Friday, June 12, 2009
When I was growing up, I thought that white chocolate was the epitome of chocolate. Little did I know then that white chocolate is not chocolate. It's a confection of sugar, cocoa butter, and milk solids. The process uses the excess cocoa butter--a bi-product of cacoa. White chocolate was invented by Nestle and first popularly distributed in America in 1948 with the introduction of Nestle's Alpine White chocolate bar.
According to Wikipedia, regulations (FDA) govern what may be marketed as "white chocolate." In the U.S. since 2004, white chocolate must be at least 20% cocoa butter (by weight), at least 14% milk solids, at least 3.5% milk fat, and less than 63% sugar or sweeteners. The European Union has adopted the same standards, except that there is no limit on sugar or sweeteners. Good white chocolate also has vanilla.
The process: When the chocolate liquor is pressed, the fat is removed. 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.
Working with white chocolate: If you're going to cook or bake with white chocolate make sure it contains cocoa butter. It should be cream color (rather than white-colored). White colored white chocolate is probably made with vegetable fat. White chocolate scorches easily, so melt over very low heat.
Some good white chocolate:
E. Guittard has 31% Cacao White Chocolate wafers. Great for baking (and eating)
Green & Black's uses cocoa butter, pressed directly from the crushed cocoa beans. They also use a blend of milk and Bourbon vanilla. Available in 3.5oz bars.
Askinosie has bean to bar white chocolate and uses goat's milk instead of cow's milk. The main ingredient in their white chocolate is 34% natural, non-deodorized cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is pressed in their factory, and they are the first small-batch chocolate maker to do this. After pressing their San Jose Del Tambo Ecuador beans to create the cocoa butter, they combine them with goat's milk powder and organic cane juice, and then craft it for days in their 85-year old German melanguer, making their white chocolate one of the only single origin white chocolates in the world. It has a very unique buttery/nutty flavor, less sweet than many other white chocolate.
Jenn on Bread and Butter had a fabulous recipe for White Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Chips and Pecans this week. Talk about luscious. I've tweaked it only a little bit. This recipe is reprinted with her permission.
White Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Chips and Pecans
1 c white chocolate chips (plus extra) -or break up a good quality white chocolate bar or wafers.
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 c cake flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c peanut butter chips
1 c pecan pieces (plus extra)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c water
Preheat oven to 350˚F
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside.
Melt the white chocolate chips in a bowl with the water. Heat in the microwave for 1 1/2 - 2 min or until melted. Stir the mixture after the first minute to combine. Or use the double boiler method. Bring some water to a boil in a small pot. Once the water is boiling bring it down to a simmer. Place the chocolate and water in a metal bowl and place on top of the pot. Stir chocolate occasionally to combine until melted.
In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Then add in the eggs, mixing after each one. Add in vanilla, then the melted white chocolate. Combine well then slowly add the flour mixture. Mix well until there are no lumps.
Add in the peanuts butter chips and pecan pieces.
Lightly grease preferred baking pan and pour in the batter. Sprinkle some more white chocolate chips and pecan pieces on top.
Baked for 25 min. Let it cool for at least 5-10min then cut into squares.
More white chocolate recipes in the future.
It's o.k. with me that white chocolate isn't really chocolate. It's white chocolate--it's own thing, and it's delicious.