Choosing Chocolate Coatings

By Bob Sherman

One of the most common questions I am asked is "How can I improve my chocolates?" In many cases it is simply a matter of using better quality products, however the sheer variety of choices facing today's chocolate maker may be confusing so in this article I will be discussing them to help you make a more informed decision.

For simplicity I have limited the discussion to the three most common quality coating companies, but you can also use the information below to evaluate and compare the quality of coatings from other manufacturers.

Types Of Chocolate
Before getting into a discussion of the various products it is important to understand that all chocolate falls into two main categories. True chocolate and coating chocolate.

Ease Of Use
Coatings are generally preferred by most chocolate crafters because they are simple to use - just melt and pour. True chocolate contains cocoa butter which requires tempering which is a rather difficult process of precisely varying the temperature to align the cocoa butter molecules.

If you are looking to make beautiful good tasting chocolates with a minimum of fuss, stick to coatings. If you truly feel that you need to work with true chocolate skip the rest of this article and research tempering chocolate.

Taste
The difference in taste between most true chocolates and coatings is minimal. A chocolate gourmet may be able to tell them apart, but in my experience with blind taste tests very few people can tell the difference between a quality coating and true chocolate.

The main difference between most quality coatings and true chocolate is what they call mouth feel - true chocolates tend to have a slightly creamier feel in your mouth.

Evaluating Chocolate
When tasting chocolates place a small piece on your tongue and let it melt - don't chew it. Always start with the lightest chocolate and progress to darker chocolates. The main thing about taste is that everyone perceives flavors differently. I have listed my favorites below, but only you can decide which you like better.

What To Avoid
Wafers or melts sold by most large craft stores and mass marketers are usually marketed as candy. Although they may seem like a bargain, you will be sacrificing flavor. Some of these have a chalky mouth feel as well. If you want a good tasting chocolate - you must start with a good tasting product so avoid these if at all possible.

Milk Chocolate Coatings
The following products have a milk chocolate flavor:

Dark Chocolate Coatings
Dark coatings normally classify as semi sweet. If you like a truly bitter dark chocolate you will probably have to use a true chocolate.

White Chocolate Coatings
White chocolate coatings are vanilla flavored and contain no cocoa. In my opinion quality white coatings do not seem to vary as much in flavor as coatings containing cocoa.

Colored Chocolate Coatings
With one exception colored coatings are white coatings with food color added. Merckens Black is a dark chocolate with food color added so is the only exception I'm aware of. Again, I find the variations between quality brands very slight.

Note! - Most colored coatings and often white coatings will need to be thinned with Paramount Crystals to make them easier to work with.

Flavored Coatings
Recent years have seen the introduction of some interesting flavored chocolate coatings. These can be used alone, or in combination with other coatings to add just a hint of flavor.

There are too many flavored coatings to list here, but there are a large variety of fruit flavors and others that will add some variety to your chocolate making.

Kosher
For those who need to know, most coatings are Kosher (Dairy). This means that they are made under Kosher supervision in a Kosher facility. Note that most coatings come in 25 or 50 pound boxes and are repacked into smaller bags where you purchase them (normally in a non Kosher kitchen). Accordingly, only full cases are actually certified Kosher in most cases.