Sunday, September 26, 2010

Caramelised White Chocolate - Like Caramilk!

Who remembers Cadbury Caramilk? I think it came out sometime in the early 90s for a couple of years, I used to love it. There was an awful TV ad for it which involved a kid with a cow, which (if my memory serves me correctly) he gave caramel to, then used a handle to rotate the cow. Anyway, the chocolate (which probably had very little if any actual cocoa solids in it) was basically caramelised white chocolate, and it was utterly delicious. So when I spied a method for making this at home I knew it had to be done. This is very simple, just requires some vigilance and caution. It doesn't end up quite at a normal eating chocolate consistency but it's so good you won't care - and it could be used in place of white chocolate in recipes, or in its melty state to make an awesome ice-cream topping.

I originally spied the technique on David Lebovitz's blog, and he recommends an oven temperature of 120 C. I traded one of the instant read thermometers I got for my birthday for an oven thermometer (it's not excessive to have three different types of kitchen thermometer, is it?) and given the sensitivity of chocolate I thought this would be a prime opportunity to break it out. Pleased I did, as before the oven thought it was up to temperature it hit 130 degrees, so I turned it way down. You just spread the chocolate out on a tray, then every 10 minutes take it out and stir it, to break up lumps and make sure it cooks evenly.

Unfortunately for me even my lowered temperature wasn't enough to make my first batch a success - it was quite chalky from the outset, very hard to stir on the tray - not the gooey delicious mass I had imagined but as I had never made it before I wasn't sure what to expect. However, when it seemed to be getting to caramelising I put it back it for what I thought would be it's last stint - and it burnt! Argh! I didn't get a photo of it on the tray because a) I was pretty annoyed and b) it was dinnertime as well. When I came back into the kitchen I scraped it into a pyrex jug to see if remelting it in the microwave would redeem it.

Not really... I spread it out to set and have broken it into little chunks, which will probably still be delicious in cookies, but they are a little bit bitter. As you can see it's pretty lumpy, too. Hmm.

So for round two I reduced the temperature even further - about 110 C according to the oven thermometer, or 90 C according to the dial. If you don't have an oven thermometer just err on the low side - it might take longer but that beats burning it!

I also suspect that the chocolate I used in the first batch was slightly different - though I believe both were Callebaut, the internet tells me the first batch (which was from a block) might have had lower cocoa solids, and according to Mr Lebovitz, more = better as far as cocoa solids are concerned. I'm also wondering if maybe it was a bit old - the chalky texture which occured pretty much as soon as heat was applied was weird. The very first time I took the second batch out of the oven I could tell it was working better. It melted to a liquid, as you'd expect (this also made it a lot easier to deal with).

Each time I took it out of the oven I scraped it all into the centre of the sheet, to make sure it was evenly mixed and smooth, then spread it out again. Here are the progress pics:

The colour change is pretty subtle but you can tell. Taste testing is definitely compulsory for this task - I may or may not have done more of that than was strictly necessary. ;-)

Colourwise, it is pretty close to peanut butter when it's done - get your peanut butter jar out for comparison if you need to as a tiny bit of extra cooking can turn it completely. With the second batch I stopped when I got to that peanut butter colour, but put a little of it back on the tray for another 6-7 minutes; this photo shows the difference between the stuff I'd taken out and what I put back in (the 'good' one is really pale - perhaps a bit overexposed but it's a good demonstration of contrast - that colour changes very quickly!). Again, the overcooked stuff was a bit bitter - that dramatic darkening of colour is not desirable!

The finished product will set firm, though it takes a lot longer than normal chocolate to do so (several hours at room temperature), but can be warmed back to a liquid consistency in the microwave or double boiler as you normally would. Now my challenge is to decide what to make with it - what recipe do you think would best benefit from this delicious caramelly goodness?

Caramelised White Chocolate (to make one cup of liquid chocolate)
340g white chocolate, min. cocoa solids 28% (the Callebaut bits, available from Moore Wilsons, are 28%) 
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 100-110 C (err on the low side if unsure of accuracy). Spread the chocolate (chopped into small pieces if from a block) over a clean baking tray. If you don't have a perfectly clean tray line it with baking paper as the chocolate will pick up anything on the tray. Bake for 40-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes for the first half hour, then every 5-6 minutes. Stop when the chocolate is the colour of peanut butter. Use liquid or spread on a tray and break into chunks to put in cookies. The set chocolate will keep for a while (at least a month or so) and can be melted as normal when required.


  1. oh oh oh oh I WANT SOME!. I adored Caramilk. Especially the white & caramilk triple Easter egg that came out, you had to eat the caramilk egg, to get to the white egg, which you had to eat to get to the caramilk egg.

  2. Oh yes! I remember. And I think they used to make Caramilk creme eggs, too. Yummmm.

  3. bubblyness, it is amazingly good. :-D

  4. OMG. You made caramilk - you're my hero! :D

  5. This is pure awesome! I was so sad when Caramilk was taken off the market, this is a brilliant substitute.


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