What is Modeling Chocolate?

What is Modeling Chocolate and How is it Made?

Recipes in Article

Modeling Chocolate is a clay-like icing that can be used in a similar way to rolled fondant. It’s made with Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate and is often preferred by people who don’t like the taste of fondant.

Modeling Chocolate is ideal for covering cakes and making cake decorations. It’s made by mixing chocolate and syrup into a dough, and then it’s used in a similar way to fondant.

Read on…

What is modeling chocolate?

Modeling chocolate is a dough made from real chocolate and used by pastry chefs to decorate cakes. It is also known as chocolate clay or plastic chocolate, but they are all the same thing.

The consistency of modeling chocolate is similar to rolled fondant, but people who don’t like rolled fondant often prefer the taste of modeling chocolate.

You can color white modeling chocolate with gel paste colors.

Now know what modeling chocolate is but do you know what it’s used for?

What is modeling chocolate used for?

Modeling chocolate is used to cover cakes and make models, sculptures, and decorations for cakes. You can even use it to make flowers and leaves.

Although it is used for similar things, rolled fondant and modeling chocolate are completely different.

Fondant is used to cover cakes, make simple free-formed models, or press into molds to make shapes.

Modeling chocolate is used to cover cakes, make models, and make flowers and leaves similar to gum paste flowers.

Modeling chocolate dries quickly, is quite stable, and holds its shape well, and because of this, it’s often preferred by pastry chefs for making intricate models and fine details when decorating cakes.

That is what modeling chocolate is used for, but do you know what it’s made of?

What is Modeling chocolate made of?

Modeling chocolate is made with white, milk, or dark chocolate that is melted and mixed with an inverted sugar syrup such as corn syrup (USA), golden syrup (UK), or glucose syrup.

An alternative to using real chocolate to make modeling chocolate is Candy Melts, which you can buy from cake suppliers.

Candy Melts are used to make imitation modeling chocolate. They are made of vegetable oil and sugar, and they look like chocolate, but they don’t contain any cocoa butter, so they definitely aren’t chocolate.

If you decide to use candy melts instead of real chocolate, there are instructions on the packet.

Did you know that modeling chocolate is quite easy to make?

How to Make Modeling Chocolate

You need two ingredients to make modeling chocolate.

First, real chocolate in the form of a bar, chips, or buttons.

I am sure you will have your own favorite chocolate to use. I use chocolate that I buy from Aldi stores. It tastes good, has a good percentage of cocoa solids, and is not too expensive.

Chocolate Bars
74% Cocoa content chocolate bars

Next, you will need some inverted sugar syrup. This can be corn syrup (USA), golden syrup (UK), or glucose syrup. 

The most important thing you will need is a candy/sugar/chocolate thermometer. This is an important investment to make if you work with chocolate and do any sugar work. 

The first step in making modeling chocolate is to temper the chocolate.

Please, don’t let that put you off because if you intend to work with chocolate, you really should know how it’s done, and it’s a straightforward procedure.

If you don’t temper the chocolate while you are making your modeling chocolate, you will most likely get an unappetizing white “bloom” on your cake or models instead of them having a beautiful shiny finish.

There is a professional way of tempering chocolate where hot melted chocolate is poured onto a marble slab, and it is worked back and forth with a scraper until it is cool, which is a slow process.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a marble slab or the patience to stand and work the chocolate for ages, so I took the quick and easy way of tempering chocolate, which is just as successful as the “professional” way.

I put some water in the bottom of a saucepan and placed a heatproof glass bowl on top of the pan. The water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl, bring the water to a boil and turn down the heat until it’s just simmering.

I chopped up the chocolate into small pieces, set aside ¼ of the chocolate, and put the rest in the bowl.

Melting the Chocolate
Melting the chocolate

I stirred the chocolate with my candy thermometer (conveniently set into a spatula) until all the chocolate melted, then removed the bowl from the pan of water.

I added the remaining quarter of the chocolate I set aside and stirred it until all the chocolate had melted.

Tempering the Chocolate
Tempering the chocolate

When all the chocolate had melted, it was still too hot to add the syrup, so I stood the bowl in some cold water until it dropped to 35C/95F, making sure no water got into the chocolate, or it would have “seized” and be ruined.

