Caramelized White Chocolate (FAK Friday)

{How To} Caramelized White Chocolate

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve asked the question, “do you like white chocolate?” and heard, “no, I like dark chocolate.” It’s a pet peeve of mine when people say this, because I didn’t ask if they liked white chocolate or dark chocolate… why does it have to be one or the other?

Poor white chocolate, always living in the shadow of its dark counterpart. Why can’t we just appreciate it for what it is? Rich, creamy, decadent… and bursting with potential.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I am a lover of all things dark chocolate (the darker, the better!), but white chocolate and I have our own little love affair. The two are so different from one another, it isn’t really fare to compare them, or choose just one or the other. They are almost yin and yang to each other. One dark and bitter, one light and sweet. Both rich, smooth, and melting.

Whether you love it or hate it, though, there is one thing white chocolate has above dark. And that is this: it can be turned into caramel.

Caramelized White Chocolate

I first learned about caramelizing white chocolate when David Lebovitz shared the technique way back in 2009. I immediately added it to my list of must-make things, but have only now gotten around to trying it. Procrastination is apparently my forte, as this post was supposed to be published a couple days ago, now. Better late than never, right?

The idea here is really quite simple. At its base, white chocolate is little more than milk, cocoa butter, sugar, and vanilla. When exposed to heat, the sugar caramelizes, transforming our plain white chocolate into a flowing pool of sweet, molten caramel.

The technique was first created at the Ecole de Grande Chocolat, Valrhona’s French school of chocolate arts. Thank goodness the people of Valrhona were kind enough to share it with the rest of the world, because this stuff really is a gem. A sweet and decadent caramel, which acts exactly like chocolate — solid at room temperature, easily melted, and able to be turned into most anything regular chocolate can. Even if you aren’t a fan of white chocolate, I urge you to give this a try.

Caramelized White Chocolate

Making a batch of this luscious stuff is simple. All you need is some good quality white chocolate — the higher the cocoa butter content, the better. According to the FDA, white chocolate must contain a minimum of 20% cocoa butter to be called “chocolate.” Beware of the stuff labeled “white morsels” or “white chips,” as these are not real white chocolate. If your chocolate has a low cocoa butter content, it may develop a grainy texture, or not taste as good. I suggest looking for something with at least 30% cocoa butter for this.

I used Guittard white chocolate wafers, here. Of course, Valrhona is another obvious choice. Or, if you find your only options are those available in the candy aisle, I’ve found Green & Black’s white chocolate bar to be one of the better ones on the market, and should work just fine. Whatever you use, be sure to check the cocoa butter content — it may be hidden in the fine print, but it should be there.

So, funny story… I ordered a pound of white chocolate to play around with, and two kilograms showed up at my front door. Now, I’m tempted to turn it all into caramel and just eat it by the spoonful until I go into a sugar-coma, but there’s a small part of me that says that probably isn’t a good idea. So instead I’m going to ask you guys for help. What are some of your favorite uses for white chocolate? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll try to take one of your suggestions and turn it into a blog post in the (not too distant) future.

Now, where were we?

Caramelized White Chocolate

Start by preheating your oven to 250 degrees F. If your chocolate is in discs, wafers, or chips, dump them onto a rimmed baking sheet. If your chocolate is in a block or a bar, roughly chop it and then dump onto a baking sheet. Place the pan on the middle rack of your oven, and set a timer for ten minutes. When the time is up, give the chocolate a stir, and return it to the oven, setting your timer for another ten minutes.

Caramelized White Chocolate

Repeat the process, making sure to scrape the chocolate from the pan and stir until smooth each time. It may be tempting to stick your finger in there and give it a taste, but keep in mind that chocolate is a molten pool of burning, not safe for fingers, tongues, or other extremities. You’ve been warned.

Caramelized White Chocolate

The chocolate may appear dry and crumbly at times, but don’t worry, this is normal. Just keep stirring and it will become smooth and creamy again right before your eyes. The only difference in the two photos above is about 40 seconds of moderate stirring. Crazy, right?

Caramelized White Chocolate
Keep repeating this process, stirring every 10 minutes, until the chocolate darkens to your liking. David Lebovitz likened its color to that of peanut butter, and I have to agree. I found my chocolate took around 60-70 minutes to get dark enough for my taste, but you may find that yours takes more or less time, depending on the chocolate you use. If your chocolate goes a little too far and becomes grainy, simply press it through a fine mesh sieve, or blitz it in your blender for a bit to smooth it out again.

