The delectable snap of a crisp, glossy piece of pleasantly bitter and delicately sweet couverture chocolate; the creamy, luscious mouthfeel of velvety smooth compound chocolate; these can hardly be topped, but their ingredients vary, and so they are not suitable for the same purposes.
You might have thought that the only differences that existed between the different grades of chocolate were only due to appearance and flavor, but in fact, there are many different grades of chocolate. These affect not only their appearance, but how they can be used, and where, and when. But that’s not all. The makeup of any given grade of chocolate will also affect how it responds to processes like melting, forming, and molding. In short, if you’re looking for chocolate for molds, you can’t just use anything.
For example, many people love the amazing mouthfeel and the beautiful sheen of couverture chocolate, but the simple truth is that a great deal of skill is required to temper this chocolate so that it reforms properly once it has been melted. It might offer an amazing texture and consistency as well as a visibly beautiful appearance, but that comes at a price. You can use more than one type of chocolate for molds , but you will need to know what you’re doing in order to ensure the consistency of the finished candies or chocolate goods.
By contrast, the same types of qualities cannot be attained by some compound chocolates, although many of these are much more forgiving and, as a result, much easier to work with. This is, admittedly, a high-level view that we will take some time in this article to parse.
As it turns out, the wide world of chocolate is a whole lot wider than the span between dark chocolate and white chocolate. Milk chocolate may be in the middle, but there’s also a lot more in between!
Differences between Compound and Couverture Chocolate
Two of the most popular grades of chocolate for molds and other popular practices like dipping and enrobing are compound chocolate and couverture chocolate. They are good for much more than these, but they are also two of the most popular options for such and so we will focus on them.
They are very different not only visually but also in terms of consistency. This is not just a cosmetic difference; in fact, the difference itself lies in the composition of the chocolate in question.
When most people think of chocolate, there is a very good chance that they are thinking of compound chocolate, as many chocolate products in the United States are made from various grades of compound chocolate and not of couverture chocolate.
Because of its prevalence and also for the fact that it can be so easily used in so many different situations, especially by beginners, we’ll start with a close look at compound chocolate. There is almost a certain chance that you have had compound chocolate before, even if you didn’t know what it was. In fact, there’s also a good chance you’ve only had compound chocolate before!
Chocolate is defined largely by its composition in terms of the chocolate liquids and chocolate solids it contains. That is, chocolates are defined, among other things, by their content of cocoa butter and cocoa liquids, also called chocolate liquor.
Compound chocolate often contains cocoa powder in place of chocolate liquor; this gives this type of chocolate its chocolatey flavor. In place of cocoa butter, which can be temperamental (despite delicious) it contains some oil or blend of oils. Frequently, compound chocolate contains a blend of vegetable oils in place of cocoa butter.
This substitution has a grand number of effects on compound chocolate, but these will be investigated further along in this article. Depending on where you stand and what you want from chocolate, these effects might be seen either as positives or negatives, but they definitely lend compound chocolate to molding chocolate candy and making it suitable for candy molds.
As for couverture chocolate, this is what one might call a significantly higher grade of chocolate that makes no such substitutions. For this reason, couverture chocolate is also known as ‘real’ chocolate. Actually, in some places, compound chocolate cannot be labeled as real chocolate, especially if it lacks both cocoa liquids and solids.
Couverture chocolate’s primary ingredients are the chocolate liquor and the cocoa butter mentioned higher up in this article. This gives couverture chocolate a richness that compound chocolate lacks, but it also makes it much harder to work with. For an easy experience, most confectioners use compound chocolates, but it is couverture chocolates - real chocolates, if you will - that draw admiration.
Most of what makes couverture so difficult to work with is its responses to melting and reforming.
Complications of Heating and Melting
Chocolate - couverture chocolate, really - is prone to a number of problems on top of the fact that it requires a good deal of experience to melt, temper, and reform. Among these issues is exposure to moisture and uneven or excessive heating. These problems can occur before the chocolate even gives you the opportunity to show that you know how to temper and use it properly!
When you melt couverture chocolate, you might be very careful about the manner in which you expose it to heat. There’s not a lot of room for error here, which is the reason that people always advise you to melt chocolate in a double boiler. If you try to do it over direct heat, you will absolutely burn the chocolate.
Even with a double boiler, you need to be very careful about hot spots. One issue you might run across when you are working with real chocolate is called seizing, which can result either from overheating chocolate or from exposing it to moisture. In either case, the results are the same - the chocolate will transition from a liquid too abruptly into a course, grainy solid without a uniform texture.
