Plus, is it really chocolate?
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White Chocolate Blondies
Credit: Cristi

Nothing screams "decadence" quite like rich, creamy, and ridiculously sweet white chocolate. Whether you eat it alone or use it as an ingredient, the confection is fantastically indulgent. But what exactly is white chocolate – and what in the world is it made of? Let's find out: 

What Is White Chocolate (and Is It Really Chocolate)?

overhead view of hot cocoa mixes, white chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, and dark and milk chocolate pieces arrayed on a marble slab
Credit: Jessica Furniss

White chocolate is an intensely sweet confection that is enjoyed on its own or as an ingredient in desserts such as cakes, cookies, and more. The decadent treat is creamy, complex, and absolutely irresistible. 

For the naysayers: Yes, white chocolate is really chocolate! Its main ingredient is cocoa butter, which is fat derived from cocoa beans. 

In the United States, white chocolate must contain at least 20 percent cocoa fat and at least 3.5 percent milkfat. 

What Is White Chocolate Made Of? 

White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids, vanilla, and a fatty food additive called lecithin. When you're shopping for white chocolate, check the nutrition label to make sure it includes cocoa butter – some cheaper varieties use vegetable oil.

Also, don't confuse white candy melts with real white chocolate. The confectionery discs are made to mimic the real thing, but they have subtle flavor and texture differences.  

White Chocolate vs. Milk and Dark Chocolate

The main difference between white chocolate and dark and milk chocolates is that white chocolate doesn't contain any cocoa solids (the non-fatty parts of chocolate in its rawest form). This means two things: 

  • While other types of chocolate are caffeinated, the trace amounts of caffeine in white chocolate are so low it's considered caffeine-free. 
  • White chocolate contains a much higher butter content than milk and dark chocolates, so it has a lower melting point. 

What Does White Chocolate Taste Like? 

white chocolate orange cookies
Credit: Dianne

White chocolate gets most of its flavor from vanilla extract. It has a creamy, delicate, and sugary flavor that's much milder than its darker relatives. 

Related:

White Chocolate History

It's not clear exactly when or where white chocolate was created. However, we do know that Nestlé was the first to commercially produce white chocolate candy as a way to use up excess milk powder during World War I. The earliest version, released in 1936, was called the Galak Bar. The almond-studded Alpine Bar was released in 1948. 

How Is White Chocolate Made?

So where does white chocolate come from? All types of chocolate start with cacao beans, the dried and fermented seeds of the cacao tree in South America and West Africa. 

The beans are roasted, then crushed into pieces called cacao nibs. These nibs are ground into non-alcoholic chocolate liquor, which can be separated into solids (the flavorful stuff you find in cocoa powder and dark chocolates) and fats (the cocoa butter). 

The butter doesn't actually have much flavor by itself, but it adds decadent creaminess to sweet ingredients. 

White Chocolate vs. Blonde Chocolate

pieces of caramelized white chocolate stored in a jar
Credit: Stacey Ballis

Blonde chocolate, which is slightly darker than its pure white counterpart, is simply caramelized white chocolate. Caramelization (slowly cooking at a high temperature, so that the water is removed and the sugar is broken down) produces a richer, nuttier, slightly more complex flavor that's reminiscent of caramel. 

How to Use White Chocolate 

chopped white chocolate in glass bowl
Credit: Stacey Ballis

White chocolate is a common ingredient in all kinds of desserts, from basic cakes and cookies to fancy treats like tarts and mousse. Some recipes just call for white chocolate chips as simple mix-ins, but many recipes require you to melt chips, discs, or bars. 

How to Melt White Chocolate

  1. If you're starting with a chocolate bar, roughly chop it into smaller pieces.
  2. Set up a makeshift double boiler with a heat-proof bowl and a pot or saucepan. The bowl should be slightly larger than the pot so that it fits on top of it without falling in. 
  3. Fill the pot or saucepan with a few inches of water. Place about ⅔ of the chocolate in the bowl. Fit the bowl on the pot or pan, but make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. 
  4. Bring the water to a gentle simmer. Allow the white chocolate to slowly melt, stirring often with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining ⅓ of the chocolate a little at a time. Stir gently until the chocolate is smooth, glossy, and completely melted. 

White Chocolate Recipes

White Chocolate Fondue
Photo by Allrecipes

If all this white chocolate talk has your mouthwatering, you're in luck. We've got hundreds of white chocolate recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth. Try one of these irresistible treats today: 

Hungry for more? Explore our entire collection of White Chocolate Recipes.