White chocolate bears somewhat of a misunderstood reputation. Many a person has claimed that white chocolate is not real chocolate at all, since it does not contain the cocoa solids (i.e. cocoa powder) that give milk and dark chocolate their brown hues. Others complain about white chocolate’s lack of flavor. But where did white chocolate’s bad reputation come from?
First, confectioner’s coating has often been confused with or mislabeled as white chocolate. This pure white candy coating is made with hydrogenated vegetable or animal fats – not cocoa butter – and its flavor simply does not compare to true white chocolate. When the FDA weighed in on the white chocolate debate in 2002, they not only declared white chocolate to be a legitimate type of chocolate, but also defined it as having to contain at least 20 percent cocoa butter. Real white chocolate made with cocoa butter will have an ivory hue, like in the above image, and much better flavor than confectioner’s coating.
Second, cocoa butter comes from the cocoa bean, just like cocoa solids! In fact, cocoa beans are over 50% cocoa butter, usually around 52-56%, depending on the variety of cocoa bean. Even though white chocolate does not contain cocoa solids, it is still a product of the cocoa bean. Undeodorized white chocolate’s flavor can actually be quite similar to milk chocolate. Most white chocolates have gone through the deodorization process, since the beans are coming from several different locations, and this helps to standardize the flavor. Unfortunately, this also tamps down the distinct flavors in white chocolate. There are not many manufacturers currently selling undeodorized white chocolate since it require beans from a a single origin. The most well-known brand of this style of white chocolate is El Rey’s Icoa, made from Venezuelan cocoa beans.
Our next post will be looking at the history of white chocolate!