What Is White Chocolate?

All about white chocolate

By definition, white chocolate is not actually chocolate. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, a product of the cocoa bean that is also used to produce chocolate. The cocoa butter, which does have a faint chocolate flavor is combined with milk, sugar and often other flavoring ingredients such as vanilla in order to create the creamy confection known as white chocolate.

In order to be labeled chocolate (as defined in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration) a product must also contain cocoa solids from chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor is not alcohol. Rather, it is the thick liquid produced when fermented, dried and roasted cocoa beans are shelled, then ground. This ground up inner bean is known as chocolate liquor and is the key ingredient in all of the chocolates on the market except for white chocolate.

When the chocolate liquor is pressed, the fat can be removed from it. This fat is called cocoa butter, and it is the primary ingredient in white chocolate. In plain chocolate, the cocoa butter is reblended with the cocoa solids from the separation process in order to make unsweetened chocolate. It may also be sweetened and blended with additional ingredients such as milk to make the chocolate confection we commonly eat. However, with white chocolate the cocoa butter is not reunited with the cocoa powder. Instead, sugar and milk are added to create the final treat. Since the caffeine in chocolate is found in the cocoa solids and not the cocoa butter, white chocolate does not contain any caffeine.

Just like regular chocolate, white chocolate is then heated, cooled and processed to attain the desired consistency, texture and sheen. This processing is known as conching and tempering. The final product may then be placed into molds in order to attain the final shape in which the chocolate will be marketed. White chocolate has gained popularity in recent years and is often used in baking and candy making, either alone or in conjunction with other chocolates. Since the creamy white color and the mellow flavor of white chocolate provide a nice contrast to other chocolates, they are often paired for both visual appeal and flavor.

White chocolate chips can be found routinely next to the semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips in the grocery store baking aisles. Gourmet treats such as chocolate dipped strawberries are regularly available in white chocolate varieties.

Since white chocolate labels are not currently standardized, some manufacturers market products that do not even contain cocoa butter as white chocolate. Usually, these candies contain vegetable oil and lack the rich and creamy flavor that "real" white chocolate boasts. It is important to check package labels to ensure you purchase the best white chocolate since both product types may be labeled similarly.

The cocoa butter used to make white chocolate is a very stable fat and has a long lifespan without spoiling. It contains several natural antioxidants and it has a shelf life of several years. It is also used in products other than chocolate and white chocolate, such as soaps, moisturizers and other skin care products.

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