree about super high cocoa solids chocolate. IMHO, anything more than 75 percent is a sign of either snobbery or such a dull palate that you have to be hit over the head to taste anything.

      If you're buying chocolate as a gift and aren't sure, think about the person's coffee or tea habits. If they don't like coffee or tea and/or put milk in it, then they probably don't like really bitter flavors and would prefer less intense (although still good quality) chocolate.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler
        linguafood RE: Ruth Lafler Feb 13, 2008 09:56 AM

        Agree. It's a cultural/upbringing thing. My man loves Hershey's -- to me it tastes like good European-style chocolate gone old. I'm not sure European producers use more milk, but they don't use the more acidic milk used in American chocolate...at least that's what I gathered from the NYT article.

        As for the coffee.... I like my coffee w/cream *gasp* (though I could do without sugar, if hard-pressed) -- but I very much enjoy bitter flavors in other incarnations.

        1. re: linguafood
          m
          marcia2 RE: linguafood Feb 13, 2008 10:36 AM

          Oddly, I go through stages. For several years, I'll prefer milk, then I'll start finding it too sweet and prefer dark for several years.

          Right now, I like milk, but prefer a darker milk. One of the high end chocolate companies whose name I can't think of makes a milk chocolate in a yellow wrapper that I really like.

          Except for chocolate with mint, which always requires dark chocolate, regardless of my current general preference. Same with caramel and milk chocolate.

          1. re: marcia2
            Ruth Lafler RE: marcia2 Feb 13, 2008 10:55 AM

            Scharffen-Berger, maybe? I think their milk chocolate comes in a yellow wrapper.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              m
              marcia2 RE: Ruth Lafler Feb 15, 2008 01:19 PM

              Yes, that's it.

        2. re: Ruth Lafler
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          anzu RE: Ruth Lafler Feb 14, 2008 12:13 PM

          Wow. I'm in the minority here. I hope you don't think I'm horribly snobby or dull, but I really honestly do like really dark chocolate. I go back and forth between 70 percent-ish ones and the Lindt 85% one. The latter, I eat a small piece as my daily caffeine fix, b/c it's that strong (and I don't do coffee), but I have to be in the mood for it. Also, the darker it is, the more I like to leave it in my mouth and just let it melt, rather than eat it. It's more of a texture-enjoyment thing. I also don't like all 85 percents equally. For one thing, I find the Scharffenberger ones unpleasant.

          I like really dark chocolate (over 70 percent), but I think it has less to do w/ dullness and snobbery and more to do w/ my general preference for things with less sugar in general.

          When I bake, for example, I typically cut the sugar by 1/2 or sometimes even 1/4.

          But I read that article in the NYT, too, and I'm now curious about trying the higher cocoa content milk chocolate.

          1. re: anzu
            Miss Needle RE: anzu Feb 14, 2008 02:05 PM

            I agree that it could be a preference for less sweet things. I'm generally not a fan of too sweet items myself. Actually for a long time I grew up thinking that I preferred milk chocolate -- probably because my first chocolate experiences were Hershey's, Twix, Nestle's Crunch -- what most children grow up with. I knew the "sophisticated" palate appreciated dark, but I was still sticking to my milk.

            Then I went to NYC's first chocolate show and ate a bunch of dark chocolate. I didn't think anything of it. A few days later, I tried a piece of milk chocolate. I thought it tasted like wax and had no flavor. That was when I realized I preferred dark.

            1. re: anzu
              k
              Kelli2006 RE: anzu Feb 14, 2008 02:20 PM

              I prefer to snack on Ghirardelli 60-70% bittersweet baking chocolate. My favorites are the E Guittard 65 or 72% bars. I have been taking sugar out of items that I bake at home , and I have noticed that some people are preferring less sweet cakes and pastries.

              Valrhona and Callebaut are the standard in many bakeries, but I have never developed a taste for them.

              I have taken more than 1/2 of the white sugar out of my current brownies recipe, and added 2Tb of dutched cocoa to it. My mom and my daughter like milk chocolate, but even they don't like American mass-market chocolates.

              I tried the Lindt 91% and it was just a bit to powerful for my preference, but I want to try Ghirardelli's new 100% bitter chocolate bar, just for kicks and giggles.

              1. re: Kelli2006
                linguafood RE: Kelli2006 Feb 14, 2008 03:00 PM

                Whoa -- there's actually a Lindt 91%? I haven't seen that. I can handle the 85%, really like the 70%, but absolutely dig the 63% aka Madagascar. It's got such a wonderful afterglow of vanilla that lingers on your tongue....

                1. re: linguafood
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                  Humbucker RE: linguafood Feb 14, 2008 03:34 PM

                  Lindt actually has a 99% cocoa bar. I wonder if it is even sweet at all.

                  http://www.keacher.com/?p=388

                  1. re: Humbucker
                    im_nomad RE: Humbucker Feb 14, 2008 03:43 PM

                    i like the suggestion on the label that you train your way up to the 99%......that's my kind of training, lol.

