Generally speaking chocolate starts to melt from 30 to 32 C, just a little bit lower than your body temperature (that’s why chocolate tastes so good, when you melt it on your tonque!). But the exact melting temperature depends on the content of the chocolate you are melting (or try not to melt!).
Before we go into the scientific explanation of chocolate melting, what you probably want to remember is that white chocolate melts at the lowest temperature, milk chocolate somewhere in the middle, whereas dark chocolate takes the longest to melt.
This is because of the different content in the chocolate, such as different amounts of cocoa butter, cocoa solids, sugar, powdered milk and any emulsifier (usually soy lecithin)
The reason why white chocolate melts the easiest is because it has the highest amount of powdered milk and milk fats, which reduces the melting point.
But the most important element of chocolate melting is related to the crystallisation of the cocoa butter. This is because cocoa butter helps to thicken and set the rest of the mass of liquid chocolate.
This process is absolutely crucial for making any chocolate treats at home to make sure you end up with a bar of beautiful shiny chocolate, that snaps when you share it with others and doesn’t melt immediately in your hands (i.e. withstands a temperature that’s up to 35-37C)
To achieve this, you need to temper your chocolate. The process of chocolate tempering focuses on controlling the crystallisation of cocoa butter, which goes through several stages, before it’s set, making the final chocolate product firm and able to withstand a bit of temperature.
At this point, things do get complicated, because cocoa butter can crystallise in several different forms, usually named as type I to type VI (there are six most common types).
Here are the melting points of the different crystallisation forms of cocoa butter:
Type I - 17 C
Type II - 23 C
Type III - 25.5 C
Type IV - 27 C
Type V - 34 C
Type VI - 36 C
The chocolate tempering process starts by first melting the chocolate completely at 40-45 C, before reducing the temperature gradually to 28 C which establishes Type IV and Type V crystals, and then reheating back to 32 degrees to melt out the Type IV crystals. This makes sure that chocolate is completely seeded with Type V crystals before you use your chocolate to create your chocolate treats. These temperatures are for dark chocolate, and you will probably notice that white and milk chocolate has a slightly lower melting point, so you need to be extra careful when you are working with these.
And since we are on the subject of chocolate melting, here are few other questions, you might be asking:
Do all chocolates melt at the same temperature?
No, they don’t! Although most chocolates starts to melt around 30C, a quality dark chocolate, containing high percentage cocoa solids (say 85%) and original cocoa butter will withstand much higher temperature – around 37C than white chocolate snack bar, that contains different additives, milk powder, vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter and of course has much lower percentage of cocoa solids (usually around 27%).
Will chocolate melt after taking it out from the fridge?
This depends on several things. If you’ve tempered your chocolate correctly, you shouldn’t have any problems with your chocolate, providing that you store your chocolate at around 18C.
If your chocolate wasn’t tempered correctly and you might have for example white streaks on your chocolate (meaning that your chocolate has bloomed), this means that your chocolate will melt a lot quicker and at a lower temperature.
And if for whatever reason your room is very hot (over 30C) your chocolate might start to melt, even if it’s properly tempered.
Can you melt white and dark chocolate together?
I like your creative thinking, but ‘no’ not quite! If you want to use your melted chocolate for baking or making chocolate ganache or similar, then, by all means, melt away!
But if you try to melt white and dark chocolate together and temper it, you might not have much success. This is because white chocolate has much lower melting point than dark chocolate and it’s very difficult to find a temperature that will suit them both. It’s unfortunately not as simple as, mixing it together and thinking it will be a ‘milk’ chocolate.
What chocolate is best for melting?
It’s difficult to melt and temper chocolate that you normally find in the supermarkets. This type of chocolate is usually manufactured using extra additives, bulking ingredients (such as flour) and extra vegetable or animal oils. This is great chocolate for eating, but not so great for melting and tempering.
To have a better rate of succeeding with your tempering, you should get a proper chocolate couverture. This kind of chocolate is ready for you to work with, and it doesn’t contain any extra ingredients that it shouldn’t.
Is it OK to eat chocolate that has melted?
Yes, absolutely! As long as the chocolate hasn’t come into contact with something inedible or an ingredient that is ‘off’ you can safely eat melted chocolate even if it forms back up again.
How long does chocolate take to melt?
It doesn’t take very long – small bowl of chocolate will only take 30-60 seconds to melt in a microwave and about 2-3 minutes on a hob in a bain marie. Make sure you steer your chocolate constantly, so that it doesn’t burn.
How long can you keep melted chocolate?
Ideally, you want to use up your melted and tempered chocolate straightaway. Make sure that you have your moulds ready before you melt your chocolate so that you can quickly pour the chocolate and leave it to set. If for example, you are using your melted chocolate to dip your cake pops in, keep the chocolate warm by gently re-heating the chocolate as and when needed. The chocolate needs to be nice and flowing for you to be able to use it.
Have any more questions about melting chocolate? Feel free to leave me a comment below, and I’ll do my best to come up with an answer!