Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Ultimate List of Dark Milk Chocolate Bars

Updated July 16, 2016

Dark Milk Chocolate is a new type of chocolate that has all the antioxidants of dark chocolate, but all the melt-in-your-mouth taste of milk chocolate. If you love it as much as I do, see the list below to find out which brands make it, where you can buy it, and how much you can expect to spend. To learn more about what Dark Milk Chocolate is and why it is currently a trendy chocolate treat, please read my article about Dark Milk Chocolate posted today on the Food Bloggers of Canada site.

When reading this list, keep in mind that the percentage of cocoa solids means the total amount of cocoa butter plus cocoa mass (bean).  So after cocoa %, what’s in the rest of dark milk chocolate? Milk solids and sugar, which can also be played with to create something sweeter or something creamier. In some cases, as you will see from the list below, the ‘milk’ may be goat’s milk or coconut milk. To make your own dark-milk chocolate with coconut milk, get the recipe here.

Before we get into the list, here are a few tips….

How to approach a Dark-Milk chocolate tasting:

1.      Plan ahead. In Canada it is not yet easy to purchase a variety of dark-milk chocolates to taste and compare. But it is possible through the specialty retailers (see list below). Just give yourself a week or two to acquire the chocolate you need.

2.      Stick to chocolates within the 50% to 70% range within one tasting. If you want to compare a lighter milk chocolate, such as Valrhona’s creamy 46% Lait Bahibe, wait until the end of the session to taste it. Otherwise you may set yourself up to dislike the darker varieties.

3.      Find a good mix of bars to taste and stick to four or five at a time. Suggested tasting line-ups are coming to the blog soon. Stay tuned here for the link.

The Ultimate List of Dark Milk Chocolate Bars

Castronovo Dark Milk Chocolate, 63% Criollo & Trinitario Cacao, 62.4g (2.2 oz)
Bean type: Columbia, Sierra Nevada, Batch 309
Stuart, Florida
Creamy, smooth and creamy texture, has a distinct sour cream truffle flavour.
Ingredients: cocoa beans, organic evaporated cane juice, organic cocoa butter, whole milk powder. Contain no nuts, wheat, gluten, or soy.
I paid $9.99 plus shipping across Canada from: www.latablette.ca.
Won a 2014 International Chocoate Awards Bronze for the Americas.

Taste: Creamy and smooth texture with a taste that is still tart and sour like most dark-milk chocolates over 50%, but milkier and sweeter than some others than that I have tried.  It has a very milky colour. I liked this one a lot.

ERITHAJ Chocolat Mo Cay 58% Trinitario du Vietnam, 100g (3.5oz)
Made by: ERITHAJ Chocolat (Strasbourg, France)
Website: www.erithaj.com
Made in France.
Ingredients: cocoa beans, cocoa butter, whole milk, cane sugar (May contain traces of gluten, peanuts, nuts).
I paid $8.99 for this bar plus shipping across Canada from www.latablette.ca.

Taste: Intense sour cream with a flavour that is closer to a sour cream-and-dark chocolate flavour than milk chocolate. High but nice acidity, with texture that may be from a shorter conche time. 

Fruition’s Dark Milk with Flor de Sal 56%, 60g (12oz)
Made by: Fruition Chocolate (Shokan, NY)
Website: www.tastefruition.com
Batch #: 01
Ingredients: Cocoa beans*, cane sugar*, whole milk powder, cocoa butter, salt, vanilla beans*. Contains milk. May contain traces of nuts. *Organic
Won a Good Foods Awards ‘Gold Seal’ 2013
I paid $9.99 for this bar at La Tablette de Miss Choco (Montreal), plus shipping.

Taste: Tangy sour cream flavour, and seemingly acidic because of the salt, the salt makes it more like a food than a dessert, smooth texture. Interesting but definitely on the savoury side.  

