Milk Chocolate

Written by Robert Mac
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Milk chocolate is the most common form of edible chocolate; it is the sweetened version used in candies, chocolate bars, and chocolate coatings. Unlike baking chocolate--which comes from pure chocolate liquor--milk chocolate contains a number of ingredients, including sugar, cocoa butter, and, of course, milk solids. If it's made in the US, milk chocolate must contain 12% whole milk and at least 10% chocolate liquor.

How We Get Milk Chocolate from Chocolate Liquor

Making chocolate is a long complicated process, starting with seemingly inedible cacao seeds and ending up with candy bars that everyone craves. Briefly, chocolate starts as roasted cacao seeds. After roasting, their thin shells are removed and the meats of the seeds, called nibs, are sorted in a process called winnowing.

The nibs are then milled into a thick paste--chocolate liquor. (The name comes from the fact that the milling process heats the mixture to the point that it liquefies; there is no liquor or any other ingredient added at this point.) Chocolate liquor is about half cocoa butter (the white-yellowish part containing the oils) and half cocoa solids (the dark part that becomes cocoa powder).

Chocolatiers then separate some of the liquor into butter and solids; they use the pure liquor, along with condensed milk, sugar, and additional cocoa butter to make--finally!--chocolate. The process is not quite done yet, though. These ingredients, called crumb, are refined, smoothed out, and tempered before being molded into a chocolate kiss or candy bar.

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