Chocolate and Candy Coating

Real chocolate and candy coating often have the same uses. The biggest difference between the two is the oil base used and the difficulty in melting. Real chocolate contains cocoa butter as a base, while chocolate candy coating uses vegetable or palm kernel oils. Candy coating is very simple to use in that all you must do is melt it down and its ready to use. Real chocolate requires a bit more work.  Because of the cocoa butter presence in real chocolate, it must be tempered properly in order to achieve the desired results. Beginners will enjoy the ease of working with candy coating while advanced candy makers may want to try working with real chocolate (taken with permission from Autumn Carpenter’s book, All About Candy Making).

Both real chocolate and candy coating should ideally be used within 3 months for the freshest taste, but may be kept for several months. Store chocolate in an airtight container at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. If chocolate must be frozen, completely seal up and allow it to come back up to room temperature before opening the bag or container. Chocolate tends to draw moisture in the freezer or fridge and can become sticky or tacky. White-ish spots may appear on chocolate and coatings after time. This is a process known as blooming. Blooming occurs when the oils start to separate in the chocolate and form white patches on the surface. The chocolate is still fine to eat, but may not melt down as easily as fresh chocolate would. Bloomed chocolate that no longer melts down nicely is great to use for baking.

Chocolate Candy Coating

Candy Coating or confectioners coating has many different uses. It can be used for basically anything that real chocolate would be used for. Unlike real chocolate, coating chocolate has no cocoa butter, therefore, does not require tempering. The cocoa butter is removed and replaced with palm kernel oil or other fats making it simple to melt down and use. Chocolate candy coating is great to use for dipping and molding using the chocolate candy molds.

Candy coating comes in many different colors and flavors. For convenience, you can buy coating in ready to use flavors like, peanut butter, butterscotch, or mint. If those flavors are not what you are looking for, then you can easily flavor your own by adding a few drops of concentrated flavoring. And with all the flavoring choices available, your options are many. Candy coating also comes in a variety of colors that are great for holidays and special occasions. A type of coloring specifically for chocolate allows you to mix and make your own colors. This is especially nice when you are trying to match the chocolate to a specific color.

Candy coating also comes in convenient, easy to use tubes, or “candy writers“.  The small opening in the tube enables you to do detail work inside candy molds. Simply melt candy writers by microwaving for a few seconds or set in electric skillet lined with dry towels. Use to dab small amounts into the candy mold, let dry, and fill the rest of the mold with melted candy coating. If candy writers are not available, another method is to melt candy coating and use a paint brush to brush in details, or a squeeze bottle fitted with a fine tip. Candy coating allows you to make colorful and detailed chocolate pieces.

Melting candy coating- Melting the chocolate candy coating is very easy. You may use the microwave or a double boiler, whichever you feel most comfortable using. When microwaving, use a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for only very short intervals of time, stirring between each. When using a double boiler, heat water to almost boiling and remove from stove before adding chocolate to top pan. Either way you melt the coating, be sure to watch the chocolate carefully so that it doesn’t scorch. For more detailed instructions click here. A good way to keep melted candy coating fluid while you are working with it is to keep it in an electric skillet that is turned on the lowest setting and lined with 5 to 6 dry dish towels.

A wonderful bonus to using candy coating is that you can use squeeze bottles. Pour melted candy coating into squeeze bottles and then squeeze into candy molds. Or use a squeeze bottle to line candy molds when making filled candies. When using coating, pour excess or leave dipped treats to set up on parchment paper or a silicone mat. Once the chocolate has set up, break it into pieces and re-melt or store for a later use.

Candy coating that has bloomed can be saved by adding paramount crystals. Paramount crystals are flakes of solid vegetable oils. The crystals help to smooth down the coating and make it more fluid. Colored coatings tend to be thicker than other coatings and can be difficult to work with. Adding a tablespoon or two for each pound of coating will help to make it more manageable to use. Paramount crystals can also be used when making mints to make the chocolate creamier.

Real Chocolate

Real chocolate includes both cocoa solids and cocoa butter. It is more difficult to work with than candy coating, but the taste can’t be beat. Real chocolate is great for use in fudges, ganaches, mousses, and other baking.

When buying real chocolate, there are many factors to consider. Real chocolate comes in milk, semisweet, bittersweet, and white. Although white chocolate technically isn’t chocolate because it lacks cocoa powder, it does still have cocoa butter and must be tempered. Milk chocolate will contain more than 12% milk solids while dark chocolate will have little or no milk at all. Each chocolate will have its own cocoa content. The cocoa content is the percentage of cocoa that is in the chocolate and may include the bean, nib, liquor, butter, and powder. Usually, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the darker and more intense the chocolate is.

Real chocolate may  come in bar, chip, or wafer form. If bar form, chop up into smaller pieces before melting. There are many tools that help you when working with large bars of chocolate. Chippers help to break the chocolate into smaller pieces, shavers and graters help to create delicate chocolate shavings or decorative curls. When making filled candies, the chocolate must be brushed into the mold using a paint brush.

Tempering real chocolate- Real chocolate contains cocoa butter and therefor must be tempered. Tempering is the process of melting the chocolate and maintaining a consistent temperature while working. (definition taken with permission from Autumn Carpenter’s book, All About Candy Making) When chocolate is melted, the crystals inside the cocoa butter become unstable and dissolve and the cocoa butter rises to the surface. If chocolate isn’t properly tempered, the results may be grainy, have white streaks, or the chocolate won’t set up. If you are using real chocolate in a recipe it does not need to be tempered.

Different types of chocolate have different temperature ranges that they must be worked within. Dark chocolate may be worked with between 86° and 90°, while milk and white chocolate may be worked with between 84° and 89°. Special thermometers read lower temperatures making them ideal for tempering. If you do not wish to temper by hand, or you will be tempering a lot of chocolate, a tempering machine can be used. Tempering machines can be costly but also very convenient.

There are different ways to temper chocolate. An easy way is the seed method in which you can use a double boiler or a microwave. You start by melting 3/4 lb. of chocolate and setting the 1/4 lb. aside. Continue to stir until 2/3 is melted. Stir until correct temperature is achieved. Always keep unmelted chocolate in the bowl to keep the chocolate tempered. When temperature falls below tempering range, add unmelted chocolate and repeat tempering process. For more detailed instructions click here.

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