Because you likely don’t hate white chocolate – you likely hate fake white chocolate.
And yes, I absolutely have an ulterior motive here. It’s called “I really like bean to bar white chocolate and every time I hear someone say they hate white chocolate I cry on the inside because nine times out of ten if I ask what they hate it’s Hershey Cookies n’ Creme and it makes me want to bust out an Actual white chocolate bar along with a powerpoint presentation.” So instead of a powerpoint this time I’m writing a blog post, and one day there’ll be a video to go along with this, because I am going to spread the white chocolate love somehow.
And that’s also not a clickbait intro, especially if you’re in the US. This is a whole issue in American mainstream white chocolate.
To set the stage, I need to first talk about legal standards. In the US, by FDA regulations a bar of white chocolate must contain by weight at least 20% cocoa butter, 3.5% milkfat and “not less than 14 percent by weight of total milk solids,” and a maximum of “55 percent by weight nutritive carbohydrate sweetener,” or usually sugar. (Interestingly enough, Hershey was one of the brands that pushed for this to be updated back in 2002.) What you care about here really is the cocoa butter – y’know, the ‘chocolate’ part of ‘white chocolate.’ (And yes white chocolate counts as chocolate, it’s a cacao-based product made in the same way as chocolate except at the very end when the chocolate liquor is pressed to get the cocoa butter!)
As in, most ‘white chocolate’ on the US market that you likely think of as white chocolate doesn’t have any.
And now you’re probably thinking “Jess, you’re kidding, right? Right???”
Nope. Let’s talk ingredients.
As in, here are the ingredients for Hershey Cookies n’ Creme:
Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Palm Oil, Shea Oil, Sunflower Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Safflower Oil), Skim Milk, Corn Syrup Solids, Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Lactose. Contains 2% or Less of: Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Whey, Lecithin, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Chocolate, Baking Soda, Salt, Natural Flavor, Artificial Flavor, PGPR.
Note the whole lack of cocoa butter in there. That’s also why if you look at the wrapper, it’s called a ‘creme’ bar, with “smooth white creme.” Not white chocolate.
And I don’t feel like the rest of the world gets off easy here either? Most mainstream white chocolate everywhere is pretty sweet, to the point where often the first ingredient is sugar (Cadbury, Lindt, Ferrero Rocher, etc.). To which you’re likely thinking “but it’s white chocolate, it should be sweet!”
That’s the thing though? White chocolate doesn’t have to be sweet! You’ve got low sugar versions, tart versions, mildly sweet, and yes super sweet. And even just grabbing some random bean to bar whites, a bunch have cocoa butter as the first ingredient, not sugar (Moka Origins, Fruition, Mission). And while I love a good flavored dark chocolate bar, white chocolate can be used to let the flavors sing and take center stage or have them be a comforting note in the background, or even have both styles swirled together gorgeously. Single origin cocoa butter can be full of flavor too, and be lovely plain or caramelized. I’ve seen bean to bar makers experiment from plain white chocolate to durian whites, layering two types of chocolate together, and everything you can imagine in between. I could sit here singing its praises all day.
Because like I said before, I love white chocolate. It’s what got me into bean to bar chocolate, even – this idea that white chocolate had Flavor. All white chocolate being seen as ‘sweet waxy stuff’ leads to folks dismissing a whole category of chocolate, when there’s a whole rainbow of chocolate they’re missing out on.
So let’s talk about some white chocolate bars you should try instead! I’m going to include cocoa butter bars though, which aren’t ~legally~ white chocolate as they don’t contain milk powder. Can’t stop me, it’s my blog, they’re really good.
Soma Chocolate’s fruit cocoa butter bars: There’s no milk powder, don’t care these are nonsense good. They’re made with freeze dried fruit powders and are wonderfully bold and bright. I’m trying to limit my discussion because I will not stop talking about these bars given half an inch. If you want to watch my face turn the same color as the raspberry bar while smiling, jump to 8:37 in this video:
Fjak Chocolate: Fjak really is a great all around brand that highlights Norwegian ingredients (their brunost bar, my beloved). But they have some serious fun with white chocolate, especially in the seasonal options! Like as I’m writing this they’ve got a caramelized gingerbread and carrot cake in addition to nibs and lingonberries.
BETA5: BETA5 is a chocolatier who uses Valrhona chocolate, but seriously if there’s any single bar I have used to convince people of the potential of white chocolate, it is their Queen of Hearts bar. I have been upset the entire pandemic that they lack US shipping because it means we can’t regularly get this bar right now. (I fully respect that Canada-US shipping is a mess, still miss this bar. Our friend Linda was kind enough to bring down some, but I miss just jumping north and getting a few bars.) It’s not as intensely tart as Soma’s bar, but still nicely berry bold and creamy, with a nice bit of crunch and bergamot flavor from the Earl Grey tea leaves. Post that you got one and I’ll cry in your general direction but also be so happy for you.
What’s your favorite white chocolate?