What Is White Chocolate?

Asking yourself, "what is white chocolate?" While it may not be cocoa in the strictest sense, it's still a sweet to savor.

Some of our favorite desserts like macadamia cookies, peppermint bark and black tie mousse cake rely on white chocolate for their signature flavor. But what is white chocolate anyway? What is it about this ingredient that takes these treats from good to great?

Is White Chocolate Real Chocolate?

If you want to get technical, no, white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate. By definition, chocolate is a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar and additional flavorings (like milk in the case of milk chocolate).

While white chocolate shares a few of these ingredients, it does not contain cocoa solids. These solids are the differentiating factor between these two types of candy.

So, What Is White Chocolate and What Is White Chocolate Made Of?

If white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, what is it? Simply put, it’s candy! But we’re OK if you still want to call this candy chocolate. Outside of the food science world, this term is widely accepted.

As for the ingredients, white chocolate contains a good amount of cocoa butter—a super creamy byproduct of the chocolate-making process. It gets much of its love-it-or-hate-it sweetness from sugar. The flavor is rounded out by milk, and the chocolate is held together by lecithin (an emulsifier).

The History of White Chocolate

Melted white chocolate dripping from a spatula into a mixing bowlCavan Images/Getty Images

While chocolate has a long and storied history dating back more than 4,000 years (we have the ancient Mayas to thank!), white chocolate’s history is considerably briefer.

While variations on this kind of chocolate were made in the 1800s, it didn’t become readily available until 1936. That’s when, according to the Chocolate Museum, Nestlé began producing white chocolate commercially. This sweet was a hit and it grew in popularity over the decades.

Is White Chocolate Bad for You?

White chocolate is candy, so it’s not exactly the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Its primary ingredient is sugar.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy a bit of white chocolate now and again—the same way you’d enjoy any other favorite sweet treat.

If you want to get a little boost from your chocolate, Cleveland Clinic suggests opting for dark chocolate—the more cacao the better.

What to Make with White Chocolate

So, what is white chocolate good for in the kitchen? Plenty! White chocolate (and white chocolate chips) are a great foundation for making all types of candies including barks and truffles. White chocolate can also be used in cookies, cakes, bars and more.

Lastly, white chocolate is also a great way to finish all sorts of treats. A drizzle of white chocolate can take your sweets to the next level. Just remember to keep an eye out when melting chocolate; low and slow is the name of the game.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.