When choosing white chocolate, you should typically look for one that is made using cocoa butter and does not contain vegetable fats. Despite its name, white chocolate is not actually chocolate, since it does not contain any chocolate liquor or cocoa solids that come from cocoa beans. This is what allows such chocolate to have a pale, almost white color and allows some people who may have negative reactions or allergies to chocolate to still eat it. Cocoa butter is still often used to make this type of chocolate, though some inexpensive products may appear similar to it but use vegetable fat.
The name “white chocolate” is something of an inherent misnomer, since this type of food is not actually chocolate. One of the defining characteristics of chocolate is the presence of chocolate liquor, which is a combination of oils and solids from cocoa beans. This is what gives milk and dark chocolate the distinctive flavor and aroma of chocolate, though various other ingredients are added to different types of chocolate. White chocolate, however, does not contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor; though it should still contain cocoa butter that is essential to the signature flavor of this particular confection.
As you are looking for the best white chocolate, you should be sure that anything you purchase and use indicates “cocoa butter” among its primary ingredients. It is not unusual for it to be the second ingredient listed, even for high quality white chocolate, since sugar is usually the first ingredient. Some brands even indicate exactly how much cocoa butter is present in the mixture they use, which you might also find on the product’s packaging. In the US, a product typically must contain at least 20% cocoa butter to legally be called white chocolate, often mixed with milk and vanilla.
There are a number of other products that may look similar to white chocolate, but which do not actually contain cocoa butter. These are frequently marked as “confectioner coating” and have a texture somewhat like that of chocolate, but the taste lacks chocolaty richness. Imitation vanilla is typically added to these types of coatings to give them some kind of flavor, and vegetable fats are commonly used to give them a consistency and melting point similar to chocolate. You should avoid any chocolate that contains vegetable or animal fat instead of cocoa butter; keep in mind, however, that “soy lecithin” is often added to chocolate as an emulsifier and does not indicate poor quality.