Updated: Jan 31
Is White Chocolate Real and What do all the Percentages Mean??
posted by :: Michael from Moksha Chocolate
When people choose to say that white chocolate isn't real, my first thought is, well... you obviously haven't made it from scratch. Implying that 40% of white chocolate isn't what it claims, is as if to suggest that 72% of chocolate is really more like 32%. This however is a particular argument I’ve never heard from a chocophile of dark chocolate enthusiasts. So, what does it mean when I suggest 40% and 72%, and how does a chocolate purist make white chocolate??
Cocoa Powder can include up to 400 different compounds (depending on fermentation) and cocoa butter is mostly Palmitic and Stearic Acid (both saturated fats at around 60%). The other main component is Oleic Acid, which is classified as a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Both of these items, on their own, in their separate forms, are both considered 100% chocolate.
So, now is the time to break down what I meant when I say 72% chocolate. In order to get a chocolate with a smooth creamy mouth feel, you need around 40-42% cocoa butter. The rest is made up of cocoa mass with the last "Not Chocolate" portion being sugar. In this case, 28%. If I had 60% cocoa butter, 20% cocoa mass and 20% sugar, this would be classified as 80% chocolate. The point is, chocolate percentages are made by adding the fat and mass together. All other ingredients make up the "NON CHOCOLATE" portion.
There is another component that goes into making well rounded chocolate. Cacao nibs are generally considered to have 50% fat and 50% solids. This can swing both ways, but for the sake of example let's use these numbers. If I make a 72% dark chocolate with just nibs and sugar, my percentages come out as 36% cocoa mass, 36% cocoa butter and 28% sugar. At 36% fat, the chocolate can tend to have a chalky texture.
This makes it slow to melt in your mouth and can be too chewy, when we would much rather the “melt in your mouth” sensation we all know and love. To get around this obstacle, chocolate makers will lower the amount of nibs and augment the recipe by adding extra fat. For my 72% I add an extra 6% fat which brings the percentages to 42% cocoa butter, 30% cocoa mass and 28% sugar. This is still 72% dark chocolate.
White chocolate with a percentage of 40% is made up of 40% fat and the remaining 60% a combination of sugar, milk powder or other alternative milk substitutes. I find milk powder to be cloying and sort of “sour”. As we are a plant based facility, we use coconut cream powder as our milk substitute. Making white chocolate seems easy, right? Melt the fat, add the ingredients, grind for a day and voila... white chocolate! Having said that, this is only part of the story.
Now, here comes the purest part of the Bean to Bar chocolate maker. You can buy cocoa butter fat from many places. I've bought and experimented with all manner of "Ecuador organic pure virgin really good you'll love it" Cocoa butter... did I mention USDA organic... but, I have yet to find a product that I would consider worthy of including in my chocolate. Therefore, if you can't buy it you have to make it.
Making Cocoa butter is just the same as making chocolate. I take 100% cocoa nibs and grind them for 24 hours to make cacao liquor. I then put the liquid into a strong cotton sack and then press the contents at pressures of up to 8500 psi in my Hanaro type butter press. The bag holds the mass inside and the liquid fat oozes out the side of the press which is then collected as a separate chocolate component. So far we are one day into making and all we have is the fat.
Next step, I construct the final product by adding the ingredients and grinding for another 24 hours. Two days after the process began, I have a product that is almost ready, but really is only considered couverture or bulk chocolate. To sell the product I need to Temper, mold set and pack it. Then it is considered Chocolate. Generally this process takes 3 days.
This is real folks. Real, and it takes a real long time. 40% white chocolate is just as authentic as 72% Dark chocolate, it's no more processed than Dark chocolate, it's just processed differently.