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 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.

Why 260? Because 250 takes a lot longer if you can believe it. You have to be a bit careful since the smoke point of cocoa butter is just over 270. If your oven runs hot you can ruin your batch, so an oven thermometer might be in order. Start by chopping up your chocolate and laying it out on a sheet pan. These have been in the oven for ten minutes already and while they may look semi-solid still…

…they aren’t.

The idea is to slowly bake the chocolate over about an hour, but you need to move the chocolate around every ten minutes or so to ensure it’s all heated evenly and that none of it scorches. So every ten minutes or so scrape up the chocolate…

…up into a clump like this…

…and spread it out again.

Over about 45-90 minutes you’ll notice it getting darker…

…and darker…

…and darker…

…and darker.

You can take it darker than this if you want. This is where I stopped because I had a guy coming over to look at our leaking gutters. The fellow ended up tasting this as he wrote up his estimate at the kitchen counter. He was a big guy with lots of tattoos and attitude, but he wasn’t too proud to ask for a second spoonful after he finished the first one. That’s how good this stuff is.

It firms up more as it approaches room temperature, but heck, this was a nice photo. An hour after this was taken it firmed up to be fondant-like. Don’t worry if your chocolate seems to pass in and out of different clumpy/greasy/firm/liquid phases as bakes. I noticed no real rhyme or reason to what the chocolate did, though it did seem to steadily smooth out as it baked. Still, I had at least a few lumps even after more than an hour of baking. Very odd, though the lumps did caramelize all the way through. Once it firmed of course, the texture inconsistencies weren’t noticeable.

Now the question is — other than eating it by the spoonful — what to do with it. Caramelized chocolate…mousse? Sauce? Buttercream? The possibilities are almost endless.

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46 Responses to Making Caramelized White Chocolate

  1. Dani says:

    Out of season, but I think it would add an interesting complexity to a cup of hot chocolate.

  2. rainey says:

    Hmmm… I’ve just started making my yogurt in the folding dough proofing box. (I had been doing it in an insulated lunch bag but I spent money on the proofer so I though it should be earning its keep). Seems to me they indicate that you can temper chocolate in it though I haven’t tried to do that yet.

    I bet you could caramelized white chocolate too if it could be heated to 260˚ but I’m not finding the maximum temperature it’s capable of holding.

    Once this stuff is caramelized and fully room temp again is it solid? Do you reheat it to work with it? Would it need to be tempered if you wanted it in a solid form? Say drizzled on cookies or pastry?

    It looks like it would be delicious and have possibly even more complexity than “chocolate” chocolate. I think it has moved up my to-do list considerably.

    • joepastry says:

      I’m sure you could do that, Rainey. I think if you could get the machine up to just 200 degrees F you could do it, though it would probably need to stay in the proof box for many hours. It’s worth a try. And indeed it does solidify again once it’s back down to 75 degrees or so. The texture is not unlike fondant. You could add cream to it to make ganache or sauce. I’m honestly not sure how it would temper, though it’s worth a try.

      Let me know how your experiments go!

      - Joe

  3. Ellen in KY says:

    I’ll bet you could make yummy truffles with this.

    • joepastry says:

      I’m sure you could. The texture of the cooled chocolate is very fondant-like, actually. Nice idea!

      - Joe

  4. Dave L says:

    Swirled into homemade frozen yogurt or ice cream! As a filling for cookies like alfajores! Time consuming but it may be fun to try…

  5. K-Line says:

    Lord, that is gorgeous! I am one of those big-time anti-white choc peeps but I may need to make an exception (because caramel always wins).

    • joepastry says:

      Even Mrs. Pastry admitted it was delicious (but sweet). I think you’ll be pleased, K!

      - Joe

  6. ascanius says:

    for the sake of scientific demonstration why not buy a bag of cheap nestle’s or hershey’s white chocolate and see what happens?

    • joepastry says:

      If I can find some I will. Believe it or not the Ghiradelli was the only unadulterated white chocolate I could find at my local supermarket. They did have imitation white chocolate coating, though I have it on good authority from a confectioner I know that the process doesn’t work well with a palm oil-based product. It browns I’m told, but turns very firm, almost powdery. But I’d be interested to try it nonetheless.

