December 9, 2023

An elegant and effortless treat to make, this White Chocolate Matzo Bark would be the perfect host gift. Crushed pink peppercorns, fennel, and big, flaky sea salt balance the sweetness of the white chocolate while providing a lightly peppery, floral bite. 

White Chocolate has a bad reputation. Some people find it too sweet. Some people don’t like the fact that white chocolate doesn’t contain chocolate. This is correct: While white chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids, it doesn’t contain cocoa solids such as milk or dark chocolate. Some chefs believe white chocolate is delicious and will defend it.

We spoke with 12 chefs who love white chocolate and their baking and cooking in honor of National White Chocolate Day. Valrhona Ivoire white cocoa is the best choice when it comes to white chocolate. He says, “It’s the older and more sophisticated cousin to Nutella.”

Chapple’s favorite method to use the confection? Slowly roast it and then spread the spread on toasted bread with sea salt.

Tyler Malek, Salt & Straw’s co-founder and chief ice cream maker

White chocolate is much more versatile than dark chocolate. For example, take toasted white chocolate. Baking white chocolate is a wonderful way to create a solidified essence of caramel. You can also try magic shells ice cream. White chocolate is the secret ingredient to creating any kind of shell you want. White chocolate is my favorite. It is one of our most important ingredients at Salt & Straw. My favorites are Toasted White Chocolate, Roasted Strawberry Custard and Caramelized White Chocolate, Peanut Butter Ice cream, and Honey Lavender White Chocolate magic sleeve.

Candace Nelson, cofounder, and pastry chef at Sprinkles and Pizzana

I love white chocolate with a creamy mouthfeel, milky sweetness, and high quality. White chocolate can also be used to highlight other flavors, such as matcha and mint. Its creamy sweetness is a great complement to bittersweet chocolate’s sharpness.

Nicole Guini, head pastry chef, Adalina

“I love white chocolate. I use it often in ice creams and mousses. It’s sweet, milky, and a great canvas to add other flavors or elevate them. It is especially useful in ice creams, where it gives off a creamy texture and mouthfeel.

Claudette Zepeda–Wilkins, chef consultant at Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

“White chocolate is definitely a part of the pastry. I love the richness it adds to a dessert. It can be balanced with other non-sweet ingredients. For example, we had a platano Macha dessert on the El Jardin menu. It was inspired by a savory dish so we used lots of sweet and salty components. A white chocolate semifreddo was made. It was folded with caramelized banana puree and then coated with a white chocolate shell. The shell was colored yellow and decorated with chocolate brush strokes to resemble a banana.

Thomas Raquel, former executive pastry chef, Le Bernardin

White chocolate can be used as a canvas for other flavors. Le Bernardin uses it often in macarons. We add flavors like lemon, dulce de leche, or blueberry to our ganache fillings.

Paul Donnelly, Chinese Tuxedo executive chef

“Have any of you ever tried white chocolate from Godiva?” No? You should. There are many uses for white chocolate. It is best to roast it at 250 degrees. It changes in color as it melts and becomes butterscotch-like. You can either stop there and dip marshmallows in it or continue roasting the white chocolate until it caramelizes. It is then easy to freeze, crumble, or Microplane the white chocolate over desserts. You can also add toasted coconut and raw oatmeal to make a fun afternoon snack.

Miles Thompson, ex-executive chef at Michael’s Santa Monica

White chocolate is my favorite because of its direct sweetness. It can take on and amplify botanical and spicy flavors. White chocolate is often used for savory purposes, such as pairing it with juniper, green veggies, or roasted green chilies.

Anna Posey is the pastry chef and owner of Elske

“Poor white chocolate!” It doesn’t get as much love as dark and milk chocolates. White chocolate was much more appealing to me when I began to see it as a separate ingredient and stopped thinking of it as ‘chocolate’. Its main flavors are sugar and cocoa butter, which is why it isn’t fair to compare it with chocolate. It can impart amazing flavor through caramelization and can be used to add structure to dishes, much like a ganache. When used in combination with fruits and vegetables, it creates layers of flavor. A little goes a very long way. 

Elaine Uykimpang Bentz is the co-founder and chef of Cafe Mochiko

White chocolate is such a versatile ingredient! It is subtle and can be paired with many other ingredients. It was used by Fat Rice bakery to enhance Chantilly cream in our batata, which is a Macanese white sweet potato cake.

Adrienne Cheatham is a chef and founder at Sunday Best

“I worked for several years in pastry before I started my career. White chocolate was one of my least favorite ingredients. It was more difficult to work with than real cocoa and it was cloyingly sweet. After making the shift to the savory kitchen, I began to notice an amazing smell wafting from the pastry kitchen. I found out that it was white chocolate roasted. Over the next few weeks, my curiosity grew and the pastry chef taught me new ways to manipulate the milk solids of white chocolate. It was then that I realized white chocolate had more flavor potential than any other chocolate. As long as you know how to extract that flavor, it is possible.

Boka Restaurant Group executive pastry chef Leigh Omilinsky

“I like white chocolate because it can be neutralized. White chocolate works well in making a macaron whipped ganache, but without the chocolate flavor. It can absorb flavors from fruits, teas, and spices, while still retaining the stability and other benefits that chocolate offers. I saw caramelized white chocolate at Nico, and it was used in a similar way: as a neutral in the butterscotch crumbs. The white chocolate gave this dish a nice balance to the butterscotch flavor.

Alon Langleib is a pastry and baking arts instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education

White chocolate is a great choice because it can be used with nuts and fruits. Because white chocolate is more subtle and less dominant than dark and milk chocolates, the flavors I make with it will be stronger. Citrus fruit is one of my favorite white chocolate combinations. We made white chocolate with yuzu at Lure Fishbar, New York City. Then we covered it with pistachio. It was amazing!

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