Milk chocolate is produced by combining cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, milk, vanilla and sugar, and lecithin (an emulsifier). The milk used is either condensed or dry solids, depending on the manufacturer.
Condensed milk was invented by Henri Nestlé in the mid 1800's. It was first used in chocolate in the 1870's by Swiss confectioner Daniel Peter.
In the United States, milk chocolate must contain at least 10% liquor, 3.7% milk fats, and 12% milk solids. In Europe, EU regulations specify that it must contain at least 25% cocoa solids. A good-quality one will have at least 33% cocoa solids. Most mass-produced varieties have less.
It's typically much sweeter than dark chocolate, has a lighter color, and a less pronounced chocolate taste. Many popular candy bars use this type of chocolate. This is probably why it's the most familiar type and is known to be America's favorite.
Different regions of the world have their own formulation preferences for this chocolate. The quality and amounts of the cacao, milk, and sugar used and the techniques employed determine whether or not it has a superb mouthfeel and flavor.
European manufacturers generally use more condensed milk, whereas American and British manufacturers use a milk/sugar mixture.
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