      - Joe

      • ascanius says:

        try it with a bag of the nestle’s or hershey’s white chocolate chips (they’re made with palm kernel oil) and see what happens. and if it turns out dry and grainy you can think of ways to salvage it or repurpose it. but then we’ll have a definitive answer.

        • joepastry says:

          Personally I’m satisfied on the question, but by all means give it a try if you’re curious. I promise to post the picture!

          - Joe

        • rainey says:

          Here’s the report of someone who’s already done that: http://thetoughcookie.com/2014/03/07/caramelized-white-chocolate/

          And she reports someone else’s attempt to caramelize it but boiling it in a vacuum sealed bag and her own boiling method with a jar.

          • ascanius says:

            in fact, it can be done, using the cheap nestle’s chips. i did it last night. and it came out flowing and homogeneous, not granular at all. the article you refer to didn’t go far enough.

            the trick is that you have to add some kind of fat or oil to compensate for the chips which have no cocoa butter at all and are designed to resist melting.

            the clues came from the chocolate apprentice who said that even if you’re using real white chocolate but it’s less than the ideal 30% then you need to add 2 TBS of either tasteless oil or else cocoa butter per 12 oz. of chocolate to compensate.

            http://chocolateapprentice.com/2013/05/caramelized-white-chocolate/

            the second clue came from lebovitz who said that even if your 20% chocolate seizes and is crumbly, you can go ahead and caramelize it, then throw it in the processor with a little cream.

            but now that we’re dealing with the lowest of the low–no cocoa butter at all, all you have to do is add a larger amount of fat/oil than the 2TB. and if there is any graininess at the end, just give it a whirl in your food processor.

            since it didn’t make sense to waste cocoa butter on cheap nestle’s chips (might as well buy the real deal) and the object is to make a cheap product, i used canola oil. though in my next trial i’ll try shortening, since that solidifies when cooled. and so resembles
            cocoa butter.

            all you have to do is mix the chips with some of the oil, then proceed as normal. but every time you stir at the 10 minute intervals and the chocolate doesn’t liquefy, add a Tb or so of oil until it does. return it to the oven and repeat the process. you’ll reach a point when you don’t have to add any more oil.

            when it’s reached the desired color and if it seems a little grainy, just throw it into the food processor and it will become perfectly smooth.

            the final product will be inferior to the one made with real 30% white chocolate because a) the cheap chips taste cheap to begin with and b) canola oil will not have the same mouth feel as cocoa butter. (which is why on my next trial i’ll use shortening–which is what the ghiradelli folks recommend using for making a simple coating if you don’t want to temper).

            but for people like joe who don’t mind the taste and texture of cheap chocolate coatings to begin with, this is a way to avoid buying the more expensive brands. just cheap chips and about a third to a half cup of canola oil. and it’s no more work than the regular method, just adding a bit of oil during the stirring process. and if you’re not eating it straight up but using it to flavor a mousse or a ganache, its imperfections will not be very noticeable.

            in my next trial, besides using shortening i’m going to try melting the chocolate with the shortening/oil in the microwave before spreading it on the sheet to caramelize in the oven.

          • joepastry says:

            Fabulous, Ascanius! Very well done. I thank you for taking the time to perform the experiment and write it up for us. Cheers!

            - Joe

          • joepastry says:

            Very interesting! Thanks, Rainey!

            - Joe

  7. Roger says:

    Croquembouche accent, of course. Probably not a filling, but you could ‘ice’ the tops of some with this stuff.

    :)

    • joepastry says:

      Roger, would you be offended if I pointed out that you have a one track mind? ;)

      - Joe

      • Frankly says:

        Would this work for the ‘glue’ on a croquembouche? I am not always happy with the royal icing and have been toying with alternatives.

