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Every Tuesday at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m., Tom Harte shares a few thoughts on food and shares recipes. A founder of “My Daddy’s Cheesecake,” a bakery/café in Cape Girardeau, a food columnist for The Southeast Missourian, and a cookbook author, he also blends his passion for food with his passion for classical music in his daily program, The Caffe Concerto.

A Harte Appetite: Dreaming of a White (Chocolate) Christmas

flickr user Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Over seventy-five years ago Irving Berlin wrote what has become the most recorded song of all time: "White Christmas."   It’s easy to understand how Berlin, born in a town near Siberia, could feel nostalgic about a winter snowfall. 

Even those of us who grew up in temperate climates typically long for a white Christmas.  I know I do.  In my case, however, I am never disappointed.  That’s because regardless of the weather I know my Christmas will be a white one, a white chocolate one, that is.

Now I take a back seat to nobody when it comes to my appreciation of dark chocolate, but around the holidays I’m not alone in thinking that white chocolate seems especially festive.

It hasn’t always been this way.  As Janice Wald Henderson, an expert on the subject observes, not long ago white chocolate was the Rodney Dangerfield of chocolate.  It got no respect.  Some people even questioned whether it was really chocolate at all.

That’s because white chocolate does not contain what many consider the essence of chocolate:  cocoa solids, the stuff that gives dark chocolate its color and characteristic flavor.  It does contain plenty of cocoa butter, but that’s not enough for some purists who claim white chocolate is simply an imposter.

This all seems a bit  picky to me.  And beside the point.  Whether it’s a pale imitation of the real thing or not, white chocolate is wonderfully rich and creamy and a worthy ingredient for your fanciest desserts.  I can’t think of a dessert it can’t star in.  And it goes great with champagne.  No wonder Europeans have had no qualms about calling it real chocolate ever since it was invented in Switzerland in the 1930s.

A bar or two of the authentic substance may make you think twice about going back to the dark side and fully satisfy your dreams of a white Christmas.

White (Chocolate) Christmas Cake

Studded with candied fruits, coconut, cashews, and chunks of white chocolate, this cake, adapted from a recipe distributed by Oxmoor House publishing company, will insure you have a white Christmas regardless of the weather.

1 stick softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
6 eggs
2 and 2/3 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 ounces chopped white chocolate
2 cups coarsely chopped cashews
1 and ½ cups flaked coconut
2/3 cups chopped candied pineapple
1 cup dried cranberries

Cream together butter and brown sugar until thoroughly blended.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt and blend into butter mixture.  Fold in white chocolate, cashews, coconut, candied pineapple, and dried cranberries.  (Mixture will be thick and chunky.)  Spoon batter into greased and floured tube pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes until cake rises to stand firm and has a golden crust on top.  Cool cake for 30 minutes before removing from pan.

Tom Harte is a retired faculty member from Southeast Missouri State University where he was an award-winning teacher, a nationally recognized debate coach, and chair of the department of Speech Communication and Theatre.
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