Milk chocolate is a chocolate bar that legally must contain milk.Usually milk chocolate contains cacao, milk powder, sugar, and often extra cocoa butter. Unlike dark chocolate, additional cocoa fat is almost always needed to balance out the milk solids, as milk chocolate usually has the same amount of sugar as dark chocolate. As a result, cacao percentage in milk chocolate is usually lower than dark chocolate. Milk chocolate has been criticized because milk’s proteins bind to the antioxidants in chocolate, rendering them less bioavailable. Some chocolate makers combat this by using non-dairy milk powders in their chocolates, though these products cannot legally be called milk chocolate.
To combat the norm that all milk chocolate is sweet and must contain dairy, craft chocolate makers (LINK) have introduced “dark milk” chocolate. It’s often 45% cacao or higher, and made with too low a percentage of milk solids to legally call it milk chocolate. Sometimes it contains zero milk solids, rather made with alternative creamers such as coconut milk or oat milk.Legally these are dark chocolates with milk as an inclusion, but even a small amount of added milk can completely transform a chocolate’s flavor.