Is it chocolate? Is it purely artificial, or can it be a genuine delicacy?
What is white chocolate in the first place!
In short, it is one of three widely-recognized types of chocolate, joined therein by dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
White chocolate is known for its sweet flavor, creamy texture, and rich chocolate aroma that works as well in heightening sweet dishes as it does as a snack on its own.
We have answers for you, whether you’re looking for information, recipes, or just a justification for your love of this deliciously sweet stuff.
When you make white chocolate, you start in the same way you do when making traditional or brown chocolate.
You start with a cocoa bean – remove it from its pod, then ferment it.
The fermentation develops much of the chocolate flavor we’ve all grown to love.
Once the fermentation process is complete, they are dried, roasted, and cleaned.
After that, the chocolatier cracks open the bean and discards the shell, resulting in what’s known as cacao nibs.
The chocolatier then grinds up the nibs, creating a paste-like substance called chocolate liquor.
Here, at the point of chocolate liquor, we arrive at the difference between white and traditional chocolate.
The liquor separates naturally into two categories: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
The solids provide much of the beloved chocolate flavor in which many have come to find obsession, classically seen in places like chocolate bars and cocoa powder.
The butter, however, is the fatty part of the liquor that creates the rich, luxurious mouthfeel that many find equally delightful.
When making traditional chocolate, you typically separate the solids from the butter, but you then reintroduce the two of them before arriving at the final product: a combination of solids and butter.
In white chocolate, however, you do not reintroduce the solids.
Thus it has all the richness of chocolate but opens up the door to an entirely new flavor palate.
That is the reason it lacks the same color as traditional chocolate – the dark color arises from the solids mixing into the butter.
This cocoa butter is then mixed with milk, sugar, and sometimes other flavorings like vanilla, vegetable oil, and lecithins to arrive at the delicious white chocolate we all know and love.
Is white chocolate real chocolate?
Many people claim that white chocolate cannot be “real chocolate” because it excludes chocolate solids—the primary flavor source of chocolate—from its recipe.
But that belief is misleading.
According to the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, a product must be made up of at least 20% cocoa butter content to be legally dubbed white chocolate.
Many other countries have even stricter restrictions.
It simply depends on how you define chocolate.
If chocolate is the flavor associated with cocoa solids, then white chocolate does not count.
If chocolate means confections derived from the cacao bean, then white chocolate certainly counts!
It’s also worth considering that hamburgers have no ham in them, and milkshakes are seldom shaken – but we still call them by those names!
What are the best white chocolates?
This certainly depends on what your particular tastes are, but some guidelines will help you to separate high-quality white chocolate from products that aren’t worth your time or money.
In general, the most important ingredient in a bar of white chocolate is cocoa butter.
If you see an item with high cocoa butter content, that is an excellent sign that it is good white chocolate – especially if it’s the first (and thus primary) ingredient listed.
If the ingredient list contains a long list of extraneous products and flavoring additives, that’s a sign that the manufacturer does not trust the quality of their cocoa butter to carry the flavor of the item.
This means it will likely taste more like sugar and vanilla than the distinctively delicious taste of cocoa butter. So look for this when you are looking for your white chocolate chips.
Things to avoid
Unless you’re vegan and looking specifically for a sugar-free or vegan substitute (more on that in our FAQs section), make sure the item you’re looking at is labeled “white chocolate.”
Because regulatory agencies have rules for what counts as white chocolate, many companies will try to skirt around those regulations with clever alternative names if their recipe doesn’t fit the standard.
Take, for example, Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme bars.
There is a good reason they are called Cookies ‘N’ Creme and not a white chocolate bar (or chocolate of any kind) – there is only a trace amount of chocolate in them (less than 2%).
They are rather made of sugar, milk, corn syrup, and several flavorings.
Don’t get me wrong – I love those things.
But when it comes to quality white chocolate, you want to make sure that, at the very least, it is white chocolate!
Can you make white chocolate at home?
You can indeed make white chocolate at home!
You just need to have food-grade cocoa butter, powdered sugar, and milk powder, as well as the capacity to make a double boiler, a silicone spatula (other materials risk putting extra moisture into your chocolate, which won’t be helpful), and a flexible chocolate mold.
- Start by melting the cocoa butter in the double boiler, stirring it steadily throughout the melting process.
- Sift in the powdered sugar, then the milk powder.
- If you want to add in vanilla or other flavorings, turn off the heat and do so now.
- Once your liquid chocolate is prepared, put it in a food processor to grind down a little more and bring more consistency to its texture.
- Finally, pour your chocolate into your mold, then chill it – either in the freezer for 30 minutes or in the fridge for 2 hours.
As a brief note on flavoring, we don’t recommend that you use any water-based flavorings – instead, stick with oil-based items.
How long has white chocolate been around?
White chocolate was first made commercially available in the 1930s – about 100 years after the first dark chocolate bar had been invented, and about 30 years after the first milk chocolate bar had been.
Nestlé produced and sold the first known white chocolate product in Europe in the aftermath of World War I.
According to the company, it was produced as a way to take advantage of their excess cocoa butter.
Some sources claim that the first white chocolate product in the United States was created in New Hampshire after an American had seen something similar in Europe during World War I.
