White chocolate available in stores is quite waxy in texture and sweet to taste. No wonder so many shun away from white chocolate. To enjoy its true creamy and buttery flavor, it is best to prepare white chocolate at home.
Manufacturers today add all sorts of undesirable ingredients to white chocolate to increase its shelf life. Several manufacturers even replace cocoa butter with trans-fatty hydrogenated oils, thereby giving the white chocolate a terrible waxy texture. Moreover, store-bought white chocolate is too sweet for our liking. The best thing to do would be to make white chocolate at home.
Understanding the Raw Materials
White chocolate comprises cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, vanilla, and lecithin. Unlike its darker counterparts, white chocolate lacks cocoa solids/cocoa mass/chocolate liquor. Its main ingredient is cocoa butter. Preparing white chocolate from scratch means making it from cocoa butter, to which other ingredients like sugar, milk fats, vanilla, etc. are added. On the other hand, raw form of white chocolate (blocks) is also available in supermarkets, using which you can easily prepare tasty treats. White chocolate chips are also available which can be used to prepare white chocolate.
√ If you’re willing to go through the hassle of preparing white chocolate from scratch, then purchase blocks of high quality, food grade cocoa butter from supermarkets.
Χ Always check the label to see if it’s edible or only meant for cosmetic purposes. Never buy the latter. You don’t want to eat something that was meant to scrub your body!
√ Always check the label for unwanted additives in your cocoa butter.
Raw White Chocolate
Χ Don’t add anything into raw white chocolate, because it already contains milk powder, sugar and other necessary ingredients.
√ Check for cocoa butter content in the chocolate. Many will have vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter. Always buy raw chocolate with high cocoa butter content.
Χ Never open the packet in advance. Moisture in the air ruins the composition of cocoa butter.
White Chocolate Chips
√ For those who do not wish to spend time chopping, purchasing white chocolate chips is a good idea.
Χ Again do not open the packet until it is time to drop it into the double boiler.
√ Check for cocoa butter content on the packet.
Χ The drawback about chips is that they don’t melt as smoothly as the block form, because of the unwanted additives in them.
Techniques Involved in Making White Chocolate
Irrespective of the fact that you’ve chosen cocoa butter, raw white chocolate blocks or chips to make your chocolates, the techniques to melt them will remain the same.
Cocoa butter has a low melting point, thus, will melt easily. Having said this, if you trying melting a block of cocoa butter or raw white chocolate, you will have a very tough time. You need to chop the block of cocoa butter into tiny pieces to reduce the overall melting time. The finer you chop, the faster it will melt and lesser the chances of scorching. Moreover, melting takes place in a uniform manner this way. White chocolate chips on the other hand do not require chopping, so you can use them as they are.
Never chop cocoa butter or raw white chocolate way in advance. The moisture in the air will spoil the texture. Always chop just before use. Moreover, never leave the block of cocoa butter or chocolate out in the open. Keep them sealed until they are required.
To make the desired chocolate, you need to convert solid cocoa butter into its molten form. Heating has to be done cautiously because scorched (burnt) chocolate has a toothpaste-like consistency and tastes disgusting. Melting white chocolate is slightly more challenging than its darker counterparts due to its greater milk fat content. Moreover, it melts at lower temperatures, thereby increasing the risk of scorching. You can heat the cocoa butter or raw white chocolate in:
Χ Never melt chocolate on direct flame. Cocoa butter gets burnt when heating above 95° C and direct heating only scorches it.
√ Memorize the fact that chocolate always needs to be heated in a double boiler, whereby, it melts by indirect heating.
√ You can also place a saucepan with water on the stove and place another saucepan of equal dimensions on top of it.
√ Place one saucepan on the stove and fill it with water. Turn on the flame.
√ Once the water starts to heat up, let the water simmer.
√ Drop the chopped pieces of cocoa butter into the other saucepan and place it on the other one.
Χ Never let the water in the bottom saucepan touch the bottom of the top saucepan, for risk of scorching.
√ Keep stirring the cocoa butter to ensure even and adequate melting.
Χ Never allow the water to boil. This is because certain water droplets may jump into the melting cocoa butter. Water and cocoa butter do not get along. Even a drop of water can cause the cocoa butter to seize or clump.
Χ Clumping is bad! When water causes the cocoa butter to clump, there is nothing you can do, but discard the whole lot. (Of course it can be used for other chocolate recipes, but not to make pure chocolate).
Χ Heat from boiling water can also scorch the cocoa butter.
Χ Never stir with a wooden spoon, because even after thorough drying, wooden spoons have the capacity to retain some moisture.
√ Use whisks or plastic/silicone spatulas instead.
√ Once the cocoa butter has begun melting, remove the top saucepan and stir till all the lumps dissolve. The heat in the saucepan is enough to dissolve it completely. If not, place it again in the double boiler.
