This isn’t something groundbreaking by any means but the strength of this method lies in its simplicity and convenience. Caramelizing white chocolate can be accomplished by heating the chocolate in a warm oven or in a microwave. But depending on how these methods are performed, you can destroy the structure of white chocolate, dry it out (if you use a wide baking dish), and also run the risk of over-burning the chocolate (microwaves are notorious for this). After attempting several different methods to make caramelized white chocolate at home, I’ve found the sous vide to be the best, least stressful, and something I can leave and walk away from and get the other stuff I need done. I use the Joule Sous Vide that I’ve really grown to love over the years.
Though the term “caramelize” is applied to this, it involves two separate reactions;
Caramelization of Sugars – this involves a bunch of different reactions where the sugars like lactose (milk sugar), sucrose, glucose, and fructose undergo a series of complex reactions to produce the bittersweet tastes, toasty and nutty aromas, and the caramel family of brown colored pigments. This reaction occurs in the presence of heat.
The Maillard reaction – a distinctly separate reaction from caramelization. Reducing sugars react with the amino acids present in proteins to produce new flavors and brown colored pigments.
Both of these reactions occur simultaneously in the chocolate. Other flavor reactions that also occur involve the fat present in the chocolate, some of the lipids (fats are a type of lipid) undergo oxidation etc and change their flavor.
Method: You can scale this method as needed. Canning and old jam jars work great here because they can withstand the increase in air pressure and temperature. If you have a sous vide cooking container, by all means use that.
Makes 1 cup
1 cup white chocolate
Place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof jar, seal with a lid and place it in a wide and deep enough heat-proof container or Dutch oven. Fill the pot with enough water to ensure that water is slightly above the chocolate chips. Seal the mouth of the container of Dutch oven tightly with cling wrap to form a seal. Set the sous vide to 200F/93C for 4 hours. The chocolate will turn a toffee brown color, remove the jar from the water, cool before using. The chocolate will stay good for up to 1 month in an airtight container.