Ambrosia Bean to Bar Ghana 55%, 80g
Ambrosia Pastry Co. (Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA)
Ingredients: Cacao, cane sugar, milk powder, vanilla, non GMO soy lecithin.
May contain dairy, soy or nuts.
$8/bar online price

Taste: Delicious, smooth with perhaps a floral and coffee flavour, along with burnt caramel. Very smooth, creamy and sweet, but a dark colour. Made with Forastero beans, it is sweet and creamy and no sour cream flavour like many of the other dark-milk chocolates. I have revisited this chocolate time and time again. It is delectable.

Chocolat au Lait Ouganda, 50% Cacao, 40g
Chaleur B Chocolat (Carleton-sur-Mer, Quebec, CANADA)
Website: www.chaleurb.com
Ingredients: Cane sugar, cacao beans, cacao butter, whole milk powder, vanilla. May contain traces of flour, dairy and nuts.
Online price: $5.75 for a 40g bar

Taste: This bar has a bright and sunny flavour that is sweet, milky and with the taste of vanilla and hints of flower and fruit. Like Ambrosia’s Ghana bar, there is no hint of the tart sour cream flavour common in other dark-milks and it melts away nicely in the mouth. Certainly a favourite!

Milk Series Dark Zurich Milk 55%, 55g
NUANCE Chocolate (Fort Collins, CO)
Batch #: 3271
Ingredients: organic cacao, cane sugar, whole milk (milk, vitamins A&D3), soy and/or sunflower lecithin, vanilla beans. Manufactured in a facility that also processes tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, wheat and soy.
I paid $7 U.S. for the bar, plus shipping.

Taste: Dark and milky hot cocoa flavour. This bar truly says ‘dark-milk’ to me and is one of my favourites. Not overly high in cocoa butter, like Bonnat’s or Michel Cluizel, but instead it is an enjoyable balance of sweet and bitter. The aroma has a hint of sweet berry, and the bar is more tart than sour, which is a nice change from most other dark milks which have a heavy sour cream flavour. Thin pieces, although not delicately thin, offer a full flavour of a dark chocolate milk or properly made, natural hot cocoa with only a touch of sweetness and a vanilla that is detectable but complimentary. To me it also has a ‘chewy caramel’ flavour (not hard caramel, but the dense kind that melt away in your mouth nicely).

Mangaro Madagascar, 50% Milk Chocolate, 70g (2.46 oz)
Michel Cluizel (Damville, France)
Ingredients: whole milk powder, cocoa from origin platation ‘Mangaro’, cocoa butter, sugar, Bourbon vanilla pod. May contain traces of shelled tree nuts and gluten.

Taste: Smooth, soft and buttery as though high in cocoa butter, but no real cocoa butter flavour. Milk is the first ingredient in the list, so the fatty mouthfeel may be from milk fat rather than cocoa butter as in most of the other creamy bars. Rich dark milk chocolate colour, surprisingly has a slight sour cream or sour milk flavour for a 50%, especially when considering that Michel Cluizel’s 40-something % milk chocolate bar does not have that tart flavour. Nice lingering roasted cocoa bean flavour, plus the distinct flavours of Madagascar cacao, although muted, are still there.  The beantobar.co.uk  website says it has a ‘sweet toffee finish’. It is definitely worth a try and if you don’t believe me, believe this: it won a Bronze at the Academy of Chocolate in 2009.

Patric Dark Milk ‘Milk Chocolate Crafted with Extra Cocoa Beans’, 58% Cocoa, 2.3oz (65g)
Patric Chocolate (Columbia, MO)
Ingredients:  cacao, whole milk powder, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter, sea salt.
Contains dairy. May contain traces of peanuts and/or tree nuts due to shared equipment. Soy and Gluten free.

