Spotlight: Flavored White Chocolate
I was wrong to spurn white chocolate. While it doesn't have the complexity or terroir to the extent that single origin dark chocolate does, cocoa butter is an excellent confectionery medium, carrying added flavors well and offering a silky smooth melt. However, I maintain that it is not "really chocolate," and here's why. If you roast and grind peanuts, it's peanut butter. If you add sugar, it's still peanut butter. If you added milk powder, you could still arguably call it peanut butter. If you separate out the peanut oil (analogous to cocoa butter) and mix it with sugar and milk, you could not, by any stretch of the imagination, call it peanut butter.
That doesn't mean that white chocolate isn't valid in its own right as a confection Cocoa butter has a subtle, pleasant flavor and sublime melt and can be combined with a wide range of ingredients to create unique and beautiful flavors, colors, and textures. Also, I don't have any better name ideas.
Having overcome my vehement but ultimately tenuously constructed bias against white chocolate as its own category, I began including bars in tastings and giving them as gifts (thus far very well received). We've come across some truly fantastic creations that elevate white "chocolate" to an art form, and I'm only slightly surprised to say that I can highly recommend almost every bar on this list.
White Chocolate with Lemon & Lemon Sea Salt
Flavor: Bright, perfectly balanced lemon flavor - lemon meringue pie, lemon ice cream, a white chocolate lemon truffle; a lovely light milky flavor. The slightest pleasant crunch from the lemon sea salt, but otherwise silky smooth. Avoids the common pitfall of citrus-flavored bars in which strong essential oil results in a soapy, chemical taste. Truly incredible.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Fantastic texture, perfectly balanced flavor. This was the bar that converted me from a white chocolate skeptic to a (selective) enthusiast.
White Chocolate with Citrus and Salt
White Chocolate with Lemon and Pink Salt
Yuzu White Chocolate (40%)
Black & Burnt Barley
The white chocolate in this unique bar from Omnom is mixed with edible activated charcoal, giving it a stunning black color.
Flavor: It is quite sweet and there is a nice toasted grain flavor from the barley - kind of like Cheerios or cereal milk. The barley is a pleasantly chewy, adding some textural interest. The white chocolate itself is imbued with a toasty grain flavor from roasted barley malt and barley malt extract, which makes it more complex and interesting than regular white chocolate. Very slight lingering bitterness. The grain has an intensity to it.
Recommendation: Recommended - if you like white chocolate generally, and especially if you like grain and malt flavors. It might interest some people who don't usually like white chocolate because it has a lot of complexity and depth. Really cool appearance! Kind of made me think about grains differently because the barley acts as its own flavor here, rather than being the base for other flavors.
Wild Berry Pop (White chocolate with berries and pop rocks)
Flavor: Great richness from the white chocolate and fruity acidity from the berries. The melt is smooth and the pop rocks are really fun - the dynamic texture is a really cool idea. They don't interfere with the white chocolate and berry flavor either. There are seeds from the berries, which are noticeable but not too distracting from the overall smoothness.
Highly recommended! This works really well. White chocolate and berry is a great flavor combination. I was kind of skeptical (as I was about all white chocolate) but Soma makes fantastic dark chocolate, so I was willing to take a chance. I wanted to get something unique for a tasting and this was well received!
Sea Salted Toffee
Aroma: Milky, malt, toast, butter, brunöst
Flavor: A rich milk flavor, very dairy centric: butter, and the salt gives it a slight savoriness, like brunöst or aged gouda. Impressively complex, with notes of caramel, malt, and toasted barley. Nice acidity gives it a great finish.
Recommendation: Absolutely fantastic. Interesting enough that even white chocolate critics will enjoy it, and anyone who like caramel and white chocolate will be in heaven.
Blond Dulcey (caramelized white chocolate)
Flavor: very sweet (as expected), a great dairy richness from the addition of milk and butter that evokes milky caramel and dulce de leche with a note of toasted grains and popcorn balls. They say freshly baked shortbread and I think that’s right on. Soft snap and a lovely golden color.
Recommendation: If you generally like caramel and white chocolate, I would highly recommended this bar. Our tasters who like white/sweeter chocolate loved it. It’s well done and nicely balanced, and it has more complexity of flavor than regular white chocolate. It is candy-level sweet though, so if you don't like that, skip this one.
