Chocolate is one of the most fascinating foods on this planet. Starting with just cocoa beans that grow on trees, chocolate makers transform these beans into chocolate which brings joy to many around the world. While turning cocoa beans into chocolate, chocolate makers start adding ingredients to transform chocolate into different forms. Chocolate can be categorized into three main types: Dark, Milk, and White chocolate.

Difference between dark, milk, and white chocolate?

Difference between dark, milk, and white chocolate?

The difference between Dark, Milk, and White chocolate comes down to 3 things: cocoa mass, milk powder, and sugar used in the chocolate.

Cocoa Mass: Cocoa mass is made from cocoa beans once they have been fermented, dried, roasted, and separated from their skins, called nibs. The nibs get ground into a smooth liquid which is the cocoa mass or also referred to as cocoa liquor, cocoa beans, or cocoa solids. During this process, cocoa butter is also extracted and makes up about 50% of the bean's content. Although referred to as butter, it is actually the fat from the bean. The percentage on chocolate packaging may refer to the total amount of cocoa mass and cocoa butter used to make the chocolate. Cocoa mass and butter can also be referred to as cocoa.

Milk Powder: Milk powder is the main ingredient in milk and white chocolate. It is also referred to as milk solids. The most common type of milk powder comes from cow's milk. Milk powder refers to the dried powder left after water has been removed from liquid milk. Milk powder used in chocolate can be derived from different animals such as goats or plant-based sources such as oats, almonds, and even coconut. Two such examples are Manoa’s Goat Milk Bar and Raaka’s Oat Bar

Sugar: Sugar is perhaps the most commonly used ingredient in chocolate. It turns the bitter flavor of cocoa into something sweet. The amount of sugar used in the chocolate will vary. Dark chocolate will typically contain less sugar than milk and white chocolate.


Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is the purest of the three. Dark chocolate has a cocoa percentage of 65% and higher.

The purest form of chocolate would be 100% chocolate. It is super intense in flavor and is made with just cocoa mass. Cocoa butter is sometimes added to make the chocolate smoother and less intense. 

Other percentages of dark chocolate are made using cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and sugar. Ingredients such as lecithin or vanilla might also be used to sweeten the chocolate. Milk is usually not an ingredient but can be. USDA defines dark chocolate as up to 12% milk.

The purity of dark chocolate makes for a slightly sweet, mildly bitter flavor, depending on the percentage of cocoa mass and sugar used.

Dark Chocolate

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate has a cocoa percentage of 35% to 55%. The remainder of the bar is made of milk powder and sugar. 

Milk chocolate is essentially dark chocolate except it contains more milk and dairy fat when compared to dark chocolate. The milk and dairy fat provide a creamy texture and light brown color. The milk and sugar also make the chocolate much sweeter in taste compared to dark chocolate.

Dark Milk Chocolate

Before we start discussing white chocolate, we need to mention dark milk chocolate. This type of chocolate is mainly found in the craft chocolate industry and is a mix of dark & milk chocolate. It is found in the craft chocolate industry because many craft chocolate makers like to use only one or two ingredients. This way the chocolate showcases the full flavors of the cacao and the chocolate isn’t masked behind other ingredients. This is why you find dark milk chocolate bars will just use cocoa and milk and avoid sugar. Dark milk chocolate bars are the perfect entry-level bar for someone who is not accustomed to chocolate with high percentages of cocoa. 

Dark milk chocolate contains a higher percentage of cacao than traditional milk bars. We have seen dark milk labels range from 45% to 65%. This is a higher percentage of cacao when compared to traditional milk chocolate bars, which contain around 35% to 55% cacao. 

Dark milk chocolate tastes sweeter and creamier than pure dark chocolate, but still has the complexities of dark chocolate.

Milk Chocolate

White Chocolate

White chocolate is chocolate that does not contain cocoa mass. It does, however, contain cocoa butter. It is also made of milk powder and sugar. White chocolate typically contains 30% to 45% cocoa butter.

Depending on the quality of white chocolate, you might find it super sweet and an artificial plastic taste to it. There are two types of cocoa butter used by chocolate makers. Deodorized and non-deodorized. Deodorized cocoa butter refers to when the cocoa butter's natural aromas are removed typically during a steaming process. This also removes nutrients and antioxidants. It has less of a taste and therefore manufacturers add other ingredients like sugar creating a super sweet non-chocolate taste. Good quality chocolate uses non-deodorized cocoa butter, which leaves more flavor in the white chocolate as well as the full nutrient and antioxidant benefits. 

White Chocolate

To get started with craft chocolate, start with our Kekao Box. We search the world for the finest chocolate bars and bring them right to your doorstep monthly. From rich dark Peruvian chocolate bars to new start-up chocolate bars on the come-up, you never know what you'll get inside the box! Each month we will curate 4 premium specialty-crafted chocolate bars. 

If you want to just try a couple of bars, check out our online chocolate store.

If you have any questions regarding this blog, our Kekao Box, or premium specialty-crafted chocolate bars, feel free to contact us! Keep up with us by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on Twitter, and Instagram.