For Chocolate Lovers only  

White Chocolate-Vanilla Bean Dip

Tips: Boy, am I going to get into trouble for this recipe! For starters, it’s unconscionably rich; it’s essentially boiled-down heavy cream with the addition of flavoring---and butter. Also, it’s somewhat temperamental. You have to watch it carefully and stir it almost continually as it cooks, although fortunately it doesn’t cook for that long. And the dip takes time to thicken in the refrigerator, possibly as long as two days. So why would you bother? Because it’s amazingly good, even if you’re like me and not a huge fan of white chocolate these days. And it will last for at least ten days in the fridge, if tightly covered. A few notes on making this: use the best white chocolate you can find---no supermarket chips here, please. Find a really good vanilla pod (that means one that’s plump and glossy and has a strong vanilla aroma even before you cut it open). As a rule, I can only find ultrapasteurized cream, but it works well here. And use unsalted butter, or I’ll come to your house and tell you that you’re a bad person. No kidding; salted butter will ruin the flavor of this.

What would you use this for? It’s great with pretzels or crisp chocolate cookies (I’m sure graham crackers would be great dippers, too). You can spread it on strawberries or blueberries or grapes; it’s a bit messy that way, but it’s worth it when you get to lick your fingers (or someone else’s!). Do not try to melt this to make a sauce and drizzle it on fruit or anything cold, however, as it hardens right away and doesn’t work well when you do so. Make absolutely certain you serve this at room temperature!!! It’s far easier to spread that way, and the flavor and texture really improve dramatically with the chill off.

You’ll need a heat-resistant rubber spatula, a slotted tablespoon (you can probably also use a slotted wooden spoon), a whisk, a not-too-fine strainer, and a heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum frying pan, about 10-1/2 inches in diameter by 2-1/4 inches in height. Be advised that you shouldn’t make this in a significantly smaller frying pan, as it might boil over. And I haven’t tried making it in a larger frying pan, which would probably lessen the cooking time. This will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for at least 10 days.

Yield: About 2 cups


  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 plump, glossy vanilla pod (what most people call a vanilla "bean")
  • 3-1/2 ounces best-quality white chocolate, very finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into thin pats and at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (extract)

Off the heat, pour the heavy cream into the frying pan. Using a small, very sharp knife, quarter the vanilla pod into four shorter segments. Split each segment in half the long way, exposing the beans. Add pod segments to cream in frying pan; set aside.

Place white chocolate, which must be very finely chopped, into medium heatproof bowl. Set a strainer over the bowl. Set all aside on top of pot holder or heatproof trivet near stovetop. Have butter and vanilla extract close by.

Set frying pan with cream over medium-high heat. Stir frequently with slotted spoon as cream heats, occasionally scraping sides of pan with rubber spatula. Once cream begins to boil, stir constantly and scrape sides of pan with rubber spatula about once a minute.

Boil for 13 minutes. Cream should maintain a brisk boil, but reduce heat slightly if it’s in danger of boiling over. As cream reduces, a “skin” will begin to form on top of cream and on cream scraped from pan sides---this is OK and can just be stirred in. Cream will thicken slightly as it cooks.

After 13 minutes of boiling, remove from heat; allow bubbling to stop. Quickly pour about one-fourth of the very hot cream through the strainer into the white chocolate. Allow to stand for just a few seconds, then whisk until smooth. Strain in remaining hot cream in three additions, whisking gently after each to incorporate (as you work with the cream once it’s stopped boiling, you’ll see a top “skin” form quickly. Just pour it through the strainer into the white chocolate mixture). When all the cream has been added, the mixture should be perfectly smooth; the used vanilla pods should be left behind in the strainer.

Gradually whisk butter (which should be at room temperature) into still-warm white chocolate mixture, then gently whisk in vanilla. Cool briefly, then transfer to heatproof storage container. Chill, covering tightly when cold.

After no longer than two days of chilling (and it may be less), mixture will stiffen to a dip consistency (if this doesn’t happen, and you get a thick top “skin” with a sauce beneath it, remove the “skin” and serve this over fruit as a sauce).

To serve:
scrape as much dip as you’ll need into a decorative container. Allow to stand at room temperature, covered, for about 30 minutes, depending upon how warm the room is. Serve as a dip or a spread with fruit.


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...Published: June 2005