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I used a double boiler (two pots) to melt chocolate for truffles but half way into dipping the truffles in the chocolate, the chocolate hardened and became very clumpy.

How do I keep the melted chocolate from hardening?

  • Hi Adrian, and welcome to the site! The problem you describe is called "seizing", and it is something different from "hardening", which just means that your chocolate becomes solid again. I edited your title to reflect that. – rumtscho Jul 22 '14 at 7:35
  • @rumtscho I agree that "hardening" is the wrong word here, but I would not expect a beginner to search for technical terms like "seizing". Is there a way to make the question title more search-friendly? – metacubed Jul 22 '14 at 7:43
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    @metacubed if you have an idea, make the edit. But the question should not only be searchable, it should also not be misleading, that's why I edited. I thought of a totally different thing when it had the old title, and I needed to read the whole body to understand. – rumtscho Jul 22 '14 at 7:48
  • @rumtscho Agreed. That's exactly why I asked for clarification. I'm still getting a feel for this SE site, so I'll leave edits to more experienced hands for now. :) – metacubed Jul 22 '14 at 7:54
  • @metacubed don't be afraid to edit. First, as long as you don't have enough rep, your edit gets into a queue waiting to get reviewed by a high rep user. Second, edits can be rolled back easily. Third, there are no negative consequences for you if you make a bad edit (unless you take a rejected edit as a personal rejection and have to deal with hurt feelings, but we hope you know better). Your rep doesn't suffer, and you don't get any kind of black marks. So, you can be daring in edits, if you make a mistake, it can be easily repaired and quickly forgotten. – rumtscho Jul 22 '14 at 15:05
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There are two things to keep in mind while melting chocolate:

Keep a low uniform heat

I start off the melting process with low to medium heat. Once the chocolate fully melts, I reduce the heat to low and keep gently stirring all the while.

If you allow the chocolate to cool, it separates out into non-uniform areas of heat, and the cooler pockets start crystallizing. This causes lumps or spikes to form. However, if you go too high, the chocolate may burn.

Keep the chocolate absolutely dry

This also includes steam and condensation from the boiler. The water in the boiler should not splash over or steam into the chocolate. Also make sure that the dipped materials (truffles in your case) are totally dry.

Presence of water causes rapid cooling of parts of the chocolate, which again causes lumps to form. It also causes sugar to crystallize out of the fine chocolate mix. This is called "seizing", and such chocolate is very brittle and difficult to melt.


EDIT:
Here's a nicely written article on the different methods of melting chocolate: How to Melt Chocolate for Dipping

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    Really good answer. A hint how to recognize what happened: if the chocolate got grainy suddenly, within a few seconds, it was the second problem, water. If the chocolate slowly got grainy as it cooled down, then it is distempered because it was brought to too high a heat (first problem). – rumtscho Jul 22 '14 at 7:37
  • Thank you for your excellent answer I have marked it as the correct one! It is likely that my truffles we're damp as I refrigerated them before dipping - after dipping the 10th truffle all of a sudden the chocolate "seized" and all hope was lost. – Adrian Carolli Jul 22 '14 at 23:36

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