Talk about irony. A few short years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to get me to touch a block of white chocolate with a 10-foot pole, and now? Now it’s become an incredible luxury, a culinary diamond in my eyes, and I’ve become completely enamored with its simple existence. Simple indeed, because as I’m sure anyone who’s been around the block with a hunk of chocolate knows that the white stuff has no actual cocoa solids, and thus remains pale as freshly fallen snow. Most manufacturers add dry milk powder and other undesirable elements to their white chips and chunks, to increase shelf stability and augment their supplies of pricey cocoa butter… Or cheap, trans-fatty hydrogenated oils, making for that cheap, waxy crap that turned me away in the first place. Insipid and unctuous at best, it’s no shock that most people would consider shelling out their hard earned cash for this pallid imitator when given a darker option.
Before you flip to the next interesting blog and pass this post over, let me venture a guess that you’ve never had real white chocolate. Made with cocoa butter, this stuff is like the nectar of the gods- Creamy, sweet, with some slightly floral notes in the background. It makes my heart flutter just thinking about it.
This isn’t to say that I’ve developed the end-all, be-all recipe for creating this confection; There’s still plenty of room for improvement, and I would love to hear what others find through their own trials. I would love to keep on experimenting for months, honing it to an exact and simple science… But the trouble with using real cocoa butter, as those money-savvy businesses discovered, is that it costs a small fortune. I’m not going to lie, as this stuff doesn’t come cheap, but for an occasional indulgence, I think you could find it a worthwhile investment.
Still with me? Oh good, thanks for your patience. The first critical step to making the white chocolate is: Finding good cocoa butter. I know, I can’t stop harping about this stuff but it’s really important to pick up high quality, food grade cocoa butter. As a popular ingredient in body lotions and lip balms, some of it comes with fillers and undesirable additives, so shop carefully if you search locally. Next, you’ll want to invest in a decent mold. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t even need to be bar-shaped, you just want somewhere to park your molten chocolate so that it can cool and solidify into a usable shape. Hell, even silicon ice cube trays could work!
After collecting all of the software and hardware, the procedure will seem far easier than that preliminary hunt, so don’t worry, it only gets easier from here.
Place your cocoa butter in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it for just a minute or two, so that it liquefies. Be sure to keep an eye on it at all times, as it has a much lower melting point than a bar of finished chocolate. Once completely melted, quickly stir in the remaining ingredients, being thorough so as to break up any clumps of sugar and completely dissolve everything into the molten fat. Don’t worry if it looks rather yellow at this stage, just pour everything into your molds and it will be alright. Tap the molds on the counter lightly so as to remove any air bubbles, and don’t even think about touching them again for the next few hours while they set up. I highly recommend parking them in the fridge to speed up the process… Just don’t forget about them in there!
Congratulations, you have your very own white chocolate! Now what, you may ask? Well, I still wouldn’t recommend munching on it like you would a standard candy bar because it’s tooth-achingly sweet on it’s own, but add it into other recipes and it will shine.
Try making a good, tried and true chocolate cookie recipe and sub in white chocolate chunks for half of the standard chips.
Looking for something a bit more special? Well, why not try making a white chocolate mousse instead? Granted, it will up the cost a bit more, as whippable soy cream is still a pricey commodity, but think of how impressed your sweetie (or your own sweet tooth) will be.
White Chocolate Mousse
Melt your white chocolate with 2.5 ounces of the cream, stir vigorously to combine in a smooth liquid, and let cool for 10 minutes or so. In your stand mixer, whip the remaining cream for 3 – 4 minutes to form soft peaks, and slowly stream in melted chocolate mixture down the side. It will become some what liquid-y and appear to have gone awry, but try not to panic. Sprinkle the agar on top, whisk to fully combine, and place the whole bowl in your fridge for 30 minutes. Once thoroughly chilled, whip for 5 – 6 more minutes until fluffy but firm and serve. At this stage you could also pipe it into bowls and refrigerate for up to 6 more hours before serving.
This stuff is incredibly, deceptively rich- While it feels as light as a cloud on the tongue, it is also unbelievably luscious and creamy. I would suggest serving it with a good bowlful of berries to cut it, or a small dollop on top of hot chocolate would be a delicious addition as well. Top a cupcake with it and you’ll have one intensely satisfying, adult dessert, far too mature for the kids to partake in. The possibilities just go on… And wouldn’t you like to discover them for yourself?
Don’t think that I’ve slighted you for this Valentine’s Day either- White Day, celebrated primarily in Japan, is only a month later on March 14, where white chocolate is given back to any admirers who stopped by with some dark chocolate the previous holiday. So get to it, and try some real white chocolate!