What to Look for When Buying White Chocolate

Ingredient Intelligence

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When a recipe calls for a good-quality white chocolate, do you know what to look for when you compare brands and labels? And does what you choose determine if your recipe will succeed? Here are a few tips for buying the best white chocolate for baking and melting.

Many argue that since white chocolate doesn't contain the dry cocoa solids that are in chocolate liquor, it's not really chocolate at all. Whether or not you agree, you should still know what to look for when purchasing white chocolate.

What Is White Chocolate?

The FDA has mandated that white chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa butter, at least 14% milk solids, at least 3.5% milkfat, and a maximum of 55% in sweeteners.

The amount of cocoa butter is key here: many products out there that look like white chocolate, especially chips, contain very little, if any, cocoa butter. If you look carefully, they're actually labeled white baking chips or morsels, and usually contain mostly milk, oil, and sugar. Buyer, beware!

Cooking with White Chocolate

If you're just mixing chips into cookies or cakes, you might not notice a big difference between the baking chips and real white chocolate chips. To be honest, you can just buy what tastes best to you out of hand.

Melting, however, is a different story. When I tried melting baking morsels to drizzle on biscotti, it seized and clumped up repeatedly, even after I made sure to melt it at a low temperature and not get any water into it — this is probably due to additives and the lack of cocoa butter. The real white chocolate, however, melted beautifully and was easy to drizzle onto the cookies.

The next time you're in the market for white chocolate, think about how you'll use it and make sure to read the labels carefully so that you make the right choice!

(Image credits: limpido/Shutterstock; Emma Christensen; Quanthem/Shutterstock)