Is White Chocolate Really Chocolate?

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What is White Chocolate?

There are three main types of finished chocolate used by professional and amateur chefs around the world—white, milk and dark.  White chocolate is made just like milk and dark chocolate–the difference is the ingredients.   White is the only type of chocolate that does not contain cocoa solids, the dark paste derived from the cocoa bean during production.

White Chocolate REALLY is Chocolate!

Contrary to pervasive rumors, white chocolate IS actually chocolate.  Quite simply, white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, some form of dry milk and sugar.  Some manufacturers add vanilla and in many cases, also add soy lecithin as an emulsifier which stabilizes the chocolate.  In 2002, the FDA amended its standards of identity, enabling white chocolate to be called chocolate if, among other requirements, it is made from a minimum of 20% cocoa butter (by weight), a minimum of 15% milk powder and a maximum of 55% sweetener (generally sugar or maltitol for high-quality sugar-free chocolate). Any other formulation must still be called confectionary coatings.  The most popular coating readily available in many markets is Almond Bark.

Thank You Nestle!

The complete history of white chocolate is lost forever, but this much is known–white chocolate first appeared in Switzerland in the 1930s.  It was reportedly invented by Nestle to use excess cocoa butter (although documentation does not identify who created it).

There is some information that suggests that the first U.S. white chocolate was produced just after World War I by an American who saw it an Europe and brought the idea back to his home in New Hampshire.  It was first popularly distributed in America in 1948 with the introduction of Nestle’s Alpine White Chocolate bark which contained white chocolate and almonds.  this bar was only recently discontinued as part of the Nestle chocolate line.

And Now the Rest of the Story

Hershey’s entered the white market in 1993 with their white-chocolate Kiss called HUGS.  Today, just about every major chocolate maker produces a bar (usually, plain, but sometimes flavored), and many a chef uses white chocolate couverture in the creation of delicious desserts.  Its ivory color makes it a lovely contrast against dark chocolate backgrounds of cakes and bonbons.  Certain flavors marry better with white chocolate than they do with dark chocolate–which leads to new flavor combinations and recipes.

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