July 28th is National Milk Chocolate Day. Not to be confused with chocolate milk; which is lucky enough to have its own dubious holiday!
Milk chocolate accounts for over 85% of the chocolate eaten in the United States. It is the solid chocolate made with milk, milk powder or condensed milk.
In the 1870s, Swiss candy maker Daniel Peter used condensed milk to develop solid milk chocolate which had only been available as a drink. Mr. Peter had formed a strong friendship with his neighbor, Henry Nestle, who had developed a process to make baby food in which he used what was then called “milky flour.” He used Nestle’s processes to help create solid milk chocolate as we know it today.
Made of cocoa solids — cocoa paste and cocoa butter — mixed with dry or condensed milk and sugar, milk chocolate is one of the most common types of chocolates available around the world.
Not all milk chocolate is created equal. In the U.S. chocolate is required to have only 10% cocoa solids while in Europe the percentage is as much as 25%, no doubt explaining the superior taste of imported chocolate.
In addition, some chocolate is formulated to hold its shape on grocery store shelves while other bars, known as “couverture” are meant to melt easily. This chocolate contains more cocoa butter and will be shiny and smooth as it melts and hardens. We prefer this type of chocolate for truffles, chocolate cheese logs and other chocolate confections.
Milk Chocolate Mousse
8 ounces milk chocolate couverture, plus more for grating
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Set aside to cool a little.
Whip the cream with an electric mixer on high for about a minute. Turn the mixer to low while adding the sugar, then turn back to high and whip to stiff peaks.
Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl and add the vanilla.
Next, temper the eggs by adding a little of the melted chocolate. Then pour the eggs back into the bowl of melted chocolate and stir to combine. Fold in three-quarters of the whipped cream (refrigerate the remaining whipped cream for serving). Spoon the mousse into serving glasses or bowls and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Serve the mousse with dollops of whipped cream and garnish with grated chocolate.
Milk Chocolate Truffles
1 pound milk chocolate couverture, finely chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons coffee liquor
1 cup (about) unsweetened cocoa powder
Stir first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler set over simmering water until smooth. Remove from over water. Whisk in coffee liquor. Cool 15 minutes. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cocoa powder on a plate. Use a small ice cream scoop to portion chocolate mixture onto prepared sheet, forming 1-inch mounds. Dust your hands with cocoa powder; roll chocolate truffles between your palms, forming smooth balls, then roll in cocoa powder to coat lightly. Return to sheet.
Cover with foil; chill truffles until firm, at least 2 hours. Let stand at room temperature until slightly softened before serving.
Truffles can be made in advance and frozen until needed. Return to room temperature before serving.
Ice Cream Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces milk chocolate couverture, chopped in chunks
Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chocolate, stirring, until it’s melted and smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.