White chocolate is polarizing. Either you love it or you hate it. If you love it, you’re usually pretty quiet about it. I mean, what with all the dark chocolate lovers out there proclaiming white chocolate to not be “real” chocolate and all the hoopla about the health benefits of dark chocolate, dark chocolate lovers are feeling pretty smug. Ok. I admit, I’m a dark chocolate lover. White chocolate? Nah, not for me! That is until now. The discovery of Caramelized White Chocolate has been an absolute awakening!
A couple of months ago I was approached by my nephew and his lovely fiancé to make their wedding cake. A few years ago my niece asked me the same question and instead I made her a couple of Macaron Towers. Aaargh, *panic*, NO! As much as it is an honour, I didn’t think I was up to the task. But, did I say that? No, of course not. I calmly asked them to show me what they wanted and I would see if I was able to help them. And then just like that, I was in.
The cake would be served as the dessert and would combine her love of chocolate and his love of caramel. I knew it had to taste amazing! This is where I started experimenting with white chocolate and came across the idea of caramelizing it. White chocolate contains sugar and fat which when exposed to gentle long heat, toasts and caramelizes, turning the white chocolate to a deeply flavoured, most delicious chocolate I have ever had the pleasure to eat. And so, the cake was created. Layers of caramel cake were filled with full flavoured, caramelized white chocolate ganache and alternated with chocolate cake and dark chocolate ganache. The three high layers were all coated with Italian Meringue Buttercream and decorated with the bride’s choice of fresh and artificial flowers.
When making caramelized white chocolate, look for a high content of cocoa solids in the white chocolate otherwise this won’t work. In Australia, I have had success with Cadbury White Chocolate that has 23% cocoa solids. For this special occasion, I used Callebaut Finest Belgian Chocolate with 28% cocoa solids purchased online from Kirsten Tibballs, Savour School. It really is a beautiful chocolate!
Caramelizing white chocolate takes time but is not difficult at all. Simply chop and spread onto a lipped baking tray and set into your oven at 120C/250F and stir every 10 minutes. It doesn’t take long, maybe 30 minutes, before it starts taking on a caramel colour but for an intense flavour allow the white chocolate to caramelize for up to 3 hours. No, you can’t leave the house for more than 10 minutes but it really doesn’t ask for a lot of work from you, just a regular stirring. It will look as if it has siezed at first but persist and all will be well.
I don’t suppose we will be making a wedding cake like this again any time soon but the caramelized white chocolate can be put to good use. Made into a ganache, it makes a great cake filling or cupcake topping, finely chopped, mixed with a little vegetable oi and warmed until pourable, it makes a wonderful topping for icecream or put a couple of spoonfuls into the bottom of a cup and top with hot milk to make a great hot chocolate. The possibilities are endless. ( You could just break off chunks and eat it ).
Caramelized White Chocolate
A deeply flavoured, caramel, toasty white chocolate
- white chocolate, at least 23% cocoa solids
Preheat oven 120C/250F. Finely chop white chocolate and spread out onto lipped baking tray. Place into the preheated oven. Stir well every 10 minutes. After stirring spread the chocolate out evenly on the tray. Continue until the desired colour and flavour has been achieved. The most intense flavour is achieved after 2 hours or even as much as 3 hours but good results can be achieved in less.