Once chocolate is burned, there’s not much you can do about it, but burns are not the only problem you might run up against when you are not judicious in your administration of heat. For example, if the chocolate gets too hot, you might experience another problem - a “bloom.” Specifically, if the chocolate becomes too hot, it will cause an issue between the mixture of the solids and the liquids in the chocolate. When this occurs, you will notice a bloom in the form of gray or white areas on the chocolate. While this shouldn’t affect the flavor, it will affect the texture of the chocolate.
Exposing chocolate to moisture may result in other issues as well, such as a sugar bloom. When chocolate is exposed to moisture, it can result in grains of sugar dissolving into the moisture and then precipitating out of it. This is a relatively difficult problem to rectify once it occurs, so it is best avoided. Proper storage and heating should help avoid this, though.
These are some of the most common problems that chocolatiers experience when working with couverture chocolate, but there is something else for which you will need to account entirely, even if every other aspect of your process is spot on - tempering
Even if you are an expert with the heating, melting, and cooling of your chocolate, never overexposing your chocolate to heat and keeping moisture out of the picture altogether, you will still need to learn how to temper your couverture chocolate if you want it to present that beautiful sheen and crisp, delectable mouthfeel.
Luckily, for those who are interested in a quick fix in chocolates for molds, compound chocolates like the Merckens Wafers about which we will talk below require no tempering at all. They can still burn and run into other problems, but they don’t need to be tempered. More on that shortly - for now, back to tempering.
Because couverture chocolate contains a delicate balance of cocoa butter and chocolate liquor, precise care must be taken when you are attempting to bring them back from a melted liquid state to a uniformly blended solid state. To make presentable couverture chocolate confections, you must temper the chocolate.
Chocolate tempering refers to the process of very precise heating and cooling that allows couverture chocolate to reform with separating into liquids and solids. If you do not temper chocolate, the texture, flavor, and presentation will be altered. Worst of all, you might not notice the bloom until many hours afterward.
There are actually several processes for tempering chocolate, but each of them requires you to pay very close attention to the state of the chocolate as well as its temper. In addition, you have to be sensitive to how much chocolate you work with at once.
If you want to learn more about actual procedures for tempering couverture chocolate, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our customer service team. We’d be more than happy to give you some wit and wisdom from our years of experience!
Tempering, however, requires a lot of experience and attention to detail. In addition, it is required in order to prevent some of the issues associated with melting that we addressed previously in this article. Yet it is necessary for those who are working with couverture chocolate, especially if they want to create confections that offer that beautiful glossy finish and crisp snap.
However, there is a pretty easy solution out there for those who just don’t want to put the time into tempering every batch of chocolate they create. You can use compound chocolate, which will not require the specific attention and tempering procedures that we went over above.
Now, compound chocolate can burn and can experience different issues with exposure to excessive heat or moisture, but it does not require tempering.
Because compound chocolates like our Merckens Chocolate Wafers are made with vegetable oil in place of chocolate liquid and cocoa powder in place of cocoa butter, they can melt and reform effortlessly, which is a real bonus for anyone who is looking for chocolate for molds that is not only practical but easy to use.
They’re very popular with confectioners, but in the event that you have never had a chocolate pop or a fruit dipper in Merckens Compound chocolate wafers, there’s little compromise in flavor. If anything, it is smoother and velvetier than other grades of chocolate and it is rich with flavor, too.
Most importantly, however, these chocolate wafers can be melted down over a double boiler and then poured right into a mold without the need for tempering or additional attention. In addition, they can be melted and then used for dipping or enrobing with no other pains taken. In short, they are easy, effective, and practical, and require no special skill to use!
Everything Else You Could Need!
In addition to quality chocolate products like these we have covered in this article, we are also proud to offer our customers a wide variety of other candy making and confectionery supplies, including packaging necessities. Whether you’re looking for the compound chocolate or the couverture chocolate itself or just some candy centers, check here first!
Questions? Call Us!
There’s a lot of information wrapped up in this article, but don’t let that intimidate you. We’ve been in business for well over a half of a century and we’ve been known for our attendant degree of customer service the entire time.
If you want to learn more about the different grades and types of chocolate or how to use them, feel free to read our blog, but if you don’t get the answers you need, get in touch with us!
We’re very proud of our customer service, and, being a family run business, we treat our customers like one of our own. When you give us a call, expect to get on the line with a real human, with experience in baking and confection, who can help you out. Just try us - give us a call at 724-274-6314 today and ask away!