Chocolate 101: Oil and Water Don’t Mix

barkeater Blog, Cool, Recipes

If you’re an at home chocolate enthusiast, you’ve probably tried, at least once, melting some chocolate in the microwave or even a double boiler and adding an extract to impart an interesting flavor. Who wouldn’t like a bit of almond flavored chocolate drizzled over their almond crescent cookies???

And what likely happened, is the chocolate turned into a thick paste after you added the extract. Then, thinking logically, you decided to heat the chocolate even more…because…obviously, it had cooled too quickly once the extract was added.

Then, to your dismay (you see where this is going)…you found the chocolate not only thickened even more, but actually burned because you heated it too much.

That’s when you decided those almond spritzes were just fine as is.

The problem wasn’t the heat at all. It was the extract. An alcohol based extract contains about 65% water. Chocolate contains anywhere from 15-20% cocoa butter, which is a fat. An unstable fat at that. Now we all know that oil and water don’t mix. But what’s really happening, is that the water clings to the cocoa and sugar particles and “seizes.” 

How do you fix the problem? Usually adding a small amount of vegetable oil will smooth out the chocolate. Or you can incorporate the chocolate into other ingredients, such as cream and butter to create a ganache. It won’t fully set the way purely tempered chocolate will set, but so long as it didn’t get scorched, your chocolate will still be usable.

So how to get that interesting flavor? Create a flavor oil. Adding mint leaves, cinnamon or orange peels (for example) to a cup or two of vegetable oil and heating it to 110 degrees (don’t boil!!) for 1-3 hours is a great start. Then let the oil cool and you’ve got yourself a usable flavor oil. Only add a small amount to your chocolate (or substitute the flavored oil in your favorite cake recipe) to impart a subtle flavor.

Not enough time or patience? Consider purchasing a high quality flavored chocolate bar and shaving the chocolate on top of your favorite baked good instead. We know where you can get some. 😉