Vanilla Bean Toasted White
Caramelized White Chocolate
Flavor: A distinctly milky caramel flavor, a little yogurt-like tanginess, a slight lactic chalkiness like sweetened condensed milk (but not in a bad way). Very lactic/milk-forward, which I loved - much like Polish cream fudge (krówki). A slight fruity tang - nectarine, pineapple, coconut.
Recommendation: Good! Recommended, especially if you like caramel. It's a great combination of caramel flavor with white chocolate texture and richness. You can get it as a full size or a very cute mini bar!
Caramelized White Chocolate
Flavor: Toasted marshmallow, Polish milk fudge, very milky - sweetened condensed milk, a little bit of acidity that balances the sweetness in a really nice way. Ultra-smooth texture and silky melt. The package tasting notes are nutty, caramel, cream - a scoop of dulce de leche, all of which are totally accurate.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. The caramelization and the use of brown sugar add complexity and depth of flavor that make this a sweet and creamy, but also interesting bar that will be enjoyed by a range of tasters (and if you are the kind of person that can eat dulce de leche or caramel by the spoonful, get this IMMEDIATELY).
Doce de Leite & Flor de Sal White Chocolate
Blonde (Caramelized White Chocolate with 40% single-press Ghanaian cocoa butter)
Roasted White Chocolate
Matcha and Black Sesame White Chocolate
Flavor: This ultra-smooth bar is both visually striking and beautiful balanced. The relatively high percentage of cocoa solids - 45% - helps keep it from being overly sweet, while the matcha adds a complexity, interest, and a touch of earthiness, with an overall mellow flavor. The black sesame seeds are mild and add a light crunch. There are a lot of white chocolates out there that are cloyingly sweet and utterly bland - this one isn’t.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. If you like matcha-flavored sweets, it’s a must try. It would also be a really cool addition to a tasting line up or a cheese & chocolate board.
Moringa & Pinipig White Chocolate
Flavor: This bar uses white chocolate as a smooth, sweet base to highlight unique flavors and textures. Moringa, a shrub native to the Indian subcontinent and popular for its nutrient and antioxidant properties, has a flavor similar to matcha, but with a different, more vegetal earthiness. Pinipig is toasted young glutinous rice, a snack and cooking ingredient popular in the Philippines. It adds a pleasant crunch and lightly toasty flavor to the bar.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Really well done. If you like matcha or similar green tea/earthy flavors, you will probably love it! The beautiful packaging and striking color also make it a perfect gift.
Jasmine Matcha White Chocolate
Aroma: a very earthy and herbal aroma - mossy, damp earth, and dry leaves as well as powdered milk
Flavor: A little bit chemical and soapy.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. The tea tastes a little oxidized and bitter, even though it is well within the best by date. Conceptually, I really like it - I love matcha - but something isn't quite working with the execution here. However, I melted some into hot milk and it made an incredible matcha latte/white hot chocolate drink - I might buy it again just for that.
White Chocolate with Pistachios
Flavor: The chunks of pistachio were large and salty, and the white chocolate was smooth and mild with a predominant cocoa butter flavor.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. This bar is great if you like sweet-salty combinations and want plenty of crunch, with the focus on the nuts rather than the chocolate.
White Chocolate with Pistachios
Flavor: Pronounced milky flavors in the white chocolate, along with a more candy-like flavor. Quite sweet. The pistachio pieces were smaller and less salty.
Recommendation: This one is good if you like white chocolate and don’t want the inclusions to distract too much from the chocolate experience, or if you’re not as much of a fan of the sweet-salty combination.
Cookies & Cream White Chocolate
Flavor: An overall very pleasant candy bar. The cookie is tasty and crisp. The white chocolate is very well made - a mild, clean flavor, good level of sweetness, and a very smooth melt. A pleasant crunch. but potentially better if the cookie was more incorporated.
Recommendation: Everything you're cooking for in cookies and cream. It's very sweet and not particularly complex, but is creamy and delicious. Likely to be a hit with kids or anyone who enjoys white chocolate and other treats! Nothing more complex, but they did what they set out to do and they did it well.
Blue Corn Atole White Chocolate
Flavor: Atole is a traditional beverage in Central American made from cornmeal and flavored with unrefined sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, and the concept works well here! This bar has classic white chocolate flavors combined with a delicate taste and texture of the corn, a slight pleasant starchiness. It doesn’t have spices, so it’s a very mild flavor overall.
Recommendation: Highly recommend. It is a great conversation starter at a chocolate tasting as people see it on the table and ask about the blue-gray color of the bar (enhanced with purple pea flower!).