CHOCOLATE MAKING TIPS
Learn How to Make Chocolate at Home
How to Melt and Temper Pure Chocolate
How to Melt Confectionery Coating (Candy Melts)
In this tutorial, learn how to choose the right chocolate and how to melt it for your project.
TYPES OF CHOCOLATE
There are several different types of chocolate that are available to the home cook for use in candy making:
- Pure chocolate (unsweetened, semi-sweet, bitter sweet, milk, and white)
- Confectionery coating/Candy Melts (dark. light, white, colors, flavors)
- Chocolate chips (semi-sweet, bittersweet, milk, white, peanut butter, butterscotch)
Pure chocolates (real chocolate) contain cocoa butter and must be properly tempered in order to set up correctly.
Tempering refers to a process of heating and cooling pure chocolate to ensure that the cocoa butter in the chocolate hardens in a uniform crystal structure. When you buy pure chocolate, it is in temper. When you melt the chocolate to reuse it, you take it out of temper and need to bring it back.
Chocolate that is tempered has:
- a smooth texture
- a glossy shine
- snaps when bitten or broken
Chocolate that is not tempered correctly might be:
There are four official types of pure chocolates:
- unsweetened (no sugar added)
- bittersweet (small amount of sugar added)
- semi-sweet (more sugar added)
- milk chocolate (milk powder and sugar added)
White chocolate can also contain cocoa butter and need to be tempered, however, it doesn’t contain any cocoa powder, so it isn’t technically considered chocolate. I will refer to it as white chocolate, for lack of a better term, when using it in a recipe.
Some brands I recommend using are available on Amazon.com (commission earned for sales for all affiliate links listed below)
I personally use Peters Burgundy (semi-sweet) and Ultra (milk chocolate,) but they are hard to find in small quantities.
Tempering chocolate requires practice, but can be done in a home kitchen.
Simple tempering method:
- chop 1 or more pounds of chocolate into really fine pieces
- heat 3/4 of the chopped chocolate in the microwave on 50% power for 15 second increments, stirring after each, and allowing the chocolate to rest for a minute, then stirring again
- heat until almost all the chocolate is melted
- add the remaining 1/4 of the finely chopped chocolate and stir until melted
- if needed you can return the chocolate to the microwave and heat at 50% power for 5 seconds
This method of tempering will not give you high gloss chocolate, but will produce a finished chocolate with a nice snap. There are several other methods, but this is the easiest.
If you are serious about making a lot of chocolate, you might want to consider buying some chocolate tempering machines. I own two Savage Brothers melters, and love them. I don’t have to hand temper my chocolates. The machines do the work for me. It’s great.
Each of my machines holds 50 pounds of chocolate, which is the smallest Savage Bros. makes, but other companies make smaller tabletop tempering machines. You can even get a machine that will temper just one or two pounds of chocolate at a time.
I prefer to use pure (real) chocolate to make my confections because the flavor is far superior to any other chocolate product. I have made some really fun holiday treats using pure chocolate and shared the recipes and tutorials here on Hungry Happenings.
Confectionery Coating/Candy Melts/Almond Bark are made with vegetable oil and will melt and set up easily with little effort. This product is not as creamy or as rich as pure chocolate, but it’s easy to use and has a very pleasant flavor.
- is available in dark, light, and white wafers or blocks
- can be colored but is also available in brightly colored and pastel wafers
- is also available in flavors like peanut butter, mint, and cordial cherry
- can be purchased at craft stores, candy supply stores, grocery stores
- is less expensive than pure chocolate
- melts easily and sets hard
Using Confectionery Coating, you can make lollipops, cake pops, filled candies, dipped cookies, rice krispie treats, and more, including:
Chocolate Bunny Silhouettes, Candy Filled Chicks, Cake Ball Brains, Snowman Rice Krispies Treats, Animal Print Mickey Pops
Popular brands of confectionery coating:
Chocolate Chips are:
- made to keep their shape in high heat
- melt very slowly
- have to be tempered if they contain cocoa butter
- come in semi-sweet, bittersweet, milk, white, peanut butter, butterscotch and more flavors
- can be used as decoration on edible crafts
It is common practice in old candy making recipes to add paraffin (wax) to melted chocolate chips so that the chocolate will set up properly. I don’t advise this, as it adds a terrible mouth feel and taste to the finished chocolates. Plus, who wants to eat wax? Not me.
