We all have that friend who would say “white chocolate isn’t really chocolate”.
It is! And here’s why…
Chocolate when it comes down to it is made from the following simple ingredients: roasted and ground cocoa beans (cocoa powder), cocoa butter (fatty substance obtained from cocoa beans), some form of sweetener (most commonly sugar) and emulsifier (to stick it all together). Added to this will usually be whole milk powder to make milk and white chocolate.
The reason white chocolate is white is because it lacks the cocoa powder, however it makes up for this by it’s cocoa butter content. To be classified as chocolate white chocolate consist of at least 20% cocoa butter. A cocoa bean is made up of about equal parts cocoa butter and cacao nibs. Cocoa butter is a healthy fat, mostly saturated just like coconut oil. Cocoa butter benefits include: preventing skin dryness and peeling; healing chapped lips; fighting signs of aging; soothing burns, rashes and infections; treating mouth sores; working as a shaving cream; improving heart health; and raising immunity.
Chocolate in its simplest form is referred to as “couverture chocolate”. You may see a lot of “chocolates” in the supermarket being referred to as “compound chocolate” – this means they are not real chocolate – M&Ms for example.
So when your friend tells you white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, is that because they are referring to these supermarket compound chocolates? Maybe, but there could be another reason.
Let’s take Cadbury’s ingredients for example. If you look at the ingredients you will see the strange number 476, this is a vegetable fat. It is also known as Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate (PGPR) and is gaining popularity as it is used in making low-end commercial chocolate bars, replacing cocoa butter. Additionally, their white chocolate contains “flavours”. They do this so they can offer “chocolate” at a lower price point because cocoa butter is the most expensive ingredient in chocolate. If you look at the actual percentages of cocoa in their chocolate, the milk is 26% and the white is 23% – not very different at all.
In a court case regarded as a ‘chocolate war’ that started when Britain joined the EU in 1973 and ended in 2000 the European court of justice in Luxembourg ruled “The characteristic element of all products bearing the name chocolate is the presence of a certain minimum cocoa and cocoa butter content. (But) the addition of vegetable fats does not substantially alter the nature of those products.”, legally to be chocolate you must have a minimum amount of Cocoa Butter and Cocoa Powder.
Now let’s consider traditional chocolate, like what we use at Chocolab in our Creation Lab. Our milk chocolate is 34% cocoa and our white chocolate is 28% cocoa (again not too big a difference). Both containing pure 100% Cocoa Butter, no artificial flavours or added vegetable fats.
Ok so what if your white chocolate does contain the minimum 20% cocoa butter, that makes it nice chocolate right? Not necessarily. Things to look for in your white chocolate:
- Does it have the minimum 20% cocoa butter (higher quantities will be a nicer chocolate, however also makes the chocolate a lot more expensive as this is the most expensive ingredient in chocolate).
- Does it have an off-white colour – more of an ivory then a white? (Cocoa butter is yellow in colour, some chocolates add chemicals, or colours to change the colour of their chocolate and are generally not very nice to taste).
Conclusion: White chocolate is really chocolate, and contains all the benefits of chocolate as long as the minimum cocoa butter percentage exceeds 20%. Where chocolate contains added fats or artificial flavours, then it could be considered a chocolate substitute that is not nearly as delicious.
Now you can go and educate your friend!