Chocolate or Not?

Some people will argue white chocolate is not actually chocolate. It certainly doesn’t look like chocolate as we know it, and it doesn’t smell like chocolate. But it is called white chocolate, so is it chocolate or not?

During the chocolate manufacturing process, cocoa butter is extracted from the cocoa bean. To create white chocolate, the cocoa butter is combined with milk, sugar, and other flavoring ingredients, but none of the cocoa bean is included. White chocolate is chocolate that does not contain any cocoa solids, or “chocolate liquor” — chocolate in its raw, unsweetened form (not the alcoholic drink). Some would consider white chocolate not chocolate because none of the cocoa solid is part of the end product. However, if you were to smell cocoa beans and raw cocoa butter, it is the cocoa butter that would have the distinct chocolate smell. The cocoa bean doesn’t smell sweet at all. And cocoa butter did come from the cocoa bean.

Unlike those other types of chocolate, there are regulations determining what may be marketed as “white chocolate.” In the United States, since 2004, real white chocolate must be at least 20 percent cocoa butter, 14 percent total milk solids, and 3.5 percent milk fat, and no more than 55 percent sugar or other sweeteners. Previously, American brands needed to apply for special licenses to sell white chocolate.

Because it contains no cocoa solids, white chocolate has only trace amounts of caffeine as well as the other anti-oxidant ingredients found in semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate.

All this, of course, refers to dairy white chocolate.

Pareve white coating, also known as confectioner’s coating, should not be confused with the real stuff as it’s made from solid or vegetable fats, and contains nothing of the cocoa bean. These products may not be labeled for sale as “white chocolate.” They are usually whiter than dairy chocolate, as the cocoa butter is what gives white chocolate its creamy color. Recently, however, we have introduced a pareve white coating that does contain some cocoa butter, giving it superior flavor. It’s a great choice when dairy is not an option.

White Chocolate Brownies

No — these are not “blondies.” Just taste them and enjoy the true gooey texture of brownies!

10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 stick)

6 ounces white chocolate spread (available at The Peppermill)

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup pecans, lightly chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch x 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on each side. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter. Add the white chocolate spread. Stir the mixture to combine. They won’t completely mix together, but that’s fine. Allow to cool slightly.

Whisk in the sugar, followed by the vanilla, eggs and salt. Make sure the mixture isn’t too hot when you add the eggs, otherwise they may scramble. Whisk together the mixture until smooth and evenly combined; carefully fold in the flour. Stir in pecan pieces.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until the top is set and the sides are starting to pull away from the pan and the top is golden. An inserted toothpick should come out with a few moist crumbs, or clean. Allow the brownies to cool fully in the pan.

When they’re cool, lift the brownies out of the pan using the aluminum foil edges. Carefully peel back the sides of the foil; then cut into 16 squares or 20 small bars.