If you use chocolate chips to make candies, you have to temper the chocolate in order for it to set properly. If you don’t want to go to that much effort, then you are better off using confectionery coatings to make your candies.
You can use variations of chocolate chips and peanut butter chips to make sweet treats including:
Peanut Butter Starfish, Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake, Polar Bear Ice Cream Cones, Chocolate Chip Cookie Serving Bowl, Happy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Store chocolates in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Pure chocolates have a shelf life of at least 18 months from the date of manufacturing and confectionery coating can last up to 9 months if stored properly.
I don’t suggest refrigerating or freezing chocolate. If chocolate or confectionery coating is kept in the refrigerator or freezer for too long it will become wet and sticky and might develop white spots.if you do freeze or refrigerate your chocolates, you need to wrap them well and keep them wrapped as they thaw to avoid excessive condensation.
HOW TO MELT CHOCOLATE AND CONFECTIONERY COATING
How to chop chocolate:
If you are using a large block of chocolate or a candy bar, chop your chocolate into small uniform pieces. The best way to do this is to use a serrated knife to shave off small bits of chocolate.
Place the knife blade on the edge of the chocolate block, and press down on the top of the knife while shaving off a small amount of chocolate. Then just chop any larger bits before using.
You can also use a food processor to chop your chocolate. Add small chunks of chocolate to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs
You can also grate the chocolate using a grating wheel in your food processor.
HOW TO MELT CHOCOLATE OR CONFECTIONERY COATING IN A DOUBLE BOILER
- Heat 1” of water over low heat in a saucepan.
- Place a bowl over the saucepan, being sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water.
- Put chopped chocolate, wafers, or chips in the bowl and stir occasionally until melted.
It is very important that you do not allow any water to come in contact with the chocolate. Chocolate mixed with a drop or a few drops of water with seize (stiffen or harden). If this happens your only option is to add more liquid in order to get the chocolate smooth again. However, you can not use this thinned batch of chocolate for tempering or dipping as it will never harden properly. All is not lost as you can turn it into a delicious chocolate ganache or use it for baking.
HOW TO MELT CHOCOLATE OR CONFECTIONERY COATING IN THE MICROWAVE
Every microwave is different so this is just a guideline, but it is safest to go slow and stir often. I always use high power for short busts of time. The amount of time needed to melt your chocolate will depend on how much chocolate you need to melt. The instructions below are based on 16 ounces of chocolate or confectionery coating wafers.
- Pour finely chopped chocolate, Candy Melt wafers, chocolate callets, or chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.
- Heat on high power for 30 seconds, remove from microwave and stir. Your chocolate wont look melted much at all at this point, but if you don’t stir it, you may burn the chocolate in the center of the bowl.
- Return to the microwave and heat for 25 seconds. At this point the chocolate will look only slightly melted around the edges.
- Continue to stir and the chunks will indeed start to become liquid.
- Continue to heat for 20 seconds. Now your chocolate will look more liquid, but you will have chunks remaining.
- Allow the chocolate to sit for 1-2 minutes, preferably in the microwave, then stir vigorously and the heat from the melted chocolate will melt the chunks.
- If, after stirring for a while you still have chunks of chocolate remaining, heat for 10-15 second intervals, stirring in between each until melted.
- Do not rush this process. Chocolate burns easily. If you do burn the chocolate, throw it away and start over in a clean bowl. To melt more than 16 ounces, you can increase your times by 10-15 seconds per interval. For 2 lbs. (45 seconds, 35, 25, 10). For 3 lbs. (60 seconds, 45, 30, 20). If your microwave is less powerful, increase the times, but go slowly.
If, once melted, your confectionery coating is really thick, add Paramount Crystals or Wilton’s EZ Thin, which are flakes of palm kernel oil, to thin out the coating. You can use Crisco or vegetable oil instead, but your candy coating may be a bit soft once hardened.
You can thin pure chocolate or chocolate chips by adding some cocoa butter.
Now that you know how to choose the right chocolate or confectionery coating for your project you can use it to make so many wonderful treats.
Be sure to check out these other Chocolate Making Tips Tutorials.
- How to Color White Chocolate or Confectionery Coating
- How to Use Colored White Chocolate to Paint Candy Molds to make Lollipops and more.
- How to make Modeling Chocolate (chocolate clay) – Modeling Chocolate Recipe
- How to fix greasy, oily, dry, crumbly, or soft modeling chocolate (candy clay)
- How to roll out modeling chocolate.
- How to Cut Modeling chocolate.