Think You Hate White Chocolate? Try Microwaving It

Something magical will happen in there, and you’ll love how it tastes.

Bowl full of melted white chocolate
Photo: Getty Images

White chocolate gets a bad rep for some very legitimate reasons: For starters, it's very sweet. Unlike dark chocolate that balances its sweetness with a slightly bitter edge, white chocolate can taste almost saccharine. It also doesn't contain any actual cocoa, so its flavor profile is a bit one note. Some people love these qualities, but many loathe them. For anyone who falls into the latter camp, one simple step might help change your mind: caramelizing white chocolate in the microwave.

It turns out that microwaving white chocolate until it becomes golden and fragrant can unlock a world of flavors you might not know the confection was capable of. Here's what you need to know about microwaving white chocolate to release its true, caramelized potential.

What Is Caramelized White Chocolate?

Caramelized white chocolate is exactly what it sounds like: white chocolate that is melted and heated to the point of caramelization. Because white chocolate has more sugar content compared to semisweet or bittersweet varieties, it's prime for heating up to the point of caramelization. When this happens, white chocolate darkens in color, becomes aromatic, and takes on a bolder, butterscotch-like flavor. Instead of being ivory white with a mild, sugar-forward flavor, it becomes a rich amber color with a buttery, bittersweet flavor.

This process is most commonly done in the oven by baking white chocolate at a low temperature for a long period of time and stirring it every so often. This process requires patience, a lot of babysitting, and can't be rushed; plus stirring the chocolate on a large sheet pan runs the risk of burning it. (It's not very easy to stir melted chocolate on a flat surface!) But you can also caramelize white chocolate in the microwave, which is an easier, quicker way to achieve the same deeply caramelized flavor.

How to Easily Caramelize White Chocolate in the Microwave

To easily caramelize white chocolate in the microwave, add at least 6 ounces of white chocolate (either chips or chopped bars) to a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high power for one minute, then stir the chocolate until smooth. Keep microwaving your chocolate in one-minute increments, stirring between each, until you notice the chocolate starts to become crumbly and browned in spots. After a few minutes your chocolate will appear like it's ruined, but the more you stir it in between bursts, the smoother it will become. The chocolate will appear chalky and dry before the caramelization process works its magic, so just keep stirring it.

Once your chocolate darkens into a very light beige, reduce your bursts to 20 seconds each, still stirring between each. At this point your chocolate has started the caramelization process and can be stopped whenever you're happy with the color. A lighter color will have a subtle caramel flavor, but if you continue to microwave your chocolate until it's a dark amber, it will start to develop a richer, bittersweet flavor. Depending on how much chocolate you are caramelizing at once and how dark you want to go, this process can range from roughly five minutes to upwards of 15. Immediately after caramelizing, the chocolate will be very hot, so be careful not to burn yourself. After cooling slightly you can pour it onto a sheet of parchment paper, let it harden, chop it into pieces, and store it in an airtight container at room temperature for several months.

The Best Recipes for Baking with Caramelized White Chocolate

Caramelized white chocolate can be used in pretty much any recipe that calls for conventional white chocolate. It's great added to cookie dough, melted into coffee to create a caramelized white chocolate mocha, or folded into brownie batter to add a pop of butterscotch flavor. However, it's not ideal for coating things, as it hardens slightly softer than regular white chocolate and is not as shiny. But for any other application, you should be able to use it without worry.

looking at a stack of white chocolate and cranberry cookies with one broken in half
Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Ready to get baking? Here are some recipes that would be perfect for baking with caramelized white chocolate:

If you want to try a different method for caramelizing white chocolate, check out these oven and stovetop techniques:

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