Chocolate controversy #1 white chocolate

Does white chocolate deserve the bad rap it gets?

That, my friends, depends on the kind of white chocolate you are eating. Like everything in life, there is good white chocolate and bad “white chocolate.”

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of exactly what white chocolate is.

White chocolate is essentially

  • cocoa butter
  • milk
  • sugar

But there has always been a heated discussion among the chocolate experts and aficionados as to whether white chocolate even deserves to be called that!

Europe has been much more purist on this subject than other parts of the world, proclaiming that unless there are actual chocolate solids present (that’s the chocolate liquor that comes from grinding up the roasted cacao beans), it shouldn’t be called chocolate at all. While other countries have countered that the cocoa butter used in the chocolate still comes from the cocoa bean. 

And in the words of  David Leibovitz, the famous pastry chef and author,

"Bickering over the nomenclature becomes tiring. We still call hamburgers by that name, even though they are not made of ham.”

Back in 2004, the FDA set up the criteria needed in order for a product to be called white chocolate and these hold true today:

  • It must contain at least 20% cocoa butter
  • It must contain at least 14% milk solids and 3.5% milk fat
  • It should not contain more than 55% sweetener

Growing up in the ‘70s, the white chocolate I was familiar with and liked most was Milky Bar. I think this may have had something to do with the fact that I was a little bit in love with the Milky Bar kid, a gawky, bespectacled boy who was the protagonist in their western-themed advertising campaign of yesteryear.  

Today the bar's ingredients are listed as 37 percent milk,followed by sugar, then cocoa butter, and a whole host of other ingredients including a mixture of other oils including Palm (hmm). This bar is still called white chocolate so it must contain at least 20 percent cocoa butter.

It’s interesting to me that Nestle chose to market the healthy aspect of their Milky bar by highlighting the amount of milk in each serving. A marketing ploy that takes away from the obviously not particularly high percentage of cocoa butter. Remember it only has to be 20 percent to be classified as white chocolate.

A look at the ingredients on the white Hershey's Cookies and cream bar, on the other hand, lists sugar first, followed by vegetable oil (palm,shea,sunflower),non- fat milk, corn syrup, wheat, flour, and way down the list, 2 percent or less of cocoa, plus a host of other ingredients.

This bar is NOT white chocolate.

To be fair to Hershey’s, they don’t market it as chocolate but rather as a white candy bar, although by the very nature of its color, those uneducated in the intricacies of chocolate classification, may assume erroneously that it is. 

This use of other cheaper oils is common among the larger manufacturers as cocoa butter is an expensive commodity.

In contrast, the craft chocolate world choose to use cocoa butter and more of it. 

Here at Belize Chocolate Company, we use 40 percent of our natural (non deodorized) cocoa butter in our white chocolate bar, followed by equal percentages of sugar and milk. This results in a sweet, creamy flavor profile with delicate hints of roasted cacao beans. It is the perfect canvas for other flavors in ganaches particularly the more subtle ones such as matcha, and it works beautifully with fruits such as pineapple, mango and passionfruit.

So no! In response to Chocolate Controversy #1, we dont think white chocolate deserves the bad rap. It needs to be applauded not berated.

What do you think? We would love to hear your comments.



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