My love affair with chocolate isn’t limited to dark cacao. (see recipe) I share an equal affinity to white chocolate. But is white chocolate really chocolate? According to expert’s, “since white chocolate doesn’t contain the same fatty solids of dark chocolate, it isn’t considered genuine chocolate.” But that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying its creamy vanilla flavor and silky smooth texture. So what exactly is white chocolate? The basic constituents are cacao butter, powdered milk, sugar, and vanilla.
Can you make white chocolate at home?
Well, first we need to define the difference between a chocolate maker and chocolatier. Both are artisan in the art of chocolate crafting. A chocolatier transforms chocolate couverture or the finished product, into the delectable confections we know and love. And while a chocolate maker sources, roasts, and grinds the cacao beans into chocolate couverture, rarely are the lines blurred between the two crafts. And there’s a reason. The process for producing high quality chocolate is difficult, costly, time-consuming, and requires specialized equipment and extensive knowledge that, chocolatiers would prefer to leave to the chocolate makers while they focus on perfecting their art. But for the sake of argument, I kitchen-tested several DIY white chocolate recipes I found online. What were my findings? Well, before submitting my review, I first want to applaud all the DIY chocolate makers out there for their efforts, and for sharing their formulas. And although these recipes may be suitable for molding and blending into frosting, none effectively produced a quality finished product that, was grit-free, suitable for banding, dipping, and didn’t separate when re-melted. So, I consulted with one of the country’s top artisan chocolate makers to solve the mystery. They stated that although dark chocolate can be replicated at home using high quality cacao butter and cacao powder, “white chocolate requires a refining process outside the scope of common kitchen appliances,” referred to as conching. However, their specialist did provide a retail link for a “home bench refiner” i.e. mini conch for those DIY chocolate makers who would like to perfect their craft. On a personal note, when it comes to white chocolate, I prefer to source it from world renowned Belgian chocolate maker, Callebaut. Melt it. Dip it. Mold it. Wrap it. And best of all, eat it. But when it comes to purchasing organic cacao butter and cacao powder in bulk, I look to Jedwards International as a sustainable “fair trade” purveyor for world class cacao. For sourcing smaller quantities, I recommend Viva Naturals. Stay tuned for more chocolate adventures with The Weekend chocolatier. In the interim, here’s my easy tried-and-true recipe for making yummy decadent dark chocolate.
Recipe notes: This recipe contains a high percentage of cacao and is very dense. If a lesser density is preferred, adjust the amount of cacao powder. What you will need: Metal bowl, whisk, chocolate/candy mold. Active prep time: 5-minutes. Yields 12-oz or 4-candy heart boxes. Difficulty level: Easy.
- 8-ounces organic deodorized cacao butter chopped
- 1 cup organic cacao powder
- 1/3 cup Stevia or 1/4 cup honey
- 1-tsp pure vanilla extract
- pinch of Himalyan or sea salt
- Fill 2-qt saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil.
- Place chopped cacao butter in metal bowl and set atop saucepan making sure water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl; you don’t want to cook the chocolate.
- Reduce heat to a simmer.
- Occasionally, whisk chocolate to facilitate melting. Note: Water is chocolate’s worst enemy, so avoid using wooden spoons as they tend to hold-on to moisture. Whisks and rubber spatulas work preferably.
- Once melted, remove bowl from heat wipe away any droplets of water from underside of bowl and transfer to a dry work area.
- Whisk in cacao powder and continue whisking till chocolate is smooth and glossy.
- Add sweetener, vanilla, salt, and whisk well. Chocolate will appear runny but will begin to thicken quickly.
- Pour chocolate immediately into clean dry molds (click for retailer info) and refrigerate for a couple of hours to temper.*
- To remove from mold: Working from underside rim of mold, gently squeeze plastic to release chocolate.
- Fill with desired ingredients. Can be made ahead.
- To store, line container with wax paper, layer hearts and lids and keep refrigerated or in the freezer.
*Tempering is a transitional curve of cooling. If chocolate is left on the counter to cool, it will acquire a dull grayish color called ghosting and develops a waxy texture. This happens when the cocoa fat separates out. Tempering is an essential step for making smooth, glossy, evenly colored chocolate. For optimal results when dipping, banding, and molding, it’s best to work in small batches.