Taste: I tasted one older bar (slightly past expiry) and one newer one (expiry Jan 2, 2016). The older one had not gone bad, but it did have that familiar taste of sour cream, although not overly so. The newer one had only a slightly tangy and acidic taste, but less like sour cream. There was a nice snap with a smooth and quick melt (at a cool room temperature), with a lightly creamy texture. Patric’s has a very deep chocolate colour and rich, deep cocoa flavour that truly identifies as a mix between dark and milk chocolate. There is a little sea salt in the ingredients, which is not so noticeable as a ‘salted flavour’, but it certainly makes the chocolate a savoury treat. This would be a delicious hot cocoa flavour.

LatteNero 62%, 100g
Slitti (Tuscany, Italy)
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, whole milk power, cocoa butter, natural vanilla. (cocoa minimum 62%). It does not contain soya lecithin.
“Available in 45%, 51%, 62%, 79%.”
Batch #C719

Taste: This bar looks and tastes like a dark chocolate bar and is completely different than all the other dark-milk chocolate bars that  have tasted. The percentage is similar to Bonnat’s, but you could not find two more different chocolate bars. Bonnat’s are milky and creamy and light in colour, Slitti’s bar looks about as dark as an 80%, and has very little milky or creamy flavour. It is certainly bitter and reminds me of dark chocolate made of Forastero beans.  

Manoa Chocolate Hawaii, 69% Goat Milk, 1.75oz (49.61g)
Manoa Chocolate Hawaii (Kailua, HI)
Ingredients: cacao nibs, cane sugar, goat milk powder & cocoa butter.

Taste: The aroma is the faint smell of goat’s cheese, and the colour is a beautiful deep, dark and almost red-like brown shade. As you put this chocolate in your mouth, it is quite shocking at the flavour difference from regular chocolate. With 69% cacao solids, this bar does not leave much room for the goat’s milk and sugar, yet the chevre or goat’s cheese flavour is so strong that it almost tastes like you are eating the cheese. It is creamy and the quality of the chocolate is quite good. I think you would need to love the taste of goat cheese, or drink goat’s milk regularly, to truly enjoy this chocolate. Although if you are a curious foodie, this is worth a try simply because it’s flavour is so interesting.

 This is listed as $9 (US) in Hawaii, but cost me $11.50 (CAD) in Canada at JoJo Coco (Ottawa).

Surabaya and Asfarth Dark-Milk Chocolate Bars, 65% cocoa solids, 100 grams each
Bonnat Chocolatier (Grenoble, France)
Surabaya & Asfarth Ingredients*: cocoa*, cocoa butter, sugar, milk powder.
*From the plantation relating to the name of the bar.
Taste: Bonnat Surabaya, Asfarth and Java are 65% dark chocolates each made from a different Indonesian plantation. Bonnat’s bars, on the other hand, are extremely high in cocoa butter, which explains the light, milky colour and very buttery texture.

Bonnat’s Surabaya dark-milk chocolate, also with 65% cocoa solids, has a mild tobacco and strong hint of campfire smoke flavour. It is less smoky in flavour and not quite as creamy as the Asfarth (yet still creamier than nearly all the other dark-milk chocolate bars that I’ve tasted). Slightly savoury and slightly less sweet than Asfarth.

Bonnat’s Asfarth chocolate has a brighter flavour than Surabaya, but a heavier smoke and smoked food flavour (as in smoked meat and peppery taste, but with no actual meat taste). This is the creamiest dark-milk chocolate bar of all 12 that I tasted.

Bonnat’s Java chocolate bar is the third in this series of chocolate. I tasted this one more recently (see review here), but wished I could have had all three on hand to compare. Based on memory of taste of the others, I found it less smoky than Asfarth and Surabaya.  This may have changed based on the cacao harvest year, because Eagranie Euh, the author behind the Chocolate Tasting Kit, wrote in a 2013 article in Table Matters that the Java bar is smokier than the Surbaya bar(ref). Julia Moskin, author of the 2008 New York Times article “Dark May Be King, but Milk Makes a Move”says that Bonnat’s Java bar has a strong caramel and bitter flavour. I found heavy aromas of cream, yet a taste of cedar and woodiness, with a cooked creamy chocolate truffle taste and dark and intense caramel taste.

