CHOCOLATE MAKING TIPS
Learn how to make chocolate at home using these chocolate-making tips. Once you learn the basics you’ll be able to make delicious homemade chocolates that look amazing too.
In this tutorial you will learn:
How to Melt and Temper Pure Chocolate
How to Melt Confectionery Coating (Candy Melts)
TYPES OF CHOCOLATE
There are several different types of chocolate that are available to the home cook for use in candy making:
Pure chocolate (real chocolate)
- contains cocoa butter
- must be properly tempered in order to set up correctly
- is available as unsweetened, semi-sweet, bittersweet, milk, and white chocolate
- can be purchased in bars, blocks, wafers, pistoles (bean-shaped wafers), callets (slightly smaller wafers) and chips
- 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 but it doesn’t contain any cocoa liquor, so technically it is not considered chocolate (But that is what it is called, so that’s what we’ll call it too!)
Compound Chocolate (also known as Confectionery coating/Candy Melts/Almond Bark)
- contains vegetable oil, typically palm kernel oil
- will melt and set up easily with little effort
- 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, white, and flavors like peanut butter, mint, and butterscotch
- can be colored using candy coloring but is also available in colored wafers
- is less expensive than pure chocolate
Some brands of chocolate 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 Peter’s Ultra (milk chocolate) for my chocolate making, but I also
really enjoy the flavor of Callebaut, Guittard, and Valrhona chocolates.
Popular brands of compound chocolate:
How to Store Chocolate:
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 12 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 bursts 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 won’t 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 30 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 30 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.
How to thin out thick candy melts:
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.
How to Temper Pure Chocolate
Once pure chocolate is melted it needs to be 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:
Tempering chocolate requires practice but can be done in a home kitchen.
Simple chocolate tempering method:
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.
Seeding Method of Tempering Chocolate
- 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 the chocolate melts and it reaches 115 degrees F or 46 degrees C.
- Add about half of the remaining chocolate to the melted chocolate and stir until melted.
- Check the temperature of the chocolate. The goal is the get the chocolate to:
- 88° F – 90° F (31° C – 32° C) for Dark Chocolate
- 86° F – 88° (30° C – 31° C) for Milk Chocolate
- 84° F – 86° (29° C – 30° C) for White Chocolate
- Note that these temperatures can vary depending on the brand of chocolate.
- Continue to add a small amount of the remaining chocolate into the melted chocolate and stir until either all of the chocolate melts or your chocolate reaches the desired temperature.
- It’s best to stop at the upper end of the temperature range because the chocolate will continue to cool slightly as you are checking the temper.
- To check the temper, dip the end of a metal spatula or knife into the chocolate and allow all the excess chocolate to drip off. You want a really thin coating of chocolate on the spatula. If the chocolate dries hard and looks shiny, within 3-5 minutes, then the chocolate is in temper.
How to keep chocolate in temper:
- To keep the chocolate in temper, you can heat the chocolate in the microwave for 3-5 seconds which is just long enough to warm it slightly.
- Or you can use a hot blow dryer, to heat up the bowl of chocolate, by blowing the hot air on the outside of the bowl.
- Keep an eye on the temperature of the chocolate. You don’t want it to go above the temperatures listed above. If it does, then you’ll need to start the tempering process again by raising the temperature to 115° F (46° C), seeing it with more tempered chocolate, and lowering the temperature to those listed above.
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 have made some really fun holiday treats using pure chocolate and shared the recipes and tutorials here on Hungry Happenings.
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
What about chocolate chips?
Chocolate Chips can be pure chocolate or compound chocolate. You need to look at the ingredients to determine the type of chocolate.
Pure chocolate chips will have cocoa butter listed in the ingredients. Most dark and milk chocolate chips are pure, but many white chocolate chips are not.
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 mouthfeel 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
Now that you know the chocolate making basics you are ready to learn more.
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.