Caramelized White Chocolate

Once the chocolate is nice and caramelized, add a small pinch of sea salt, to taste, and stir to combine.
Pour into a clean jar and store at room temperature. Once cooled, the chocolate may look dry or speckled — don’t worry, this is normal. To use, simply reheat the jar in a shallow pot of water on the stove, or place in the microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring in between. Chocolate can be dipped, drizzled, or poured; molded into candies, whipped into ganache, melted into hot cocoa, eaten by the spoonful, or used in most any other way regular chocolate could be. 
Caramelized White Chocolate
{How To} Caramelize White Chocolate
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 lb good quality white chocolate (at least 30% cocoa butter content)
Pinch of sea salt, to taste
Method
1.   Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
2.   If your chocolate is in a block or a bar, chop it roughly. Spread chocolate on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, remove the pan from the oven and give the chocolate a stir.
3.   Return the chocolate to the oven and bake for another 40-60 minutes, or until the chocolate is a deep golden color, stopping to stir every ten minutes. When stirring, be sure to scrape the chocolate from the bottom of the pan. It may appear dry and crumbly at first, but keep stirring and it will become smooth again. Be very careful, as the chocolate is extremely hot!
4.   Once the chocolate has reached a deep golden caramel color, stir in a pinch of sea salt, to taste. If the chocolate has gone a little too long in the oven and has become grainy, simply press it through a fine mess sieve, or give it a quick blitz in a blender to smooth it out again.
5.   Pour finished chocolate into a clean jar, and store at room temperature for up to a few months. Once cooled, the chocolate may look blotchy or speckled, but don’t worry, that’s normal. To use, reheat the jar in a pot of shallow water on the stove, or place in the microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring in between. Chocolate can be dipped, drizzled, or poured; molded into candies, whipped into ganache, melted into hot cocoa, eaten by the spoonful, or used in most any other way regular chocolate could be. 
Note: you should be able to double this recipe fairly easily. It may take slightly longer for the chocolate to caramelize, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. However, I do NOT suggest using much less than 12-16 oz. of chocolate at a time, as it may be easily burnt.

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43 Responses to Caramelized White Chocolate (FAK Friday)

  1. Kelly Neil October 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    OH. MA. LORD. I can die happy now.

  2. Kier October 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Super delicious! This has been on my list of techniques to try for about 2 years or so – thanks for reminding me that I need to give it a try, especially since I have two birthday cakes to make this week. I think I can somehow manage to incorporate this in to one of them.

    • Willow Arlen October 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      You’re welcome! I put it off for ages, but it is so simple to make. I think it would be great in a frosting, or in between cake layers, too!

  3. AHAviews October 28, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    The Boy has asked for a chocolate fondue at the halloween gathering this year – I wonder if keeping the caramelized white chocolate warm for that long would be a problem? Tempted… Very tempted….

    • Willow Arlen October 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work… let me know if you try it!

  4. Jeff Bannow October 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    I’ll bet this would be amazing in some white chocolate macadamia nut cookies ….

  5. Amy @ Elephant Eats October 28, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    White and dark chocolate both have a place in my heart- it really depends on what I’m in the mood for! I had no idea you could caramelize white chocolate thought…that definitely intrigues me. It’s crazy how the color changes! Haha, I’m glad you put that warning about tasting…i can’t imagine how you found that out ;) I burn my mouth EVERY time I boil sugar to make something. I’m such an idiot.

    • Willow Arlen October 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

      Haha, I am the exact same way… I never learn!

  6. Anonymous October 28, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    When I do this in my restaurant we use a deep insert rather than a baking pan, much easier to stir.

  7. DessertForTwo October 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    I’m so glad you shared photos, because I would have panicked if I saw a clumpy mass in the oven at any point. And thanks for the warning about not sticking my finger in, because you know I would do that too.

    I happen to adore white chocolate AND dark chocolate :)

    • Willow Arlen October 30, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

      Yay! White chocolate an dark chocolate both deserve a piece of the love. And yeah, it’s a little scary when it seizes up like that, but so cool to watch it smooth out again. :)

  8. jFold October 29, 2013 at 2:12 am #

    You are evil and I wholeheartedly agree, white chocolate is completely underrated. I have never heard of caramelized white chocolate and must try this as I am currently a bit obsessed with all things caramel. In terms of baking my favorite use for white chocolate is buttercream. I find that melting 10-12 oz of white chocolate in about 1/4 C of silver rum creates s a fantastically subtle, clean, sweet flavor when added to a standard French buttercream base. NEVER add liquid to melted white chocolate as it will seize into a delicious but wholly unappetizing mess of fat and solid. Instead melt the chocolate in the liquid of your choice and stir gently until melted and combined.

    • Willow Arlen October 30, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

      Mm, that white chocolate and rum buttercream sounds delicious! Thanks!

  9. Cheryl Hurley October 29, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    Whoa, this looks amazing! I actually adore white chocolate, but you’re right, it’s never in comparison to “regular” chocolate. It’s a completely different animal! I actually have a hefty chunk of white Valrhona hanging out in my pantry asking to be put to good use.. but never got around to it! I wonder if the consistency is solid enough to make truffles out of.. thoughts?

    • Willow Arlen October 30, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

      I don’t see why not! It acts exactly like white chocolate, so I assume it can be tempered and used in the same way. I bet caramelized white chocolate truffles would be divine!

  10. Erin | The Law Students Wife October 29, 2013 at 4:33 am #

    WHAT? Where has this been all my life! Also David Lebovitz rocks my socks.
    Willow, I’m so blow away by your writing/photography! Keep it up girl.

