Hiding in some of your favorite desserts (like our favorite cookies of all time), you’ll find a candy impostor. It’s an ingredient that is sweet but has a hidden secret: white chocolate, the chocolate that’s not chocolate at all.
I know you might be thinking, how could that possibly be true? Well, it turns out that, culinarily speaking, white chocolate doesn’t quite live up to its name.
By definition, true chocolate is a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar and additional flavorings (like milk in the case of milk chocolate). White chocolate shares a few of these ingredients, but it does not contain chocolate solids. These cocoa solids are what make the difference between dreamy, delicious chocolate and plain ol’ candy.
What Is White Chocolate?
Since this faux chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa, it relies on other ingredients for its signature sweet flavor. First, white chocolate contains a good amount of cocoa butter—a super creamy byproduct of the chocolate-making process. It gets much of its love-it-or-hate-it sweetness from sugar. The flavor is rounded out by milk, and the chocolate is held together by lecithin (an emulsifier).
Besides these technical differences, white chocolate also behaves a little differently than its authentic cousins. During melting, low and slow is best (you can check out more chocolate-melting tips here). White chocolate is more sensitive to high heat than dark chocolate, so keep the burner on low when melting with a double boiler (or microwave it in 30-second or shorter increments). If you try to go too quickly or use too much heat, the chocolate will seize right up. Also, since white chocolate is much sweeter than dark chocolate (or even milk chocolate), a little can go a long way.
Even though white chocolate doesn’t quite live up to its name, we’re still happy to include it in our most crave-worthy treats, like this white chocolate party mix.