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Why Is My Home Made Chocolate Candy So Dang Messy?

I made "turtles" today using a mini muffin tin for forms. This was a very novice attempt at candy making, for sure.
I placed toasted pecans on the bottom, the microwave melted Kraft caramels (with a bit of Kosher salt) and topped with microwave melted semi sweet chocolate.
It was a respectable effort and turned out quite nicely, but dang, is that chocolate messy upon touching!
I don't know why store bought chocolate is different and doesn't melt upon contact and get all over my fingers and face.

Can anyone give some insight how to do chocolate coatings without the mess?

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  1. One word - tempering, i.e. the process of heating and cooling chocolate to prepare it for dipping and enrobing. I'm not very good at it, but there have been multiple threads on this board of the various methods for tempering chocolate, how/why tempering works, etc. I also like this guide from Serious Eats:


    1. I thought tempering could be accomplished in a microwave?
      I did short increments and only until some chocolate was melted, then stirred until it was all melted.

      4 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        It can, you want about 1/3 of the chocolate unmelted, with the melted portion being about 120F. This is the "incomplete melting" method of tempering. If the chocolate is still too warm after all of it has melted, it will not be tempered - you need a few unmelted pieces (providing stable cocoa butter crystals) remaining at about 95F, then as those melt they should be enough to seed crystallization. Sometimes you need to stir more too - stirring also helps induce crystallization (of the cocoa butter, aka tempering).

        But yeah, I still manage to get chocolate all over the place. When I make a big batch of truffles I end up with a 4 foot radius of cocoa powder around me. I'm tempted to recommend a piping bag for adding the chocolate to the turtles, but if you are not comfortable with one, that may make for an even bigger mess.

        1. re: babette feasts

          Babette Feasts -

          Dang! Have I unintentionally lucked out!

          When I want to make chocolate dipped pretzels, or potato chips or dried fruit - I melt my chocolate in the microwave. But I never melt it all as I don't want to burn it. So I melt most of it, pull it out then stir till the remaining chunks are melted, then dip or drizzle. And the dipping has always worked.

          Now, with your explanation, I know why.


          Now that I know how badly it COULD have gone, it's almost scary to do it again!

          But thanks so for your info, I will be happy to pass it on.

            1. re: babette feasts

              Much better explanation than I could give. Thanks.

          1. Two things my pastry chef sister told me about chocolate. Microwave tempering is preferred as double boiler method can add water into chocolate. And that chocolate is messy!! She also said to use the best chocolate you can find.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Monica

              The first batch I made today, I almost ruined completely because I added vanilla extract and it seized.
              I should have seen that coming, but took a chance.
              So, as not to waste it, I added chopped nuts and made "truffles", rolling them in powdered sugar to finish.
              Boy, was that a MESS! But, it was a good save in the end.

            2. It's best to use a chocolate thermometer while tempering, but if you don't have one, I found these instructions really helpful:

              I've often failed when trying to temper in the microwave. I hate using a double boiler and understand the risk of getting water in the chocolate, but have to admit the double boiler worked much better for me than the microwave.

              And I just read somewhere (have no idea where) a great tip for making your chocolates less messy looking: chill the sheet you place them on. That keeps the chocolate coating from pooling and spreading around the bottom. I haven't had a chance to try this yet, but it makes sense.

              1. How did you get chocolate all over your face?!

                I agree with others about the tempering. Don't touch melted chocolate. It like seeps into your skin and is impossible to just "wipe off."

                Any time I have to deal with melted chocolate (or icings, glazes, etc.) I line my work space with wax paper. The chocolate won't stick to it and you just throw it away when you're done.

                I made chocolate covered strawberries on V Day and tempered both in the microwave (white chocolate was mail order in disc form, dark chocolate was a mix of chopped 72% bar + some semisweet chips), did my dipping, then immediately set berries on wax paper-lined baking sheets, then into the fridge once done. No mess, perfect berries, and cleanup took all of 2 minutes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nothingswrong

                  My chocolate covered turtles melted upon contact, hence the chocolate on my face!

                2. when your melting and pouring or spooning chocolate it just gets messy!

                  Strawberry because they have no pieces or crumbs to fall into or get mixed in as your dipping are much easier to work with.

                  Good on you for doing it, I bet they were awesome!

                  1. Melted chocolate and working with it is just messy. Fact of life. I have some OCD tendencies plus I clean as I go whenever cooking and baking. Suffice it to say, I don't make a lot of homemade chocolates. Just watching seasoned professionals working with chocolate on competition shows makes me uncomfortable! lol For some people, the mess is not a problem at all. I leave the chocolate making to them. :)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      I remember having a great uncle that owned a candy store. My mom would take me to see him making chocolates and I remember him being up to his elbows in chocolate.
                      He'd shake my hand, and laugh!
                      Man, we had some awesome Easter bunnies for a few years there.
                      Thanks, Uncle Jule!

                    2. yes.. You need to temper the dipping chocolate. I'm lazy I use a $400 tempering machine. Santa got it on sale a few years ago.

                      There are a few ways to temper chocolate without having a culinary degree and 30 minutes with a marble slab. Look them up on youtube, If you can melt the chocolate but not bring it above 104 ° Fahrenheit or so then add more tempered chocolate to melt it and stir it in, it will keep it's temper but you have use pretempered chocolate in the first place. and chocolate chips usually won't work. They have additional things added to them from the world of chemistry.

                      Alton brown does it with a heating pad and a metal bowl.

                      Anyway when it solidifies it hardens in a crystalline structure that is more heat resistant and snaps when you break it. It is also shinier than untempered.

                      1. I've done chocolate covered sponge candy and tempered in a fondue pot. Still a great hassle, and some of the chocolate is invariably out of temper because when it's all done, maybe 20% will be blotched with ivory streaks.

                        Besides tempering, however, it's also possible your choice of chocolate is affecting it. Are you using couverture quality chocolate? It's formulated for coating.