Cooling the Chocolate
Cooling the chocolate

After warming the syrup to 35C/95F, making it the same temperature as the chocolate, I stir them together until just combined (don’t over stir or the mixture will become oily), coverd the bowl with plastic wrap, and left it to set. Sorry, I forgot to clean the bowl up before I took the photo.

Chocolate Hardening
Leaving the chocolate to harden

I left the chocolate mixture overnight, and in the morning, because the room was cold, it had set hard, and I couldn’t remove it from the bowl, so I popped it into the microwave for 10 seconds; when it was warm, I could easily knead it once I removed it from the bowl.

Warming the chocolate is only to soften it slightly. Don’t let it melt, or you will ruin the work you did tempering the chocolate.

I could have stood the bowl in some warm water to soften it, and that would have also worked just as well.

Once I began to knead the dough, I realized that it required a little more syrup to make it soft and pliable, so I added one more tablespoon of syrup, and it was the correct consistency to use.

Follow this recipe carefully, and you can also make delicious modeling chocolate.

Kneaded Modeling Chocolate
Kneaded modeling chocolate

Modeling chocolate is very easy to make; however, I would advise that you read through the recipe and the notes before you start.

The percentage stated on chocolate is the amount of cocoa content.
Choose the recipe closest to the cocoa content of your chocolate.
If you are using a bar of chocolate, then chop it into small pieces.
Syrup – You can use any of these – corn syrup, golden syrup, or glucose or see the section below on “How to make modeling chocolate without corn syrup, golden syrup, or glucose” and find out how to make your own syrup.

Remember, you will need to use a sugar/chocolate/candy thermometer.

Modeling Chocolate

Weight Converter

Only use ONE set of ingredients

Ingredients

  • 200g Semi-sweet Dark Chocolate (70% to 85% Cocoa)
  • 75 – 90g syrup (see notes below)

OR

  • 200g Semi-sweet Dark Chocolate (50% to 55% Cocoa)
  • 70 – 80g Syrup (see notes below)

OR

  • 200g Milk Chocolate (30% to 35% Cocoa)
  • 60 – 70g Syrup (see notes below)

OR

  • 200g White Chocolate (20% to 30% Cocoa Butter)
  • 45 – 50g Syrup (see notes below)

Method

  1. While stirring continuously, melt ¾ of the chocolate in a double boiler (see notes below) until it reaches 46C/115F for dark chocolate or 43C/110F for milk or white chocolate. Make sure all the chocolate has melted and is smooth.
  2. Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the saucepan and wipe the steam from the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ¼ of the chopped chocolate and stir until it’s smooth.
  4. Cool the mixture by placing the bottom of the bowl in cold water until it drops in temperature to 35C/95F being careful not to get any water into the melted chocolate, or it will seize.
  5. Warm the syrup to 35C/95F and add to the chocolate.
  6. Stir the mixture slowly until the chocolate and the syrup are just combined.
  7. Cover the bowl and leave the chocolate mixture to get cold and become solid.
  8. When the chocolate mixture is cold and set, remove it from the bowl and knead until it becomes smooth and pliable, adding more syrup if required. (see notes below).
  9. Wrap in plastic and leave for at least an hour before use.

NOTES:
Syrup – It isn’t easy to be certain how much syrup to use as each type of chocolate is different. If you are uncertain about how much to use, then add slightly less than the recipe states. You can always add a little more syrup if the modeling chocolate is too stiff or crumbly when it’s being kneaded. If you don’t have any of the syrups mentioned in the ingredients list, you can always make your own (see “How to make modeling chocolate without corn syrup, golden syrup, or glucose”) below.

Double boiler – I don’t have a double boiler, so I use a heat-proof glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to melt chocolate (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water and that no water gets into the chocolate, which would cause it to seize).

Microwave – I could have used the microwave to melt the chocolate, but chocolate is very easy to burn, and it’s costly, so I didn’t want to take the risk. There is less risk of burning chocolate over a double boiler than by using the microwave.

Cold chocolate – if the place you have left the chocolate mixture is quite cold, then it may not be easy to get out of the bowl. Remove the plastic wrap from the top and place the bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds, and it will be warm enough to remove with a plastic spatula. If it isn’t warm enough, place it back in the microwave but only for a few seconds at a time. Remember, you are only warming the chocolate enough to remove it from the bowl and be able to knead it, NOT to melt it. 

