Have you ever whipped up a seemingly perfect batch of homemade chocolates, only to find them dull or even grayed once they cool? You are not alone.
Homemade chocolates seem simple, but good quality chocolate can be tricky to work with. Paying close attention in the preparation and handling of your chocolate can have a huge impact on the shine (or lack thereof) and texture of your confections.
Here are five mistakes you might be making and tips to help you create the perfect chocolate treats every time!
1. You Are Using The Wrong Chocolate
Good quality chocolate contains enough cocoa butter to give you that signature smooth and velvety mouthfeel we expect from chocolate. Some brands use little to no cocoa butter and replace the fats with a vegetable oil substitute and a hardening agent. These chocolates may still work and be edible, but they may have a grittier texture or a waxy mouthfeel and crumble when breaking.
Solution: Look for a chocolate that contains real cocoa butter and has little to no artificial additives.
2. Melting Your Chocolate Too Quickly
Chocolate scorches easily and can burn if heated even a few seconds longer than needed. When using a microwave, make sure to heat in increments of :45 to 1 minute and stir each time, even if it looks like it doesn't need it.
The bowl you choose to melt it in will also make a difference. Glass bowls will retain heat and continue to raise the temperature of the chocolate, as well as heat whatever pieces are in contact with the glass. Stir frequently using a silicone spatula and heat until the chocolate is 80% melted. The small lumps will continue to melt when removed from the microwave and will help you in the tempering step!
Solution: Heat slowly and if using bar chocolate, chop into small pieces for even heating. Stir frequently and heat only 80% of the way to allow some unmelted lumps to remain to avoid burning.
3. Not Tempering Your Chocolate
To temper chocolate means to allow it to reach the perfect temperature for even distribution of fats. It's the difference between dull or gray swirled chocolate and shiny smooth candy.
Many of us are used to Chocolate Coating (usually called candy melts), which does not need to be tempered like good quality chocolate, so take extra care when working with melting chocolate.
Allow your chocolate to cool slightly post-melting. You can let it rest on a cool countertop (not near an oven!) stirring occasionally until it reaches the desired temperature.
88-90°F. for dark chocolate
86-88°F. for milk chocolate
80-82°F. for white chocolate
Quick Tip: In a typical home, chocolate will reach its temper after resting for about five to ten minutes. If your home is cooler, work in small batches because the chocolate will begin to harden quickly!
4. Using Damp Molds
Chocolate does not love water! Any moisture in your candy molds can result in grainy, seized chocolate. Avoid washing your molds right before making candies because it's very difficult to remove all of the moisture. And there is no need to wash the molds between uses on the same day. Simply wipe the mold with a soft towel and continue!
If you must wash the mold first, make sure to use a soft absorbent towel to dry each crevice. Tap the molds to get rid of any extra water, then dry again.
5. Cooling Too Quickly
Resist the urge to put your new chocolate creations in the freezer! Cooling too quickly can make the oils separate and leave you with dull, grainy chocolate. The refrigerator is also too cold to set your chocolates and can cause excess moisture to build up on your candy.
Allow your chocolates to set up at room temperature in the coolest part of your home. Candy should also be stored in a cool (not cold) dry area for the best texture and flavor!
With a few simple tricks, you can have the perfect holiday candy every time! If you are looking for chocolate alternatives, check out our recipe page for dairy-free chocolate, naturally sweetened, and sugar free recipes!