Sweet Canvas

Eating white chocolate doesn't need to be an exercise in purity—the cocoa butter confection is a perfect canvas to let additional flavors shine. As we were researching white chocolate varieties for Ben Mim's article Beyond The Pale for our December 2012 issue, we came across a wide range of flavored white chocolates. Of all the bars we tried, these four stood out from the rest with a bold dose of tasty character, and are all perfect for nibbling on their own or baking into homemade treats this holiday season.

DIVINE WHITE CHOCOLATE WITH STRAWBERRIES

Mixed with strawberry-crisp pieces that provide a nice crunch with a hint of tanginess, this creamy white chocolate is very balanced, sweet but not cloyingly so. As an additional bonus, all Divine chocolates are also Fair Trade certified. Try adding it to granola, or mix it into oatmeal cookies. $3.99 at Shop.divinechocolateusa.com

GARCES TRADING CO. PORCINI THYME WHITE CHOCOLATE

Created by chef Jose Garces and master chocolatier Christopher Curtin, this bar carries a nutty Parmesan cheese-like aroma, with sweetly earthy savory notes from porcini powder and organic thyme. Nibble it with salty nuts, or melt it into a unique topping for homemade crackers. $8.00 at Shop.grg-mgmt.com

THE TEA ROOM CHAMOMILE HONEY WHITE CHOCOLATE

Infused with wild honey and Egyptian chamomile tea, this organic bar is rich, full-bodied, and true to its advertised flavor. It finishes with lingering herbal milky notes. Try melting it into cupcake frostings, or baking it into tea-time scones. $3.29 at Tea-room.stores.yahoo.net

BERKSHIRE BARK WHITE LIGHTENING

Handmade in the Berkshire Mountains with Belgian white chocolate, this is one daring bar, with nothing subtle about it. The nutty aroma of roasted cashews hits you as soon as you open the wrapper, followed at first bite by flavors of fresh lemon zest, crystallized ginger, and sea salt. Try it with ginger cookies, brownies, or grated into banana bread or carrot cake. $5.99 at Amazon.com