White chocolate is a confection made from cocoa butter, milk solids, and sugar. It contains no cocoa solids, the constituent of chocolate liquor that gives chocolate its characteristic brown color and bittersweet flavor. The lack of cocoa solids is why white chocolate is not technically considered real chocolate.
Most white chocolate contains sugar, which provides its characteristic sweetness. However, there are some varieties of white chocolate that are unsweetened and do not contain added sugars.
What is white chocolate?
White chocolate begins with cocoa butter, which is the fat component of cocoa beans. Cocoa butter provides the creamy texture and mouthfeel that is characteristic of chocolate. Sugar, milk solids, emulsifiers like soy lecithin, and flavors like vanilla are also commonly added to white chocolate.
Unlike dark, milk, and ruby chocolates, white chocolate does not contain non-fat cocoa solids. The cocoa solids provide the distinctive chocolate flavor and brown color. By omitting the cocoa solids, white chocolate has a milder, sweeter flavor and an off-white color.
Due to the lack of cocoa solids, some countries like the United States did not initially recognize white chocolate as a chocolate product. However, today white chocolate is accepted as a member of the chocolate family in many parts of the world.
Is all white chocolate sweetened?
The vast majority of mainstream white chocolate contains added sugar, which enhances the sweet flavor. Sugar is considered a defining characteristic of white chocolate.
However, there are some specialty products that produce unsweetened white chocolate. These products rely on the inherent sweetness of cocoa butter rather than adding external sugars.
Cocoa butter contains natural sugars like sucrose, glucose, and fructose. The concentration of these sugars contributes to cocoa butter’s subtly sweet flavor, even without being further sweetened. Careful processing can produce white chocolate that retains this delicate natural sweetness.
Why would white chocolate be unsweetened?
There are a few reasons why a chocolate maker might produce unsweetened white chocolate:
- To allow the inherent flavors of cocoa butter to shine through: The delicate flavor of cocoa butter can be masked by adding too much sugar. An unsweetened version allows the nuanced flavor notes to take center stage.
- For cooking applications: Unsweetened white chocolate may be preferred for recipes where sugar content needs to be precisely controlled, like for diabetics or low-carb diets.
- As a chocolate alternative: Those who cannot or prefer not to consume sugar may use unsweetened white chocolate to satisfy a chocolate craving.
- Lower calories: Eliminating added sugars also removes those calories, creating a lower-calorie chocolate option.
By catering to these niche interests, some specialty chocolate brands have found a market for unsweetened white chocolate products.
How is unsweetened white chocolate made?
The process for making unsweetened white chocolate is similar to conventional white chocolate, with one key difference – no added sugars. Here are the basic steps:
- Start with cocoa butter – Unsweetened white chocolate starts with pure, food-grade cocoa butter.
- Filter the cocoa butter – The liquid cocoa butter is finely filtered to remove any remaining cocoa solids or impurities.
- Add flavorings and milk powders – Vanilla, milk powders, and other flavorings are blended in. These enhance flavor without adding sweetness.
- Refine the conching – Conching, which is a kneading process, is retained longer to develop flavor without sugar.
- Temper the chocolate – Tempering prepares the stable beta crystalline form of the cocoa butter.
- Mold the chocolate – The chocolate is poured into molds to set before wrapping and shipping.
The result is a creamy, mellow chocolate that derives a subtle natural sweetness from the cocoa butter.
What are some brands of unsweetened white chocolate?
Here are a few brands that produce unsweetened white chocolate products:
- Lily’s Sweets – Their line of no sugar added baking chips includes white chocolate chips sweetened only with stevia.
- Pascha Organic – They offer unsweetened white chocolate baking chips and chocolate bars.
- Poochik – This pet treat company sells unsweetened white chocolate bark for dogs.
- La Tourangelle – Their artisan white chocolate chips are sweetened with coconut blossom sugar.
In addition to these commercial products, some chocolatiers or pastry chefs may occasionally offer small-batch unsweetened white chocolate for sale.
What does unsweetened white chocolate taste like?
Without the addition of sugar, unsweetened white chocolate allows the innate flavors of cocoa butter to take center stage. Here’s what to expect from the taste:
- Mellow and subtly sweet – There are residual natural sugars in cocoa butter that provide a delicate sweetness.
- Rich and creamy – Cocoa butter melts smoothly with a luxurious mouthfeel.
- Faint chocolate undertones – The dairy and vanilla notes are foremost, with a whisper of chocolate in the background.
