Is white chocolate really chocolate?Jon Giordano
Do you know if white chocolate is really chocolate?
There are many opinions about white chocolate and if it should be considered “chocolate” at all. We will present you with both sides of the argument and let you decide – but one thing’s unanimous… it’s delicious!
But first let’s find out what happens to cocoa beans in the 1st place. When cocoa beans are removed from their pods, they are dried and fermented. Then roasted and cracked open from their shells – leaving only the cocoa nib. The nibs are then ground down into a paste called ‘chocolate liquor’. Chocolate liquor is not alcohol – ‘chocolate liquor’ just means a thick paste containing both cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
The liquor then gets divided into cocoa solids, and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is what gives chocolate its rich mouthfeel, and the solids hold most of the distinctive smell and taste. The cocoa butter (fat) is the most highly regarded byproduct of chocolate production, valued not only in chocolate manufacturing but also in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
White chocolate contains an abundance of cocoa butter, which comes straight from the cacao pod just like the solids do. Some high quality white chocolate can be up to 40% cocoa butter by mass – so considering it anything other than chocolate is splitting hairs.
White chocolate is made from sugar, cocoa butter, milk, vanilla, and sometimes lecithin. Some argue that because there is only cocoa butter, but not cocoa solids – that it should not be considered chocolate. The purists feel very strongly that because white chocolate lacks the component that defines real chocolate – and therefore it is a confection – not actual chocolate.
However, both the EU and the US have very strict guidelines about white chocolate, and the specific ingredients that are allowed to go into it. White chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids, 3.5% milkfat, and the maximum amount of sweeteners allowed is topped at 55%; additionally the regulation bans colorants.
There are also regulations which govern milk and dark chocolate which vary by country and mandate the amount of cocoa solids that must be used in the product in order to state the type of chocolate it is.
If you are looking for white chocolate, read the ingredients – even with these regulations we have seen companies calling an item ‘white chocolate’ when it is mostly fillers and oils. White chocolate is a fabulous canvas for chefs to create unique desserts and creatively play with subtle flavors that would be masked by the rich flavor of the cocoa solids.