White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Glaze

White Chocolate Cake Brownie recipe-11

It’s curious when people say, “I don’t like white chocolate. I like dark chocolate.” Because it’s not fair to compare them, just like black tea is different from green tea. They’re different and each has their fans. And honestly, you can enjoy both, on their own – for what they are. Happily I’m a fan of both on their own, and together as well, especially when they play off each other in desserts, such as white chocolate-fresh ginger ice cream with a dribble of bittersweet chocolate sauce. But white chocolate also goes well with tangy, citrus flavors, especially lemon.

White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Glaze

When I saw these Brownies chocolat blanc et citron in one of the French food magazines I subscribe to, squares of yellow cake with a crunchy lemon glaze, I thought it might be nice to brighten up my winter with a bit of puckery lemon paired with white chocolate. I’m not entirely sure they qualify as brownies, per se, but since they have one permutation of chocolate in them, we could probably give them a pass.

White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Glaze

The first time I made them, I was a bit concerned because of the small amount of batter. The recipe just said to use un moule carré, a square pan, not indicating a size (as they often do in recipes in France, so I guess they assume you know?) So I went with the standard 8-inch (20cm) square pan, which I assumed is universal. The result (above) wasn’t a tall cake, er, batch of brownies.

White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Glaze

(On another note, I pointed out to Romain that the recipe also said that it is for 6 personnes, accompanied by a picture of the brownie/cake cut into 9 pieces. He said that was normale since some people might want another piece, and some might not. I think I will do that in future recipes…and watch the copy editors have nervous breakdowns.)

White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Glaze

In addition to wanting to know the pan size – and taking a different approach to portioning – in cake and brownie recipes, Americans also have a propensity for tall, towering desserts like multi-layer cakes, and even the cronut, which is not something that you’d see in France. (Although I shouldn’t say that, because we certainly have our share of cupcake shops and burger joints – and who’d have predicted those?)

And while I don’t mind cakes that aren’t sky-high, layered with frosting, I wanted a bit more of the white chocolate cake underneath the layer of tangy lemon glaze. So I reworked the recipe so the ‘cake’ part was a little taller, which is now what I’m calling it. But no matter what you call it, it disappeared pretty quickly.

White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Glaze

White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Glaze
One 8-inch (20cm) cake

Inspired by a recipe from Elle à table

Make sure to use white chocolate that is real white chocolate; the only fat that is should contain is cocoa butter (and fat from the milk) and it should be a pale ivory color, rather than pure white. If there is another fat listed, such as vegetable or palm oil, it’s not pure white chocolate. Products made with those ingredients are often labeled “white confectionary coating.”

For those who live outside the United States, powdered sugar is also called confectioners sugar or icing sugar. (In France, it’s sucre glace.)

White chocolate cake
5 1/2 ounces (150g, 11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
6 ounces (170g) white chocolate, chopped
Zest of one lemon (unsprayed)
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon (150g) flour

  • Lemon glaze
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (120g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Butter an 8-inch (20cm) square cake pan and line with bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375º (190ºC.)

2. To make the white chocolate cake, in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, warm the butter, white chocolate, lemon zest, and salt together, stirring gently, until the chocolate is completely melted. (The mixture may not look smooth, which is normal.)

3. In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar with the eggs, then whisk in the melted white chocolate mixture.

4. Use a flexible spatula to stir in the flour, mixing just until no visible bits of flour remain. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Remove the cake from the oven and as soon as it’s cool enough to handle, run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan, and set the cake on a wire cooling rack, removing the parchment paper. Let the cake cool completely.

6. Make the glaze by mixing together the powdered sugar with the lemon juice until smooth. Spoon the glaze over the cake, smoothing it over the top with a metal spatula or butter knife, letting some of it drip down the sides. Once the glaze has hardened, cut the cake into portions.

Storage: The cake can be made up to one day in advance, and glazed, and stored at room temperature.