                    1. re: Humbucker
                      Miss Needle RE: Humbucker Feb 14, 2008 04:53 PM

                      DH brought it back one year from the chocolate show. It wasn't Lindt, but another brand. It was almost like unsweetened chocolate but not as bitter. However, it was difficult to eat that stuff straight. I ended up using it as unsweetened chocolate in cooking.

              2. re: Ruth Lafler
                a
                anzu RE: Ruth Lafler Mar 26, 2008 07:35 AM

                So I've been looking around for this high-cocoa solids milk chocolate. Does the 52 percent Endangered Species Milk Chocolate w/ Peanut Brittle count as a high-cocoa solids milk chocolate?

                I do admit it's quite good, but I can't taste the difference between this and say a lower percentage (35% for example) chocolate. Is it supposed to taste or have a mouthfeel more like dark chocolate?

            2. BeeZee RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 13, 2008 01:41 PM

              Sampled a good compromise solution (believe it was Green & Black organic) which was half milk or called something similar. It was nice...marketed as a hybrid of milk and dark, so a little less sweet than straight milk chocolate.

              1. DonShirer RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 13, 2008 02:39 PM

                According to this article, there is some evidence that dark chocolate is medically beneficial.
                http://www.webmd.com/news/20040601/da...

                1. j
                  justagthing RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 13, 2008 05:50 PM

                  I was unable to use your link and I would like more information as to what the article was discussing. I realize it is about light vs. dark, but was their take on it? TIA

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: justagthing
                    DonShirer RE: justagthing Feb 14, 2008 02:50 PM

                    Not sure if you mean my link. It worked in my browser.
                    Anyway, the story said
                    Daily Dark Chocolate Good for the Heart, Loaded With Flavonoids
                    The research team divided 21 healthy adults into two groups. One group got a Dove Dark Chocolate bar every day for two weeks. Like other dark chocolate bars with high-cocoa content, this one is loaded with something called epicatechin. Epicatechin is a particularly active member of a group of compounds called plant flavoniods. Flavoniods keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries.

                    The second group also got dark chocolate bars. But their treats had the flavoniods taken out.
                    All subjects underwent high-tech evaluation of how well the blood vessels dilate and relax -- an indictor of healthy blood vessel function. Blood vessel stiffness indicates diseased vessels and possible atherosclerosis. Those who got the full-flavonoid chocolate did significantly better.

                    1. re: DonShirer
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                      justagthing RE: DonShirer Feb 14, 2008 03:55 PM

                      Thanks for the summary, but JoanN but a new link below and it worked just fine.

                  2. b
                    b0ardkn0t RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 13, 2008 06:06 PM

                    To the difference in chocolate tastes, I do find a difference between American chocolate, and chocolate from Europe or Latin America. I always wondered why that was. They are all good in some way(me being a chocolate lover) but they all taste a little different. especially the milk chocolate. I think maybe European and Latin American chocolates use farm fresh milk? Or maybe American candy makers use milk with milk solids, or condensation? Or maybe it's the spices and other additives? For the most part though until recently a few years back most American milk chocolate had a similar generic taste(even higher end chocolates; I hear candymakers want to label chocolate flavored candy, as in less cocao more cocoa butter, as chocolate, but that's a side note.). I enjoy all of course, but this always left me wondering as I explored the chocolate world. As for milk or dark, my answer is both for different occasions. I crave both in bar form, but I really do like milk chocolate with nuts, caramel, and candy coated, etc., while I prefer dark for truffles, and fruit fillings, as well as some nougats, although I do like dark chocolate with almonds as well(and for years I only had quality candy coated dark chocolate that was from Europe or Latin America).

                    1. pepper_mil RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 13, 2008 06:32 PM

                      Depends on the chocolate. Some chocolate is very nuanced and if the intensity is turned up you miss it. Some chocolate I only enjoy as milk, sometimes I want deep and dark. But yes, people who only eat dark are missing out on a lot. To me chocolate is an adult developed taste, lots of chocolate that I happily ate as a child I would not bother with now.

                      1. a
                        AndyP RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 13, 2008 07:08 PM

                        Hey Diane-san,

                        Linking to the NTY story doesn't seem compatible with their current format.

                        Anyhow, for out-of-hand eating pleasure, I prefer dark chocolate, with a caveat: I find anything above 65% too bitter.

                        When I'm doing duty as the pastry guy at the restaurant where I work, I appreciate the taste of both milk and dark chocolate.

                        And, on those rare occasions when my Mom sends me some See's chocolates, I zero in on the "Mayfair", the milk chocolate morsel coating walnuts and marachino cherry.

                        It's all good, it's all chocolate!

                        Yoroshiku,
                        Andy

                        1. d
                          Diane in Bexley RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 14, 2008 05:15 AM

                          Sorry about the link, The article was in the 2-13 New York Times newspaper. For some reason, the URL is being truncated by CH, not sure how to fix that! Can anyone help???

