Chocolate is one of the most ubiquitously delightful things known to man.
Its rich, complex, and deeply satisfying taste has made chocolate one of the most celebrated ingredients and flavors in the world.
And there’s a ton of it. From street food to high-end chocolatiers, there’s no shortage of chocolate suppliers ready to cater to your particular sweet tooth.
With varieties from standard dark bars to wild flavors like honey lavender, the art of turning cocoa into a confectionary has come a long way.
But while most chocolate is universally beloved by nearly everyone, one variety seems to be on the periphery, constantly excluded from the universal acclaim of its peers.
We’re talking, of course, about white chocolate.
What is White Chocolate?
It’s common to hear people say that white chocolate “isn’t even chocolate”.
This idea comes from the fact that white chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa solids.
Most chocolate is made from a combination of cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa solids. White chocolate differs in that it doesn’t contain the solids; hence its smooth white appearance.
But the idea that this means white chocolate isn’t really chocolate is a bit arbitrary. White chocolate still contains cocoa butter, meaning it still comes from the cocoa plant.
To decide that cocoa solids are what makes something “true chocolate” is just gatekeeping. After all, there’s no metaphysical definition of “chocolate”. It’s just a term we use to refer to a category of confection.
Does it Even Matter if White Chocolate is Chocolate?
Even if we grant that white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, that doesn’t really mean anything.
Just because a food isn’t chocolate doesn’t mean it’s bad. Cinnamon toast crunch isn’t chocolate, but it’s still delicious.
White chocolate can be excluded from the chocolate family and still be delicious. Whether or not we choose to include it in the category, it’s definitely different than milk or dark chocolate anyway.
And it’s supposed to be different.
What Does White Chocolate Taste Like?
While many people associate white chocolate with cloying sweetness and a lack of nuance, this simply isn’t a universal truth.
The idea that white chocolate tastes like nothing but sugar comes from the mislabeling of numerous confectionary products. Most “white chocolate” you find on the grocery shelves doesn’t actually contain any cocoa butter, or if it does, it’s in very small quantities.
But true white chocolate can be surprisingly delicate and flavorful. Here’s a good article about the best white chocolate out there.
Cocoa butter is an extremely delicious thing. Depending on how it’s processed, this fat can have a variety of interesting aromas and flavors.
While milk and dark varieties are certainly delicious, the cocoa solids typically overpower the cocoa butter’s more delicate tastes.
White chocolate allows the cocoa butter to take center stage. The result is rich, creamy chocolate that can range from fruity to buttery depending on how it’s made.
Why is There so Much Bad White Chocolate?
One of the reasons so many people think poorly of white chocolate is that it simply hasn’t been given fair treatment.
Because cocoa butter is something of a byproduct, many confectionary producers have made white chocolate as an afterthought. They saw white chocolate as a way to use up leftover products, rather than as something deserving of time and attention.
Naturally, this resulted in less interesting and complex treats.
Additionally, the lack of attention made milk and dark chocolate enormously more popular. That popularity meant the demand for milk and dark chocolate was far higher than for white chocolate.
Responding to this demand, chocolatiers focused more on milk and dark chocolate. This meant there was less white chocolate around, meaning fewer people were exposed to it. Less exposure means less demand, and the cycle continued.
Want to delve a bit deeper into the issue? Watch this video:
White Chocolate Gains Traction
All of this is changing though. White chocolate is finally getting the attention it deserves.
More and more artisan chocolate makers are branching into the white chocolate space. They see it as an underserved market and a blank canvas on which to paint their vision.
Bars ranging from simple, smooth white chocolate made with unbleached cocoa butter to insane variations containing things like curry paste or roasted broccoli are popping up everywhere.
This development is great news, regardless of where you stand on white chocolate right now. Stripping away your preconceptions about white chocolate can open you up to experiencing these exciting new chocolates for what they are: innovative culinary experiences.
White chocolate is gaining popularity because gourmet chocolate makers see it as its own thing. It doesn’t have to compete with dark and milk chocolate.
The same way you can enjoy both burritos and pizza, you can enjoy the delicate nuance of white chocolate alongside the toasty and complex notes found in other varieties.
This realization is fueling white chocolate’s come-up, helping it to transition away from its long-reprised role as the ugly stepchild of the chocolate family.
The Future of White Chocolate
As we turn toward the future, it seems likely that white chocolate will continue to expand its role in the culinary world.
Just as milk and dark chocolate have found endless applications in everything from cakes to cookies to savory dishes, white chocolate undoubtedly has tons of unexplored opportunities before it.
With increasingly luxurious and well-crafted options popping up on the market, the wave of white chocolate is continuing to grow.
You can expect to see new and exciting desserts using the cocoa butter-based confection everywhere from fine dining to grocery store shelves.
White chocolate has spent most of its life as an afterthought. It’s understandable that so few people are aware of how great it can truly be.
But with more and more attention going towards creating innovative and exciting new white chocolate varieties, white chocolate is primed for a culinary explosion.
If you’ve been hesitant to try it or if you’ve had bad experiences with white chocolate in the past, now is a great time to give it a second chance.
And if you’re looking for a small business idea, white chocolate might just be the thing that sets you apart.