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Melting and Molding Chocolate: A Beginners Guide
I LOVE chocolate, and melting it is not as intimidating as all the warnings make it seem (We’ll get to those) When I first started on my journey of melting and molding chocolate the information out there was not meant for the regular at home chocolatier at least it wasn’t in my opinion. Four years ago most chocolate tutorials and articles stressed NOT melting chocolate in the microwave. They made it seem like the world would end if you did but now like most things times have changed and so has the information. I’m here to say that it is OK to use the microwave. Make sure to do so in 30 sec intervals so the chocolate won’t burn. You will read a lot about chocolate and “seizing” This is the term used when chocolate either burns, comes into contact with moisture or when you bring the melted chocolates temperature up too quickly. (This is done by not warming up chocolate colorings or flavorings.) The chocolate will become lumpy and hard to manage. If this happens it can become near impossible to work with.
It is important to know that chocolate and moisture are enemies. Just a drop or two could cause the chocolate to seize. Make sure to dry everything that will come into contact with your chocolate completely. Chocolate melts at around 88 degrees Fahrenheit and will burn at around 125 degrees F for dark and milk chocolate and at about 120 degrees F for white chocolate. My suggestion would be to buy microwavable bowls if using a microwave, wooden spoons, and a chocolate thermometer. These items should be used solely for melting chocolate as chocolate picks up odors easily and utensils tend to absorb odors, you could end up with an unpleasant surprise when tasting your chocolate. The same goes for storing chocolate, do not store next to items that have strong smells such as garlic.
If you plan on adding any flavorings or coloring make sure that it is oil based and not water based like regular food coloring, warm any flavorings or colorings before adding them to your melted chocolate to avoid seizing. This can be done by wrapping the bottle in Ceram wrap then place covered bottled inside a sealable zip lock bag, let soak in warm water for approx. 10 minutes. Remember to dry everything before letting it come into contact with the chocolate. If you are melting the chocolate for something like cake pops you can thin the chocolate by adding either vegetable oil or vegetable shortening (better because it starts out solid and is less likely to interfere with the hardening of the chocolate but they both are good it’s just a matter of preference). Some will say 1 tbs but I prefer to add 1 tsp at a time.
Now we get into the molding. Pour melted chocolate into the mold making sure not to over fill, tap the ends of the mold to release the air bubbles. Place the mold in the fridge for approx. 15 minutes. To remove the chocolate from the mold flip it over and tap lightly. If the chocolate still has a wet look to it or if it doesn’t release do not force it this just means that it has completely set and you will have to put it back in the fridge for approx. 5-10 more minutes. Be careful not to leave it in too long because the chocolate will “sweat” and will cause bloom (white spots on top of chocolate)
Molds and Candy Melts
There is a wide range of melting chocolates to choose from but for the sake of simplicity Wilton’s candy melts are readily available in most craft stores and online. They come in many different colors and flavorings and are relatively inexpensive. There is also Chocoley chocolate but It’s truly up to you. Experiment and see what you’re most comfortable working with. I prefer to use plastic molds because they are more readily available, less expensive, and I’m able to see the details. There are lollipop molds, 3d molds, bon-bon molds and the list goes on and on. When finished with them wash them in warm soapy water and store them upright. If you are just learning then all of this can seem pretty intimidating but it is not and the rewards are so worth it. The oohs and ahhs pay for the hard work.
Chocolate can be finicky but it is so good :)
For all my visual learners and for those who just want to get an idea of how it's done, check out the step by step video tutorial below