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Pastrypastmidnight

Favorite white chocolate

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Do you have a favorite white chocolate? I’ve tried Callebaut W2 and Cacao Barry Blanc Satin and I didn’t particularly care for the strong sweet milky taste of either. I have a tiny sample of El Rey Icoa, which I do really like, but it seems hard to find and $$$. 

 

Before I I spend a gazillion dollars on chocolate and shipping, I’d love to hear if you have any advice—what you like the taste of/working with and the best way to get it. Thanks so much!

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If El Rey Icoa is the chocolate I think it is, then I tasted it and hated it, so you will have to take the rest of what I write in that light. I tend not to like whites that try for a chocolatey taste because I think they taste like washed-out milk chocolate. Obviously a "favorite" white chocolate is a matter of very personal taste. My favorite white, without any question, is Valrhona Opalys; second choice is probably Cacao Barry Zephyr. Both are less sweet than many other whites. Besides the usual dairy and vanilla flavors one expects, it seems to me (again, very personal taste) that Opalys has a hint of something citrus. I know this is unlikely to be true, but whatever it is, I think it gives Opalys a taste beyond just cocoa butter + dairy (the norm). I use Opalys for molding and for making ganaches. As for how it handles, well, that is a different story. It is very challenging to use for molding. After it is in temper, it starts off rather thin. You have to look carefully at any shells to make sure they are not too thin (and sometimes fill them again). After about the fourth or fifth mold, however, Opalys thickens rather suddenly. The clue is that after scraping the top of the mold, the edges of some cavities fall inward, forming a too-thick shell. To make sure I wasn't just incompetent, I took some Opalys to the 2017 chocolate workshop, and Kerry Beal tempered it. It behaved exactly the same way, and was so thick at the end that it was almost solidified (I suspect those standing around must have thought I was insane to use such a chocolate). Previously Kerry had asked the people at Valrhona about my difficulties with Opalys, and, to my relief, they confirmed that it could be a problematic product. But the good news is that Opalys can be tamed: If I am doing more than 4-5 molds, I have a second amount set aside, initially raised to a high enough temperature that it cannot be in temper and then held around 90F. When the over-crystallizing begins, I stop and pour in some of the extra Opalys; if I have been successful, the chocolate returns to a usable state. Why go through all this? Because I think it tastes that good (for a white chocolate, of course). If you think Icoa is expensive, however, then I'm afraid you will find Opalys astronomical (about $72 for 3-kilo bag wholesale, about $96 retail).

 

As for Cacao Barry's Zephyr, it costs about $83 for 5 kilos (dramatically lower, I would say), and I think it tastes almost as good as Opalys. I have tasted some other whites, including new ones Valrhona has released, but did not care for any of them. I thought the Callebaut W2 was much too sweet.

 

Probably more information than you wanted, but finding a good white has been a goal of mine.

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11 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

If El Rey Icoa is the chocolate I think it is, then I tasted it and hated it, so you will have to take the rest of what I write in that light. I tend not to like whites that try for a chocolatey taste because I think they taste like washed-out milk chocolate. Obviously a "favorite" white chocolate is a matter of very personal taste. My favorite white, without any question, is Valrhona Opalys; second choice is probably Cacao Barry Zephyr. Both are less sweet than many other whites. Besides the usual dairy and vanilla flavors one expects, it seems to me (again, very personal taste) that Opalys has a hint of something citrus. I know this is unlikely to be true, but whatever it is, I think it gives Opalys a taste beyond just cocoa butter + dairy (the norm). I use Opalys for molding and for making ganaches. As for how it handles, well, that is a different story. It is very challenging to use for molding. After it is in temper, it starts off rather thin. You have to look carefully at any shells to make sure they are not too thin (and sometimes fill them again). After about the fourth or fifth mold, however, Opalys thickens rather suddenly. The clue is that after scraping the top of the mold, the edges of some cavities fall inward, forming a too-thick shell. To make sure I wasn't just incompetent, I took some Opalys to the 2017 chocolate workshop, and Kerry Beal tempered it. It behaved exactly the same way, and was so thick at the end that it was almost solidified (I suspect those standing around must have thought I was insane to use such a chocolate). Previously Kerry had asked the people at Valrhona about my difficulties with Opalys, and, to my relief, they confirmed that it could be a problematic product. But the good news is that Opalys can be tamed: If I am doing more than 4-5 molds, I have a second amount set aside, initially raised to a high enough temperature that it cannot be in temper and then held around 90F. When the over-crystallizing begins, I stop and pour in some of the extra Opalys; if I have been successful, the chocolate returns to a usable state. Why go through all this? Because I think it tastes that good (for a white chocolate, of course). If you think Icoa is expensive, however, then I'm afraid you will find Opalys astronomical (about $72 for 3-kilo bag wholesale, about $96 retail).

