Valrhona's Caramelized White Chocolate (+ 3 Simple Ways to Use It)

February  6, 2013

Every week -- often with your help -- FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: White chocolate gets serious, just in time for Valentine's Day.

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White chocolate fans are a lonely, quiet bunch. But they're about to get some new recruits. Like you. And even you over there, with the Scotch truffle in your mouth.

Most of us have spent the past two decades forgetting the white chocolate wave of the '80s, which eventually begat the Hug, and an unpleasant macadamia nut cookie scent drifting though our malls. 

There was also the persistent rumor that white chocolate isn't really chocolate, because it only contains the butter, not the solids from the cacao bean. (Until they legitimized the term "white chocolate" in 2002, the FDA wasn't helping.) But this is a little like saying pork tenderloin isn't really pork. 

Matched against the brute appeal of a salty dark chocolate bar or a cookie heavy with bittersweet chips, scrawny, milked-up white chocolate never really had a chance. But it can do something miraculous that dark chocolate never could.

Here's the thing: Past that pale, sweet exterior lie three ingredients with a lot of potential -- sugar, milk, and fat (in the form of cocoa butter). What happens when you expose these to enough heat? The sugars toast and you get caramel.

This simple alchemy was harnessed at L'Ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona (a.k.a. Valrhona Chocolate School). Bloggers and chefs like David Lebovitz, Ideas in Food, and Bill Corbett learned the technique through them and have since spread the gospel. 


Essentially, you roast white chocolate at a low temperature (266 degrees F), for about 45 minutes, stirring and swooping it around every 5 to 10 minutes. Then you salt it.

What it turns into, some call the "Toffee of Milk". Just like other chocolate, it's liquid when warm, solid when cool.

It borrows from dulce de leche with hints of cocoa flavor and, maybe most distinctively, rounded chocolate texture. As Food52er Rivka, who tipped me off to the technique, said, "It's one of the most delicious chocolate substances I've ever tasted."

The cocoa butter proportion matters -- the higher it is, the more willingly melty it gets. We used 34% Valrhona Ivoire Fêves, but if yours is 30% and looks a little stiffer than ours, that's okay -- just stir it often and watch it closely. Once it's the color you like, pour it into a jar and re-warm it whenever you want to get jiggy.

If you take it too far and it seizes into crumbles, don't panic. It is completely salvageable and, in fact, I think it's a handier form to keep around. Not only can you force it to become completely smooth with the aid of a blender or a fine mesh strainer, you can also freely toss handfuls into cookies or scones, brownies or banana bread. And into your own mouth. 

See below for three of the simplest ways to use the stuff, but there are countless others. (Our Head Recipe Tester Stephanie Bourgeois turned hers into ice cream, mousse, cookies, pots de creme, and three types of ganache -- all in one night.)

For Valentine's Day, I can promise these three desserts have all the allure and heady depth of a dark chocolate mousse. And maybe even more, because your date won't see them coming.

1. Hot (Caramelized White) Chocolate

Heat up milk (maybe with a little cream), pour over caramelized white chocolate chunks (or crumbles) in a blender. Wait a minute for melting; blend. (See Ideas in Food's recipe if you'd like proportions.)

2. Ganache (between two cookies, for example).

Whisk a little hot cream into caramelized white chocolate; smear between cookies. 

3. Ice Cream Topping, Magic Shell-Style

Warm up 8 ounces of caramelized white chocolate with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Pour over ice cream. Bust through shell with spoon.

Valrhona's Caramelized White Chocolate

Recipe adapted from L'Ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 pound white chocolate
Sea salt, to taste

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.


Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom


Even more ways to use it, from around the web:


Rhubarb Bars

Banana Ice Cream Freckles

Pistachio Brownies

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Chrissy Amos
    Chrissy Amos
  • Beth100
  • david
  • Ruthlessmess
  • alex donn
    alex donn
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Chrissy A. October 8, 2017
As you're making your white chocolate into carmel, add fresh coconut and chopped pecans to the same pan....yes the same pan. Wait for a warm golden color, cool thick, break and enjoy!
Beth100 August 11, 2015
Is Valrhona's Dulcey the same thing, or is this more caramelized?
david March 27, 2014
question I would like to take it too far and have it seize up into crumbles to use how do i go about doing that?
Beth100 January 11, 2014
Is this similar to caramel, where the sweetness decreases as the amount of caramelization increases? How would you say the sweetness of caramelized white chocolate compares to that of dulce la leche?
Ruthlessmess July 5, 2013
I just made this using 300g Green&Blacks Organic White Choc (30% cocoa butter).
I made it on the stove top in a large non stick pan with a heat proof spatula. I put it on the lowest heat on the smallest ring and it went fine, no problems just very slow. Eventually (after an hour or so of stirring every 5 minutes or so) I turned up the heat. Only then did it start to darken and need to be worked and smoothed pretty constantly, even so it took quite a while. I couldn't have done this in the oven I don't think, it was time consuming enough as it is.
Just from licking my fingers I know it's very good and it looks incredible. Going to serve it over profiteroles I think, I'll let you know how it goes down.
alex D. March 4, 2013
can't wait to try this! i've been trying to stay low on my calories, but oh can u resist this?!?
gingerroot February 14, 2013
Made this tonight and had the same experience as sdebrango, thinking it was seizing when it was not. I only had half a pound so it was dark and started to melt when I stirred vigorously at 20 minutes. It's dark, delicious and I think I may have licked the pan clean. And I don't have a big sweet tooth.
KSorensen February 10, 2013
I just tried this using a Agostino white chocolate from Chefshop they say is 37% total fat (chips vs. discs)...266 degree oven - after 7 minutes it was 1/2 melted, after another 7 it had seized and turned a pretty dark brown so I took it out...any suggestions? I was really looking forward to this! so disappointed...
Kristen M. February 10, 2013
That's so fast -- do you have a thermometer in your oven? I wonder if it runs hot, or has hot spots. Don't worry though -- dark brown is when it tastes best, I think. Click through to the recipe page for how to turn the crumbles smooth again. Or you can always bake them into cookies, etc.
KSorensen February 10, 2013
well the good news is I took the crumbles, tossed them into a blender with milk then steamed for a hot white chocolate, which my kids loved...I started pre-heating the lower oven when I was doing this and am wondering if that somehow affected it...time to check their temperatures...again! thanks...
RachaelMakesCakes February 10, 2013
This might actually be THE most brilliant thing I have ever seen. I HAVE to try this. Thanks so much!
Boldski February 8, 2013
what is the best way to reheat the white chocolate caramel?
Kristen M. February 8, 2013
I warm mine (in the jar pictured above) in a pot of barely simmering simmering water. Or if you keep yours in a jar without any metal bits, you can reheat in the microwave on low power.
Sarag February 7, 2013
So glad that I can now own my love of white chocolate without being scorned! These desserts look swoonfully delicious. And white chocolate has another champion, too: Deb, of Smitten Kitchen. I agree with her that it pairs beautifully with berries. I'm thinking that her white chocolate concoction needs yours as topping number two. I know what I'll be cooking when the blizzard traps me in.
Lokness February 7, 2013
Wow! This is simply amazing. Never heard or seen anything like this. I always find white chocolate to be very one note. But this looks very different. I am definitely saving this up and making it soon.
Panfusine February 7, 2013
Where can I buy that particular brand of white chocolate?
Kristen M. February 7, 2013
I found it at Whole Foods on the Bowery, actually! But if you can't find it, any good white chocolate will work.
Panfusine February 7, 2013
Thanks Kristen, I'll look for it at the Princeton Whole foods. I had such a terrible experience with the ghirardelli white chocolate chips. Found out later that the company is getting sued for misrepresenting the ingredients in their white chocolate product.
ATG117 February 6, 2013
I love white chocolate as much as I love milk chocolate, which is a whole lot. I'm wondering how it compares in taste to dulche de leche.
boulangere February 6, 2013
Great question. I'm making some tomorrow or Friday, and will let you know.
Marian B. February 7, 2013
It's definitely still got the mouthfeel and milkiness of white chocolate, but with a caramel twist. It is, however, just as addicting as dulce de leche!
LLStone February 6, 2013
Great, great photos! I live w/ some white chocolate lovers, so this is perfect. I will certainly do this. This is my fave column - I love the Genius Recipes!
This I. February 6, 2013
I have to admit to having white chocolate seize and burn as it cooks fast. These are really good ideas!
Jack M. February 6, 2013
There is no such thing as White Chocolate. Because in fact, the very choco ingredient component that is the makeup of chocolate bean, which is what gives the bean its color and flavor when processed, has been removed, which make the very concept of white chocolate an oxymoron. Its real name should albino chocolate. On top of which it tastes like sh**.
DJCoufal February 7, 2013
You know there is nothing like talking from the top of your head. But, you did it! RUDE
creamtea February 6, 2013
Yum!! I always tell my kids, "chocolate is good for you." This looks really good for you.
boulangere February 6, 2013
Fanfreakingtastic! I'm getting a vision of caramelized white chocolate mousse.
Christine R. February 6, 2013
Oh good heavens, what a luscious idea. I am not a chocaholic. Once in a while I love some very dark chocolate. White chocolate is something I keep to add to things like scones or bread pudding. THIS is a recipe I must try! Thank you so much!