What Is Blond Chocolate And How Is It Made?

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In recent years, blond chocolate has made waves across the internet, in many kitchens, and perhaps even in your local grocery store, as the newest, and most intriguing addition to the chocolate family. Even though it's not technically classified as a type of chocolate all its own, but rather one that's based on the familiar and delicious, yet relatively unimpressive white chocolate, a slew of viral videos and eye-catching recipes have led bakers to the understanding that they can have more fun with blond.

Besides its rich golden color, and lightly caramelized flavor, one of the most attractive things about this confection is how easy it is to create and customize a batch in your own kitchen. Armed with only a bundle of white chocolate and low heat, you can invoke the Maillard reaction to toast the chocolate to your liking and produce a distinguished ingredient that will make your desserts much more interesting.

What is Blond Chocolate?

Blond chocolate is the name given to white chocolate that has been toasted or caramelized. Although not an officially recognized form of chocolate like the more prevalent milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate, blond chocolate offers a unique and nutty flavor that can enhance your recipes with a toasted, toffee-like flair.

According to Hotel Chocolat, blond chocolate came about in 2004 as a sort of delicious mistake. A French pastry chef at a chocolatier, Valrhona, accidentally left his white chocolate unattended in a hot water bath for hours, and when he came back to discover his error, he noticed that not only had the chocolate changed color, but it had also developed a special flavor. Replicating this unique chocolate form, this time on purpose, led to a viral chocolate sensation that's been prepared by many home cooks for their own amateur creations and even sold commercially by brands like Hershey's and of course the confection's originator, Valrhona.

How is blond chocolate made?

A major part of blond chocolate's appeal is just how simple it is to make at home. It only requires one ingredient and very little skill. The most you need for a successful batch of blond chocolate is patience and attention. You start with your favorite high-quality white chocolate, that contains at least 25% cocoa, then chop it into small pieces. If you start with white chocolate chips or baking callets, the chopping is not necessary. Then, you toast the white chocolate on low heat to encourage the sugars to brown and caramelize at a rate that won't burn them.

According to The Spruce Eats, this browning can be accomplished in the oven by laying the white chocolate chunks on a baking sheet and cooking them at a low temperature for an extended period of time, stirring the melted mixture occasionally. You can also make blond chocolate on the stovetop, though this method works much more quickly and is much less forgiving.

Blond chocolate vs. white chocolate

Blond chocolate and white chocolate have many similarities, with the main distinguishing factors coming as a result of the cooking process that blond chocolate undergoes.

White chocolate is often very sweet tasting, with hints of vanilla flavor. It's also usually rather creamy in texture and off-white in color. Due to its lack of cocoa solids, white chocolate does not have the same brown appearance and rich taste that milk and dark chocolate offer. Instead, it delivers more of a one-note flavor, that is delicious in recipes such as white chocolate raspberry cookies even though the white chocolate itself lacks depth of flavor.

Because blond chocolate is simply toasted white chocolate, it has a similar composition, and of course the same ingredients. However, the taste is deeper and it has a golden-brown hue rather than a white-ish appearance. Just as white chocolate can vary in sweetness and creaminess, not all blond chocolate is the same.

When making blond chocolate, the more cocoa butter in the white chocolate you use, the better the end result. The caramelized cocoa butter produces the rich flavor that gives blond chocolate its irresistible qualities. On the other hand, however, more cocoa butter means more expensive chocolate, so it's important to keep in mind that the richest blond chocolate will likely also be the most expensive.

What does blond chocolate taste like?

Blond chocolate has a unique taste that differs from white, milk, and dark chocolate. Its extended cooking process gives blond chocolate a caramelized flavor that can be compared to that of dulce de leche, butterscotch, and even shortbread. The taste of blond chocolate can differ by batch based on how long the chocolate is cooked, with less cooking time yielding a less pronounced flavor. The taste can also be affected by the quality of white chocolate that is used to produce it, with white chocolate that contains less cocoa butter resulting in a less caramelized final product.

