Wednesday 1 July 2015

I did it!!!! Fair Trade white chocolate

Note: since I wrote this post I've learned more about making white chocolate.  See my update here.

As mentioned earlier, no one sells fair trade white chocolate in New Zealand.  Piko Wholefoods in Christchurch have, however, recently started selling fair trade cocoa butter.  My friend Anna bought some for me on a recent trip down there and on the weekend she came over to help me figure out how to turn it into white chocolate.

We didn't have a recipe to go on, so I decided to simply use 1:1:1 cocoa butter:milk powder:sugar - looking at the ingredients of Cadbury Dream white chocolate it seems that's more or less what they do.  The amount of vanilla was the same as what I used for the coconut butter white chocolate.

It worked really well!  It's not quite as smooth as the commercial stuff, but the flavour's pretty much perfect :-)  And, so long as you have a microwave and an electric spice grinder it's very easy to do.  It even works out at a similar price to non-fair trade white chocolate from the supermarket at around $1.60 per 100g.

Here's our recipe:

  • 60g cocoa butter
  • 60g full-fat milk powder, ground at least 20 seconds in an electric spice grinder (if you don't do this your chocolate won't be really smooth, but if you beat really hard after step 2 it won't be too bad)
  • seeds of half a vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup (60g) white sugar,  ground at least 20 seconds in an electric spice grinder (if can't do this, use sifted icing sugar and again beat really hard)


  1. Chop cocoa butter and melt in the microwave (takes 3-5 minutes).
  2. Mix in milk powder, then vanilla, then sugar.
  3. Pour into a silicone loaf tin or molds and put in the fridge or freezer to firm up.  If making a chocolate bar, mark into squares with a blunt knife after 30-40 minutes in the fridge or 10-15 minutes in the freezer.  Be sure not to cut too deep (like I did) or your block will break up!
Gives 180g.

Below are some photos of the process.

Cocoa butter.  I'd never seen it before and I was surprised how strongly (and yummily) it smells. I'm storing it in the fridge in a well-sealed container so it doesn't lose that scent over time.

Melted cocoa butter.  I was surprised how yellow it was.  (And no, the jug isn't clean - it was too much hassle to clean it properly between test batches...)

This is how thick the mixture was after mixing unground milk powder into the melted cocoa butter.

But this was how runny it got after beating.  You can mix it by hand - I was just using a machine because I had it available.  I did it by hand on an earlier batch and it worked fine.

However, if you add ground milk powder into the melted cocoa butter it's much, much runnier.  This photo was taken after simply mixing milk powder into melted cocoa butter - no beating involved

And it's still pretty runny after adding the vanilla and ground sugar.

I've now got a fair trade white chocolate that's plenty good enough for me.  All I need to do, now, is figure out how to make a decent nutella substitute and there won't be any non-fair trade cocoa products I actually want that I'll have to do without :-)  I do still have two outstanding questions about the process, though:
  1. Can I use vanilla essence?  I used actual vanilla in the recipe as people always fuss about chocolate seizing if you let any water near it, and I presume there's water (or alcohol, which is chemically very similar) in my essence.  However, I'm pretty clumsy so I've had a lot of experience exposing molten chocolate to water.  Generally nothing happens so I'm pretty skeptical about how readily seizing occurs.  Now that I'm confident of the process, I'll probably try a small batch with vanilla essence next time.
  2. Can I use skim milk powder?  We always stock skim milk powder as I use it to make yoghurt or custard once or twice a week, but we usually don't have the full-fat stuff.  Cadbury's white chocolate contained 'milk solids' rather than 'skim milk solids', so I decided to use whole milk powder first.  Again, now that I'm confident I have a recipe that works, next time I want to try a small batch with skim milk powder and see if that tastes OK.
Update: see discussion on these questions in the comments, below.


  1. Here's a model for melted chocolate that might help you approach the "what about water" question. Note that this is for dark chocolate; some speculation at the end about applications to white.

    Melted chocolate is a mixture of cocoa solids (powder) and cocoa butter (oil). Water doesn't mix with the butter, so you can discount it. Essentially you have a bowl of dry powder. If you add a small amount of water to it, it siezes - just like sand would, by making the powder sticky. But if you then add *more* water, you can make the powder into a paste and it becomes runny again.

    Key insight: if your chocolate siezes, add more water.

    For white chocolate, I guess you have milk powder + cocoa butter instead of cocoa solids + cocoa butter, so the same considerations apply. But milk powder is more readily soluble than cocoa powder in my experience, so may sieze less. Guess you should experiment.

    I can't see why you'd need full-fat milk powder; there's plenty of other fat in the recipe! But I guess it might affect the milkiness of the flavour a little, since fat is a flavour carrier.

  2. Hi Keith, thanks for that - that's helpful :-)

    I tried it with vanilla essence yesterday and it did seize. I added a tiny bit more water and it didn't help, and I didn't want to add lots more as I wanted to end up with a solid, rather than fudge. I will definitely do it this way if I'm going to make something with water in it (fudge, mousse etc.), but otherwise I think I'll have to stick with actual vanilla.

    As to the skim milk powder, I tried that yesterday, too. The result was slightly less creamy, but not very different, so I don't think I'll bother buying full-fat milk powder specially in the future unless I'm planning on making a lot.


    --H :-)

  3. Also, there remains an outstanding challenge, and one I don't think I'll be able to overcome. Commercial chocolate is first 'refined' then 'conched'. The refining involves squashing the warm mix through rollers or in a mill for many hours in order to reduce the particle size. I haven't quite got my head around what conching does. However, between them they make the chocolate really smooth - rather than gritty/dusty, as mine unfortunately is :-(

    1. Do you think (a lot) more time in the sumeet after all the ingredients are added would help break down the particles?

      And handy to know that vanilla essence should be avoided.

  4. That's what I'm trying next :-) I want to melt around 100-200g of the chocolate I already have and put it in the Sumeet for 2 hours on '1' and see what happens. It reliably cuts out rather than burning the motor, so I don't think I can hurt it that way, and I'm interested to see whether it helps :-)

    Alternatively, Martin's found a small rock tumbler (like people use for making rocks shiny) that costs only a little over NZ$100 (including ceramic grinding stones) that's designed to run for days at a time. But then, I can buy 1kg of Green and Black's white choc for around $US40 including shipping, so it'd be hard to justify spending that much unless I could get a few more people to go in with it!

    (it's the 3A here:

    with these balls:

    The final step is then to emulsify it by mixing it for another long while with soy lecithin - then I'll have a professional product!