Chocolate disasters and how to fix them

Chocolate disasters and how to fix them

We’ve all experienced that moment. You spent a fortune on some lovely chocolate, and you ruined it when you took your eye off the ball.

Or did you?

Here are some tips on what to do when you experience a chocolate disaster and how to fix them:

Burning the chocolate in the microwave!

The bad news is there is nothing you can do. If you put too little chocolate in to melt, put the heat on for too long, then you are likely to burn your chocolate and you will need to throw it away and start again.

I do have some good news though. Follow these instructions for how to work with chocolate in the microwave, and you will avoid future disasters.

If you get water in your chocolate (over the bain-marie)

This will cause the chocolate to ‘seize’ and go into a thick, grainy lump.  

You will not be able to use this chocolate for tempering but you don’t have to throw it away. Rescue the chocolate by adding more water to the mixture and mixing well. You may find a hand-held mixer is a great help here to really move the chocolate around and incorporate the extra liquid. 

Now you can use the chocolate as a sauce or in your baking.

There are white streaks or ‘bloom’ on the surface of your chocolate

chocolate callets that have bloomed and are covered in streaks of white

This means that the chocolate has come out of temper. 

It was either not tempered properly at the outset and/or cooled at too warm (or too cool) a temperature.  

The chocolate is fine to eat but obviously doesn’t look its best. You will not be able to remove the bloom, but you can cover it up by adding toppings such as cocoa powder, icing sugar, or chocolate curls.

Follow my tips for working with chocolate at home to avoid this happening again.

Your ganache has ‘split’

Ganache is simply chocolate melted into hot cream.

If the mixture has split, the cream was likely too hot when you poured it onto the chocolate.

To avoid this happening again, you need to adopt the magic minute rule!

Once your cream has come to a boil, remove it from the heat completely. Put the timer on and don’t use it at all until a minute has elapsed.

Pour onto your cream and stir like crazy. Before it goes glossy and shiny it does look as if it may have ‘seized’ but keep going, we often give up too early on the mixing stage when it’s not a fail at all!  

Again, here you could try using a hand-held electric whisk for a minute or two on the mixture if you are still not seeing a nice glossy finish, and that will often do the trick.  

Finally, if all that fails, you could try adding some liquid glucose (ratio approximately 30ml to each litre of ganache) to save the day. 

What about all that excess chocolate?

If you have any leftover chocolate, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and use it again!

If you have experienced a chocolate disaster that is not covered here, come and share your story on my Facebook page and let’s see if we can help.

How to ‘temper’ chocolate at home

How to ‘temper’ chocolate at home

This method is not strictly tempering the chocolate – it’s more mindful melting!

It still produces great results if done properly, with the right sort of chocolate.  

All you need is a microwave! You may have burnt chocolate in the microwave before but follow these simple steps and you will have great results from now on!   If you do have a disaster with your chocolate, take a look at some tips for fixing things.

Here’s how to ‘temper’ chocolate at home:
  1. Always use a plastic bowl (glass bowls hold too much heat and will eventually overheat the chocolate). 
  2. Use a minimum of 300g of good quality chocolate – chopped into small even-sized pieces. You can save any leftover chocolate you don’t use in an airtight container for another time. Buy your chocolate in button-form, it will save all the chopping!
  3. Put the chocolate into the microwave on full power for very short bursts at a time. Initially 30 secs to 1 min (or slightly longer for bigger volumes). Between each burst stir your chocolate, even if it has not started to melt yet – still give it a good stir. 
  4. It’s very important to get a lot of movement into chocolate – so keep stirring away, it will work wonders for the finished look!
  5. As the chocolate starts to melt, reduce the bursts in the microwave to 10-15 seconds. Stir every time you stop to see how the chocolate melt is progressing. 
  6. When the chocolate has almost melted, but there are still some un-melted lumps present, stop putting the bowl into the microwave. Now stir until the heat of the chocolate has melted the remaining lumps in the bowl. 
  7. Another good ‘temperature’ test is to put your hands around the outside of the plastic container. You should feel almost no heat whatsoever. The chocolate should be about the same as the temperature of your skin. 
  8. If the melted mixture feels too warm, then add some more chocolate and stir to melt the freshly added chocolate. Use the residual heat of the melted chocolate. Don’t put the bowl into the microwave again! If you can’t melt all of the freshly added chocolate, then pop the bowl into the microwave again for just a few seconds and repeat as above.
  9. The chocolate will not last very long in this state, it will start to get too thick to work with. Pop it back in the microwave for a few seconds to bring it back again. Be careful, it’s very easy to overheat! 
  10. If you make the chocolate too hot, you can add more fresh chocolate to the mix to bring the temperature back down again, as mentioned in point 8 above. 
  11. This will produce chocolate that you can use for moulds, piping, or dipping. It will seem quite thick in consistency – the bigger the quantity of chocolate, the longer you will have to ‘work’ with it.  
  12. Remember to leave your chocolate creations at room temperature to set (in a room that is not above 20°).
  13. You should ideally store chocolate in a cool, dark place and not in the fridge. Putting chocolate in the fridge can cause it to ‘bloom’ – where you will see white marks forming on the surface where the sugar and/or cocoa butter comes to the surface. 
  14. Bloom occurs because the chocolate has not been tempered properly, or the room is too warm when it is setting, or indeed it is cooled too quickly. It is still safe to eat, it just doesn’t look as appetising – ‘see what to do when it goes wrong for some tips on recovering from this scenario!
chocolate callets in a plastic bowl with stirrer
even-size chocolate
Chocolate callets in a plastic bowl
Keep stirring
Melting chocolate in plastic bowl
Melting callets
Melting chocolate in a plastic bowl
Almost there

Finally, come and share your creations with us all on my Facebook page! Enjoy