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Any Recommendations For Melting Chocolate
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My son would like to make chocolate candies - the kind where you melt the chocolate and pour into a mold. Does anyone know of a good quality one that would make some great tasting chocolates? I've never done this before, but I assume there is a huge difference in these kinds of chocolate and of course they need to be gluten-free!

And if you're answering this and you've made these little gems maybe you can answer another question...do you know how to make the colors? He saw molds at Wal-mart and on the box it showed cute little chocolate santas with red hats with white trim, etc.

Help!!

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Chocolate burns easily. The safest way to do it is in a double boiler. Some people melt it in a microwave, but you have to be careful to stir it often and use a low power setting.

Don't get ANY liquid near your chocolate, it'll seize up. (If this happens you can add more chocolate, or maybe some oil to loosen it back up.

Don't know about the colors. You might have to start with white chocolate. Or you could try putting colored sugar into the mold before you add the chocolate.

I'd recommend starting with cheap chocolate for the first go 'round.

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You basically have two options with this. The easy way is to buy "melting chocolate," available in the candy making supply section at craft stores or WalMart. These are really chocolate flavored coating, not real chocolate, but they set up well with a nice shiny finish after molding and require no special handling.

If you want that nice shine and clean snap with real chocolate, you have to temper it. Otherwise it will set up sort of soft with a matte finish that fingerprints easily. Tempering basically involves melting about 2/3 of your chocolate and then "seeding" it by stirring in the remaining chocolate, watching temperatures all through and stirring like mad. If you want full instructions, let me know.

As far as the color details, they also have colored candy coating pieces you can buy. I haven't done that kind of detailing, but would guess you'd melt the colored candies and pipe them into the molds before you pour in the chocolate. Sounds a little tricky to me, but would be fun if you have the time and patience.

Guittard chocolate is my favorite, and is gluten-free. You can use the chips for molding, as long as you do the tempering. Ghirardelli and Nestle are also gluten-free. If you have a Trader Joes, they have big bars called "Pound Plus" chocolate at a really good price that are great for candy making. I use them every year for dipping truffles, again, making sure to temper the chocolate.

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Chocolate is a finicky food to work with. That said, you can easily make very pretty chocolates at home when following a few chocolate tips. First I will cover dark chocolates.

I use the bulk chocolate in the large bar that you can buy at most groceries. I usually buy at Walmart because the price is good and, especially this time of year,it is very fresh. Buy it from the big baking display in the middle of the aisle, the freshest is stocked there. Buy the flavor you like to eat, milk chocolate or semi sweet, which is bitter alone, IMO.

There are two methods to melt; double boiler and microwave. The other poster was correct, No Water can touch your chocolate. If it seizes up throw it out and start over. I prefer to microwave it but you must be patient. I use a tall glass jar to melt it in. Now I prefer to thin it somewhat, it's easier to work with, creamier to eat and much less likely to burn. You can only thin chocolate with shortening. Put the shortening in first then pile the chocolate in chunks on top of it. First put it in for 1 miniute, stir if it's melted enough. Then afterwards only put it in for 15 second intervals to avoid burning. Stir each time as needed until it is all melted. Use wooden spoons as this will not alter the temperture of the chocolate, it is very temperature sensitive. Once it is melted, it will be workable for some time without having to be further heated.

Next pour into your molds. I like to use a smaller spoon for less mess. At this point I use a metal spoon as the temp is soon to change anyway. The easiest at home method I've found is to then take your filled molds and pop them into the freezer for 10 minutes. Chocolate must temper at the correct temperature or it greys. At our candy factory, we had a special chocolate room for this but at home it's very easy to temper in the freezer. After 10 minutes, pop your chocolates out of the molds and you are ready to package and EAT!! They will be beautiful and shiney.

Now, white chocolate is a different subject. Those pretty colors must be brushed on with warm, white chocolate. Frankly I've never had the patience but if you do I'll expain how to prepare the chocolate. The rules are the same as for dark chocolate, thin and warm exactly the same,also molding is the same. But if you wish to color it, it can only be done with paste colors in the little jars. Never use liquid coloring, will not work. The coloring can be added as you melt. Make sure you stir a ton as the little particles are tough to melt and no one wants that pure color on their face or clothes when they eat your candy.

Good luck!! I find it very rewarding to make the pretty chocolates for gifts. I like to make the pretzel stick with a chocolate mold around them. The molds for those are a little harder to find as Wilton doesn't sell them every year but I used to sell a ton of them and also gave them as gifts.

Let me know how they come out!!

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