Blond chocolate has a deeper flavor compared to white chocolate alone and may actually taste less sweet than white chocolate due to its bold, caramelized flavors balancing its stark and somewhat overpowering sweetness. Compared to milk or dark chocolate, blond chocolate also has more pronounced, nuttier flavors that are mild overall, but still both rich and indulgent.

How to cook with blond chocolate

Blond chocolate is wonderfully versatile in baking. You can use it in the same way you would use white or milk chocolates, and in doing so, bring a unique flair and stunning presentation to your desserts. While the cooking process adds a new dimension of flavor, the classic ways in which you can enjoy your chocolate remain the same. Of course, you can eat blond chocolate on its own, but you can also melt it down to make a sauce for your ice cream, add it to cake batters, or even make blond chocolate ganache by whisking it with warm heavy cream.

The best way to melt blond chocolate is to use a double boiler to achieve a smooth and creamy consistency without scorching it. Additionally, as with any other chocolate, it's important to remember that if your blond chocolate comes in direct contact with water in its melted state, it will seize and become more difficult to work with.

Because of its distinctive color and flavor, blond chocolate is an impressive ingredient for drizzles, chocolate decorations, and sauces. But it doesn't always have to be a spectacle. It also makes a lovely addition to blondies, brownies, and cookies, lending a smooth, creamy texture and a pleasantly appealing taste.

Where to buy blond chocolate

While blond chocolate is gaining traction in the confectionary world, it might still be difficult to find it locally. Although it remains much less prominent than more classic varieties, some brands have been making strides toward increasing the prevalence of blond chocolate in the candy aisle. For example, in 2017 Hershey's launched a golden creme chocolate bar called Hershey's Gold. Additionally, Cadbury's Caramilk line features blond chocolate as a bar and also small poppable chocolate buttons. You may even find some store brands, such as Kroger's Private Selection Blonde Chocolate Bar getting in on the action. However, a trip to the average American grocery store unfortunately reveals that this chocolate trend has a long way to go before becoming a mainstream staple.

In the meantime, there are many specialty chocolate retailers that offer the golden treat online. Callebaut Gold, L├Ąderach, and Valrhona all have selections of high-quality blond chocolates in a variety of forms that can be shipped right to your door.

Varieties of blond chocolate

Just as with white chocolate, blond chocolate comes in many forms with different flavors and varying qualities. Available in both chips and callets (larger melting chips) you can also buy blond chocolate bars that are either purely made or have mix-ins such as dried fruit, nuts, spices, or sea salt to enhance their flavor.

Blond chocolate couverture is another commercially available variety. It is produced with a greater percentage of cocoa butter, which makes it even more ideal for premium baking and candy making because it's easier to temper, has an ultra-smooth consistency, and boasts a polished, glossy appearance.

While there are many brands that produce blond chocolate, some professional bakers and home cooks alike choose to take advantage of the ease and convenience of making their own. With such a simple process, homemade blond chocolate allows the baker to control the quality of the white chocolate, to begin with, and the level of caramelization in the final product. This offers more customized flavors and unique creations whether they be sauces or confections.

How to store blond chocolate

Blond chocolate must be stored properly in order to retain its freshness. A cool, dry location without large temperature variations is ideal for both short and long-term storage. High humidity and warm temperatures can cause the chocolate to develop a dull, white appearance or hazy sheen known as either a fat bloom or sugar bloom, depending on whether the chocolate has come in contact with heat or moisture. While this does not affect the taste of the chocolate, it does negatively impact its visual appeal.

Store blond chocolate in an airtight container or storage bag to prevent moisture and dust from accumulating on the candy. A pantry or cabinet that is away from your stove and other heat sources will protect the freshness and integrity of your delicious chocolate whether storebought or homemade. It can also be wrapped tightly and placed in your refrigerator to extend its shelf life, but over time the cold air may alter your chocolate's texture and cause it to lose flavor. When stored properly, blond chocolate can remain fresh for months to come.