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do you have any idea about the solubility of chocolate? I experimented a bit and I can't make sense of what I've found. It isn't 1+1=2. It's rather like 1+1=8,3543 or so.

Here is what I found:

  1. Chocolate mixes with water, milk, and coconut cream, and gives a homogenous liquid
  2. Cacao butter does mix with chocolate the same way
  3. But coconut oil doesn't mix with chocolate, and instead segregates and repeals, giving liquid chocolate with oil swimming on top.
  4. Yet, cacao butter and coconut oil mix together well, giving a homogenous liquid
  5. When chocolate is already quite diluted in water / milk, cacao butter doesn't mix in anymore
  6. Whether water mixes when chocolate is enriched with a lot of cacao butter, I didn't try

Now, I used a chocolate that consists of cacao mass, cacao butter, cacao powder, and a non-caloric sweetener. Why doesn't coconut oil mix with it when cacao butter does? Making chocolate at home from cacao powder and coconut oil and assumingly cacao butter works well.

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    I think you are using the word 'dissolve', which has a technical meaning, in a more general way, which is likely to cause confusion when people try to answer you (I suspect you are going to get answers that just say 'no it doesn't'). It would help if you explained your process and what you observed (e.g. 'when I mix chocolate with hot water, eventually I get a smooth liquid' or whatever).
    – dbmag9
    Aug 7 at 19:00
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    To address your more general intention to make chocolate: if that's your goal I think you should look specifically into guides to making chocolate (which I believe is very difficult to do without specialised equipment) – chocolate is chemically complicated and not at all as simple as just combining the constituent parts in the right proportions.
    – dbmag9
    Aug 7 at 19:11
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    Yep. Just for instance, from a chemical point of view, chocolate doesn’t dissolve in anything. If there’s weird things you’re trying to do, which you think nobody else has ever tried to do or given advice about doing, you should clarify that.
    – Sneftel
    Aug 7 at 19:13
  • Also quick note to hopefully save some pain/expensive ingredients - coconut oil directly interferes with the crystallization of cocoa butter. So making chocolate with cocoa butter and coconut oil together is actually very delicate. Chocolate Alchemy has several articles on the subject.
    – kitukwfyer
    Aug 8 at 2:18
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    Thanks for the info, that is what I was looking for - the alchemy with crystallization and this chemical point of view how chocolate is processed. Can you guys go more in detail on these points? I am not trying to do chocolate myself at home, I rather want to know how to extend it, with what I can mix it and just how the physics of it are. Yes, with dissolving I actually mean to form a uniform homogenous liquid vs when not dissolving to have the liquid chocolate with oil swimming on top that doesn't mix.
    – Sebastian
    Aug 8 at 6:05

2 Answers 2

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So I think there are two big players in your experiments. Chocolate is complicated, and I won't pretend to know it all though. Chocolate has two big, arguably essential components: cocoa butter and cocoa solids. (White chocolate lacks cocoa solids, and is therefore a point of contention.) Melted fats are a liquid, water is a very different liquid.

As far as the liquid fat stuff goes, I'm paraphrasing Chocolate Alchemist to the extreme: Cocoa butter is actually a collection of fatty acids. Three are dominant and of particular interest: Oleic, Palmitic, and Stearic acids. These three collectively provide the crystalline structure of chocolate by connecting to each other, forming the cocoa butter crystal, and giving chocolate shine and snappy qualities. When chocolate melts, that structure is lost, the three go wild, and the reason tempering as a process is such a big deal is because those three acids will try to settle down at different temperatures. As a result, they won't return to the desired crystalline state without some kind of tempering process. (Which involves heating and cooling chocolate in a particular sequence, or agitating chocolate while it cools to prevent crystals from forming at all until all three acids are ready to cooperate, or using cocoa butter "seed" crystals that will encourage the other acids floating around to fall in line, into the proper crystalline structure... It's a terrifying process for a lot of baby chocolate geeks.)

So a lot is happening when you melt or cool cocoa butter chocolate, and similarly, adding any other fat will throw off the fairly delicate balance of fatty acids and drastically change the effectiveness of tempering and the texture of the final product. You should consider the melting temperature of any fat you decide to add at the very least - Coconut oil melts around 78F - so even without all the chemistry, it makes sense that if you add coconut oil to a fat solution that melts at 93F, you'll get something that melts at a temperature between 78F and 93F. When you dig into the chemistry of it, you find that you're adding a bunch of lauric acid and other shorter chain fatty acids that want to hook up with the cocoa butter and won't let the crystals form properly at all. Practically speaking, it won't set up and form a solid.

I once attempted to make a white chocolate ganache with coconut milk and...yeah, it never set up. It was velvety smooth, impossible to whip, never stopped dripping, and therefore completely useless to me. (It was a tasty sauce though). That was what led me to the Chocolate Alchemist once upon a time, and since real white chocolate was very expensive to me back then, I was sad. Hence my warning in the comment above. You can make something tasty with chocolate and coconut stuff, but it will be softer. It might not be what you'd call chocolate at all.

