Is white chocolate really chocolate?
In our last blog we wrote about the three main types of cocoa beans – criollo, fosteraoro and trinitario. That may be a little bit specialised to all but the most ardent chocolate enthusiast. So this time we’d like to move the conversation on to the finished product.
Most people know about the three main types of chocolate; white, milk and dark. And most people have a pretty good idea about which is their favourite type of chocolate. Apart from, that is, those of us, who just say they like all types of chocolate!
On our chocolate making courses, we love to introduce students to different types of chocolate and ‘Origins’ chocolate made from a single country and plantation. Think whisky and single malts! When they’re tasting white chocolate, knowledgeable students often ask ‘is white chocolate really chocolate?’
What is white chocolate made of ?
White chocolate is technically not real chocolate as it doesn't contain any cocoa solids, but it is made primarily of cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. White chocolate must contain at least 14% milk solids, including 3.5% milk fat. and no more than 55% sugar or other sweeteners.
It retains a popularity all of its own as a vanilla-scented indulgence or as a decorative contrast to dark chocolates. In the United States, white chocolate must contain a minimum of 20% cocoa fat. (This was to stop many manufacturers from using only vegetable oil or other fats instead of including cocoa butter).
As a buying guide, they advise that better brands of white chocolate are made with a high proportion of cocoa butter and real vanilla. Avoid anything with vanillin
So, white chocolate is high in cocoa butter, which gives it an ivory like appearance. This subtle taste means that it often goes well with darker chocolate desserts such as pouring White Chocolate Crème Anglaise on to a chocolate cake.
Does white chocolate include cocoa butter?
Is white chocolate really chocolate? As one question invariably leads to another, it’s time to talk about Cocoa Butter.
Cocoa butter comes from the process of how cocoa powder is made. When roasted cacao beans are ground into a paste (called chocolate liquor) this is then put through a strong hydralic press that separates the cacao mass from the cocoa butter. So, it’s best to think of cocoa butter as the fat removed from chocolate liquor after it is pressed
Cocoa butter is often found in many of the ingredients in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries since it has the perfecting melting point.
This is because, Cocoa butter is the primary ingredient that allows chocolate to remain solid at room temperature and at the same time melt in the mouth, as its melting point is just below the average human body temperature.
Lipstick is one example. So, for the ladies, at least, you may be putting something akin to chocolate to your lips, more often that you realised! It can also be found in cosmetic ointments to soften and protect chapped hands and lips and in pharmacies for coating pills.
Why is white chocolate not white?
White chocolate should never be pure white. Since cocoa butter is ivory-coloured, real white chocolate should be off-white as well. Products labelled as ‘white bar’ or ‘white coating’ are often not white chocolate and just tastes plain sugary and should not be used in recipes that call for white chocolate.
So, if it is pure white in colour, it means instead of cocoa butter, vegetable oil or some other fat was used (though some manufacturers get around the colour problem by adding artificial colouring).
Due to the higher fat and sugar content, white chocolate melts very easily and at a lower temperature than dark chocolate, but more care should be taken when using it. Avoid excessive or direct heat.
Is white chocolate really chocolate?
For most chocolate connoisseurs, the answer is probably ‘No!’
Chocolate is a range of products made with chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and cocoa solids, among other ingredients. Depending on the proportions of the cocoa, there are several types of chocolate like dark chocolate, milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate, as we described earlier.
White chocolate doesn’t have two of the key ingredients, chocolate liquor and cocoa solids. These are the main cocoa ingredients flavours in any type of real chocolate.
Buing good quality white chocolate
In reality, white chocolate as we know (and love it) is deeply ingrained in our human psyche as well as our taste buds. At it’s worst and most commercial, it may be sugary and sweet, but cocoa butter has many interesting properties and uses. In the animal world, the ivory trade is a protected business.
Good quality white chocolate – ivory in appearance, may not be quite so rare and prized but it’s well worth searching for. And it does mix well with dark, more earthier tasting chocolates. Try that White Chocolate Crème Anglaise.
At Cocoa & Heart, we love using white chocolate for our children chocolate lollipops and other chocolate novelty gifts. It's fun to colour and flavour and we make sure we use not too sweet brand of top quality Belgium chocolate to make these. We also use 40% cocoa solids white chocolate in our Chocolate Courses to create amazing chocolate ganache. This particular type of white chocolate is very grown up version, which has a rich taste of dark chocolate and coffee.
So, you see, you can find a good quality white chocolate and for that I'm very happy to call it a chocolate!
Happy chocolate tasting!
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