Top Pick Of The Week

April 1, 2008
Updated November 2008

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Pierre Marcolini White Chocolate

Pierre Marcolini’s white chocolate bar wins the beauty competition. Real white chocolate is ivory, never snow white. All photography by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

WHAT IT IS: Twelve of the world’s finest white chocolate bars.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: More cocoa butter in the recipe, top-quality cocoa butter and a more restrained hand with sugar give these bars aroma and flavor complexities unmatched in lesser white chocolate.
WHY WE LOVE IT: For the same reason we like all great chocolate. Nothing else tastes this good!
WHERE TO BUY IT: and (for the Pierre Marcolini bar only).

The World’s Best White

CAPSULE REPORT: Many people who enjoy chocolate don’t like white chocolate—possibly because most of them have never had a truly good piece of it from a top chocolatier. Prior to 2002, the USDA’s standards of identity declared that white chocolate wasn’t even chocolate, because it didn’t contain cocoa solids. If it did, it wouldn’t be white! Today, white chocolate that contains at least 20% cocoa butter can hold its head high. It’s officially chocolate.

We’ve always enjoyed white chocolate, although we’ve had our share of the waxy-tasting, over-sugared and insipidly simple varieties. That’s why we want to share our love of it with you. If you can’t find love in our selection of twelve of the world’s best white chocolate bars, we’ll hold our piece. Of chocolate.

Our winners range from $4.25 to $11.75 each, most for a 3.5-ounce, multi-portion-size bar. The selection ranges from Green & Black’s organic chocolate, available at many retailers nationwide, to Pierre Marcolini, available only at Pierre Marcolini boutiques. The other brands include Amedei, Askinosie, Café Tasse, El Rey, Slitti and Venchi. One brand has pistachios, one has coffee beans, one has Kalamata olives and one is sugar-free. All are available online.

This wealth of connoisseur-quality white chocolate invites some actions. First, make a gift of all the bars to your favorite chocolate lover. Or, to ensure that you participate in the enjoyment of the gift, arrange a tasting in that person’s honor (read our article on how to give a chocolate-tasting party). But first, read about these splendid white chocolate bars, and see the photos in the full review below.

THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.


Learn More About Great Chocolate

Discover Chocolate - Clay Gordon The New Taste Of Chocolate - Maricel Presilla Essence Of Chocolate
Discover Chocolate: The Ultimate Guide to Buying, Tasting, and Enjoying Fine Chocolate,
by Clay Gordon. A chocophile shares his enthusiasm for learning about the world of fine chocolate. Click here for more information or to purchase.
The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes, by Maricel Presilla. A seminal book for learning about chocolate, from one of the most respected industry experts. Click here for more information or to purchase. The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate, by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg. More than 100 recipes, including Chocolate Chunk Challah, homemade “Oreos” and Chile-Marinated Flank Steak. Click here for more information.

The World’s Best White Chocolate: It’s Great!



Introduction: What Is White Chocolate

For most of its history in the United States, white chocolate was not chocolate at all. That’s because, according to longstanding FDA standards of identity, “chocolate” had to contain cocoa solids (a.k.a. chocolate liquor or chocolate mass)—the ingredient that gives chocolate its brown color, as well as the chocolate flavor and aroma. White chocolate, obviously, contains no cocoa solids. It’s a blend of cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids, as well as vanilla for flavor and, generally, soy lecithin as an emulsifier, depending on the producer’s recipe. (All of these ingredients are used in milk and dark chocolates as well; the only difference is that white chocolate lacks the cocoa solids.)

Before achieving official chocolate status, white chocolate was considered “confectionary.” A product called confectionary coating or summer coating, with similar ingredients (milk, sugar, vanilla) but substituting vegetable oil* for butter, was often passed off as “white chocolate.” Since vegetable oil can stand up to much higher temperatures than cocoa butter, in the days before universal air conditioning, confectionary coating was often used to make summer bonbons—“white chocolate” that was often colored lovely pastel shades in addition to natural white.

While many people enjoy it, confectionary coating doesn’t taste like anything that would please a person with a discerning palate. There are also the swarms of middling producers who use as little cocoa butter as possible in their recipes (cocoa butter is the most expensive and character-conferring component) and stretching the bar with milk (bland) and sugar (cloying). No wonder white chocolate has such a bad name. This review will introduce you to great white chocolate you can try and decide, once and for all, how you feel about it. If you already enjoy white chocolate, you’re in for a treat!


Green & Black's White Chocolate

Green & Black’s white chocolate bar: The most “masculine” of the bunch.

*Last year, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, led by large manufacturers seeking to save money on ingredients, petitioned the FDA to allow vegetable oil to be substituted in all chocolate. In a group protest led by Guittard Chocolate, THE NIBBLE was one of the many that remonstrated, and the petition is currently shelved. But, if it resurfaces, think of what that “vegetable oil chocolate” tastes like. It should urge you to take a moment to act.

White chocolate also has a “medical” advantage benefit over dark chocolate for two groups. People who are allergic to the chemical compounds in the cocoa solids can safely enjoy white chocolate. Those same compounds, which can be poisonous to pets, are also lacking in white chocolate, since it’s just cocoa butter, milk and sugar. But you should still check with your vet before indulging Fifi with a bar.

Continue To Page 2: The History Of White Chocolate

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