White Chocolate is Real Chocolate

August 3, 2010 at 5:00 am 10 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

Somebody once told me that White Chocolate is not really chocolate. The argument is that white chocolate is not made from chocolate liquor and white chocolate does not contain cocoa solids; therefore, it is not real chocolate.

That is not necessarily true.

Chocolate was discovered by Aztecs in Central Mexico, at least three hundred years ago. The name comes from the Nahuatl word, “chicolatl” meaning “beaten drink.” It is derived from, “chicoli”, which means “beating stick” and “atl”, meaning “water.”

To make chocolate, the seeds of the tropical cacao tree are harvested. They are bitter and must be fermented to make the flavor more palatable. The fermented beans are then dried, roasted and shelled to expose cacao nibs (you can buy cacao nibs, they’re an interesting balance between slightly bitter and mildly sweet — click on the photo for amazon link).

The nibs are ground to produce cocoa mass, which is melted to create chocolate liquor (not to be confused with chocolate liqueur). When chocolate liquor cools, it forms what we commonly refer to as baking chocolate.

At this stage, the chocolate is about 53% cocoa butter (fat), the rest is carbohydrates, protein, tannins and theobromine.

Theobromine is in the same family of chemical compounds as caffeine and is believed to be the proof that chocolate is addictive. Healthy humans can break down reasonable amounts of this compound, but many animals cannot. This is why chocolate can be harmful to pets. White chocolate contains only trace amounts of theobromine, which is what gives other chocolate its brown color.

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fat and sugar. According to the FDA, white chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa butter to be called “White Chocolate.” The European Union has adopted the same standard for cocoa butter requirements, but there are some other regulations around milk and sweetener contents that differ between the US and the EU.

Confectionery items that look and taste similar to white chocolate, such as “Almond Bark” are not white chocolate. In fact, they’re not chocolate at all. They are usually made from solid or hydrogenated vegetable and animal fats instead of real cocoa butter.

White Chocolate is real chocolate when it’s made from cocoa butter.

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Sources: FDA, WP (Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, White Chocolate, Chocolate Liquor, History of Chocolate, Aztec, Theobromine)

Entry filed under: Demystified, Food and Drink. Tags: , , , , .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cole  |  August 3, 2010 at 5:15 am


  • 2. Shannon  |  August 3, 2010 at 7:22 am

    This one is interesting. I think I like all food-related secrets…

    I bake a lot and it is hard to find real white chocolate at the regular grocery store. Most brands are made with vegetable oil of some sort, but real white chocolate tastes much better!

  • 3. eklove  |  August 4, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Who knew? I don’t believe I have ever had real white chocolate. I love dark chocolate though.

  • 4. She.Is.Just.A.Rat  |  August 4, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I feel much better about enjoying white chocolate more than milk/dark now. ;)

  • 5. Sam  |  March 14, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Guess the dog can’t have any milky ways now.

  • […] Is White Chocolate Actually ChocolateIs white chocolate really chocolateMy Observations – Is White Chocolates Really ChocolateAre White Chocolate Candies Actually ChocolateWhite Chocolate is Real Chocolate […]

  • 7. cj  |  October 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Its not. BTW, due to not having any of the cacoa nibs in it it looses almost all the antioxident properties of Chocolate and Dark Chocolate. You may as well just buy a thing of Cocoa Butter and eat it for the same nutritional value.

  • 8. Tony  |  June 22, 2013 at 7:30 am

    The only “real” chocolate in existence is Paxtaxle. This is made in Mexico by fermenting the beans for a longer period of time until they get white. All the other stuff “European style” is adulterated chocolate, including “white chocolate”

  • 9. chriscp  |  September 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Whatever the standards are for qualifying as “chocolate” white chocolate doesn’t taste anything like what’s come to be known as chocolate.

  • 10. Helen R. Holden  |  January 18, 2017 at 2:20 am

    In 2004 the FDA sold us out, once again, and declared the by-product sludge of chocolate, (a substance that should have thrown out) as food.


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