In Praise of White Chocolate
The Non-Chocolate Chocolate
What used to be the poor stepsister to chocolate has become a delicacy in its own right. You can find it everywhere from the most expensive chocolatier to the grocery store checkout lane. This stuff is so popular that people rub it all over their bodies (that is not an R-rated statement; I'll bet you have some cocoa butter somewhere in the house).
What's the best way to consume white chocolate, however the form? Slowly and with someone you are very fond of (okay, that one may be a little bit PG).
What is it?
White chocolate is made of cocoa butter from cocoa processing, milk, sugar, and usually vanilla and lecithin. It's like the chocolate without the cocoa. It has an ivory color and a subtle,rich flavor. And it is incredibly sweet. Personally, I think a bar of white chocolate is way too rich and sweet to consume by itself. The real value of white chocolate comes when it's used in combination with other ingredients. It is a lovely flavor on its own when the texture is toned down a little in cakes, cookies, or mousses. White chocolate is beautiful paired with strong flavors, like raspberries, other tart fruits, coffee and of course dark chocolate.
White Chocolate Cranberry Bark
High quality white chocolate with cranberries and orange peel
This is good stuff! The super-sweetness of the white chocolate is balanced by the tart cranberries and orange peel. And it's easy to make.
6 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons candied orange peel, finely chopped
Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper, or use a silicone baking sheet, and set aside.
Melt white chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the cranberries and 1 tablespoon of the candied orange peel.
Pour chocolate mixture onto the lined baking sheet and spread very thin into a roughly 12-by-10-inch rectangle. Sprinkle remaining cranberries and orange peel over top. Let set in a cool, dry location. Once bark is hard, break up into shards.
Is it Really Chocolate? Who Cares
In the United States, white chocolate must be at least 20% cocoa butter (by weight), at least 14% total milk solids, at least 3.5% milk fat, and less than 55% sugar or other sweeteners. White chocolate cannot be called "chocolate" because it does not contain cocoa solids.
We're talking semantics here. I think the chocolate guys should just let white chocolate into the club as an honorary member and stop all the arguing.
More fun information about chocolate.
White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Recipe
2 cups crushed Oreos
1 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
6 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring occasionally until smooth.
In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate. Pour half of batter over crust.
Microwave raspberry jam on high for 30 seconds. Spoon 3 tablespoon over batter in pan. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry jam.
A tip for prettier cheesecakes: Wrap foil around the bottom of the pan and place the pan on a cookie sheet. Fill the cookie sheet with water. Bake the cheesecake for an hour then turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for another hour. This prevents the cake from cracking and sinking in the middle.
White chocolate has been popular in Europe for decades. White chocolate was first introduced in Switzerland in the years after World War I. While the delicacy has been available in the United States in specialty shops, Nestle was largely responsible for making white chocolate a mainstream candy item found in the grocery store, introducing its white chocolate bar in 1984.
Read more about the history of chocolate.
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies Recipe
I think this may be the recipe that really put white chocolate into the mainstream. Thanks, Mrs. Fields.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
12 oz. white chocolate chunks, chopped
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
Heat oven to 375 F (350 F for dark pans). In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt with electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beat well. Stir together flour, and the baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in white chocolate and macadamia nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. (Edges are golden brown and center is set.) Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool completely.
Best Sites on the Web about White chocolate (besides this one, of course)
Chocolate.com A delicious site that sells all things chocolate, including Fair Trade chocolate. Along the way, the site includes helpful tips and information.
Godiva Need I say more?
Bittersweetblog.wordpress.com Hannah Kaminsky has a great blog. Also has beautiful photos and very tasty recipes.
Aphrodite Handmade Chocolate Shop and learn at the same time. Read all about the aphrodesiac properties of chocolate.
The Best Chocolate Dessert Recipes Ever The name doesn't lie. Classic recipes like brownies and truffles, oh my.
The Nibble.comWhich brands of white chocolate are tastiest, creamiest, yummiest?
White Chocolate Coffee Recipe
This is heavenly (and I'm not even a coffee person)
3 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 cups half n half
2 cups hot coffee
Heat the milk and chocolate together in a saucepan until melted and smooth. Stir in coffee and serve with whipped cream on top.
Recipe for White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies on YouTube - This is a simple and delicious recipe.
Dark vs. White - It seems people have a strong opinion about the color of their chocolate
Which is Better?
Beware of Imitations
Not all that glitters is gold
Some products look like white chocolate. White chocolate contains cocoa butter. These imitations are made with vegetable oil. Don't be fooled. Taste them side by side sometime, and you won't need any more persuasion. The cocoa butter gives white chocolate a unique mouth feel. It's alot like that incredibly creamy feel of good milk chocolate in your mouth, except way more. Really. It's that mouth-feel that people love. You just don't get that with vegetable oil. Not convinced? Go ahead, I'll wait while you go into the kitchen and take a chug of Mazola and swish it around in your mouth.
How Is White Chocolate Made?
Hint: It has nothing to do with albino cacao trees.
Cacao trees grow in the equatorial areas of South America, Asia, and Africa. The seeds of the tree's fruits are the cocoa beans, which are harvested, then fermented for about a week and dried. The beans are then roasted and shelled. The beans are ground, producing a thick liquid called chocolate liquor (this doesn't have any alcohol in it). This is the foundation for unsweetened chocolate (you know, that stuff that you saw in the fridge when you were a kid and took a bite, only to have to spit it out in the kitchen sink and walk around for an hour with a hideous taste in your mouth.
The chocolate liquid can also be pressed to extract the cocoa butter. The cocoa butter can be recombined with sugar, milk solids, vanilla and lecithin to make that rich confection that we know as white chocolate.
With the fat removed, the cocoa becomes a powder that is blended with the cocoa butter and other ingredients to make different kinds of chocolate. Plain chocolate is made of cocoa powder, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and sugar. Milk chocolate, of course, has milk added.
Don't Make Trouble
Cooking and baking with white chocolate can be tricky
When you are cooking, white chocolate needs to be treated with love and attention. To melt it, it needs to be chopped into quite small pieces. DO NOT try to melt a big ole' chunk of chocolate, dark or light. Melt slowly at a low temperature. White chocolate will scorch very easily. Stir often and stay focused.
It can also seize up. Doesn't that sound awful? If you heat it too fast or get just a tiny bit of water into the chocolate while you are melting it, you'll end up with a lumpy, grainy mess that will never melt, no matter how long you stand there.
Use a double boiler. Water goes in the bottom; chocolate goes in the top. Don't put too much water into the bottom, and don't boil the water; simmer gently.
If you melt by microwave, use 50% power and start with 30 to 45 seconds. Stir the chocolate well, and microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring after every trip into the oven. When the chocolate is almost melted, just keep stirring and let the residual heat melt the rest.
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White Chocolate Mousse
6 ounces white chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
8 egg whites (at room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
shaved semisweet dark chocolate (to garnish)
Slowly melt the chocolate in a double boiler over very low heat.
Whip the one and a half cups of heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add confectioner's sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Whip the egg whites in a bowl with the cream of tartar, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat).
When the melted chocoloate has cooled slightly, add the two tablespoons of heavy cream and stir to achieve a pouring consistency. Slowly add the chocolate mixture to the whipped cream, folding gently. Fold the egg whites and the chocolate/cream mixture together.
Chill for at least two hours. Garnish with shaved semisweet dark chocolate.
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