What is blonde chocolate?

23 May 2022

Chocolate Knowledge

Creamy white chocolate with a caramel colour and notes of butterscotch — it can only be blonde chocolate

You may already be aware of several different, delicious chocolate types. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate — and even ruby chocolate — are delectable treats many of us enjoy daily. But have you heard of the new kid on the cacao block: blonde chocolate?

Let’s take a look at what blonde chocolate is and how you can enjoy it at home.

Melted blonde chocolate

Where did blonde chocolate come from?

Blonde chocolate was, for all intents and purposes, a happy accident! It’s a relatively recent addition to the market and hasn’t taken off quite as much as ruby chocolate — a confection made with unfermented or lightly fermented cacao beans that turn a vivid purple during the chocolate-making process.

However, blonde chocolate is a treat that’s sure to tempt lovers of creamy white chocolate.

The science behind blonde chocolate

It came about in 2004 when pastry chef, Frédéric Bau, accidentally left some white chocolate in a bain-marie for a few hours. The chocolate went through a biochemical process known as the ‘Maillard reaction.’ The Maillard reaction is similar to caramelisation — both involve a chemical reaction that browns the ingredients at hand. However, while caramelisation only impacts sugars, the Maillard reaction involves amino acids.

The result? Bau found that his white chocolate took on a pale brown colour. It also provided irresistible butterscotch, toffee, and shortbread tasting notes, unlike any chocolate he had eaten before.

Because Bau’s blonde chocolate had been created by mistake, it took chocolatiers eight years to reproduce the treat and master its nuanced flavour profile! Eventually, they did, and a few chocolate brands began to experiment with the new variety.

Despite the fact that blonde chocolate undergoes the Maillard reaction, not caramelisation, many people refer to it as ‘caramelised chocolate’ or even ‘toasted chocolate’. And it’s not hard to see why. With its golden, caramel colour and depth of flavour, brimming with toasted notes, it has a fuller taste than traditional white chocolate, which tends to be subtle and delicate.

Closeup of white chocolate squares

Is blonde chocolate considered real chocolate?

Some variations of chocolate have a bit of a question mark over them when it comes to official marketing and categorising.

According to UK legislation, to be marketed as ‘chocolate,’ a product must contain a minimum of 35% cocoa solids, (including at least 18% cocoa butter and 14% non-fat cocoa solids).

So what about white chocolate? After all, it contains no cacao solids, only cacao butter. Well, to be labelled as white chocolate in the UK, a product must contain at least 20% cocoa butter and 14% dry milk solids. As blonde chocolate uses white chocolate as its base, it is officially white chocolate but technically not chocolate… Either way, it’s delicious!

Can you make blonde chocolate at home?

Fancy trying your hand at making blonde chocolate yourself? You’ll just need a good quality white chocolate bar or white chocolate buttons. We recommend choosing white chocolate with a high cacao butter content for a gorgeous, glossy melt and creamy texture. At Hotel Chocolat, we ensure all our white chocolate slabs, batons, truffles, and treats contain a minimum of 36% cacao butter for a truly satisfying tasting experience.

The hob method

Along with your chocolate, you’ll also need:

  • A bain-marie (or a pan of water with a heat-proof glass bowl over it)
  • A cooking thermometer
  • A spatula

Whipping up a batch of blonde chocolate home is rather straightforward. In commercial processes, chocolate makers add caramelised milk powder (or milk crumb) to their white chocolate.

But you can simply break your white chocolate into even pieces and heat it in the bain-marie. Keep a consistent temperature of between 90℃ and 130℃. Stir continuously to get even results and keep an eye on the temperature with your thermometer. 

You’ll see the melted chocolate gradually turn into a beautiful golden colour and smell a heavenly aroma.

In the oven

An alternative method is to bake your white chocolate. However, it’s worth noting that this gives you less control over the precise temperature of your blonde chocolate, which can lead to burning. However, if you aren’t able to use the hob, you can pre-heat your oven to 120℃ (250℉). Break up the chocolate and scatter the pieces across a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Bake the chocolate for 10 minutes, until it softens and begins to melt. Then use an off-set spatula to smooth the melted chocolate.

Continue to put the chocolate back in the oven for 10-minute intervals, stirring it in between, until it turns a golden colour and has a smooth consistency. If it’s still a little lumpy, you can blend it in a food processor for a short time.

Cooling and tempering

Whichever way you choose to heat and create your blonde chocolate, you’ll want to temper it so it has a lovely glossy finish. Tempering is the process chocolatiers use to cool melted chocolate in a controlled manner so it becomes shiny and snappable rather than dull and crumbly.

Take your melted blonde chocolate off the heat and let it cool to around 27℃. By this point, it should have thickened slightly. 

Next, you’ll want to put it back on the heat. This is where the bain-marie method is preferable to using the oven. Heat your chocolate up again, stirring as you go, until it reaches 31℃ exactly. Once it reaches that temperature, you can pour it into moulds (or onto a flat tray) or use it to dip fruit and other nibbles into.

For more tips on how to melt chocolate, don’t forget to check out our guide to cooking with chocolate.

Woman cooking

White chocolate and caramel treats

In many ways, blonde chocolate is still finding its feet in the chocolatier world. If you like the idea of delicious caramel notes and aromas of toffee and fresh-baked shortbread but you’re not sure about blonde chocolate, why not explore some other options.

At Hotel Chocolat, we love trying out different flavour combos and have found that caramel and white chocolate are indeed a match made in heaven. Our Blondie Selector brings together caramelised sugar, custard white chocolate, and a crispy wafer-packed pecan praline for a treat that’s sweet and sumptuous without being sickly. Meanwhile, our Caramel Cheesecake Macarons make the most of our caramel-milk recipe and temper the sweetness with a tangy mascarpone whip.

Will you have a go at making some blonde chocolate?