Milk chocolate is a crowd pleaser; people generally love its silky mouthfeel and sweet, creamy aftertaste. It’s an easy kind of bar to nibble on whilst you enjoy your mid-morning cup of tea or coffee, but it can be just as complex and flavourful as your average dark chocolate bar.
Here are some of the highest rated, award-winning milk chocolate bars from around the world for when you want to treat yourself to something lighter.
1. Castronovo- Sierra Nevada, Colombia 63% Dark Milk (ACA Milk Category Winner 2021)
The Bar: As a dark milk, the flavour notes of the Colombian beans are very much on display.
The Beans: The beans in this bar grow upon the remote slopes of Colombia’s coastal Sierra Nevada mountains. With no roads at these high altitudes, the wild beans have to be harvested by the indigenous Arhuaco people and carried down the hillsides on the backs of mules.
2. Krak- Sierra Nevada, Colombia 55% Dark Milk (ACA Milk Winner 2021)
The Bar: Fudgy, rich and spiced. Krak has crafted an incredibly moreish dark milk chocolate bar. It’s not too sweet and you can taste the delicate nuances of the cacao, from the almonds to nutmeg and cinnamon to the tropical fruits.
The Beans: This bar uses Sierra Nevada cacao that grows off the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Mark, the maker behind Krak, has worked with Uncommon Cacao to build a fairer and more sustainable supply chain.
The Maker: Read more about Dutch pastry chef turned chocolate maker Mark Schimmel here.
3. Standout Chocolate- Haiti 60% Dark Milk (ACA Milk Winner 2021)
The Bar: It features a smooth melting texture and a toasty malted flavour. It’s an interesting milk chocolate bar, with little bitterness and lots of creaminess.
The Beans: The cocoa for this bar was sourced from Produits des Iles SA (PISA), a central fermentery established in northern Haiti in 2012. PISA works with 1,104 small-scale farmers – 492 of whom are women – to pay premium prices for the unprocessed cocoa harvest and then processing it centrally, allowing farmers to earn more money for their quality beans.
4. Standout Chocolate- Sambirano Valley, Madagascar 60% Dark Milk (ACA Milk Winner 2021)
The Bar: This 60% dark milk chocolate is thick in texture, with a fruity complex flavour. Fredrik (the maker) has coaxed out the citrus notes of the Madagascan cacao.
The Beans: The beans in this bar are sourced from Bertil Akesson’s estate in Madagascar. Bertil’s beans are famous throughout the craft chocolate world, having produced countless award-winning bars and winning many awards themselves.
The Maker: Once again, this bar is by Standout Chocolate. With two bars already in this list despite having only began making chocolate in 2018, Fredrik Martinsson is certainly living up to his brand’s name.
5. Cacaosuyo – Piura 50% Milk (ICA Plain/ Origin Milk winner 2020-21)
The Bar: The vibrant fruits of Cacaosuyo’s Piura dark bar take on a sweeter, almost caramelised flavour here. A little fermented tang from the milk, cuts through the bar and balances out the sweetness. The bar has a long and irresistible raisin finish with hints of butterscotch.
The beans: A rare criollo cacao is used. The beans are naturally very pale, with a fine delicate aroma.
The Maker: Cacaosuyo is a chocolate maker with a simple mission: to make the best chocolate in Peru. That’s a lofty ambition, but the Cacaosuyo team have devoted the last three years of their lives to it.
6. Friis Holm- O’Payo, Nicaragua 50% Milk (ICA Milk Winner 2020-21)
The Bar: A creamy, fragrant and fruity milk chocolate.
The Beans: Friis Holm have used a blend of Nicaraguan beans from a co-operative in Waslala, in the nature reserve in the mountains of northeastern Nicaragua.
The Maker: Mikkel Friis Holm is a maker fascinated with genetics, and ensures he chooses the best varieties with the highest flavour potential. Read further about Friis Holm here.
7. Qantu- Oh La Vache! 60% Dark Milk (ICA Micro-Batch Winner 2020-21)
The Bar: An aroma of dates and plums is joined by caramel, raisins and honey on the tongue, with a finish that keeps going and going.
The Beans: The beans in this bar come from the Norandino Cooperative in the Piura Valley of northern Peru. This well-sized cooperative has managed to establish a market for its high-quality beans and dissociate from the market price.
8. Tcho- 54% Dark Milk (ICA Micro-batch Winner 2019)
TCHO – SeriousMilk Cacao£5.95
The Bar: This bar has a wonderfully smooth texture, a deep, fudgey chocolate flavour and a gentle fruity note. It is also certified kosher, organic and gluten free.
The Beans: The beans used in this bar come from Peru and Ecuador.
The Maker: Set up by the original founders of WIRED magazine, San Francisco-based TCHO take a scientific approach to everything they do. Probes within the fermenting beans in Peru upload detailed data back to TCHO HQ, which is analysed alongside local weather reports to help control the fermentation to bring out the best flavours of the beans.
9. Morin- Esmereldas, Ecuador 48% Milk Chocolate (ICA Micro-batch Winner 2019)
The Bar: Morin crafts a luscious milk chocolate, blending excellent flavourful cacao with creamy milk.
The Beans: The cacao used is grown by the Salazar family in the cloud forests of Costa Esmereldas.
The Maker: The prestigious Morin family have been making chocolate in France since 1884 and the company is now run by Franck Morin. Read more about Morin here.
10. Castronovo, Tumaco Colombia Dark Milk (ICA 2019 Winner)
The Bar: You will be hit upfront with citrus and honey notes, followed by a complex floral aftertaste.
The Beans: This bar is made from beans grown in Tumaco, a south-western province on the border with Ecuador known for its hot and humid climate. Blessed with bountiful rivers and heavy rainfall, tropical jungles and mangrove forests flourish, bringing with them the extraordinary diversity of plants that helps to give cocoa beans such complexity of flavour.
The Maker: This is the second appearance on our list for Castronovo; read about Denise’s story here.
Taste a selection of the best
Now you’ve learned a little about the amazing award-winning chocolate in our top ten list, here’s your chance to try some yourself! We’ve put together a selection of the above bars, dive in and try some world class milk chocolates.
Cocoa Runners – Top Milk Box£27.50