Either way, the first mass-produced white chocolate bar in the US came in 1948, with the Alpine White chocolate bars from Nestlé.
The contemporarily popular White Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Nut Cookie seems to have come about in the 1980s, with the first clear recipe for it being published by Mrs. Fields in 1987.
The next major event in the confection’s history came in 1993 when Hershey’s began producing one of the best-known commercial white chocolate candies: the Hugs white chocolate version of their classic Kisses.
Soon after, white chocolate versions of other popular candies like Reese’s and Kit Kats became available.
In 2002, the US Food and Drug Administration joined the movement to recognize the sweet as the form of chocolate that it is, releasing a legal definition for it that included minimum amounts of cocoa butter, milk, and sugar.
Is ruby chocolate the same as white chocolate?
In short, no – ruby chocolate is different from white chocolate.
But since its manufacturer, Barry Callebaut, keeps its recipe a closely-held secret, we don’t know in what precise ways it is different.
As far as we can tell, ruby chocolate’s distinctiveness does not come in its ingredients or method of preparation, but rather from the uniqueness of the cacao bean from which its ingredients are sourced.
According to the company, they make ruby chocolate from the “ruby cacao bean” in Brazil, Ecuador, and the Ivory Coast.
These beans are grown in specific conditions to be influenced by their environment, much like a wine-making vineyard would treat its grapes.
Best white chocolate recipes
Whether you’re an amateur dessert aficionado interested in white chocolate chip cookies or a professional pastry chef looking to expand your palate, white chocolate can be an excellent addition to your meal.
There are so many different recipes that use this ingredient to a new and delightful effect.
Check out, for example, this White Chocolate Brownie Recipe that has set my mouth-watering ever since I ran into it.
For something more complex, check out this White Chocolate Tart with Cardamom and Raspberry Dust from the BBC’s Good Food blog – it looks fascinating and tantalizing.
Spend with Pennies has a much simpler option: No-Bake White Chocolate S’mores Bars that look incredibly tasty while also being relatively inexpensive and quick to prepare.
White chocolate is already a decadent ingredient, but this White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake recipe takes that to the next level with a beautiful raspberry swirl and a rich oreo cookie crust.
You’ve heard of hot chocolate, certainly, but have you ever had white hot chocolate?
The preparation is fairly similar to traditional hot chocolate, but the creamy texture of this White Hot Chocolate Recipe lends a whole new element of extravagance to the classic drink.
Sweet and salty fusions are always a delight, but the cocoa butter focus of white chocolate allows it to impact those recipes in a new way.
That impact is emphasized in this recipe for Potato Chip Clusters and the Ultimate White Chocolate Popcorn Recipe, which makes extensive and excellent use of melted white chocolate.
Frequently Asked Questions
This confection can be a confusing one, so it’s perfectly understandable if you still have questions!
We’ve answered some of the most common ones below.
What is white chocolate?
In short, white chocolate is a cacao-based confection made by combining cocoa butter with sugar, milk, and occasionally other additives.
Is white chocolate actually chocolate?
The answer to this question depends on who you ask.
While it doesn’t contain the cocoa solids that make up traditional chocolate, it is still made from products of the cacao bean.
Specifically, for it to be legally called white chocolate, it requires a minimum percentage of cocoa butter (20% in the United States).
What does white chocolate taste like?
The taste of white chocolate can vary as much as its ingredients can, but it is almost always sweet and rich, with a lovely creamy texture and often notes of vanilla.
Is white chocolate vegan?
Sadly, white chocolate is not vegan.
In the United States, at least 3.5% of it needs to be milk fat and at least 14% of it needs to be its total milk solids for this treat to be legally considered white chocolate.
While the precise ratios will vary from place to place, every regulatory agency we reviewed included some level of milk in their ingredient requirements.
That said, several chocolatiers create vegan variants of white chocolate, typically using milk substitutes like coconut milk, oat milk, or soy milk.
Even though these vegan variants are not legally white chocolate, they often capture the spirit of the confection much better than non-vegan commercial white chocolate.
That is true because vegan white chocolates are almost always made by craft chocolatiers, who inevitably focus much more on the cocoa butter flavor than the mass-market varieties.
Does white chocolate have caffeine?
No, the caffeine present in traditional chocolate comes from the cocoa solids present within it.
Since white chocolate lacks these cocoa solids, there is no caffeine in it.
This fact makes white chocolate an excellent alternative for cocoa lovers who react poorly to caffeine.
Because this treat contains much of the rich, distinctive, feeling of chocolate, caffeine-sensitive consumers can use it to cope with the other troubles of traditional chocolate.
How to store white chocolate?
Like many confections, white chocolate is best stored in a cool, dry space.
Try to store it between 60 and 75°F, keeping it wrapped tightly to minimize the air that is allowed to enter.
If you store it in this way, it should last for approximately a year before losing its peak quality.
The bottom line
White chocolate is a type of chocolate that requires the chocolatier to separate the solids from the butter in the liquor process.
A white chocolate recipe only calls for the cacao butter rather than including the solids as well.
So white chocolate is chocolate!
It just leaves out a little bit of what traditional chocolate uses.