Whilst many of us can’t refuse a bit of white chocolate, how much do you know about the sweet treat?
White chocolate is a dream for those with a sweet tooth. Its creamy, velvety taste is a great alternative for those who find the deep cocoa flavours of milk and dark chocolate slightly too rich, or if they just want something a little different. You may be a longstanding aficionado of white chocolate – but have you ever wondered how to make white chocolate?
Compared to dark and milk varieties, white chocolate is a relatively ‘modern’ invention. Whilst Chocolatiers Fry’s of Bristol made the first commercially available chocolate bar in England as early as 1847, it wasn’t until the 1930s that white chocolate graced our shelves after Nestle released the Milkybar.
Today, white chocolate is a well-loved treat that many of us can’t quite get enough of. It’s no wonder you might be tempted to try your hand at making your very own bar of white at home…
What is white chocolate?
White chocolate is made from ingredients that are extracted from the cacao plant. Chocolate nibs – dried, fermented and roasted bits of cacao beans – are ground to create a fine paste known as ‘chocolate liquor’. This paste is then put under large amounts of pressure, which separates the mixture into two of chocolate’s main ingredients: cocoa solids and cocoa butter (the fat extracted from the beans).
Cocoa solids give chocolate that deep, complex taste and darker colour. Cocoa butter, on the other hand, is a natural vegetable fat that melts at 34-38℃ and is the element of chocolate that gives it the perfect melt in your mouth texture. Milk and dark chocolate bars all contain a mixture of the two ingredients. However, their white counterpart eschews the cocoa solids for an indulgent cocoa butter experience.
By adding milk and sugar to the cocoa butter, you end up with a product that doesn’t contain the same bitter, savoury cocoa notes as its dark chocolate sibling. Instead, when you bite into a square of white chocolate, you’ll be met with an infinitely meltable, smooth and creamy concoction. Ideal for those looking for some unadulterated decadence, or if you find the bold flavours of a high cocoa content chocolate bar just a little too intense.
What is the main ingredient of white chocolate?
The main ingredient of white chocolate should be cocoa butter. Because cocoa butter is the ingredient that provides a smooth, creamy finish, look for bars that contain a high percentage of the stuff. We use 36% cocoa butter in our white chocolate to make sure it’s as smooth as possible. Other chocolatiers use much less, but we think you deserve nothing but the best.
As white chocolate does not contain any cocoa solids, it has a much more subtle and delicate flavour than milk and dark varieties. Its flavour also depends on the type of cocoa bean used to make it, with some cocoa butters having a light, floral taste and others with a more classic creamy flavour. The texture is not dissimilar to milk chocolate, though the higher cocoa butter percentage does add a silkier feel in the mouth.
Can you make white chocolate at home?
At Hotel Chocolat, we can’t help but feel that we’ve found the perfect recipe for our white chocolate. Never too sweet, our white helps mellow our tart raspberry flavours, as in our Raspberry and Clotted Cream Selector, or adds a creamy backdrop in our Banana Smoothie Selector.
If you can’t quite make it to our stores to sample our white then you don’t have to suffer in silence. You can make your own creamy delight at home!
To make a bar of white chocolate you’ll need 40g of cocoa butter, 40g milk powder and 20g icing sugar.
Begin by chopping your cocoa butter into small pieces. You’ll want to make it as small as possible for a fast and even belt. Make sure you don’t overhandle your cocoa butter, as the heat from your hand could cause the cocoa butter to become softer and more difficult to work with.
Next, place your cocoa butter over a bain-marie. Make sure the boiling water doesn’t touch the sides of your bowl and let the water simmer. Whisk or stir often for an even melt. Once melted, turn the hit off and whisk in your icing sugar, making sure you sift it beforehand to avoid any lumps. Finally, mix in your milk powder.
For extra smooth results transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture seems silky smooth. Transfer the mixture into a silicone mould or lined tray and leave it in the fridge to set. Cut, serve and enjoy.
Can you make it without cocoa butter?
If you can’t find any cocoa butter in stores, or simply don’t want to spend the money, you can make white chocolate without cocoa butter. You just need to swap this ingredient for dairy butter. Simply follow the process mentioned above, melting butter over a bain-marie and adding in the remaining ingredients. We suggest using high-quality butter for the best results – margarine won’t give you the same taste.
If you want to add subtle depth of flavour try deseeding and adding a vanilla pod alongside the butter. This will give a delicate, aromatic finish.
Can you make vegan white chocolate?
Yes! Follow the cocoa butter method and simply swap the ordinary milk powder for soy or coconut milk powder. The results will be very similar, meaning you can whip up a homemade vegan version for all the family to enjoy, no matter their dietary preferences.
What flavours go well with white chocolate?
Fruity tastes go great with white chocolate – we combine punchy passion fruit with a wave of white chocolate in our Passion Fruit Chocolate Bar Selector to create a heavenly balance between tanginess and creaminess. It can also be a great ingredient for softening other flavours. For example, our Mojito Chocolate Selector tempers zesty lime, fiery rum and breezy mint beautifully, bringing all flavours together into one delicious morsel.
White chocolate also goes well alongside a nutty crunch or a chewy fruit. Once melted, it has an astonishingly velvety texture, making it perfect to dip sweet and savoury bites into. Our Large Chocolate Dipping Adventure allows you to dunk both crunchy and soft snacks into a melted white chocolate pot, along with milk, dark and caramel chocolate pots.
Although white chocolate may not have an obvious flavour at first glance, this is not to say that it lacks any taste. The cocoa butter used results in a smooth, silky texture, with light hints of cocoa running through. If you prefer stronger flavours, you can blend it beautifully with other tastes and satisfy all your cravings in a single bite.
How to choose a quality white chocolate
Just like other types of chocolatey delights, the quality of white chocolate can be compromised if it contains a low percentage of cocoa bean products. If it has a reduced cocoa butter content, it’s likely that the bulk of the bar has been substituted with vegetable oil. You can tell if this is the case if the bar is strikingly pale in colour. Golden hues are what you should look for if you want the best tasting chocolate.
When in doubt, check the label. It should contain milk powder, sugar, cocoa butter and an emulsifier, along with any natural flavourings like peppermint oil or passion fruit juice. If there are any other oils, like vegetable or palm oil, try another brand.
It’s also a good idea to check the percentage of cocoa butter used; the EU standard requires any white chocolate to have a minimum of 20% cocoa butter. At Hotel Chocolat, we use a minimum of 36% cocoa butter for an astonishingly luxurious and smooth melt. We’ve looked, but we haven’t found another bar with as much cocoa butter and as little sugar as ours.
If we’ve piqued your interest in this creamy treat, then our extensive variety of luxury white chocolate has everything you need for a cocoa butter carousel!