The two chocolate bars that are sitting in front of me right now are not all that high in cocoa solids and not all that low in sugar, but they are higher quality than your average commercial milk chocolate candy bar. And they do not have much of anything in common, except that they are both considered "milk chocolate". One is a little 45-gram Cafe-Tasse "Lait" (Milk) chocolate bar with 28 % cocoa solids and the other is an 85 gram Ghirardelli Luxe Milk(R) chocolate bar with an unknown percentage of cocoa solids. Neither manufacturer specifies the amount of milk solids on the package, which is a bit of a shame because it is a nice-to-know bit of information for the consumer.
The differences in these two chocolate bars outweigh their commonalities. For instance, Cafe-Tasse is made in Belgium by, you guessed it, a Belgium company. Whereas Ghirardelli is strictly American and made in California. Also, the Ghirardelli chocolate bar includes one extra ingredient that the Cafe-Tasse bar does not have: milk fat. I wrote about "milk fat" in chocolate a few days ago. It can cause some people to think of the chocolate as a "candy bar" rather than proper traditional chocolate. But of course, Ghirardelli is marketed in a more commercial way than Cafe-Tasse, with distribution in pharmacies and supermarkets all across the U.S.A., so they must keep their flavour and texture appealing to the general public. I have always found that chocolate with added milk fat tend to be meltier and smoother than other chocolate, so I am sure that is the reason for its inclusion in the ingredients list. I'm not saying that it is right or wrong, and in fact, the definition of fine milk chocolate by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association includes milk fat in the ingredients list (check it out at: http://www.finechocolateindustry.org/fine-chocolate.php).
So to compare the taste and texture of these two chocolate bars, the Ghirardelli certainly does melt faster in your mouth than the Cafe-Tasse chocolate. However, the Cafe-Tasse chocolate bar is a little less sweet and slightly richer in cocoa flavour and in cocoa butter. The good thing about the Cafe-Tasse bar is the size; I always like a chocolate bar that is small enough to eat in one sitting without any guilt. On the other hand, the good thing about the larger size of the Ghirardelli Luxe Milk chocolate bar is that there is enough to share. In fact, I gave half of this bar to my husband. Either way, both chocolate bars are tasty, but one is a little softer and meltier (Ghirardelli) and the other (Cafe-Tasse) is designed more for the connoisseur with a robust flavour.
So since these two chocolate bars are so very different, you must be wondering why I am comparing them. Well, I happened to have both of them on hand at the exact time that I had a craving for milk chocolate. And I was craving a sweeter milk chocolate than usual, and these two chocolate bars seemed to be a fit. The other milk chocolate bars that I had on hand had cocoa solids in the 40% or more range, which just wouldn't do today. So out of mere circumstance, I decided to do a little comparison tasting.
If you are looking for a milk chocolate that is sweet, but not too sweet like in that Cadbury’s or Hershey's candy bar sort of way, either the Ghirardelli Luxe Milk or the Cafe-Tasse Lait chocolate bars just may satisfy your cravings. They both have natural ingredients and no artificial flavours...so I guess they do have something in common after all.
As always, below are the package details from the chocolate bars that I tasted today:
Ghirardelli Luxe Milk(TM), 3 oz (85g)
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, San Leandro, CA, USA
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter, unsweetened chocolate, milk fat, soy lecithin - an emulsifier, vanilla). Manufactured on the same equipment that also makes products containing peanuts and tree nuts.
Cafe-Tasse Lait, 45g (1.58oz)
Ingredients: sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, vanilla, emulsifier: lecithin. May contain traces of nuts and gluten.