Saturday, March 12, 2011

Discovering the Virtues of White Chocolate

White chocolate is a relatively new confection, first produced in the early twentieth century. I have never felt like it had much of a repertoire. Lacking cocoa mass or cocoa liquor, it has also seemed lacking in character to me. It also lacks the rich aroma of dark chocolate, usually being deodorized because its natural scent is considered too strong and undesirable. Having been stripped of so many of its best qualities, it has taken years for me to take interest in white chocolate.

White chocolate must contain a minimum of 20 percent cocoa butter, but I usually require about 30 percent to achieve the results I prefer. It must contain no more than 55 percent sugar, or other sweeteners. There are many cheap white chocolates on the market, which have tarnished its reputation, but the key to using white chocolate effectively is by controlling the ratio of cocoa butter and sugar to bring out qualities you like.

One of my favorite ways to bring depth of flavor to white chocolate is by roasting it at 250 degrees for about 10 minutes. The cocoa butter caramelizes, and the resulting flavor is like dulce de leche, but less sweet. At that point, it can become a ganache, an ice cream, a powder, a frosting, or grated over other components.

Another useful characteristic of white chocolate and cocoa butter is its high melting point. For example, you could use olive oil as a solid at room temperature by melting it with a small percentage of cocoa butter, and then watch it thicken as it cools. This allows you to create textures that wouldn't be possible at certain temperatures.

I will soon be able to get white chocolate through Classic Foods that has not been deodorized. By also using high fat white chocolate, I have found some ways to make white chocolate interesting by extending it's normal boundaries of fat and aroma. More to come...