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What is the Difference Between Dark, Milk and White Chocolate?

Updated on December 21, 2015

An argument that has continued since its birth, chocolate, first known to be used as early as 1100 BC, comes in hundreds, if not thousands of varieties, but most commonly in Dark, Milk and White. But which is better? People naturally have their own preference however what makes people choose each different type as their favourite and what makes us love and crave chocolate as we do?

Chocolate is something almost everyone craves. Seldom do you come across someone who does not like the treat, and when you do you find it hard to comprehend. Chocolates are now-a-days used for a variety of different things, from binge eating due to sadness or as an expensive gift for the one you love, there's a type of chocolate for almost everyone. But what's actually in commercial chocolate? What makes it taste so delicious? How do the chocolates differ? Well lets find out.



Chocolate has predominantly been used as a drink for almost all of its existence. In 2007, archaeologists found evidence indicating the oldest know cultivation of cocoa in Honduras, dating from around 1100 to 1400 BC. The Aztecs associated the chocolate with Xochiquetzal, who was their goddess of fertility and they often used chocolate beverages as sacred offerings. Chocolate was an important luxury in the Aztec world and were often used as currency, e.g. 1 Avocado would run you 3 Cocoa beans.

For hundreds of years the process of making chocolate stayed exactly the same, however with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, things started to change. The changes brought about the modern form that we know and love today, giving us a wider selection of shape, flavour, colour and choice.

In 1867 however, Daniel Peter, a Swiss candle maker, experimented using milk as an ingredient with chocolate. It was this experiment that gave birth to the ever popular milk chocolate. To combine the milk, Peter needed to remove the water from it. He was aided in this by a neighbour, Henri Nestle (you probably recognise the name). The process called conching was later invented by Rodolphe Lindt, where the chocolate solids are ground very finely. This allowed Milton Hershey to make chocolate even more popular, as he was able to mass produce affordable chocolate bars.


How are the different types of chocolate made

Dark Chocolate - There are no milk solids in dark chocolate. The cocoa content ranges between 30%-80% (though 80% would be an extremely dark bar). It contains chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and an emulsifier called lecithin.

Milk Chocolate - The milk chocolate variety includes cocoa butter and chocolate liquor. However it also contains either condensed milk, or dry milk solids (as the milk cannot contain water). As a criteria, milk chocolate must contain at least 10% chocolate liquor, 3.39% butterfat and 12% milk solids. This give it a much sweeter taste and darker appearance than dark chocolate, and as a result has a less pronounced chocolate taste.

White Chocolate - White chocolate does not actually contain any chocolate liquor whatsoever. It does however contain cocoa butter, and that is where its name derives from. It commonly tastes of vanilla due to its added flavourings and by law white chocolate must contain 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids, and a max of 55% sugar.

The argument of which chocolate is better is often merely based on personal taste preference. With dark chocolate, the taste is less sweet however it has a stronger taste and smell that the others. Milk is far sweeter and is usually for the sweet tooth out there. Its easier to eat a lot of, however the milk in it can make you feel sick easily, and can't be eaten by lactose intolerant people and vegans. White isn't even chocolate so it's a surprise it's ever brought into debate. It is very sweet and has very week chocolate taste.

How is chocolate made?

What your flavour?

After discussing what the types of chocolate contain and how they are made, it is easy to see why different people have different preferences. Some like the bitter taste of a darker chocolate, and like the smell that comes with it. However some like the more novel sweetness of milk. Which ever you choose it's safe to say that any chocolate is good chocolate.

What is your favourite type of chocolate

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    • profile image

      Mandy Lanc 4 years ago

      Good quality milk chocolate is my favourite but I am partial to a small amount of luxury plain chocolate every now and then. Very informative and enjoyable reading. Got the taste buds going now.

    • itsmejohnsmith profile image

      George Lancaster 5 years ago from London

      Thank you very much for the rating and for reading Patty, I hope you found this interesting. :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      This is an interesting Hub with ueful information. Chocolate loveres will be here in droves. Rated Up and Awesome.

    • itsmejohnsmith profile image

      George Lancaster 5 years ago from London

      Thank you very much for taking your time to read and rate!

    • LagunaAlkaline profile image

      Amanda 5 years ago from Camas, WA

      Great hub! Very informative. Voted up and rated interesting! (If there was a yummy option, I'd choose that!)