Making Caramelized White Chocolate

This stuff is really delicious. I confess that I generally don’t go out of my way to eat white chocolate, but keeping my spoon out of this as I was been baking it was a serious challenge. It is, as you’d expect, very caramelly in flavor which leads me to conclude that low temperature caramelization is indeed going on here. I highly recommend that you undertake the experiment. All you need is about a pound of white chocolate, a sheet pan and an oven set to 260 degrees Fahrenheit.


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Why not just heat white chocolate to 300F?

Suh-WEET question reader Lynn! I meant to address this issue before. I mean, why not? Sugar caramelizes around 300 degrees Fahrenheit and white chocolate has lots of sugar in it, so why not just crank the heat up and git r’ done quickly? The answer is because cocoa butter has a smoke point of around 270 degrees Fahrenheit, so heating white chocolate to 300 for as long as it would take to caramelize the sugar would burn the fat. Thanks for addressing my oversight, Lynn!…

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What’s the difference between high quality and low quality white chocolate?

I can just feel you dark chocoholics out there cringing in front of this photo like vampires before a sunrise. It burns! It burns! But that’s a nice question, reader Walter! Of course there are a fair number of dark chocolate-loving readers here who would describe any white chocolate as “low quality”, but let’s ignore the peanut gallery, shall we? The main difference between a high quality white chocolate and a lower quality white chocolate is the percentage of cocoa butter. Of course other factors play into it, the care with which it’s formulated and processed and so on, but if I had to boil it down to any one thing, that would be it. For cocoa butter is what often makes the difference between a silky, melt-in-your mouth sort of candy and one that’s crumbly or waxy. …

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Caramelization or Maillard Reaction?

I don’t think anyone can say for certain. In a nutshell, caramelized white chocolate is produced by heating white chocolate to around 260 degrees Fahrenheit and leaving it there for roughly 45 minutes, until it turns a pale shade of brown. But that’s easy, you might say, it’s a proven fact that caramelization of sugar doesn’t happen until sugar approaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The browning in the white chocolate must be a result of Maillard reactions — protein browning — which can occur below 300.


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Easy now, chocophiles.

Amazing how even the mere mention of white chocolate is enough to get dark chocolate lovers all riled up. The prejudice is understandable. White chocolate has a reputation for vapidity, one that’s mostly deserved as there is in fact nothing “chocolate” about white chocolate save for the fact that it has cocoa butter in it. For those who relish the rich tang of cocoa solids, white chocolate is a confection without a point. Or worse. When Mrs. Pastry entered the kitchen to discover a pound of Ghiradelli white chocolate on the counter this morning, she reacted as though I’d set a five-pound bag of cow dung there. Disgusting. And you spent MONEY on that???

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Is sugar really “dry”?

Reader Chelsea writes: I’ve got what I hope is an interesting one for you. Yesterday I was baking a quick chocolate cake to serve as dessert. As I whisked up the batter, I could tell something was wrong: it was very, very thick, more like cookie dough than cake batter, and not the deep dark cocoa color I knew it should be. I gave it a taste and it was terrible: salty and bitter! I realized I’d forgotten to add the sugar. This is the part I found strange: when I added the sugar, the batter deepened to the cocoa…

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Next Up: Caramelized White Chocolate Something-Or-Other

I haven’t decided what I’ll do with my caramelized white chocolate once I make it, but there are all sorts of applications for this unusual component: mousse, ganache, pastry cream, truffles, ice cream, cake. Caramelized white chocolate has been around several years but only seems to have gotten really hip in the last eighteen months or so. A few of you have been asking about it lately so it seems like a good time to make a little of it. Or a lot.

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Making Sticky Toffee Pudding

British puddings as a rule are moist, rich and dense. Oh: and sweet. Stick toffee pudding doesn’t disappoint on any of those fronts, though the pudding itself is lighter than it may appear. Together the dates and the espresso give the pudding a deep, almost chocolate-like flavor that’s as delicious as it is hard to place, especially if you really process the fruit mixture into a fine purée. If you’re looking for an indulgent finisher for a meal, something a little different but also comforting, sticky toffee pudding is your ticket. This is of course an individual baked pudding, not a classic large steamed pudding, and I confess I quite like it. Gives you more serving and plating options. …

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The Difference Between Dark and Shiny Baking Pans

Reader Robert wants to know what the practical difference is between shiny baking pans and dark-colored nonstick versions (other than the fact that one is nonstick of course). The main difference, Robert, is that dark colors absorb more heat. That’s as true of pans as it is of clothes, even in the lightless environment of an oven. It’s why a tent of shiny aluminum foil does such a great job of preventing excess browning in a hot oven. It reflects heat energy.

A dark pan does the reverse and that’s not usually a good thing. Dark pans can not only create excess browning on edges, they can contribute to the premature hardening of surface crusts, and that can hold in rising or crust expansion. This is not to say that nonstick can’t be a good thing, however tart and pie crusts are very buttery to begin with. As a result they tend not to have a problem releasing…

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Making Toffee/Butterscotch Sauce

I use the slash because, while there is a clear difference between toffee and butterscotch candies there is little if any difference between toffee and butterscotch sauce. Butterscotch is generally a bit lighter in color I suppose. To produce that effect all you need to do is use light brown sugar instead of dark brown. Otherwise the procedure is the same. You’ll need:


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