        Also, if it is fondant-like maybe use it as an icing. You could get clever with dark & milk chocolate covered in caramelized white. I made Julia’s bombe aux trois chocolats for my mom’s birthday years ago, maybe replace the dark chocolate drizzle with this & have a bombe aux quatre chocolats

        • joepastry says:

          It’s probably too soft to hold a croquembouche together, is my thinking, but it would make a nice drizzle for sure. I think you’d be able to make a fine ganache out of it, certainly a sauce, though my feeling is that in either case you’d need to use a bit less cream than normal because of the softness issue. It’s like untempered white chocolate, but a little softer, certainly due to the breakdown of some of the sugar. Interesting stuff!

          - Joe

      • Roger says:

        I’m not sure why you think that one track would be offensive. Ever.

  8. Chelsea says:

    If it is fondant-like in texture, could you cover a cake layer in it? Seems like it would be more delicious and complex than the marshmallow stuff.

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Chelsea! It’s soft like a fondant so I think it would make a good truffle, but it doesn’t have the elasticity of a true fondant. Which is to say it won’t roll but I think it would make a fine ganache for a cake. I’d have to do a little experimenting since I think it will require a bit less cream than a normal chocolate ganache.

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  9. Fleur says:

    Oh my goodness, Joe! I didn’t have time to read any blogs lately, what a fool I’ve been… I can’t be missing your awesome recipes! Caramelized white chocolate… of all the….must run off and try it ASAP!!!

    Thanks and cheers, I’ll be sticking around more!
    Hugs, Fleur

  10. Cynthia Carter says:

    drizzled over poached pears. Or, as a decorative drizzle over oatmeal cookies. I wonder how well it would work as a ganache?

    • joepastry says:

      Great ideas! And I think it would work well as a ganache, though ugh you’d probably want to use my 15% less cream since the chocolate is a little softer.

      - Joe

  11. Judy N. says:

    Could you use this in a buttercream? Doesn’t carmelized white chocolate buttercream sound wonderful? Thanks Joe!

    • joepastry says:

      Absolutely! Three or four ounces in a recipe would be amazing…maybe a little more! ;)

      - Joe

    • joepastry says:

      Ah yes, now that I see it I realize that it’s been a fairly common éclair glaze for a while. I haven’t really identified it for what it is!

      Thanks Louise!

      - Joe

  12. Linda says:

    Since baking low and long does the trick in the oven is it possible to do it in a slow-cooker? I ask because you can do that with dulce de leche over a long number of hours (8 if I remember). Just wondered if you could go low enough to avoid the scorching but high enough to caramelize it?

    • joepastry says:

      I think that is indeed possible, Linda! Have a look at some if the information Rainey put up. Very cool!

      - Joe

  13. rainey says:

    There’s actually a ton of information about caramelized white chocolate out there including a recipe for CWC and pumpkin cheesecake. (And if you think it was easy to type that while slavering you’re mistaken!)

    Meanwhile there’s this alternate prep: cook the white chocolate sous vide at 90°C (that’s 194/200˚F) for 12 hours to caramelize. So that could happen while you’re doing lots of other things plus giving the bag a strategic skwoosh every few hours.

  14. martina says:

    I recently had some corn flakes that had been enrobed in caramelized white chocolate, which were insane… in a good way.

    • joepastry says:

      Niiiiiiice. There’s something to do with the leftovers!

      Cheers and thanks!

      - Joe

  15. Oana says:

    I need to try this recipe. I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate in its pure state and only use it for creams and mousses, but this sounds like something I would love. I’m thinking of filling some truffles with it or drizzle it over ice cream. And I suppose that a mousse or a buttercream using it are not bad ideas either. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  16. Colleen says:

    Would the chocolate change a lot if I reheated it from its fondant-like stage on the stove top? I’m planning on having some friends from school over and I want to make some molten lava cake (chocolate fondant cake) with caramelized white chocolate on top.

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Colleen!

      Once it’s caramelized you can treat it as you would regular chocolate. Store it, melt it, do whatever you like! Sounds like a fabulous cake by the way. Why wasn’t I invited?

      - Joe

  17. Dotty McClelland says:

    I am making some right now and am planning to swirl it with melted bittersweet chocolate and make it into bark. Other add-ins will be crushed malted milk balls, peanut m&m’s, dried cherries and anything else I have on hand that sounds good. Can’t wait. Thanks!

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