It’s a dark time for our dark indulgence, my friends, which raises an important question. How can a foodie identify good milk chocolate in a world of cheap and nasty fakes?
Most of what you find in shops will leave you grimacing at the taste of waxy cocoa butter substitutes and overwhelmed by excess sugar. But never fear, it’s possible to strike gold without paying a fortune for the best artisanal offerings.
The majority of milk chocolate for sale now is horrible. It is. Manufacturers seem to think a huge dose of sugar combined with cheap fat and a nominal amount of cocoa will do the job.
In fairness, if you go by sales they’re absolutely right. But such products are soulless husks motivated only by the bottom line. Cheap ingredients and a sugary kick are offensive when you’ve experienced how good chocolate can be.
Dark Vs Milk
Some purists would argue that that the only true chocolate is dark. I disagree.
Don’t get me wrong, dark chocolate is also amazing. As the cocoa content increases—I’ve had as high as 99%—it almost becomes more savory than sweet. Therefore it’s just different, and there’s a time and place for both.
While milk chocolate with its higher sugar content is more candyish, it can still be a nuanced, sophisticated pleasure.
Boutique Is Best
The best chocolate is fresh from boutique makers, the type of stuff you have to eat within days before it goes bad. But the problem with that is the commensurate price tag. There’s nothing better for a treat every now and then, but your bank account probably won’t bear it on a regular basis.
There are mass-produced types that are very good, however. Granted, you’ll likely still pay a bit more than Cadbury or Hershey’s, but nowhere near as much as from an artisan.
My 3 Tips to Identify Good Milk Chocolate
A quick look at the ingredients list and nutrition panel on the label will tell you all you need to know.
The fat should come from cocoa and milk sources. A good sign that a company has cut corners is that they’ve used vegetable fat.
Look for a sugar content less than 50%. This is key. Too much sugar is overpowering, ruins subtlety, and leads to a product that makes you feel ill. With good milk chocolate it should almost seem like you could keep eating it indefinitely (instead of having to stop because of a queasy feeling of sugar overload).
Look for high cocoa content. Obviously it won’t be as much as dark, but around 35% will provide a really good cocoa kick that adds a huge amount of depth.
So that’s it, my friends, what I’ve found in the important business of maximizing your milk chocolate eating pleasure in a way that won’t break the bank.
All feedback and questions welcome, I’d love to hear from you—just use the comments box below or send me an email.