I mean, I love chocolate. I mean REAL, honest-to-goodness chocolate. Chocolate candy bars, ice cream, cake, cookies, brownies, fudge… You name it, if it has chocolate in it, I probably love it.
When I close my eyes and think of chocolate, I imagine its rich roasted taste, its rich aroma, and all of its cacao chocolaty goodness.
I also imagine it brown. First, let me be truthful and disclose that I don’t care one lick (literally) for white chocolate, except maybe as a foundation ingredient for something I later flavor with alcohol, fruit, coffee, or nuts. Then, I can deal with it. Otherwise, meh.
The problem with white chocolate is that it has absolutely nothing that makes it, well, chocolate. Namely, it’s missing the pulp and flavor of the cacao bean that chocolate comes from. White chocolate’s Food & Drug Administration Standard of Identity only requires it to contain a percentage of cocoa butter, which generally speaking has no palatable flavor as a confection until you start adding vanilla or other genuine flavors to it.
Why did the FDA establish a standard of identity for white chocolate?
Well, it was actually petitioned for specific identification by…wait for it… The Hershey Food Corporation and by the Chocolate Manufacturer’s Association of the United States of America. On October 4, 2002, the FDA published a final rule in the Federal Register that established a standard of identity for white chocolate (67 FR 62171). The final rule became effective on January 1, 2004.
It reads as follows: White chocolate is the solid or semi-plastic food prepared by mixing and grinding cocoa butter with one or more of the optional dairy ingredients listed in 21 CFR 163.124(b)(2) and one or more optional nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners. It contains a minimum of 20 percent cocoa butter, a minimum of 14 percent of total milk solids, a minimum of 3.5 percent milk-fat, and a maximum of 55 percent nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners. (21 CFR 163.124)
Notice that there is no mention of the cacao bean mass as even being in the standard of identity–that is, the stuff that gives (real) chocolate its real flavor.
Also, notice that beyond white chocolate’s cocoa butter, everything else is pretty general/optional. Meaning, before you plunk down some hard-earned cash, it would be wise to read the label.
To me, most white chocolate is about as appealing (on its own) as a vanilla-flavored fat clay.
Okay, you obviously know where I stand on white chocolate now.
Having said all of this, I am actually on speaking terms with white chocolate. As a matter of fact, like flour in cakes, it’s a suitable base for making fillings and mousses. One in particular, my Bailey’s White Chocolate Mousse, even won a regional competition held in Detroit when I was at Opus One.
And I’ll share it with you here:
Bailey’s White Chocolate Mousse (Yield Approximately 4 cups)
8 oz (Weight) White Chocolate, chopped ½ inch 1/3 cup Milk ½ cup Irish Cream Liquor (Bailey’s) 1 package Unflavored Gelatin ½ tsp Vanilla Extract, Pure 1 ½ cup Whipping Cream 3 ea Egg Whites Pinch Salt
1. Mix milk with Bailey’s liquor. 2. Place chocolate in a medium-size mixing bowl, and pour ½ of the milk mixture over the chocolate. 3. Place chocolate and milk mixture over a double boiler pot and melt together while stirring. 4. When warm and melted together, remove from the water bath and set aside. 5. Add gelatin to other ½ of milk mixture and stir in. Set aside for 2 to 3 minutes. 6. Then, place in a microwave oven and heat until mixture is very warm (not boiling) and the gelatin has dissolved in the mixture. 7. Remove hot milk mixture from the microwave oven and pour into the chocolate mixture, stirring well to incorporate. 8. Set the chocolate mixture aside, and allow it to come to nearly room temperature. The mixture should remain liquid and slightly warm. 9. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Then, fold into the chocolate mixture. 10. Beat whipping cream until stiff but not dry and fold into the chocolate mixture. 11. Portion finished mousse into cups or use as a cake filling. 12. YOU CAN USE ANY LIQUOR IN THIS RECIPE, or you can use ALL MILK for a straight White Chocolate Mousse dessert.