Is White Chocolate Really Chocolate?

Posted by Shari Aubrey on

White chocolate isn’t chocolate, is it?

Are you sure you want to commit to the statement? It's often quoted, but as a professional Chocolate Dealer I’m not sure that I agree - as long as you're eating good quality white chocolate.

How much cocoa is in white chocolate?

To start with, good quality white chocolate contains more cocoa in it than most mass market milk chocolates - yep, more cocoa! 

Let's use an example of one of the white chocolates we use at Fiamma - Michel Cluizel Elianza Ivorie - which has a whopping 33.5% cocoa. Compare this to Cadury Milk Chocolate, which in Australia has only only 26% (the legal minimum cocoa to be called chocolate) or Lindt milk at 32% and this white chocolate is still well ahead. Let’s not even get started on the legal minimum in America to be called chocolate being just 10%…

The difference is, white chocolate does not have cocoa solids in it - only cocoa butter. 

What are cocoa solids?

Part of the myth that ‘white chocolate is not chocolate’ comes from the fact it isn’t brown - or doesn’t have any cocoa solids. In which case, how does our Michel Cluizel white chocolate have 33.5% cocoa content if it doesn’t have any cocoa solids? 

That comes down to a misunderstanding about the cocoa bean, which isn’t just cocoa solids. Broadly speaking, the cocoa bean is half cocoa solids (the brown stuff) and half cocoa butter, or cocoa fat (not brown stuff). Cocoa solids are simply what is left over once the cocoa butter is extracted from the bean. But either way, one is brown and one isn’t; one has more chocolate flavour than the other - but both are cocoa bean product and both are important in your chocolate experience, as cocoa butter is what adds texture and helps to enhance the way flavour is delivered. Despite the fact it isn’t ‘the brown stuff’, cocoa butter is just as important as cocoa solids.

Good beans make good chocolate

In addition to the above, I can guarantee you that chocolate makers like Michel Cluizel are using better quality cocoa beans than both Cadbury and Lindt combined. If you've been following us for a while, you'll know we often talk about 'flavour beans'; that is the beans that make the most exceptional chocolate in the world. They represent just 2-5% of cocoa grown - and neither Cadbury, Lindt or any other mass market producer can ever imagine getting their hands on these. However, great bean to bar chocolate makers like Michel Cluizel exclusively uses flavour beans to create their chocolate - white or otherwise.

So is white chocolate really chocolate?

Forget the myths about white chocolate - because good quality white chocolate is most definitely chocolate. It has more cocoa product in it than popular milk chocolates and comes from much better quality beans that cheaper milk chocolates. In fact, I wonder whether we should stop cheaper chocolates from being called chocolate!

But as with all chocolate, not all white chocolate is created equal - cheap white chocolate is not going to be great quality. Just like cheap milk chocolate it will be made with poor quality beans, but there will be much less cocoa product (solids and/or butter) which necessitates cheaper ingredients like sugar and flavourings being added to make up the volume. 

When it comes to white chocolate, sweetness is vastly different between the cheap and the good stuff. Quality white chocolate will be intensely creamy and milky with a mild sweetness, versus the hard hit of sugar you get from supermarket white chocolate. 

So back to the original question of whether white chocolate really is white chocolate, when it’s good quality - yes, it is!

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