If you want to extend solid chocolate, you should look into paramount crystals - easy to use and give you a hard chocolate. Paramount crystals, or partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, lecithin, and citric acid, are easy to use, raise the melting point of your chocolate, and contain an emulsifier to prevent separation issues. They're the main component of compound chocolate made with cocoa butter. Unfortunately, while they can be very helpful, they also don't contribute much to the aroma or taste of the chocolate, so I'd recommend using them sparingly. Some people absolutely despise the stuff lol. You could also look into edible waxes, but... again, use them sparingly. Wax has a very... waxy texture. Hard to describe any other way and extremely recognizable, and not generally desirable.

As for why you witnessed complete separation, my guess would simply be proportions, a resulting loss of emulsion, and the cocoa powder settling, even in your liquid fat.

Which brings us to the other feature you should consider in your experiments - the cocoa solids. These become more significant when you start adding water. The cocoa solids, not to mention the milk and sugar as applicable, are not liquefied in the chocolate, they are just extremely finely ground particles suspended in that cocoa butter crystal matrix. So when you melt and solidify chocolate carelessly, you may notice sugar or fat bloom on the chocolate. You may notice areas of dense, grainy chocolate next to smooth creamy bits. That's the result of cocoa solids and the other components settling out unevenly. My though is that by adding enough fat you saw this happen in an exaggerated sort of way, real time. It wasn't just the coconut oil refusing to mix, but the entire chocolatey emulsion breaking down.

As soon as you introduce water to the mix, as in some of your experiments, either in your mouth or in a cup of liquid, you dissolve any sugar and start to hydrate the cocoa solids and any milk. That hydrated chocolate mixture might remain thick and emulsified at first, especially if the solids aren't fully hydrated yet. At this point, you can add more fat and easily mix the two substances because those cocoa solids are holding onto the liquid for you. But the more liquid you add, the less dense the solution becomes, the less your cocoa powder can keep it locked up, and the harder it is to keep emulsified without additives like lecithin, and ultimately the cocoa powder will in fact sink to the bottom. Even if you thicken the liquid with corn starch for a drinking chocolate, the cocoa powder will settle out with a little time. And since you're dealing with a mixture that's mostly water at this point rather than fat/particulate, any added fat will act like... well oil to water. Even with added emulsifiers, it's not truly dissolved into a new solution. The liquid and fat never really become one, they're just held in suspension with each other, forming an often uneasy peace.

To summarize a bit, if you want to extend and dilute some solid chocolate, paramount crystals are your best, easiest option. You can use other fats with a higher melting point than chocolate, but even then, by doing so you'll interfere with the cocoa butter crystal structure and get something that while firm, likely lacks any snappiness. Cocoa butter is a fat that a lot of people think will work great in this application, but due to its chemical composition is arguably the worst lol. And many of us learn this the hard way.

When you add water in any form to chocolate, you've created a whole new liquid emulsion to which different rules apply. While you can make a partially hydrated kind of ganache that sets up firm, the particulate can only absorb so much liquid, and you can only add so much fat to any emulsion before it breaks down.

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  • This was a really interesting read, thanks.
    – dbmag9
    Aug 8 at 15:00
  • Great, thank you for all the insights! The reason you described why it separated probably hit it. The mixture was really uneven with hard and soft parts. Learned a lot and I will also have a look at the alchemist. Yes, that's what one could think, chocolate is made with cacao butter, so it's the best option. Paramount crystals aren't an option for me. Only saturated fats melt at higher temperatures, so I think butter, lard, and coconut oil are the best bets. Maybe I will try some pure lecithin if I add more water once. A big component of extending it properly is by constantly mixing, right?
    – Sebastian
    Aug 10 at 11:23
  • To some extent, yes. Mixing or agitation will help with the emulsion of a water/fat hybrid, or could be used to try and temper a cocoa butter/other fat hybrid. I just really can't guess how it might go. Hopefully, the Alchemist can provide dome more insight
    – kitukwfyer
    Aug 10 at 11:41
  • Whoops - @Sebastian There will be limits to what you can physically do regardless of what you add, and some of those are surprising as you know. That said, you might have more luck with another firm/edible plant butter if you can't stick to cocoa butter. I've never tried lard, but you may want to heat it thoroughly first as it tends to have a bit of water in it. Butter does too, and never firms up all the way again once cooked... Good luck!
    – kitukwfyer
    Aug 10 at 12:02
  • I even thought about butter, lard, (and coconut oil) since it's the one with the highest melting point you can easily get. The alchemist mentioned Shea butter. If I find something interesting, I will share it here. And right, you never know until you didn't try. So then, I will keep having it mixed and in movement all the time. Thanks
    – Sebastian
    Aug 11 at 8:00
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Before answering, to clarify a confusion already pointed out in comments: Chocolate does not dissolve in anything. What you probably mean is that you weren't able to make a homogenous mixture out of chocolate and the other ingredients listed.

Why doesn't coconut oil dissolve when cacao butter does

You must have done something funny there. There are mixtures of coconut fat and chocolate, commonly eaten in Germany as Eiskonfekt. If you cannot improve your technique to the point where you can just mix chocolate and coconut fat, consider adding some cream to the chocolate first, that's another variation. In fact, if you speak German, your best bet is to find a recipe and follow it faithfully.

As for all your other observations - I don't know if you are questioning them in some way, so I will just note that all of them (including that your volume is not preserved) are absolutely normal and aligned with what chemistry would predict and patissiers observe every day in working with chocolate.

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  • That's a great idea, thanks. Luckily I speak german
    – Sebastian
    Aug 11 at 8:26

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