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Diane in Bexley
                            JoanN RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 14, 2008 05:31 AM

                            This ought to do it:

                            http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/din...

                            1. re: JoanN
                              maplesugar RE: JoanN Feb 14, 2008 05:44 AM

                              It worked, thanks JoanN...it also worked to delete the comma at the end of the OP's link. :)

                          2. im_nomad RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 14, 2008 03:06 PM

                            I think i grew up with a bit too much of the "mocklate" varieties..those chocolate flavored confection easter bunnies and such. So I always preferred even back then, something like hershey's special dark. I've always preferred bitter, salty or sour things in general so maybe this fits here.

                            However, I don't think i had really tasted any good quality milk chocolate..until i was an adult, and now there are lots of ones i really like. The only thing is, i'm more prone to eat more of the milk chocolate variety whereas i'm very satisfied with just a sliver of a very dark chocolate 70% or higher and in fact much more than that quantity, is really too much for me.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: im_nomad
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                              foodperv RE: im_nomad Feb 14, 2008 05:33 PM

                              if you want pure choclate which actully is inedible try pure hersheys powdered baking choc. inedible not because of the brand but choc in it's purist form is awful

                              1. re: foodperv
                                Icantread RE: foodperv Feb 15, 2008 01:00 PM

                                I tried that once and unfortunately (and embarrassingly) my tongue pretty much reacted the same way as when I accidentally ingested deodorant (high school prank). Oh and the deodorant was slightly more palatable (before I lost the ability to taste)

                            2. scuzzo RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 14, 2008 05:51 PM

                              This is a good question. For just plain chocolate, I do prefer dark. I like dark coffee and generally deeper more complex flavors at this point in my life. I don't think it's about snobbery (what a great word, need to use that more...), but I do think that as a cook my tastes grew and expanded and eventually I had a greater appreciation for more complex flavors. Still, good milk chocolate is great! And it's sometimes the best choice when combining with other things that might otherwise get overwhelmed.

                              1. chowser RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 14, 2008 06:01 PM

                                I was talking to friends about this recently. It doesn't take much dark chocolate to satisfy our chocolate cravings but we can eat a lot of milk chocolate before we're satisfied. I stick to dark.

                                1. c
                                  chubbybunny RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 14, 2008 06:04 PM

                                  I'm also not trying to be snobby, but I really do prefer the nuttiness of dark chocolate, whether it's by itself, in brownies, or in cakes. I also love cacao nibs.

                                  Milk chocolate is way too sweet for me.

                                  1. h
                                    Harters RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 15, 2008 12:48 PM

                                    I only eat 70% (or thereabouts)

                                    1. Icantread RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 15, 2008 01:01 PM

                                      Dark, but not too dark as to lose its sweetness. Oh and I'm not a snob about it. I need the lesser cocoa content so I can stick nice pieces in my mouth, not let a tiny piece melt slowly. My wife meanwhile opts for the melting (patience or preference, I don't know)

                                      1. jfood RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 15, 2008 01:08 PM

                                        If it's good chocolate jfood does not care what color it is. He loves all chocolates.

                                        1. PegS RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 15, 2008 02:45 PM

                                          I've always preferred milk chocolate, but the older I've gotten the less I've been able to tolerate too much sweetness. I've found the Scharffen Berger milk chocolate the perfect level of sweetness. Plus, it has a nice, almost coffee-like, complexity.

                                          1. toodie jane RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 16, 2008 08:03 AM

                                            When the only chocolate bars available were Hershey's I learned to follow my Mom's lead in preferring dark, simply becasue it had a better texture. None of that nasty chalkyness. Pretty soon were fighting over the darks in the box of See's.

                                            Now that good milk chocolate is available, I find myself gravitating to that. I like Trader Joe's 3-pak milk. Good quality at a good price.

                                            1. mygirlbakes AL RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 24, 2008 06:05 AM

                                              I really love all chocolate, but my preference is for dark.

                                              A friend gave me the 88% version of this brand: http://www.chocolatebar.com/index.asp

                                              which I thoroughly enjoyed. Highly recommended for those who like dark.

                                              1. maplesugar RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 24, 2008 09:26 AM

                                                Speaking of dark chocolate. I tried Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs yesterday. I find the regular ones too sweet, but the dark ones with the crisp candy coating were surprisingly good.

                                                1. nliedel RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 24, 2008 09:43 AM

                                                  I like milk chocolate, I prefer milk chocolate and I'm not afraid to admit it, sort of. I don't appreciate too much that is bitter. There is something about the creamy explosion of quiet wonderfulness I had in Switzerland as a child, that haunts me to this day. It was milk and it was heavenly and it was locally produced. Every time I take a bite of milk chocolate, I am looking for that experience again. Which is why I don't touch most commercial American stuff, unless it's right after Halloween and my kids have bagfulls.

                                                  1. lulubelle RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 25, 2008 12:22 AM

                                                    Why do we have to choose? Sometimes I want a or two of dark dark dark chocolate, and sometimes I want a Dairy Milk bar.

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