 

As for Cacao Barry's Zephyr, it costs about $83 for 5 kilos (dramatically lower, I would say), and I think it tastes almost as good as Opalys. I have tasted some other whites, including new ones Valrhona has released, but did not care for any of them. I thought the Callebaut W2 was much too sweet.

 

Probably more information than you wanted, but finding a good white has been a goal of mine.

No, this is so perfect and helpful!!! I really appreciate you taking the time to type all that out, especially to include costs and how they are to work with. That was exactly what I was looking for. And less sweet is definitely what I’m looking for as well. I may try to order a small amount of each retail and try them. 

 

When you say that Opalys is $72/3kg wholesale, are you ordering directly through Valrhona? I’m having a heck of a time getting anyone to respond to me directly from Valrhona, Cacao Barry or Republica del Cacao. I’ve contacted them all, some multiple times. Crickets.

 

Thanks again for the information—I do really appreciate it!

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This SeiousEats article says they picked Valrhona in their blind tasting. I'm planning to order some to check out, but don't have any 1st hand opinions yet.

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7 minutes ago, paulraphael said:

This SeiousEats article says they picked Valrhona in their blind tasting. I'm planning to order some to check out, but don't have any 1st hand opinions yet.

Great article—super helpful! I’ve googled things like “best white chocolate,” etc., and it’s never come up for me, so thank you for sharing!

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Add me to the list of people whose opinions are " so cliché that to me it is deeply boring and predictable."  I don't like white chocolate.  But then I don't like milk chocolate either.  

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1 minute ago, Darienne said:

Add me to the list of people whose opinions are " so cliché that to me it is deeply boring and predictable."  I don't like white chocolate.  But then I don't like milk chocolate either.  

White is not my personal favorite either, but it’s a useful vehicle for more delicate flavors. Two of my favorite bonbons ever are Christopher Elbow’s passionfruit and lemon bonbons and surprisingly they are both shelled in white. I feel like when I played around with the Callebaut W2 that milk powder taste was so strong it distracted from the other flavors in the bonbon :(. I just want to find something that will allow for those other flavors to shine :) .

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Thanks, @paulraphael, for the link to the very helpful article.

 

@Pastrypastmidnight, I don't know where you live, so can't say much about where to buy chocolate. My impression, though I don't know for sure, is that the manufacturers don't sell directly to customers. In the U.S., Chocosphere has an extraordinary selection; they sell both retail as well as wholesale to businesses (that's where I got the prices I mentioned). They also repackage many chocolates so as to sell them in smaller quantities. If you are a business, you have many other options for wholesale purchases, but these are often regional companies that sometimes require large purchases.

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I agree that Opalys is probably the best in terms of least sweet, but I’ve switched to Zephyr because of price.  I don’t do much shell molding in white, so haven’t encountered the issues Jim has. I use the Zephyr with other flavors - passion fruit, coconut, raspberry - and it doesn’t interfere. 

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7 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

Thanks, @paulraphael, for the link to the very helpful article.

 

@Pastrypastmidnight, I don't know where you live, so can't say much about where to buy chocolate. My impression, though I don't know for sure, is that the manufacturers don't sell directly to customers. In the U.S., Chocosphere has an extraordinary selection; they sell both retail as well as wholesale to businesses (that's where I got the prices I mentioned). They also repackage many chocolates so as to sell them in smaller quantities. If you are a business, you have many other options for wholesale purchases, but these are often regional companies that sometimes require large purchases.

