The Chocolate Life

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I just came back from the World Pastry Forum and 2008 Amoretti World Pastry Team Championship but while I was there I was introduced to an interesting thing to do with white chocolate - caramelize it. [Editor: November 8, 2008 - I ran into Derek Poirier at The Chocolate Show in NYC who thanked me for mentioning the technique but took me to task for forgetting to mention who introduced me to the idea. Derek is Valrhona's Corporate Pastry Chef here in the US. Thanks! Derek.]

This can be done in a roasting pan in the oven. Place the white chocolate (buttons or chopped) in the pan and place in a 250F oven. Stir every 10 minutes or so. Depending on how much chocolate is in the pan it may take 30-40 minutes or more to achieve a good color. Be careful because it's easy to burn.

This gives the chocolate an almost dulce de leche flavor and if done properly the caramelized chocolate will even temper. The recipe I saw demonstrated turn the caramelized white chocolate into a whipped ganache to be used instead of whipped cream (creme chantilly).

What do you like to do with white chocolate?

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Replies to This Discussion

I made a batch this weekend using 2 pounds of Guittard white. The chocolate never really melts. It gets soft and you can stir it around to evenly brown it but it never gets liquid (or at least it didn't for me).

I took it out of the oven a little on the brown side and as it cooled it started to crumble and get hard. I realized I had stumbled across the technique to make chocolate crumb - only with white chocolate and not milk chocolate.

In any event, I let it cool a little too much - but it was still 60C, a lot too hot to work with. Normally you want to let it cool to around 35C when making a ganache. I was seriously worried about ruining the chocolate so I added 12ozs of hot (60C) cream and used an immersion blender to make it all smooth. When it cooled to 35C I added 4 Tbsp regular (not high-fat) butter and made a great-tasting caramelized white chocolate ganache slightly lighter in color than a dulce de leche. If I wanted to create the whipped ganache, immediately after incorporating the butter I would add roughly equal measures of cold whipping cream and mix with the immersion blender and set that aside in the fridge to set.
The caramelized white chocolate is a brilliant idea. I am a total el-rey devotee when it comes to white chocolate becasue it tastes chocolatey still. I use it for some lighter ganaches when the spice or fruit I am mixing it with is sublte or bitter, because the sweetness and the lightness are a good balance. I make a lime and pinon bark with white chocolate (lime zest straight into tempered white chocolate and then sprinkle on toasted pinon nuts. Really nice.

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