November 19, 2018

What? Milk in My Chocolate for Shavuot?

I can’t tell you how many people tell me sheepishly that they prefer milk chocolate bars while others gloat over their dark chocolate preferences. Israel’s Elite chocolate produced a charming video of children tasting chocolate for the first time. It messages that only adults can understand the sophistication of dark chocolate, leaving milk chocolate to untutored naifs. Shifting the Israeli palate from milk to dark defies the famous image on Elite’s red cow wrapper.

The Shavuot celebration coming in May, with its emphasis on dairy foods, seems like a good time to take a look at this milk/dark chocolate controversy. Fortunately, the “Torah” of chocolate has shifted. Today’s craft and artisan chocolate makers smooth over the divide by offering dark milk chocolates. These are chocolates that mix milk solids with cocoa content in the 40 to 60% range, yielding a smooth mouthfeel and rich taste.

Milk chocolate is regulated by food standards and vary around the world. For instance, be aware that the minimum percentage of milk solids required by the FDA runs around 12% while the requirement in European Union countries is 15%. The FDA only requires 10% cocoa solids in those milk chocolates. That means there are a lot of other ingredients in that treat.

For those with dairy allergies, the FDA does not require producers to identify traces of dairy which may be picked up on the production line. Indeed a recent FDA study showed that three in four dark chocolate products contain dairy without identification of such on the label. If you really need to know about the milk in your chocolate, look for a formal pareve, vegan or dairy free certification.

So, why milk chocolate? To celebrate the gift of Torah at Mount Sinai when our ancestors were too busy preparing for the revelation to eat anything but easily prepared milk foods, of course.