‘Sittin’ on the Fence’ Dark Milk 50%
Take a Fancy Chocolate (Burnaby, B.C.)
Ingredients: Fair Trade organic caco nibs, fair trade organic cane sugar, fair trade organic cocoa butter, organic milk powder.  May contain nut traces.

Taste: This little Canadian chocolate maker got the name of the bar just right with its 50% rich-tasting milk chocolate. Read my review here.

Nihant Melaya Area - Bali Sukrama Brothers' Farm, 55% Cocoa
(62 Hour Conch Trinitario)
Ben & Chocolats SPRL (Belgium)
Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans, organic coconut blossom sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter.
I paid $9.99 online price at La Tablette de Miss Choco (www.latablette.ca).

Taste: Described on the package as "Very healthy milk chocolate with coconut blossom sugar." It is also considered 'stone-ground' chocolate.

Initially there is an I-can't-put-my-finger-on-it flavour, which is perhaps a mix between the coconut sugar taste, the acidity, and the origin flavour. Although there is cocoa butter in the chocolate, it is not as detectable as in some other bars. Definitely a browned butter flavour and just a hint of sour cream taste.  The texture is not fully gritty like in a Taza-stone ground way, but rather, seems to have the effect of crumbliness. It is intriguing, and definitely worth a try up against a high-cocoa butter smooth chocolate, such as Chocolat Madagascar or Michel Cluizel, or perhaps Patric, to comprehend the differences. Very tangy and reminds me a little of Fruition's salted dark milk chocolate.

Interestingly they also make a 50% Madagascar dark milk chocolate and a 50% Bali (neither is made with coconut sugar, like this one). I really should have tried these other two dark-milk bars at the same time to understand if that bold tart flavour and interesting texture is from the coconut sugar, or their distinct chocolate-making process, etc.

Chocolat Madagascar 50%, 85g
Chocolaterie Robert (Madagascar)
Ingredients: Madagascar Cocoa Beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder. Emulsifier: GMO Free Soy Lecithin, cocoa solids 50% minimum. Milk Solids 25%.
Winner of the International Chocolate Awards 2014 AMERICAS Gold.
I paid $8.99 online price from La Tablette de Miss Choco (www.latablette.ca).

Taste: Very similar to Michel Cluizel's 50% Mangaro in texture and taste. There is a distinct caramel-flavour and a texture that is so creamy, it is quite an enjoyable experience.  It is very creamy, nearly as creamy as the Bonnat dark-milk chocolate bars. The creaminess is overpowering the origin flavours, but the experience is worth the loss. I love how upfront they are about milk solids - with 25% milk solids and 50% cocoa solids, we can calculate that this chocolate has the equivalent in sugar to a 75% dark chocolate (although much higher in fat content!). I love it.
Zotter's Labooko Milk Chocolate "dark style 70% and Nicaragua 50%
Zotter Chocolate (Austria) 
www.zotterusa.com or www.zotter.at

Taste: In the Fall of 2015, I fell in love with a new style of chocolate, thanks to Zotter's Labooko Milk Chocolate "dark style: 70% bar without sugar! And this does not mean that alternate sugars, like Maltitol or Stevia are in it, this means NO SWEETENER at all.  Zotter essentially made a milk chocolate version of a 100% cacao chocolate, or otherwise known as unsweetened chocolate. This was not only delicious, but brilliant. Zotter also makes a 50% dark milk with Nicaragua cocoa beans that I have yet to taste, but given my experience with Zotter's chocolate so far, I am sure it is delicious.

Bruama's Artisan Chocolate, 60% Milk Chocolate, 100g
Cambridge, Ontario (Canada)

Taste: I really quite liked this milk chocolate - it was certainly a dark-milk chocolate, but creamy and quite nice. Admittedly, I ate it rather quickly because I liked it, but didn't take down enough tasting notes before I finished the bar.  I can say that it is definitely worth a try! I believe organic Brazilian cocoa beans were used to make this bar of chocolate, just the same as the rest of Bruama's products.

