As you read through this article you’ll be able to see why I don’t really like using compound chocolates, also known as candy melts and candy coating. I consider them to be a necessary evil and usually try to avoid using them when I can. Before I explain the advantages to using real chocolate for cake pops, dipping, or molding candy let’s take a look at the ingredients of both.
Make ‘n Mold brand Candy Wafers – Sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, whole milk solids, reduced mineral whey powder, nonfat dry milk solids, artificial color, soya lecithin, salt, and artificial flavor.
(Some brands will have cocoa in them but it’s usually buried in the ingredients list halfway down, so there really isn’t that much in it.)
Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate – Unsweetened Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla.
Which one sounds more appetizing to you?
As a home baking hobbyist, I got to know quite a few professional bakers, cake pop makers, and cookie decorators. Many of them proudly use candy melts (also known as candy wafers, almond bark, etc) to make cake pops over real chocolate. There are several reasons as to why.
For one, candy melts were made for the inexperienced confectionist. Chocolate is one of the fussiest ingredients to work with. It must be tempered which is a process of heating and cooling the chocolate to a certain temperature. If not tempered correctly, white dots or streaks will form. This is known as “bloom” and is perfectly safe to consume and still tastes great but not very pretty to look at. Candy melts are mostly made of hydrogenated fat and doesn’t have to be tempered. They are easy to melt in the microwave and even though it can still burn if heated too much, working with them is almost fool-proof. For bakers who have dozens of orders for chocolate dipped items, using candy melts can also be a time saver.
Candy melts come in different colors whereas real chocolate only comes in shades of dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate. So when making a rose cake pop you might want to make it red. Even though there are some candy color gels on the market to tint white chocolate, they don’t seem to have the same vibrant shade and it’s time consuming. Only oil based color gels specifically labeled for chocolate would be a safe bet as regular food color will ruin the chocolate.
Cost cutting is another factor. A 4-ounce bar of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao averages $3.00. A 14 ounce bag of Make ‘n Mold Candy Wafers cost $2.00 on sale at AC Moore. High end confectioners and bakers use real chocolate for dipping and charge more for it. Bottom line: You get what you pay for.
When dipping, molding or making anything with dark/milk/white chocolate, I always recommend using a good quality real chocolate. Preferably a dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao. For any other color, I will reluctantly use candy melts.
Look at the above ingredients again. Which one looks healthier? Let’s face it, you won’t find cake and candy on the food pyramid anytime soon. However, dark chocolate has anti-oxidants and heart healthy qualities. When dipping those cake pops, why make them even more unhealthy by using the product with hydrogenated fats? Additionally, real chocolate tastes much better.
To make your own healthier, clean eating candy melts go to my post Healthy Homemade Chocolate