- Mildly sweet finish – The sweetness builds and lingers as the cocoa butter coats your mouth.
Overall, unsweetened white chocolate is a lightly sweet, creamy treat with more subtle cocoa nuances than its sugary counterpart.
How to use unsweetened white chocolate
Unsweetened white chocolate can be used in place of regular white chocolate in recipes, keeping in mind a few adjustments:
- Reduce other sugars in the recipe to account for no added sugar in the white chocolate.
- Powdered stevia or monk fruit extract can boost sweetness if needed.
- Savor the white chocolate flavor rather than relying on it as the main sweet element.
- Add fruits, nuts, or extracts to complement the flavor.
- Use it in savory applications where you want a creamy texture without sweetness.
Here are some recipe ideas that work well with unsweetened white chocolate:
- White chocolate macadamia nut cookies
- Unsweetened white chocolate ganache filling
- White chocolate avocado mousse
- Magic cookie bars with unsweetened chips
- Unsweet mocha with white chocolate drizzle
- Turmeric white hot chocolate
- Savory white chocolate brie fondue
The nutritional value of unsweetened vs sweetened white chocolate
Eliminating added sugars also removes those calories, carbohydrates, and associated blood sugar spikes. Here is a nutritional comparison of sweetened versus unsweetened white chocolate:
|Sweetened White Chocolate (per 100g)
|Unsweetened White Chocolate (per 100g)
|0g added (4g natural)
As you can see, unsweetened white chocolate is significantly lower in calories, carbs, and sugar compared to the sweetened version. The fat content remains similar since that comes from the cocoa butter.
The price of unsweetened vs. regular white chocolate
Unsweetened white chocolate tends to be priced at a premium compared to conventional white chocolate:
- Regular white chocolate chips cost $2 to $4 per 10-12 ounce bag.
- Unsweetened white chips cost $5 to $8+ for a similar sized bag.
- The same applies to bar form – unsweetened runs $1 to $2 higher per 3-ounce bar.
There are a couple reasons for the price difference:
- Niche status – As a specialty item, unsweetened white chocolate has higher production costs and lower economies of scale.
- Ingredients – High quality, low glycemic sweeteners like stevia cost more than traditional sugar.
- Processing – Additional steps are required to develop flavor without adding sweeteners.
The higher price point reflects the specialty nature of unsweetened white chocolate. For consumers who require or strongly prefer it, the added cost is worthwhile.
Is unsweetened white chocolate keto/diabetic friendly?
Unsweetened white chocolate has some advantages for low-carb, keto, and diabetic diets:
- No added sugar – Eliminates a major source of carbs and blood sugar spikes.
- Low net carbs – Natural sugar content is around 4g net carbs per serving.
- High fat – Cocoa butter provides satisfying fats for ketogenic needs.
- Low glycemic – Helps prevent energy crashes from sugar highs/lows.
However, portion size still matters, as cocoa butter is high in saturated fats. Consuming large amounts may affect blood lipid profiles. As part of a balanced diet, unsweetened white chocolate can be an occasional treat for most diet needs.
Pros and cons of unsweetened white chocolate
Here is a summary of some pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to use unsweetened white chocolate:
- No added sugars
- Subtler flavor nuances
- Lower net carbs
- Lower glycemic impact
- Lower calorie
- Higher cost
- Less sweetness
- Fat content still high
- Limited availability
- May require recipe adjustments
For those monitoring sugar intake or following keto/diabetic diets, the pros generally outweigh the cons. But unsweetened white chocolate isn’t ideal for everyone. As a specialty product, it works best for niche applications rather than mainstream use.
While most conventional white chocolate is high in added sugar, there are specialty unsweetened varieties that derive gentle sweetness from cocoa butter’s natural sugars instead. Brands like Lily’s and Pascha offer chips and bars using alternative sweeteners.
Unsweetened white chocolate has a mild, creamy flavor with only subtle chocolate notes. It works best in recipes that are crafted to complement its unique profile. The lack of added sugars makes it a nice option for low-carb diets or blood sugar control needs. Just note that unsweetened white chocolate comes at a higher price point than the conventional alternative.
Overall, unsweetened white chocolate fills a niche role for certain baking applications or as an occasional treat. It provides a less sugary alternative for those monitoring carbs and glycemic impact. But for everyday use, regular sweetened white chocolate is still the mainstream choice for most consumers.