Related Recipes and Links

Chocolate FAQs

White Chocolate and Sour Cherry Scones

Caramelized White Chocolate

Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream

Caramelized White Chocolate Cake

White Chocolate Sorbet

White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Glaze

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71 comments

  • January 11, 2014 4:49pm

    This sounds dreamy!! Love that glaze!

  • January 11, 2014 4:57pm

    Its also debatable whether white chocolate is really chocolate since it contains no cocoa (but only cocoa butter).

    Since cocoa butter is supposedly the dominant flavour in white chocolate, wouldn’t it be better to use a neutral fat (like oil) instead of butter which may mask the already subtle cocoa butter flavour?

    6 persons, 9 pieces s owe assume that 50% of guests will go for an additional slice. Sounds reasonable:)

  • January 11, 2014 5:32pm

    Sounds like a great combination of flavours

  • January 11, 2014 5:41pm

    Looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it, considering I’m so more used to the traditional dark brown “brownies.”

  • Bebe
    January 11, 2014 5:50pm

    White chocolate is chocolate sans chocolate liquor. If it is called “white chocolate” on the label, it is chocolate:

    White chocolate was introduced in the 1930s by the Nestlé Company. It is a blend of cocoa butter, sugar or other sweetener, vanilla, and soy lecithin as an emulsifier. White chocolate contains no cocoa solids (chocolate liquor). For many years, white chocolate was not classified as chocolate but as confectionary. The old U.S. Standards of Identity stated that in order to be called chocolate, a product must contain chocolate liquor. The Standards of Identity were amended in 2002 to allow white chocolate to be called chocolate if, among other requirements, it is made from a minimum of 20% cocoa butter.

    Read on:

    http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/chocolate/glossaryu.asp#w

  • January 11, 2014 5:59pm

    This looks great, I’m going to make it today! Yay for quick cakes that don’t require mixers. For some reason, getting out my mixer seems like a big deal. :) And its such a gray rainy day today, some bright lemon will be perfect. Thank you!

  • January 11, 2014 6:01pm

    Believe it is like with all things – when you use not so great things they do not taste well. I disliked olives for a long time – well, now I know that there are really great ones out there…
    To bad you have no piece left for me…

  • January 11, 2014 6:03pm

    In my opinion, white chocolate is underrated. Thank you for making it the star of this cake recipe! Love the flavor pairing with the lemon.

  • Fred
    January 11, 2014 6:17pm

    Did you know Valrhona now sells “blond chocolate”, a caramelized white chocolate. That might be good here, too!

  • January 11, 2014 6:52pm

    So lovely, especially the lemon glaze!

  • January 11, 2014 6:56pm

    I got my hands on some Valrhona white chocolate (during the holidays for chocolate bark) – it’s excellent and I would use it for this recipe…which, by the way looks amazing, and perfect for any occasion.

  • January 11, 2014 7:31pm

    David, this is my kind of cake/brownie. I am a white chocolate lover. I happen to live in an area where I can easily get my hands on great white chocolate. I have to agree with another commenter who said that white chocolate is underrated I add it to every recipe possible.

  • Rus Franswick
    January 11, 2014 7:34pm

    That picture of the white chocolate looks like a picture of miniature chocolate bed pans. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  • January 11, 2014 8:02pm

    I love the combination of white chocolate and lemon — sounds rich enough for a winter dessert, but the lemon would definitely bring a touch of sunshine! Thanks for sharing.

  • Philip
    January 11, 2014 8:15pm

    Nice recipe! I’m looking forward to trying it in a silicone financier mold.

    I suppose you could also go the chunky route with dried cherries, pistachios and chopped white chocolate.

  • Alan Beall
    January 11, 2014 8:16pm

    Bon jour. I am a new subscriber and have a couple of questions about this recipe. How much is your pinch of salt? I’ve seen pinches by chefs on TV vary from a few grains to a teaspoon. Also, when you call for flour, do you mean cake flour or all-purpose or what? Thank you for your many interesting posts.

  • January 11, 2014 8:22pm
    David Lebovitz

    Phillip: I thought about adding chunks of chocolate or dried cherries, but it was kind of nice just to have the white chocolate/lemon, without cherries in there – didn’t try the chips but either could be added.

