So white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate as it mainly consists of milk. rather than cocoa solids. Often it contains palm oil or other ‘fillers’ and lots of sweeteners. Cocoa butter gives white chocolate its creamy texture and colour.
So who first produced this white bar? It seems that it was Nestle. The company began producing the new bars commercially in Switzerland in 1936. The story goes that it was originally made in order to use up the excess milk powder that had been made during the First World War. At the end of the war, it was no longer in demand, so making the new white bars was one way of using up the surplus. This also uses up the cocoa butter that is extracted from the cacao bean when cocoa powder is produced. Cocoa butter is not only used in making white chocolate, but it can also be found in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
The cost of cocoa butter increased dramatically between 2005 and 2015, which led to many chocolate manufacturers using less of it and adding fillers such as vegetable oil to their chocolate.
Manufacturers of these white bars of our favorite confectionary are experimenting with new flavours. These include flavouring it with turmeric and pomegranate, mango, chilli and lime, rosemary and sea salt, and even Thai curry shrimp. Now white chocolate can be made with non-dairy milk as well as goat’s milk. You can also get a superior chocolate which has lemon oil and lemon salt in it. One German manufacturer puts kale and mustard in his, as well as combining it with broccoli and Sicilian almonds. Other producers add roasted blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. This kind of white confectionary lends itself to enhancement. You can even buy bars that are flavoured with black sesame seeds, vanilla, and matcha, but this is grey rather than white in colour. Other combinations include za’atar (a spice blend from the Middle East) candied orange and pistachios.
If your chocolate bar is very bright white, it has been bleached, (cocoa butter is yellow, not white) and most likely deodorized. Read the label before you buy. You are recommended to buy bars of the stuff which contain just cocoa butter, sugar, milk powder or milk solids and perhaps vanilla and lecithin.
Obviously, it is best to buy your bar from a speciality or craft chocolate shop, or a specialty grocers emporium.
Perhaps we should all try these new flavoured bars and give our jaded palates a treat!
by Lynne Evans