Uncle John knows pretty much everything—and if he doesn’t, he heads his massive research library, or puts one of his many associates on the case. So go ahead: In the comments below, ask Uncle John anything. (And if we answer your question sometime, we’ll send you a free book!)
Is white chocolate a form of chocolate? Or, is it this other thing that is sort of like chocolate in texture and creaminess (but not flavor, appearance, or myriad other things)? Or, is it just trying to jump on the bandwagon of chocolate, because everybody likes chocolate?
White chocolate is chocolate…and it isn’t. White chocolate is, well, white chocolate.
To learn about white chocolate, let’s look at how regular chocolate is made. Cocoa pods are harvested, and the cocoa beans inside are removed. Then they’re fermented, dried, and roasted. The beans are then de-shelled, revealing cocoa nibs. Then those nibs are ground into a paste, also known as chocolate liquor. Industrial equipment further separates the chocolate liquor into cocoa solids—used to make chocolate bars, or ground to make cocoa powder—as well as a creamy, white vegetable fat called cocoa butter.
Cocoa butter is kind of gross tasting, although it smells pretty good, which is why it’s a common ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products. But it’s the main ingredient in white chocolate…so long as milk solids, milk fat, and lots of sugar and vanilla are added. In 2004, the FDA cracked down on subpar white chocolate by drawing up new rules for what chocolate producers can legally call “white chocolate.” Under federal white chocolate law, white chocolate must contain at least 20 percent cocoa butter, 14 percent milk solids, and a maximum of 55 percent sugar (or other sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup). Other legally allowed ingredients in white chocolate: vanilla, of course, and lecitin, a fatty acid that acts as an emulsifier, preventing all the ingredients from separating.