For candy making and cookies, is there a better white chocolate or one of good value? or do you just go with a good chocolate maker's offering?
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Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
There's white chocolate and there's white chocolate. That which is sold in grocery stores sometimes under the name Almond Bark, and the disks sold in craft stores are actually coating chocolate. Coating chocolate is very useful for some applications, but not generally for baking. If you look at the ingredient list, you'll see that it is made with a highly saturated fat, usually palm oil. Better quality white chocolates list cocoa butter as their fat ingredient. If you're using white chocolate chips for cookies, reduce the oven temp by about 15 degrees, as white chocolate scorches easily. When I add it to cheesecakes or crème brûlée, I do so via a simple ganache (50% chopped white chocolate, 50& cream) so that it incorporates well.
I learned from my one mass cookie dipping project: splurge on Valrhona Ivoire! The taste was head and shoulders above my 2 supermarket options, Bakers (melted OK but flavor was terrible) and Ghiardelli chips (did not melt).
White chocolate / white chips is a tricky and not necessarily intuitive subject. First off, most of it is really bad; you can't go by brand name alone. Second, white chocolate, with sufficient cocoa butter to legally carry that label, may or may not be the best product for a particular job. White chips melt and crystallize at different temperatures so can be a better choice (as long as they don't contain partially hydrogenated oils). Simply put, they're engineered for easier use. White chocolate, however, has a far superior and luxurious mouthfeel due to its higher cocoa fat content and typically better taste.
I've tasted a lot of different varieties side by side; my clear choice is Guittard. They make four types but you'll probably only find two in the retail channel -- a 31% cocoa butter disc and their white baking chips which, unfortunately, contain an unhealthful dose of trans fats. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's (last time I checked) both market passable chips.
In any case, buy the product fresh, keep it in a cool dark place and use it quickly, it goes rancid faster than the "best by" dates, especially real white chocolate.
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Well played. You deserve a cookie.
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