√ Always turn off the heat before removing the saucepan, because steam from the bottom saucepan may enter the cocoa butter and cause seizing.
√ Heating in the microwave has to be done cautiously, because cocoa butter is at greater risk of scorching.
√ Place the chopped cocoa butter into a microwave-safe bowl and set the power to medium or 50%.
√ Microwave for 20 seconds. Take out the bowl and stir it with a whisk. At first you won’t find any change.
√ Microwave it again for 20 seconds and stir. You will find the cocoa butter has softened slightly, but not begun to melt.
√ Microwave it again for 20 seconds. Take it out once again and stir it. Some of the bits have started melting.
√ Keep microwaving at 20 second intervals, till you find that the cocoa butter has melted completely.
√ Always stir the cocoa butter between intervals, because stirring minimizes the risk of overheating and scorching.
Depending on the amount you want to melt, the time taken will vary. If you have a big batch to melt, it’s better you opt for the double boiler method.
Tempering is responsible for the shiny texture and the lovely snapping sound we hear when we bite into chocolate. Tempering is nothing but the heating and cooling of cocoa butter at the right temperature, in order to ensure formation of uniform crystal structure in the chocolate. It makes the cocoa butter stable, thereby increasing its shelf life. It involves continuous stirring of melted cocoa butter or chocolate mixture with a spoon until a shiny texture is obtained.
√ Into the melted cocoa butter, add necessary ingredients like milk powder, sugar, etc. If you are using raw white chocolate, this step is not for you.
√ Stir the mixture well. Keep working with it and lift it with the spoon or whisk, you are working with.
√ As you stir, make sure you keep scraping the cocoa butter deposits from the sides of the dish. You will find the texture getting shinier.
√ If the mixture begins to thicken too much, place the bowl over the double boiler and allow the heat to melt it a little.
The key is to maintain a certain appropriate temperature, wherein the chocolate does not thicken, nor does it scorch, such that the cocoa butter crystallizes uniformly.
√ To check if your chocolate has been tempered correctly, smear some white chocolate onto a thin sheet of butter paper. If the chocolate hardens within 5 minutes and appears glossy after cooling, you have tempered correctly!
Χ Improper tempering results in a grainy and unappetizing appearance (although the taste will not suffer). White patches will appear on the chocolate, due to the non-uniform crystals formed during tempering.
Χ Instead of the lovely snap, on biting the chocolate will crumble.
Don’t worry about over-stirring, because there is no such term in the chocolate dictionary!
After tempering, your chocolate mixture is ready to be poured into molds. Chocolate-making molds are easily available in the baking section of any supermarket. If you do not have standard chocolate-making molds, you can also use cupcake molds, ice-cube trays, jelly molds, etc. You can also prepare some disposable ones with aluminum foil. Just tear some pieces of aluminum foil and give them a cup-like shape. However, the shape of the final chocolate will be irregular.
Once the white chocolate has been poured into the molds, place the molds in the middle shelf of the refrigerator, because this ensures uniform cooling. Freezing can be done, but is not recommended because uniform cooling does not take place. White patches of cocoa butter may also appear. Refrigerate the chocolate for 4 to 5 hours before eating. Refrigerating for too long results in condensation, thereby resulting in duller looking chocolate.
Since white chocolate is extremely sensitive to temperature changes and humidity, care has to be taken while storing it. Moreover, since it contains milk solids, it’s highly perishable. Place the chocolates in air-tight containers and seal the container with cling film before closing the lid. This prevents any chance of aromas from other food items, from getting absorbed into the chocolate. You can wrap them individually to enhance their look. Keep them in a cool, dry place.
White Chocolate Recipes From Scratch
White Chocolate Stars
- 1 cup cocoa butter (finely chopped)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tsp. whole milk powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- ½ tsp. salt
Melt the cocoa butter in a microwave or double boiler. Then add the milk powder and sugar and stir well. Once they dissolve, add the vanilla extract. Stir again and temper the mixture as mentioned above. Pour it into the star-shaped molds and refrigerate. Drizzle with dark chocolate sauce once set. Refrigerate once again till the dark chocolate sets. Your yummy treat is ready!
Dairy-free (Vegan) White Chocolate
- 1⅓ cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup cocoa butter
- 4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. soy milk powder/almond powder
- ½ tsp. salt
Melt the chopped cocoa butter in a microwave or double boiler. Then add the soy or almond powder, powdered sugar and stir well. Never add granulated sugar because it won’t melt! Once they dissolve, add vanilla extract. Stir again and temper the mixture as mentioned above. Pour it into the mold and refrigerate. Enjoy your lovely dairy-free chocolates.
Melting white chocolate is not rocket science, but it does involve some kind of science (food chemistry). Don’t get discouraged if the first two or three tries resulted in chocolate clumps. Pay attention to the precautions and you will be just fine! Have fun!