    Alan: A pinch of salt is what can be lifted between the tips of 2 fingers when you dip it in the salt bowl. In most baking recipes, flour is always all-purpose, unless otherwise indicated.

    Rus: Those are bits of chocolate that are designed that way so that when you’re melting them with liquid, the liquid goes into the divot and helps the chocolate melt evenly. They call them fèves (beans) — Any resemble to anything else is coincidental : )

    Fred: Yes, the caramelized white chocolate that I linked to I learned when I went to the Valhrona chocolate school – their head pastry chef made it by accident when he put some white chocolate in the oven to melt…then forgot about it. I haven’t tried their tablets of it, though.

    Lily: Absolutely!

  • January 11, 2014 8:27pm

    I saw this same recipe in Elle a table and was planning on making it — as an american I do prefer taller cakes, so I’m glad you’ve done the dirty work for me and polished up the recipe! I DO however like how French tarts and desserts are squater. Something about it seems more homey and unpretentious, like they’re not trying too hard (and of course, it tastes just as good).

  • January 11, 2014 9:06pm

    I’m sure it’s as good as your recipes always are! Thanks for sharing this – I’ll be making it in the coming week, my lemon tree just produced dozens of lemons. I love love love your writing – always interesting and personal and makes cooking and baking your recipes feel like I’m cooking with a friend! Thanks.

  • Susan
    January 11, 2014 9:09pm

    I think it must be an American thing to want, for lack of a better word; More. I felt this when I tasted my first purchased lemon bar at a farmers mkt. The lemon layer must have been about an inch thick and was almost like eating a slice of very congealed pie rather than the typical bar cookie. I had the same experience with pecan pie bars which have gotten thicker with pecans over the years. I’ve gone back to the “old ways”, I again like them thin. I like the more even ratio of fillings to base or crust as the sweetness gets too overwhelming. Your tangy topping on this thicker brownie/cake recipe would probably work out better for me as I’m not a fan of very tangy citrus fillings or frosting.

  • blissing
    January 11, 2014 9:34pm

    There’s a donut place in Santa Fe that makes white chocolate lemon pistacio donuts. I will make this; it’ll be a smidgen healthier.

  • Delly
    January 11, 2014 9:44pm

    9 slices for 6 people – of course! Everyone says, “Well, I would love a little bit more, but not a WHOLE piece.” Everyone ends up with 1.5 pieces of cake.

  • January 11, 2014 9:52pm

    I made these this afternoon, and while it has a lovely lemony flavor, I can’t detect the white chocolate at all. I’m thinking that a white chocolate glaze with lemon would provide more white chocolate-y-ness. Thoughts?

  • January 11, 2014 10:02pm

    I don’t know about others but I love both white and dark chocolate. Lovely cake and flavor combination.

  • Parisbreakfast
    January 11, 2014 10:53pm

    ‘He said that was normale since some people might want another piece, and some might not.’
    You have to Love French logic! Very thoughtful of others..

  • katie
    January 12, 2014 1:34am

    I tend to like white chocolate when it is mixed or paired with something else — like the white chocolate bar flavored with violets that I tasted recently, or white chocolate in cookies. Your white chocolate ginger ice cream sounds fabulous. When I eat it by itself it tastes too sweet to me or maybe I haven’t had good quality white chocolate?

  • Kathy
    January 12, 2014 2:37am

    I wanted to comment on your lemon curd but I think comments there are closed. Your photos are just stunning. I appreciate the time you take and attention to detail. You are amazing and I’m gonna try your lemon curd this weekend! Greetings from Arizona!

  • Jess
    January 12, 2014 3:24am

    Wow, I love white chocolate, so this sounds amazing.

  • January 12, 2014 5:32am

    I am really intrigued by this. I can see how the sweetness of white chocolate pairs/contrasts well with lemon but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever tasted the combination! And that white chocolate-ginger ice cream sounds so good! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • January 12, 2014 5:47am

    Thank you for validating white chocolate – it gets no respect. I find it strange if you say you like white chocolate it means you don’t like dark. I love the creaminess of it and love it melted with nuts. Finding white chocolate san lecithin is almost impossible to find. Did you find yours in the states or France?

