Cake

A Fluffy, Addictive Cake With a Killer 2-Ingredient Frosting

And a case for white chocolate.

March 28, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

Politics and cilantro aside, is there anything more polarizing than white chocolate? Poor misunderstood, totally underestimated white chocolate. And it’s not even necessarily the fault of the haters for missing the potential. I blame Big Candy. Because all too often, people mistake “white baking chips” or “white candy coating” for the real thing. You know the stuff—that bizarre, waxy coating that forms the foundation of far too many bake sale nightmares, purchased at craft stores? (And next time, can we talk about how weird it is to buy food at craft stores?)

At any rate, white candy coating is most certainly not the same thing as real white chocolate. Even the FDA has gotten in on the specifics. In order to be labeled as such, white chocolate must contain at least 20 percent cocoa butter, 14 percent milk solids, and 3.5 percent milkfat, ensuring it will have a creamy, dreamy mouthfeel. Add to that a sweet breath of vanilla in every bite, and it’s a shame white chocolate is even called “chocolate,” because it immediately sets it up to be the eternal JV squad to its dark and bittersweet counterparts. If we can see white chocolate for what it is—a beautifully rounded, silky combination of cocoa butter and vanilla that can be melted and molded and whipped and even roasted and caramelized—then we can unlock its great potential. It’s time to break the monotony of dessert courses that feel like endless cycles of dark chocolate and fruit, and to stop making fun of white chocolate for its retro '80s vibes.

But since everything ‘80s seems to be coming back around (check the rise on these jeans I’ve got on!), white chocolate is perfectly posted to reclaim its time. These days we want punchy, sharp flavors in our desserts, which can sometimes go a little too far. White chocolate is a subtle balm for all that bigness, a way to allow dominant ingredients to shine (as white chocolate plays so well with just about anything), while reminding us that at its best, dessert should bring comfort and delight, not a punch in the face.

If we can see white chocolate for what it is—a beautifully rounded, silky combination of cocoa butter and vanilla that can be melted and molded and whipped and even roasted and caramelized—then we can unlock its great potential.

White chocolate is also perfectly capable of having its own star moment, especially if you buy high-quality bars (and when you’re attempting to convert white chocolate doubters, you definitely want to go with the good stuff). One of my favorite ways to highlight it in all its glory is a ridiculously easy, two-ingredient cream cheese frosting (cream cheese and white chocolate, you guessed it) that brings just about any cake up to Level: Casual Luxury. With this genius formula, white chocolate lends sweetness, structure, and a luxe quality you just don’t get from simply blending confectioners’ sugar and butter with a block of Philly. It’s kind of like switching a cotton blanket for cashmere.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“White chocolate and nutmeg is a really outstanding combo, up in the chocolate-and orange class. I find myself, as I slip gently into my "golden" years, more and more inclined toward gentler flavors in desserts in place of the powerful flavors I've often favored. The bland sweetness of things like Pepperidge Farms cookies and Dryers ice cream is often more attractive than the latest nothing-but-chocolate-and-butter cake or dynamite gelato. In general, I think we've fallen far too much under the influence of professional cooks and bakers, whose primary mission, after all, is to get our attention; this tends to lead to overwrought recipes that don't really wear well.”
— Smaug
Comment

Here, that blanket of velvety frosting cozies up a snowy white buttermilk sheet cake, scented with a slip of fresh nutmeg, and slightly dampened with a silky malted milk soak (with a few ounces of white chocolate melted in for good measure). It’s a cake that belies its low-key appearance, and can easily be transported to serve a crowd. With a cake this rich, you can serve upwards of 20 partygoers from a single pan, and convert them all to the Church of White Chocolate.

Are you a white chocolate fan? Let us know in the comments below.

13 Comments

Susie S. April 19, 2019
Hi Eric, I seem to have an awful lot of liquid left in the pan after pouring on the malted milk chocolate, even after two hours soaking. When I frost the cake tomorrow morning, should I pour off any excess that still remains? Thanks for your assistance!
 
Mischa B. April 2, 2019
White chocolate was always my choice as a little girl. "Mommy, make sure the Easter Bunny knows that I want a whiiiiite chocolate bunny!" The same thing at Christmas, too. Woe be unto Santa or the big Bunny if they didn't bring me my white chocolate. (As a parent of four, I now realize what a tall order I gave my parents in that pre-internet age.)
As a little one, I don't know if I ever really had authentic white chocolate. The luscious creamy mouth feel of good chocolate, only Oh. So. Much. Better. There's no bitter cacao taste. No excessive sweetness to match or mask said bitterness. Only the velvety soft blanket of vanilla and cocoa butter, perfectly balanced in unison. Oh-so-delicately and sweetly, they dance across my tongue, daring me to continue to dance with them.
I will need to dance my way to the market, now. The dancers are demonstrating their need to dance.
 
Victoria C. March 31, 2019
I have always been a huge white chocolate fan. I was introduced to it by my british grandmother when I was a child, and was always so frustrated as we couldn't get it in Montreal when I was young. When going to visit the Grandparents in England, white chocolate was always the first treat we got and looked forward to!
 
HalfPint March 30, 2019
I've always loved white chocolate and lime flavor combo. I think this would taste really good with some lime zest or oil added to the frosting and maybe a little lime juice to the cake.
 
Mary March 29, 2019
Yes ... the texture of this cake is perfection. The taste? Not so much. There is nothing subtle about the white chocolate flavor. Even with the best ingredients this recipe didn’t make me a convert. You and your guests must really be devotees of white chocolate. Mine weren’t. Scraped off the frosting and added an unseeded raspberry layer to break up all that white chocolate flavor.
 
Hemz7781 March 28, 2019
Can you please recommend good quality varieties of white chocolate?
 
txchick57 March 29, 2019
Valrhona Opalys would be interesting here. This is cool recipe.
 
Jan March 28, 2019
There is no mention of buttermilk in the ingredients. Please tell us how much.
 
Eric K. March 28, 2019
Hi there, the buttermilk has been added to the ingredients list: "1 cup (225 g) well-shaken low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature." Thanks for flagging!
 
Rk March 28, 2019
Where is the buttermilk?
 
Mks March 28, 2019
I believe there is an omission in the recipe as there is no buttermilk in the list of ingredients. Please let us know how much buttermilk to use in the cake.
 
Smaug March 28, 2019
White chocolate and nutmeg is a really outstanding combo, up in the chocolate-and orange class. I find myself, as I slip gently into my "golden" years, more and more inclined toward gentler flavors in desserts in place of the powerful flavors I've often favored. The bland sweetness of things like Pepperidge Farms cookies and Dryers ice cream is often more attractive than the latest nothing-but-chocolate-and-butter cake or dynamite gelato. In general, I think we've fallen far too much under the influence of professional cooks and bakers, whose primary mission, after all, is to get our attention; this tends to lead to overwrought recipes that don't really wear well.
 
Eric K. March 28, 2019
Love it. Couldn't agree more. I often want and even prefer the soft roundedness of white chocolate to dark or milk.