If you melt the chocolate, it ceases to be tempered, and you will most likely end up with a “bloom” on your finished product.

Suppose you don’t want to use corn, golden, or glucose syrup, then why not make your own.  Read on and see how it’s done.

How to make modeling chocolate without corn syrup, golden syrup, or glucose syrup

I know many people don’t like to use corn syrup because of health concerns or it’s not available.

Alternatively, you can use either glucose syrup or golden syrup, but if those syrups are not easy to obtain, you can make your own Homemade Syrup which is just as good and less expensive.

Homemade Syrup is easy to make with just two ingredients – white granulated sugar and water.

Homemade Syrup

You will need a sugar thermometer to achieve the correct temperature of the syrup.

Ingredients

Weight Converter

  • 800 g White granulated sugar

  • 600 ml water

  • ¾ Fresh Lemon

Method

  1. Cut the lemon into thin slices
  2. Place the sugar, water, and lemon slices in a stainless steel pan that is larger than your gas or electric ring. (Don’t use an aluminum or iron pan because it will give a metallic taste to the syrup).
  3. Dissolve the sugar over medium heat.
  4. If necessary, brush down the inside of the pan with a brush dipped into cold water. This eliminates any sugar crystals that may form but only do this until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Turn down the heat slightly and boil the sugar, without stirring, until the temperature of the syrup reaches 110C/230F.
  6. The consistency will be similar to runny honey, but it will thicken slightly as it cools.
  7. Remove from the heat and plunge the bottom of the pan into cold water, making sure no water gets into the syrup.
  8. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, remove the lemon slices, and pour into a glass jar and let it get cold before sealing the lid.
Boiling the homemade syrup
Boiling the homemade syrup

Does modeling chocolate taste good?

If you like chocolate, you will love the taste of Modeling Chocolate, and if you don’t like the taste of fondant, this is an excellent alternative.

If you use chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids that are not very sweet, then even with syrup, it still retains the strong taste of the chocolate and is not overly sweet.

The syrup tends to sweeten the milk chocolate and the white chocolate a little, but they are sweeter to start with.

Is modeling chocolate easy to work with?

Working with modeling chocolate isn’t quite the same as working with rolled fondant.

However, once you have mastered the art, you can achieve some satisfying results.

The secret to having a good experience working with modeling chocolate is to make it correctly in the first place.

 It needs to be the right consistency, not too soft because you have added too much syrup or too stiff because you haven’t added enough.

When stirring the chocolate and the syrup together, stir it slowly and only until it has just combined, or the mixture may become oily.

If at any time during the time you are making the modeling chocolate, it separates and becomes oily, leave it for a couple of hours to set, and then knead it again.

If the modeling chocolate becomes crumbly while you are kneading it, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it, add a little more syrup, and re-knead.

If you are working in a warm room or have warm hands, the chocolate can melt. If this happens, leave it to cool down and get hard again.

If you wrap it well, you can put it in the fridge for a few minutes.

Before you start working with it again, run your hands under cold water to cool them down and, if possible, work in a place that isn’t as warm.

How to harden modeling chocolate

Modeling chocolate will harden if it is kept at room temperature 20C/68F.

When working on modeling chocolate, remember…

If it’s melting as you work with it, then stop working and leave it in a cool place to harden.
Make sure your hands are cool – run them under cold water or have a bowl of ice handy that you can dip your hands into but make sure they are dry before you start working again.
Place the chocolate in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Work in a cool/cold room.

How to store modeling chocolate

To store modeling chocolate that has been freshly made, double wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, place it in an airtight plastic bag or box, and keep it at room temperature for up to four months.

If you plan to store it for longer, tightly double wrap the modeling chocolate in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight freezer bag or box, and it will keep in the freezer for up to two years.

Modeling chocolate made into flowers or models can be stored in a cool place in a cardboard box together with a sachet of silica gel to control the moisture and keep it in a cool place.

Do not place models, or flowers, etc., in the fridge because the condensation will ruin them unless you have a special cake fridge that is humid-free. Read this article, and you can find out how to make your own domestic fridge humid-free.

I hope this has answered some of the questions you have about modeling chocolate. 

If there are some questions I have not covered, please ask them in the comments box below, and I will do my best to answer them.

Joyce Freeman

Joyce Freeman

SFW eBooks Montage

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