Roasted white chocolate is the sophisticated alter ego of the flaccid, frumpy, sugary stuff we have come to know and hate. Think of it like the secret self of the bored suburban housewife, just waiting to be unleashed. When you roast white chocolate it is like its precocious older cousin comes to stay and shows it the ropes. It is the summer that will change everything. Nothing will be the same again.
This is a tale of lost innocence; of irrevocable transformation; of carnal desire and metamorphosis.
Through the act of roasting, you force the three key ingredients of white chocolate (sugar, milk, cocoa butter) to caramelize, transmogrifying the bland, cloying original into a copper-coloured, toffee-tasting, elegant version of itself.
The technique is tantalizingly simple.
Preheat your oven to 130°. Ensure your chocolate is in small chunks and spread them evenly across a very clean, dry roasting tray that has a lip. It is very important that it is dry as any water will cause the chocolate to seize.
Pop the tray in to the preheated oven. After 10 minutes, lift out the tray and using a rubber spatula, smear the chocolate and spread it across the pan in its molten state. Make sure you smear round all the edges else it will catch and caramelize unevenly.
Put it back in the oven and leave it for another 10 minutes, and again remove and smear and stir it across the pan – keep repeating this. It will take approximately 45 minutes to an hour to get the desired effect – this will depend on your oven and the cocoa butter content of your white chocolate. Remember to keep stirring every ten minutes, and towards the end increase this to every five minutes. At times it may become quite stiff or crumbly, but if you keep stirring it will come back to its molten form. Just as for caramel, the darker the colour, the more rich and deep the flavour.
When it is your desired colour, add a little sea salt and then very carefully, as it will be red-hot, pour into a sterilized jam jar. It can be kept like this and then when required put the jam jar into a small pan of hot water and very slowly melt the chocolate, using a sundae spoon to stir. Don’t rush this, it is even more temperamental than regular chocolate so a jaunt in the microwave can cause it to seize up on you entirely.
Otherwise, treat it exactly like chocolate – use it to dip or coat things or add hot cream to make it more spreadable. It can be added to cakes and biscuits or used to decorate. I like to add black sesame seeds for the last few minutes in the oven and then pour it out onto a parchment lined baking sheet, allowing it to cool and then breaking it up into chocolate ‘brittles’.
The most important thing when roasting white chocolate is the cocoa butter content. It is important that you use a high cocoa butter content; Valrhona Ivoire is 34%, but if you don’t have access to this I have found that Cocoa Atelier’s white chocolate drops make for a perfectly good alternative at 30% cocoa butter. Don’t go lower than 30%.
Even if you loathe white chocolate, I challenge you to try this. It is spectacular to watch the milky white drops shapeshift into a luxurious, dark golden sexiness, and the alteration to the taste is remarkable. Roasted white chocolate is everything the original is not, it’s elegant, full-bodied and luscious with overtones of caramel and nuts. You will never look back.
Text, photos and styling by Kate Packwood