Thank you so much for the information! I really appreciate it! I am in the US and have been looking at Chocosphere. I will contact them about wholesaling. I’ve just been buying what I can get at my local Restaurant Depot (Callebaut) and I like their 811 okay, the flavor of the 823 is quite nice but both have been too viscous for hand dipping well. But the white I didn’t like at all. 

 

1 minute ago, pastrygirl said:

I agree that Opalys is probably the best in terms of least sweet, but I’ve switched to Zephyr because of price.  I don’t do much shell molding in white, so haven’t encountered the issues Jim has. I use the Zephyr with other flavors - passion fruit, coconut, raspberry - and it doesn’t interfere. 

Thank you—this is great feedback! I really appreciate it!

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I really need to give these Valrhona's a try. But I really don't like buying Valrhona, their prices are insane.:S 

 

I've been using Blanc Satin, which you didn't like, for the past six months. I just got a bag of Michel Cluizel's Elianza Ivoire, which have a little bit different taste profile.


Edited by Rajala (log)
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1 hour ago, Rajala said:

I really need to give these Valrhona's a try. But I really don't like buying Valrhona, their prices are insane.:S 

 

I've been using Blanc Satin, which you didn't like, for the past six months. I just got a bag of Michel Cluizel's Elianza Ivoire, which have a little bit different taste profile.

 

 

You should be able find Valrhona for less money that Cluizel. Have you tried Chocosphere or Worldwide Chocolate?

I'd be curious about the Cluizel ... everything I've tried from them has been amazing.

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1 minute ago, paulraphael said:

 

You should be able find Valrhona for less money that Cluizel. Have you tried Chocosphere or Worldwide Chocolate?

I'd be curious about the Cluizel ... everything I've tried from them has been amazing.

 

I got the Cluizel for ~15 EUR per kg. Maybe I got lucky with my supplier? Getting one of those 3 kg Varlhona bags is around ~65 EUR for me. Looking at other Cluizel products, price are close to Varlhona range.

 

However, I just tried a bit more of the Elianza Ivoire, and what I can say directly is that it's much less sweet than Blanc Satin. 

 

Also, I live in Sweden. For whatever that's worth. :) 

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7 minutes ago, Rajala said:

 

I got the Cluizel for ~15 EUR per kg. Maybe I got lucky with my supplier? Getting one of those 3 kg Varlhona bags is around ~65 EUR for me. Looking at other Cluizel products, price are close to Varlhona range.

 

 

Interesting. Do you like the Cluizel? I usually find it an upgrade from Valrhona ... although some of their chocolates are so distinctive tasting that they're not appropriate for everything. No idea about their white chocolates.

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1 minute ago, paulraphael said:

 

Interesting. Do you like the Cluizel? I usually find it an upgrade from Valrhona ... although some of their chocolates are so distinctive tasting that they're not appropriate for everything. No idea about their white chocolates.

 

It's the first time I'm trying anything from Cluizel. I'm currently trying to find favourites, so I'm buying a bag or two with types I haven't tried each time I place an order. I'm going to try to make a ganache or so with it, see how it turns out. Maybe a fruit puree can take more space when there's less sweetness from the chocolate.

 

If I grab a few pieces of Blanc satin, and just eat it, I get some weird feeling. Kind of like I shiver in my mouth because of the sweetness. That feeling is something I don't get with the Cluziel.

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I'm not a fan of white chocolate, only eat it if it's added to something.  I use Opalys a lot at work, but there it's only for additions to buttercream, ice cream or a white chocolate layer cake.  I would use it more outside of work if not for the price. I prefer it over the Ivoire. 

I personally do like to use El Rey's Icoa, I used it quite a bit in the past for my molded chocolates and fillings. Was always easy to work with.  I order it directly from them in Texas.  It's best to order in the colder months from them, they will only ship overnight or 1 day in the summer. So, there's the added shipping cost. I know the flavor either has you loving it or hating it.

 

 

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My chocolate tastes lean quite dark as well, so I pretty much only use white as a base for fruity ganaches, so I am looking for a fairly neutral base. I am a hobbyist and I mostly do chocolates for family and friends, so I don't need to worry about making something for everyone's tastes. I find Felchlin Eidelweiss to be edible (which is as far as I will ever go as far as white chocolates). I recently got my first shipment to play with, so I have only sampled and have not worked with it yet, but my Albert Uster rep says it is easy to work with and quite fluid. It's not cheap, but not super pricey either, and since my rep drops off at my office, I don't pay shipping. It is pretty milky but not nauseatingly sweet. I'll post again once I have had a chance to play with it.


