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 have been carved into 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 cannot justify the onset of unfortunate prejudices against chocolates other than dark.
3 misconceptions about white chocolate debunked
- White chocolate is not chocolate. While there’s an extent 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 United States and Europe even define what white chocolate is made of and what is 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 the EU, 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, specialty brands 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 you’ll immediately get pointless discussions fed on the doubt that white chocolate can’t really be considered good chocolate. Hateful titles like, “White chocolate is a big, fat lie”, make my blood as a lover of white chocolate boil in the veins! In the best case scenario, a heap of forums and blogs will only address readers 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. The prevalent public perception is to mortify white chocolate in the same guise of cheap candy! The good news is that actually white chocolate packs up a few underestimated health perks, provided that good-quality white chocolate (made up of 32-45% cocoa butter and no other types of vegetable fat added) is carefully selected on the shelf. Studies confirm that potential heart benefits are only partly linked to the flavanol (antioxidant) content mostly retained in dark chocolate. In fact, white chocolate, despite not reporting the same content in flavanols, still provides cardiovascular benefits, as platelet enhancement and regulation of bad cholesterol. Furthermore, cocoa butter has anti-aging and thickening properties for skin and protective effects on the sheath of nerves. Moreover, if dark chocolate can help prevent anemia with its content in iron, white chocolate makes up the lack of iron with a naturally-occurring dose of calcium contained in the 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.
- Give white chocolate a chance, and you won’t be called a chocolate connoisseur. As the two above-mentioned myths perpetuate the cause of this bias, many people think 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 tireless dark chocolate adherent. When it’s high-quality white chocolate, cocoa butter renders subtle floral and vanilla flavors, while the different dairy ingredients added structure a subtle melody of cream/butter/yoghurt hints, unlikely to find in other types of chocolate.
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 companies are increasingly innovating the premium white chocolate market and placing better tasting and healthier alternatives. Specifically, fine white chocolate is 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 (a fat-soluble micronutrient). So, in addition to making a better-tasting white chocolate, undeodorized cocoa butter is 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 plant-based “mylks” from almond, coconut, rice, soy, oat, etc..
- Intriguing inclusions. Traditional inclusions like nuts or sophisticated pairings like dried flowers and citrus oils find their best flavor potential in white chocolate, which acts like the perfect “tabula rasa” for flavor appreciation in chocolate.
Considering all the creative variables at advantage of the fine chocolate maker, white chocolate will probably be a type of chocolate reserving further product development in the niche of fine chocolate for the next years.
How do you consider white chocolate?