    Thank you for finding it strange when a recipe doesn’t list the pan size.

    Thank you for a lemon recipe because that always sounds good to me.

  • Molly
    January 12, 2014 7:40am

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I was under the impression that white chocolate is actually just…vanilla, white chocolate being made with cocoa butter, which is actually closer to canola oil than chocolate, and would contribute towards the explanation as to why it pairs exceptionally well witch citrus.

    On another note, I can’t seem to find it, but there is a wonderful article that explains the various types of acids in citrus fruits and how those acids contriubute towards astringency and the like. Also interesting is that some citrus juices will mellow and change with time (lime), and some will just oxidize and get nasty. But depending on which acids the respective fruit contains, citrus will ‘pair’ better some ways and not others. (I work in a craft cocktail bar and this is very, very important to me.)

    Carry on!

    • January 12, 2014 11:07am
      David Lebovitz

      In order to be called white chocolate, the only fat it can contain is cocoa butter (and milk fat, from the dairy.) Other components of it are milk solids and fat, and sugar. It cannot contain oils, such as canola or others. Rules likely vary around the world but the FDA website lists the standards for white chocolate for the US.

  • January 12, 2014 9:35am

    Mmmmmm, this cake sounds delicious! I love lemon & white chocolate together.

  • Ele
    January 12, 2014 10:34am

    Hi David thanks so much, that is a beautiful cake. I also made the Chocolate Buckwheat cake (too many times now…) so we have a good selection for the week ahead. Ele, Australia

  • January 12, 2014 11:17am

    Scrumptious recipe with a clear, detailed guide, comme habitude! White chocolate’s dreaminess teases to be coaxed out, pampered a bit, and then consumed with convivial gusto. The French excel effortlessly (or at least it appears that way) at all three activities.

  • Senem Teke
    January 12, 2014 12:42pm

    Hi David, though I am not a big fan of white chocolate, a lot of friends of mine are. So as soon as I read the recipe I baked it. Frankly the first slice was very delicious. When I was in the middle of the second slice I decided it was way to sweet for me and couldn’t finish it. Next time, very soon I presume, I will omit the sugar believing that white chocolate will do all the sweet I can take. Thanks for the recipe

  • January 12, 2014 5:39pm

    I never used to be a fan of white chocolate (I’ve always been a dark chocolate fiend) until I tried actual, good quality white chocolate. None of that garbage, waxy Easter bunny crap. I actually really enjoy the cold snap that quality white chocolate has, and it goes so well with lemon! Beautiful cake, tbh, I always liked the cake more than icing anyway, so the proportions of this one sound perfect. =)

  • Susan Cox Cameron
    January 12, 2014 10:12pm

    Yum! This looks perfect for the grey lazy day ahead of me here in Seattle. I just got an 8″ square Le Creuset baking dish as a gift. Do you think a cake would bake like it’s meant to in it? I also got a petits fours heavy aluminum baking pan as a gift, which I could try. (When you tell your family you are really getting into baking, they’re relieved to find you suddenly that much easier to shop for, and I loved being the recipient!) I’ve just recently discovered your site and also am finishing ‘The Sweet Life in Paris’ – so thanks for sharing your knowledge and humor, and wonderful photos. : )

    • Susan C C
      January 14, 2014 7:08am

      Holy smackaroli… These are Yummy! I tried my new ‘NordicWare’ petits fours mold and they were kind of a challenge to get out of the pan. But mmmm MMMM they are delicious.

  • Sastier
    January 12, 2014 10:31pm

    This was family dessert today. Super bon. Merci David.

