Chocolate Trouble-Shooting Guide: Molding Problems

Table of Contents




Flavor Problems

Molding Problems


When chocolate is properly molded, it can hold fine detail as well as achieve a beautiful shine. When it is not, the chocolate will not achieve that showroom finish — if it will release from the mold at all. Care and dedication must be observed when molding chocolate to achieve that perfect finish, free of bubbles and with a beautiful glossy finish..

We have collected some of the most common molding problems below for your assistance. As always, if you encounter problems you do not see here and can provide a solution, please send it to us so that we can add it to our trouble-shooting guide.

Chocolate Will Not Release from Molds
Temporary Solution: Place chocolate in the freezer to allow it to harden. After the chocolate has hardened, remove the mold from the freezer and turn it upside down over a table. When you strike the mold, the hardened chocolate should come out. Be careful to not cool the chocolate so much it that attracts condensation, or you may get sugar bloom.Cause: Chocolate was not in temperSolution: Be sure to check more carefully the temperatures used to temper the chocolate.Discussion: When cocoa butter crystallizes, it can take several different crystalline forms. When properly tempered, it takes the Beta form, which causes the chocolate to contract slightly when it hardens. If the chocolate is overtempered, this contraction has already mostly taken place, making it hard to release from the mold. If the chocolate is under tempered, other crystalline forms may take over — some of which can cause the chocolate to expand as it hardens, again making it difficult to release from the mold. Both over- and undertempered chocolate will also tend to leave bits in the fine details of the mold, making them hard to clean.
Cause: Chocolate overtemperedSolution: The chocolate must be either molded faster after it has reached temper or the chocolate cooled faster after it has been placed in the mold.Discussion: When chocolate crystallizes, it contracts. This helps release the hardened chocolate from the mold. However, when chocolate is over-tempered, most of the contraction has already taken place before it has been molded, making it difficult to release from the mold.
Cause: Molds too warm or too cold during molding.Solution: Molds should be approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the chocolate being molded. Adjust mold temperature accordingly.Discussion: Molds that are too warm or too cold can cause the thin layer of chocolate that contacts the molds to lose its temper. This out-of-temper chocolate is what sticks to the molds, even though the rest of the bar may be in perfect temper.


Cause: Viscosity too highSolution: Reduce viscosity by adding cocoa butter or lecithin.Discussion: Chocolate that is too thick makes it too difficult for the bubbles to rise to the surface and break. Reducing the viscosity will allow the bubbles to come to the surface and break more quickly and with less agitation.
Cause: Viscosity too high due to too much emulsifier.Solution: Reduce the amount of emulsifier by adding chocolate or adjusting the recipe.Discussion: Too much emulsifier will cause the viscosity to increase instead of decrease. Chocolate should not contain more than 0.4% lecithin.
Cause: Too much agitation during mixing or temperingSolution: Reduce agitation speed (below 14 RPM).Discussion: The blades in the mixing kettle or tempering machine are whipping air into the chocolate. Reduce agitation speed to allow for trapped air to release.
Cause: Temperature too lowSolution: Raise temperature.Discussion: Allow the chocolate to cool more slowly so that the chocolate does not set up before the bubbles have had time to release.
Cause: Too little agitationSolution: Vibrate chocolate.Discussion: After molding, chocolate should be vibrated (approximately ten cycles per second) to cause bubbles to rise to the surface. Chocolate is a non-Newtonian fluid. This means that energy must be imparted to it to cause it to flow. Vibration provides the necessary energy to allow it to flow and release trapped bubbles.
Cause: Inadequate agitationSolution: Vibrate or shake chocolate to cause bubbles to rise to the surface.Discussion: Increasing the frequency of vibrations as well as their strength will assist in raising bubbles to the surface. Ten vibrations per second (hertz) assist with frequencies above this, giving diminishing returns.
Cause: Viscosity too great — chocolate is overtemperedSolution: Reduce the amount of time spent holding and agitating tempered chocolate.
Cause: Viscosity too great; temperature too low.Solution: Raise the temperature. (Though if it is too much, it will affect the temper.)
Cause: Machinery working bubbles into the chocolate.Solution: Examine machinery (including pumps) and eliminate or reduce agitation that may be introducing bubbles.


Chocolate will not Set-Up
Cause: Too much lecithin or other emulsifier.Solution: Add chocolate with little if any emulsifier to dilute.Solution: Reduce temperature during tempering cooling phase to force crystals to develop.
Cause: Chocolate was not properly seeded with seed chocolate during tempering.Solution: Examine tempering procedure to ensure that enough seed crystals are in the chocolate to allow the chocolate to set up properly.Discussion: If there are not enough seed crystals in the chocolate, the chocolate will set up very slowly and will not properly demold. It is important to add enough “seed chocolate” from previously tempered chocolate or allow enough time for seed crystals to grow during tempering, to promote proper cocoa butter crystallization.
Cause: Too much incompatible fatSolution: Add additional chocolate to dilute or set chocolate aside and use fresh chocolate.

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