White Chocolate Isn’t Really Chocolate? Then What is it?

It’s September 22nd, which means it’s National White Chocolate Day! But did you know that it isn’t chocolate? And what is the process to make it?

How to Make It

First, ferment the cacao beans. Then dry, clean, and roast (much like coffee beans), and remove the shells. Once the cacao nibs are exposed they are ready to ground into a cocoa mass. The cocoa mass is liquefied into chocolate liquor and molded into whatever final shape the chocolatier desires. That chocolate liquor is a mix of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The main ingredient is cocoa butter, a pale yellow vegetable fat. And yes, that cocoa butter is the same as what you find in many lotions and lip balms to help moisturize your skin!

White Chocolate Isn’t Really Chocolate

Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter on its own doesn’t taste great. But, mixed with milk solids, milk fat, sugar, and vanilla, it transforms into white chocolate as we know it. In the United States, the FDA mandates that it must be made up of (by weight) at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% total milk solids, 3.5% milkfat, and no more than 55% sugar or other sweeteners. The FDA requirements were partly in response to petitions from Hershey Foods (yup, the chocolate bar king!).

Chocolate Manufacturers Association of America

The Chocolate Manufacturers Association of America wanted to stop other commercial manufacturers from making “imposter chocolate.” Some companies used cheaper vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter. The whiter your white confection is the more vegetable oil in the mixture. If ivory in color, it is considered to be of the highest quality. Different chocolatiers use different amounts of cocoa butter in their white chocolate recipes depending on what they want the final flavor to be.

What Changed in 1979?

Bakers, confectioners, and artisan chocolatiers have used this white confection in Europe. Saveur reported that “…it wasn’t until 1979 that the dining critic Gael Greene, describing “a pristine oval of mousse sitting in a pool of dark chocolate.” New York Magazine declared it, “the season’s new whimsy.” So, white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, but it sure is delicious!

Fun Fact

Here’s one more fun fact! The melting point of cocoa butter is high enough to keep white confection solid at room temperature. But it will still melt in your mouth. However, because the fats melt at different temperatures, when molten it can turn out lumpy—a frustration for many fanatics when decorating their desserts. So, even though white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, it’s still a fan favorite year over year!

White Chocolate Covered Treats

white chocolate covered strawberriesWhite chocolate-covered strawberries, caramel popcorn, pretzels, and swirl cheesecake are just a few of the delicious chocolate-covered gifts you will find at gourmetgiftbaskets.com!


Even More About Chocolate

How to Pair Wine With Chocolate



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