White Is The New Dark
I am convinced that white chocolate, the once eschewed, ugly step-sister to the more popular and desirable dark chocolate, is about to kiss the frog, bite the apple or have some other fairy tale-like transcendence out of the dungeon and into the limelight.
Most chocolate lovers maintain that white chocolate is not “real” chocolate and certainly is not worthy of mention in the same breath as other chocolates, but the fact is that true white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, which comes from cocoa beans, the same beans that are the foundation of dark chocolate. So if it’s not real chocolate, which technically it isn’t, it is a close relative (or at the very least a step-sibling.) The distinction is that white chocolate is pure cocoa butter while dark and milk chocolates are derived from a mixture of cocoa butter, chocolate liquor (which also comes from cocoa beans,) and other ingredients such as sugar and vanilla. For a more detailed explanation of white chocolate have a look here.
I'm not here to discuss technicalities or semantics, however, but simply to try and show that I am not the only one who sees the potential in white chocolate and to prove by example that it is finally starting to get the street cred that it deserves.
A recent blog posting by pastry chef and blogger extraordinaire, David Lebovitz, includes a recipe for Caramelized White Chocolate that he acquired in a chocolate making class at one of the top pastry schools in Paris. I made the recipe myself a few months back and found it to be so delicious, versatile and full of complexity, that it convinced me to look into what else was being done with white chocolate.
One of my findings was a new candy bar made by Divine Chocolate, a fair trade company that makes some of the best chocolate on the market today. Their White Chocolate With Strawberries bar features crispy dried strawberry tidbits dispersed throughout the creamy, thin white slab adding a new element of flavor and texture to an already familiar background.
While white chocolate, is typically only associated with sweet recipes, it should not be overlooked when thinking about savory applications. A salad recipe by Sandra Lee features an Orange-White Chocolate Vinaigrette while another recipe, conceptualized by Heston Blumenthal, features White Chocolate With Caviar. As gross as that combination might sound, it reminds me of a sublime morsel I had while dining at El Bulli many years ago. It was a wafer thin white chocolate slice dotted with chewy, salty-bitter pieces of dry cured olives. I was so struck by how well the flavors played off of each other that even today, 11 years after that meal, I can still taste it. Apparently I am not the only person who feels that Ferran Adria was onto something as Vosges Chocolates, known for their unusual combinations, has put out a version of their own.
I hope that this convinces you that white chocolate is deserving of a closer look.