Edited by tikidoc (log)
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It's easier for me to think of white chocolate as something separate from chocolate. Letting it be its own thing, I can enjoy the smoothness and the clean flavors. My top priority is that it isn't too sweet ... this is the flaw that kills most of the ones I've tried.

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Has anyone tried Luker Nevado?

I live in Colombia and here that's the only good choose I have.

Some people seem to like it, I want to know how it compares from what you get worldwide.

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I have tried Luker and really don't like it. I wanted to, desperately ...but I tried three different kinds (they were all darks and milks, mind you) but they were all very chalky in texture. The taste was also so predominately bitter, that I really wasn't interested in continuing tasting in hopes of finding something better. I still have some white, which I tried again just now and I just don't find the flavor as appealing as other whites.

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I’ve now tried Callebaut W2, CB Blanc Satin and Zephyr, El Rey Icoa and Valrhona Opalys. Opalys was head and shoulders above the others for taste. Super creamy, not sweet, almost buttery. Stupid Valrhona. ;)

 

I do still like the El Rey a lot and the Zephyr was solid. They are VERY different flavor profiles, but I liked both much better than Callebaut W2 which just has a weird milk powder/cooked milk/off taste to me and better than CB Blanc Satin (although I only tasted that as a sample in a shop). 

 

Once I get a chance to use some of them, I’ll report back. I just have a kg of each. 

 

Oh, and Zephyr Caramel tastes divine! A little gritty on my tongue, but such a burst of butter and caramel! I have part of a Dulcey bar hiding somewhere so I still need to do a side-by-side, but I really loved the Zephyr Caramel. That’s a white I could eat every day. 

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Well, I have to order some Valrhona to try it I guess. The best price I could find is at 60 EUR for 3 kg. Acceptable levels, but you can probably get an even better price if you know where to shop for it.

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4 hours ago, Pastrypastmidnight said:

Oh, and Zephyr Caramel tastes divine! A little gritty on my tongue, but such a burst of butter and caramel! I have part of a Dulcey bar hiding somewhere so I still need to do a side-by-side, but I really loved the Zephyr Caramel. 

 

I’d be interested to know how Dulcey and zephyr caramel compare side by side. I haven’t tried the zephyr caramel yet. I did try some Felchlin Bionda blond but found it much sweeter than Dulcey           

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2 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

 

I’d be interested to know how Dulcey and zephyr caramel compare side by side. I haven’t tried the zephyr caramel yet. I did try some Felchlin Bionda blond but found it much sweeter than Dulcey           

Caveat: my Dulcey bar is a little old—I’ve been savoring it for a while. The Dulcey is smoother and the caramel flavor is more subtle. It’s definitely more of a caramelized white chocolate flavor. The Zephyr is a strong caramel flavor. Like burst of caramel and butter hitting your palate. It’s a little bit gritty. With my samples, the Dulcey was slower to release flavor, but that might have to do with the age. 

 

I first tasted Dulcey a year ago and I was blown away by chocolate that tastes so much like caramel. The Zephyr makes it seem a little bland and more white chocolate-y. 

 

The Dulcey tastes sweeter to me—the Zephyr tastes more of butter with the caramelized sugar flavor as well. Which is funny because my Dulcey lists butter as an ingredient but my Zephyr Caramel doesn’t. Zephyr specifies that the sugar is caramelized—I wonder if that has something to do with the slight grittiness. 

 

Dulcey is 32% cocoa butter, Zephyr is 35.6%. 


Edited by Pastrypastmidnight (log)
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I use mostly Cocoa Barry Blanc Satine 29%.  It is excellent for shelling, sweet but not crazy sweet with a nice vanilla note.  It is well-priced and a fantastic work-horse white. 

I started using it at the suggestion of Norman Love, who also uses it as his main white chocolate. 

 

Of course, it's a matter of taste, so you just have to keep trying them until you find one that you like and that works well for its intended applications.  


Edited by Bentley (log)

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