If the wider availability of cocoa- and chocolate-related information for the consumers is a good thing on one side, on the flip side, the market share competition in dark chocolate has made chocolate makers almost blind to experiment and, consequently, adopt strategic marketing for other types of chocolate (milk and white), with the latter being the most demonized.
The end result of this conundrum is having a horde of high-end consumers brainwashed with the idea that dark chocolate must be the limit of their chocolate options.
Although certain concepts were carved in people’s mind for legitimate reasons, especially because dark chocolate is the version containing less sugar and avoid of dairy ingredients (identified as food allergens for some consumers), this trend does not justify the onset of some unfortunate prejudices about chocolates other than dark. In blue I have debunked
the main three misconceptions about white chocolate:
- White chocolate is not chocolate. Whereas there’s a degree of truth attesting that both dark and milk chocolate may be considered chocolate just for the presence of cocoa mass, white chocolate also has cocoa, even if only its fat part. Regulations both in the US and Europe even define what white chocolate is and what’s allowed in its formulation. (For the US, see §163.124 of Subpart B—Requirements for Specific Standardized Cacao Products in Part 163—Cacao Products; for Europe, see Directive 2000/36/EC). According to both the regulations, white chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids, 3.5% milkfat. Moreover, the American rule is even more stringent regarding the maximum amount of sweeteners allowed (55%), the optional ingredients added as flavor and the ban of colorants.
In any case, companies can invest a lot of their creativity and craftsmanship in producing a different array of high-quality white chocolates.
- White chocolate is not healthy. Try googling “dark chocolate” and you’ll come upon countless posts including a list of health benefits associated with the consumption of dark chocolate. Do the same research with “white chocolate” and chances are you’ll get disheartened by the results displayed just on page one. Pointless discussions on the evidence that whether white chocolate is really chocolate make my blood boil in the veins (just to name a title, “White chocolate is a big, fat lie”). In the best case scenario, you’ll find a heap of forums and blogs directing people on how to choose the best white chocolate for baking and frosting. Being such the demeanor, hardly is a word spent on the health benefits of white chocolate. More likely, the general perception is to see white chocolate being mortified like cheap candy! The good news is that even the “anonymous guest” in the chocolate family has a few health perks, provided that good-quality white chocolate (made up of 40-50% cocoa butter and no other types of vegetable fat added) is chosen and consumed occasionally. Believe it or not, studies confirm that potential heart benefits are only partly linked to the flavanol content mostly retained in dark chocolate. In fact, white chocolate, despite not reporting the same content in flavanols, still offers cardiovascular benefits, as platelet enhancement and regulation of bad cholesterol. Furthermore, cocoa butter has anti-aging and thickening properties for the skin and protective effects on the sheath of nerves. Moreover, if dark chocolate can help prevent anemia with its content in iron, white chocolate compensates for this mineral lack with the naturally-occurred calcium in its dairy ingredients. Lastly, as both milk and dark chocolate contain alkaloids, like theobromine and caffeine, white chocolate is more indicated for those needing to avoid alkaloids for dietary reasons or to steer utterly clear of such stimulant type components.
- You are a real chocolate connoisseur if you’d never give a chance to white chocolate. The previously listed myths just perpetuate the cause of this bias. Also, many people feel white chocolate has no flavor complexity to deserve further attention and investigation. As a result, a real culture about white chocolate is not only lacking, but also establishing too rigid a stance. Under a better lens, white chocolate has an advantaged sensory diversity to make it appealing even to the palate of the most tireless dark chocolate adherents. In fact, when it’s high-quality white chocolate, cocoa butter renders subtle floral and vanilla flavors, while dairy ingredients and optionally added flavors can build a melody of according or contrasting hints in the mouth.
Fortunately, far away are the days of the Galak bars. (It is thought that the first white chocolate was patented in the 1930’s by Swiss chocolate giant Nestlé because of a powdered milk surplus after World War I.) A few select companies have recently started innovating the chocolate market with the inclusive placement of white chocolate made of:
- Undeodorized cocoa butter. Almost all white chocolate is made from deodorized cocoa butter; that is, high-heat steam-treated cocoa butter (the steam being used as a distilling liquid retaining the odors), and then filtered to make it a neutral, flat base suitable for cosmetic and cleansing use. In other words, deodorizing cocoa butter tames the chocolate flavor considerably. Interestingly, undeodorized cocoa butter resists oxidation longer than deodorized cocoa butter for containing natural vitamin E (an antioxidant micronutrient). So, in addition to making a better-tasting white chocolate, it’s also more beneficial for our nutrition.
- Various types of milk. The importance of the milk used is crucial too, as it adds flavor complexity to the product. Some use goat’s milk, others cow’s. Without talking about the vegan trend of substituting milks with mylks from coconuts, rice, and almonds.
- Inclusions. Whole nuts, dried fruits, vegetable powder mixes are all great ways to attract sophisticated palates with a creative combinations of added flavors and widen human sensory education in chocolate.
Considering all the subtle variables at advantage of the creativity of the modern chocolate maker, white chocolate is probably the type reserving the greatest product development possibilities in the niche market of fine chocolate in the next few years.