  • January 12, 2014 11:24pm

    I really love the look of this cake. I’d have never thought to pair white chocolate and lemon together but it sounds so delicious :-)

  • Jorame
    January 13, 2014 3:11am

    The first batch I made was so delightful, I immediately whipped up another to share at a function I went to today. The similarity to a “brownie” in preparation makes this a great recipe when you’re in a pinch.
    It’s tempting to call these something other than “cake” because of the texture, which is dense and flavor packed – like a brownie. But “whitey” doesn’t quite cut it :)
    I resorted to cutting them smaller than the suggestion of nine pieces, more like 24 or 30, and called them White Chocolate Lemon Bites. They were universally adored by the crowd…
    Thanks David!

  • January 13, 2014 6:33am

    Ahh…this looks fantastic, David. I have made a number if your delightful recipes back here in Berkeley, and I hope to continue to. Alas, I was recently diagnosed with high blood glucose levels (prediabetic) which is an enormous %%$&ing hassle when it comes to cooking all those delightful sweets I love.

    Processed, pure sugar? GAWD. Now, this doesn’t mean that I plan to do without or stop baking delectables…it simply means I’ll only be having the small sample of these cakes. As I said, I plan to continue to bake this horrid, wonderful stuff for my friends and family, but I’ll only partake sparingly in the interest of preserving my health for the next thirty years (I’m 60).

    Which means…I need to really play with ingredients in order to make ‘healthy’ sweets, or should I say, good tasting but not as buttery or with such a high number in the glycemic index,

    Its a new day! Long live sugar…in proportion!

  • Johann
    January 13, 2014 9:47am

    I made this tonight for a dinner party and it was a huge hit. Nobody could even tell there was white chocolate. And they praised the richness of the cake. Great recipe, David!

  • January 13, 2014 12:49pm

    Love how easy this looks … bookmarked it so I can make it soon!

  • January 13, 2014 3:39pm

    When I made this yesterday I was a bit worried because I wasn’t sure that white chocolate will go well with lemon. It turns out that all my worries were for naught. The lemon glaze went well with the white chocolate cake.

  • Susan
    January 13, 2014 6:15pm

    Made this yesterday, wonderful, and easy. Thank you.

  • January 13, 2014 8:43pm

    I LOVE white chocolate and lemon!! The best!

  • Malcolm
    January 14, 2014 1:04am

    My partner baked this last night. It is delicious!

  • January 14, 2014 7:57pm

    I love everything about this recipe including that lovely lemon glaze. Serves 6 with 3 people getting seconds :) love that too!

  • Johanna
    January 15, 2014 5:05am

    Looks great, must try. So if they are not brownies, are they blondies? Is this what blondies are?

  • January 15, 2014 9:06pm

    This looks sinful… and I love it! Yum! I 100% will be trying this recipe out at home this weekend… I am already excited!

  • Kylie Johnston
    January 15, 2014 9:15pm

    Okay, I’ve just made it and it is cooking and the icing hardening as we speak. I only had a 9in pan plus wasn’t sure if flour was plain or self raising and hedged by using 2/3 plain to 1/3 self raising. I also adjusted quantities slightly for larger pan. It’s a little flatter looking but otherwise, promising! Smells delicious.

  • Safrina
    January 17, 2014 11:35am

    Hi David,

    I love your blog. I was thinking of making this cake with a lemon curd icing instead of the one you suggested. I am a huge fan of lemon curd. Topped with fresh, ripe strawberries. What do you think? I definitely don’t want to take away from the white chocolate or lemon but want to add a bit of drama to it.

    • January 19, 2014 9:44am
      David Lebovitz

      I’m not familiar with icing made with lemon curd but I’m sure it would work fine.

  • Leslie Glennon
    January 17, 2014 8:34pm

    I lived in Paris in my youth and remember feeling a strong sense of unreality when I learned their numbering system (’80’ is ‘sixty-plus-twenty’? really?) so the nine-piece six-serving yield makes perfect sense. Love your blog, thanks for sharing so much of yourself.

  • January 19, 2014 7:06am

    OMG. I made this cake last night because we were having friends over. I didn’t have time to glaze it before dinner and when I went to make the glaze I realized we didn’t have any powdered sugar. So we ate it without. Even plain it was one of THE most DELICIOUS cakes I’ve ever tasted. I’m usually a dark chocolate person, but this was just such perfect bite of harmonious flavors! I can’t wait to try it again with the glaze.

