I was making dipping chocolates in a client’s home kitchen when she asked me something I get a lot from different people: does melted chocolate and butter harden?
This is a common question most beginners or first-timers have. It’s a very legit question, I might add, because I was guilty of this. I learned my lesson the hard way.
The common ingredient used for chocolate shells is either coconut oil or cocoa butter. And because of cocoa butter, I thought that any butter would work the same.
I rarely ever use cocoa butter because it’s expensive and kind of hard to find – at least from where I’m from. Since coconut oil is less expensive and is readily available in the grocery store, then it’s a good alternative for me.
One time, I ran out of coconut oil and substituted it with butter. My melted chocolate failed big time. It was grainy and lumpy and spells all sorts of disasters.
I panicked and did things to try to save the chocolates but I just couldn’t. Maybe because I was horrified, I can’t even remember what those things are.
That was the last I ever used butter in my chocolates in a long time. That fiasco made me do a little research about melted chocolates and butter.
Here’s what I found out.
Can I Use Butter in Melted Chocolate?
The answer to this is NO.
In any of my chocolate making posts, I always emphasize that all kitchen equipment and tools that should ever come in contact with melted chocolate should never have even a drop of water.
A little bit of moisture can ruin the whole process. A wooden spatula is not recommended as it absorbs moisture. That being said, chocolate and water should technically not mix.
Why am I telling you this? Because it’s the water in the butter that makes it somewhat incompatible with chocolate.
Remember that chocolate is oil-based. Since oil and water do not mix, then it just makes sense that chocolate should not be mixed with water. This is one of the theories of chocolate melting.
The mysterious thing about melted chocolate and water is the hypersensitivity of the chocolate to react to even the tiniest bit of water. It automatically becomes lumpy and grainy, which is also known as seizing.
Experts say that when there’s not enough liquid to dampen all the dry particles (cocoa and sugar) in the chocolate, the melted chocolate seizes.
So, it will make perfect sense that if we need to keep all equipment dry to avoid moisture, then we shouldn’t be adding anything in the chocolate that contains water – and in this case, butter. Needless to say, the same goes for margarine as it also contains water.
However, the keywords here are NOT ENOUGH. Again, when the water is NOT ENOUGH to dampen all the dry particles, the chocolate seizes. Therefore, if the water is ENOUGH to dampen the dry particles, then it should be safe to melt the chocolate without ruining it.
According to What’s Cooking America, chocolate can be safely melted with a proportionally small amount of liquid such as cream, milk, butter, or alcohol if they are placed at the same time in a pan or bowl together. Take note of the keyword ‘proportional.’
There’s a trick that should be followed here. It says that when chocolate is melted with very small amounts of liquid, it will seize. But with the correct proportions where the liquid is enough to moisten the dry particles of the chocolate, then chocolate can be safely melted.
The science behind it is that the amount of the liquid added must be at least 25% of the chocolate to keep it from seizing.
For chocolates made of 55 to 60% cacao, 1 tablespoon of liquid must be added for every 1 oz. chocolate. For chocolates made of 60 to 70% cacao, 1 ½ tablespoon of liquid must be added for every 2 oz. chocolate.
Another trick is to never add cold liquids to melted chocolate. The added liquid must be warm and not hot.
These tips should help keep the chocolate to avoid seizing and remain flowing freely.
What to Do About Chocolate Seizing
In cases where chocolate has already seized, there is a way to rescue it so it won’t have to end up in the garbage can. There’s still hope.
There are several ingredients that you can use to get rid of the lumps and grains in the chocolate.
You can use canola oil, shortening, warm cream or milk, or even warm melted butter. Take note that these ingredients should never be added cold. The perfect temperature would be the same as the chocolate’s temp. You can guess the temperature or you can use this digital thermometer. I use it all the time and it’s the only one I recommend.
Add a teaspoon of your preferred ingredient for every 6 oz. chocolate to the melted chocolate in a saucepan and stir continuously until the chocolate becomes smooth and glossy.
However, the ‘rescued’ chocolate may not be used for hard shell or coating anymore. You have recovered it but it should be incorporated with other ingredients to make something else such as chocolate sauce or frosting.
- This is a perfect chocolate coating for strawberries, marshmallows, pretzels, and potato chips.
- I sometimes sprinkle a little bit of salt after coating anything with my melted chocolate.
- You can also use chopped nuts on top.
- The kids love to roll their chocolate-coated marshmallows with sprinkles. You can try it, too.
- Drizzling chocolate sauce on top of the chocolate shell would be a great addition to your dessert as well.
- Store the excess chocolate in an airtight container and reheat before using.