Seizing Chocolate Experiment
Melting Minutes Chocolate Academy - Lesson 7
If you rank among the most serious of chocolate lovers, you might want to look away. We’re going to purposely try to ruin chocolate. Over and over we have heard warnings about tiny amounts of water making contact with our chocolate. We have also been given strict guidelines regarding the temperatures that are too hot for each type of chocolate. But why? What happens? Let’s find out and purposely seize and scorch some chocolate!
The Melting Minutes Chocolate Academy series is a great place to start if you’re new to tempering chocolate. Your reward will be delicious homemade chocolate candy made by YOU!
Water and Chocolate
The funny thing about chocolate is that a small amount of water can cause it to seize, but as we increase the amount of water it transforms it into something that is useful for many applications. Gygi offers a good explanation to this:
Chocolate is made up of fat and dry ingredients. The process of making cocoa beans into chocolate takes out all of the moisture, so the end result is a dry product made of up cocoa butter (fat), cocoa and sugar (dry). This means that even when chocolate is in its liquid state, it is still a dry product. Adding water to chocolate is the equivalent to adding water to flour.
If you were to add a tiny bit of water to flour, it would become a clumpy unusable paste. But as more liquid is added it becomes a sauce, a cake batter, a pie crust…and so on. Well apparently chocolate is the same way in this regard.
This explanation is helpful in understanding why water seizes chocolate, but let’s see it for ourselves.
For this demonstration, I melted a small amount of chocolate in the microwave and reached 97°F (36°C).
Then I filled a 1/4 teaspoon with a couple drops of water.
As I stirred the drops of water around, I noticed that the chocolate got thicker, darker, and seemed to reduce down to less chocolate than what I started with. Instead of dripping off the spoon, it clung there like a solid piece of putty.
From here, I added 3 teaspoons of water to the chocolate. The mixture transformed to something that resembles hot cocoa. The chocolate incorporated better with the extra water compared to what it was like after a couple drops.
Chocolate that has seized due to water is still useful in other applications. It could be used for baking, ganache, or even hot cocoa. The rescue remedy is to add more liquid. In fact, if you’re afraid of wasting the chocolate that remains after scraping the bowl, try adding warm milk. Then you can enjoy a nice cup of hot cocoa while you tackle clean up. Wink. You’re welcome.
Seized chocolate can be avoided by:
- Watching steam if using the stovetop method for tempering
- Keeping hands, utensils, bowls, and molds dry
- Only using food coloring and flavoring that is designed for chocolate (not water based)
- Dark Chocolate: 120°F (48.9°C)
- Milk or White Chocolate: 110°F (43.3°C)
For this demonstration I placed my dark chocolate in the microwave and got it well beyond this temperature. Try 186°F (86°C)! This is what happened:
It appeared thick and grainy, as if flour was added to it. As before, the amount of chocolate seemed to reduce in size. Unfortunately, scorched chocolate cannot be salvaged like water and chocolate can.
I also wanted to experiment with white chocolate since we know that it is more susceptible to scorching due to the higher amount of milk solids and sugar. Here’s the bowl of white chocolate that I used to microwave:
After purposely microwaving it too long, and reaching 125°F (52°C), the result was something similar to the dark chocolate example. But as we expected, scorching happened much sooner with the white chocolate.
Although this is an imperfect experiment, we get the idea of what the appearance and consistency of chocolate is like when it makes contact with small amounts of water or high amounts of heat. It’s a valuable lesson of what should be avoided.
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