  11. Bakingyummies October 29, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    I’m so happy to find this information. You know I’ve always shied away from using white chocolate, just the look of that white mass makes me turn away. I always thought it shouldn’t even be called chocolate. I’ve been so harsh on it (my dark chocolate love made me blind). But not anymore, I can use now use caramelized white chocolate in so may recipes! Thank you.

  12. carey October 29, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    We are totally on the same page when it comes to chocolate (no surprise!). I adore both dark and white, and it always upsets me when people turn their nose up at the latter. (Confession: One of the dangers of living just up the road from the Lake Champlain Chocolates factory [AND just down the road from their downtown location—lordy, Burlington is small] is that it’s way too easy to indulge in my white chocolate cravings. They sell bags of high-quality white chocolate discs, and I’ll snack on them until I feel sick.)

    I remember seeing a post on Food52 about caramelizing white chocolate, and it blew my mind. I can’t believe I still have yet to try it! Next time I get a bag of those discs, I’ll do this immediately…before I eat them all.

    Also, as far as using up extra white chocolate goes, I’m casting my vote for peppermint bark! It’s my #1 holiday candy weakness. (:

    • Willow Arlen October 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

      Ugh, I do the exact same thing when I get my hands on a bag of white chocolate. I can’t keep my hands out of it!

      And believe it or not, I have never made candy bark before… like, any kind of candy bark. I’ll have to give that a try!

  13. Rosa October 29, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Hi! I just ran into your blog thanks to tastespotting, and I couldn’t leave it without a little note. You have a wonderful blog! Very beautiful pictures! And I’m sure that your recipes taste as great as they look! I will definitely try some of them soon! This one for sure, as I LOVE white chocolate! Looking forward to read more on your blog :)

    • Willow Arlen October 30, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

      Thank you so much, Rosa! Glad to have you here. :)

  14. tworedbowls.com October 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    I love this! I hadn’t heard of this until just a few days ago and hadn’t known how to make it until I read your post just now. This is such a fantastic tutorial (I LOVE the step-by-step photos and the color comparison, especially!) Fascinating, and it looks so delicious. Thank you so much!

  15. Sarah Younker October 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    I love white chocolate. I made a white chocolate cheesecake once that was amazing. This recipe looks so worth the time. I will have to shell out some money this Christmas to make this and turn it into a cheesecake.

  16. Sarah Crowder (punctuated. with food) October 30, 2013 at 12:23 am #

    We just had caramelized white chocolate cheesecake at Babbo last night and now I really, really want to make it. Here’s step 1, thank you!

  17. Haley Grossman October 30, 2013 at 3:36 am #

    I LOVE white chocolate, and I am totally going to try this. Some of my favorite white chocolate recipes are pretty basic, but yummy. White chocolate covered strawberries, rice krispie treats with some white chocolate melted in to the mallows, and oatmeal white chocolate butterscotch cookies. This may sound crazy too, but my mom makes a tilapia dish with a white chocolate sauce…the sweet and savory thing.

    • Willow Arlen October 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      Thanks for the suggestions! I’m all about trying new things, and you have me really curious now about tilapia and white chocolate… I can’t even begin to imagine it!

  18. shannon weber November 7, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    that’s crazy to look at: i’ve never, not once, ever thought about doing this, and i’m not sure why not! You’ll have to forgive me, but my brain is still trying to wrap itself around this one. like i love it: that’s for sure. but i’m more trying to work it all over in my head. nice work!

  19. Elena November 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    This blew my mind! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before. I love white chocolate just as it is, but I bet it’s even more delicious all golden and caramelized. My favorite way to use white chocolate, especially in the colder months, is to make white hot chocolate. It’s super easy to make and is a nice change from regular hot cocoa.

  20. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes November 20, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Holy Cow that is some beautiful looking white chocolate; I have a feeling though I could not use vegan white chocolate to make this happen- nice tutorial!

  21. Saumya December 27, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Wow.. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing :D I have a problem though, I don’t have an oven so can this process be done on a stove? :(

    • Willow Arlen December 28, 2013 at 4:01 am #

      Hmm… I’ve never done it on the stove, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. If you try it, be sure to keep the heat low and stir constantly to keep it from burning. If you do, I’d love to know how it goes!

  22. Karlyn September 20, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    Found this in time for caramel apple season!!! Thank you so much–I want to try this on grapes for the bite sized version!

    • Willow Arlen September 22, 2014 at 9:00 am #

      That’s a fantastic idea! This would be great for caramel apples. And I never would have thought to do caramel grapes, I’d love to hear how it goes.

  23. therese September 23, 2014 at 6:47 am #

    how do I make a ganache after it is done?

    • Willow Arlen September 24, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Hi Therese, that’s a great question. I haven’t used the caramelized white chocolate to make a ganache before, but I would assume it works pretty much the same way it would with any other chocolate. I would chop up some of the caramelized chocolate, put it in a bowl, and pour hot cream over it, then stir until thoroughly melted. Adjust the amount of cream according to what you’re going for — less cream for a thicker ganache, more for a thinner one that will stay soft at room temperature. Again, I’ve never actually done it before, but if I were going to that’s what I would try. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

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