  • Kevin
    January 19, 2014 10:57pm

    Hi David…just got done eating a piece of this cake – yum! I was wondering if you had any suggestions on the amt of time to whisk the eggs and sugar? – After 30 min my timer went off and when I went to check it, it seemed slightly burnt but because of all that butter and choc sort of created a slightly bitter crust. I reget that I cut that off as I think that would have been a nice contrast to the sweetness. Your picture – looking straight down at the cake kind of looks like mine…is that sort of darkened crust the way it supposed to turn out? It is quite a delicious cake tho and will be enjoying it with some coffee throughout for the next couple of days :) Cheers.

    • January 20, 2014 9:56am
      David Lebovitz

      You just whisk them together so they’re well-mixed, which should take 5-10 seconds. My edges were dark because I have a dark, heavy-duty cake pan which attracts heat but didn’t taste burnt at all. It’s supposed to be that way. Glad you liked the cake ~

  • Patricia
    January 23, 2014 10:29am

    Yes, white chocolate does go quite well with citrus. I recall having a lavender white chocolate glazed cookie once with a cup of lemon zinger tea (celestial seasonings brand) that was divine.

  • Yetty
    January 26, 2014 8:37pm

    I made the cake, David. A success. It was delicious as the unorthodox pairing of white chocolate and citrus are working. My late husband introduced me to the unusual combination of flavors many years ago when he ordered Sees Candy’s chocolate truffle with citrus flavor. He would have loved this cake since he loved chocolate and citrus fruits, together or separately. I would add that if there’s any leftover at all, do not refrigerate the cake. It tastes better at room temperature.

  • Ishah
    January 27, 2014 7:02pm

    I made this it tasted really nice but it was a little bit too wet. Maybe it’ll get better as it cools down but has anyone else had this problem. I love the cake though.

    • Susan
      January 27, 2014 8:51pm

      I had to cook the cake a Little longer until toothpick came out clean. My oven is a bit on the self-directed side. You may want to put an oven temp gauge in your oven to check on what it is actually doing.

      • January 27, 2014 10:10pm
        David Lebovitz

        I actually have two thermometers in my oven – one on each rack (since the temperatures vary depending on the height.) Every oven varies so it’s always best to use baking and cooking times as guidelines since ovens differ. And material of pan can affect baking time as well. It’s always a good idea to check things before the recommended baking/cooking time in any recipe for those reasons.

  • Barbara
    January 30, 2014 12:53pm

    Ciao! it’s Barbara, writing from Italy.
    I love cooking cakes, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, and so on.
    I found your name while I was reading some Marc Grossman’s recipes.
    You are very nice and genial and I can’t stop reading your posts and your fantastic recipes.
    Congratulations!!!!

  • Sally D
    January 31, 2014 3:49am

    What brand of white chocolate pastilles are in your photograph?
    I want.
    Thanks so much!

    • January 31, 2014 9:20am
      David Lebovitz

      Those are made by Valrhona and available in large (3kg) sacks for professionals. You can buy them at professional supply shops and on Amazon (in smaller quanties), although they (and other companies) sell pure white chocolate in smaller tablets for home cooks.

  • February 1, 2014 5:24am

    Loved this recipe! It was less cake-y and more chewy. I used Ghirardelli white chocolate, which prevented the cake from tasting artificial or too sweet. I omitted the glaze and it was delicious as is. Can’t wait to make these again.

  • February 3, 2014 2:15am

    This cake is looking really good! Love the combination of white chocolate and lemon.

  • Safrina
    February 5, 2014 10:10am

    I finally tried it out after bookmarking it for many weeks. The only thing I changed was to add fresh strawberries as a topping and slathered it with the lemon glaze! Everyone loved it! :) Thanks for a fool proof recipe David!

  • February 8, 2014 5:12pm

    Thank you so much for converting those pesky American measurements :) Am definitely going to give this recipe a go next week – I have got a lemon tree outside my window that’s laden to the point of collapse

    Thanks for sharing
    Grace x