Bruama's products can be purchased online (here) and shipped (no shipping cost to Canadian addresses), or found in Allegra Flowers & Gifts, and in the O & V Tasting Room, both located in Cambridge.  Alternately, you can e-mail them at bruamas@bruamas.com for more info, to buy their chocolate or to buy wholesale.

Dark-Milk Chocolate Bars with No Ultimate Chocolate Blog Tasting Notes:

Acalli Chocolate (New Orleans, LA) - Acalli's 'Milk & Nibs' bar has 65% cocoa solids and has only three ingredients: organic cacao, organic sugar, organic milk.  The back side of the bar is sprinkled with cocoa nibs and looks very interesting. The cacao was sourced from the Norandino Cooperative in northern Peru. This chocolate bar can be purchased online: http://www.acallichocolate.com.

Felchlin (Switzerland) - Felchlin makes a Maracaibo Créole 49% dark milk chocolate that comes highly recommended by expert, Clay Gordon, of TheChocolateLife.com. Tasting notes by Felchlin mention raspberry notes, and a vanilla-bourbon and honey flavour. Learn more here.  Distributors can be found here.

Friis-Holm won the International Chocolate Awards World 2014 Gold prize for their Dark Milk 65% and a Gold – Directly Traded award for the Dark Milk 65% same year, in 2013 won  the World Gold for their Dark Milk 55% bar. Both bars ranked highly in 2012, with the 55% winning Silver. Both bars are made from single origin Nicaragua beans (http://www.friis-holm.dk/en/awards/). Interestingly, the website says that the chocolate is made in France by Bonnat, with the ideas generated by Mikkel Fris-Holm in Denmark.  The website says the next step is to have a bean-to-bar operation in Denmark. Two locations in the U.S. carry Friis-Holm’s chocolate, as well as some in the U.K. and throughout the world.  Find out where here: http://www.friis-holm.dk/en/dealers/.

Duffy’s Honduras Mayan Milk Chocolate Bar 61% and Venezuela Ocumare 55% http://duffyschocolate.co.uk/shop/chocolate-bars/honduras-mayan-milk-61.

Hotel Chocolat (UK, several locations) Supermilk 65 collection - comes straight up, in 'puddles' (drops) or in flavours like Popcorn and Earl Grey tea.  Read the whole 'Supermilk' story here: http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/about/supermilk.

Bar au Chocolat (Manhattan Beach, CA) Dominican Republic 60% ($12 U.S. online price)

Chocolate Tree (Edinburgh, Scotland) Peru Marañon 48% and Coconut Milk 55%

Damson Chocolate (London, U.K.) - Brazil 50% Buffalo Milk Chocolate. I am dying to try this chocolate bar, aren't you? https://damsonchocolate.com/

Doble & Bignall (UK) 50% Milk Tawny Owl Made with Puerto Cabello Beans.

Original Beans (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) FEMMES DE VIRUNGA 55% Organic Milk Chocolate http://www.originalbeans.com/ .

Pump Street Bakery (Suffolk, UK) Madagascar Milk 58% and Ecuador Dark Milk 60% 

The Beach Chocolate Factory (Playa Potrero, Costa Rica) - Makes a 55% milk chocolate with Trinitario beans.  Order it with or without almonds online here: http://www.beachchocolatefactory.com/menu.html.

TCHO (San Francisco, CA) - SeriousMilk Cacao is a 53% organic and Fair Trade dark milk chocolate bar by TCHO. It is said to have a 'fudgy chocolate flavour' and 'gentle fruit notes'. http://www.tcho.com/ but also sold in the U.K. (and ships to Canada) on the Cocoa Runners website: http://cocoarunners.com/shop/tcho-seriousmilk-cacao/.


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