Best candy melts substitute for your next chocolate or candy project. Comprehensive guide with step by step instructions and simple formula recipes.
Candy melts are great for dipping your cake pops or fruit in and other candy and sweet making projects. They are easy to use and make your cake pops look amazing. But what happens if you need candy melts for your project and you simply don’t have any or you run out? What can you do?
The good thing is that there are plenty of other ingredients you can use and I’ve looked the most practical ones to choose.
What are candy melts?
Candy melts are made from sugar, milk powder, vegetable oil, colour and often different flavours. They are usually pastel colours, but you can also see dark brown and light brown, which makes them look like dark or milk chocolate.
But, you’ve probably already guessed, that they are not actually chocolate, as the don’t contain cocoa powder, cocoa butter or any cocoa solids.
Candy melts don’t need to be tempered, which makes them easier to use for quick sweet making or baking projects.
They have a good shelf life as long as you store your candy melts correctly and candy melts sweets can be made in advance – anything up to 2-4 weeks.
What are candy melts used for ?
Candy melts are usually used for covering cake pops, dipping chocolate truffles in or using for chocolate dripping cakes. They are also great for drizzling over cakes and puddings.
You can also use candy melts for cake or chocolate decorating, dipping strawberries in or other fruits or marshmallows. Although they don’t have exactly the same taste as white, milk or dark chocolate they can be used for moulding (for example making small, shallow chocolate shapes, that are used for decorating large chocolate bars or cakes.
Recommended candy melts subsitutes
My favourite – white chocolate coverture with a bit of oil or shortening and edible food colouring, which is perfect when you need the candy melts to set properly – like for covering cake pops or chocolate truffles.
The next best substitute is compound chocolate, baking chocolate or regular chocolate bars (plain type).
Non-chocolate type of candy melts replacement include melted marshmallows, soybean sugar dip, almond bark or caramels, which can be effectively used for dipping fruits, chocolate truffles or other sweet treats.
White chocolate coverture + oil or shortening + edible colours
This is the best candy melts substitute to make it look and taste like candy melts (or even a bit better, since we are actually using a real chocolate).
Melt the white chocolate slowly and carefully either in a bain marine (in a bowl over simmering water in a saucepan) or microwave (10-20 seconds at a time, stirring carefully after each burst of heat). Add 1-2 teaspoon of coconut oil or other fats that can thin candy melts and stir carefully in.
Add more if needed to reach a fairly fluid consistency. Add any edible colours or flavours if you like. All colours and flavours have to be oil or fat based (not water based, as water causes chocolate to seize).
Keep warm, whilst you are using it for dipping or coating, otherwise the chocolate will start to set.
Proper chocolate coverture is also great to use if your candy melts seize whilst you working with them, as it helps the candy melts to become runny again.
If you want to replace milk or dark type of candy melts, you can use dark chocolate coverture and most dark chocolate substitutes or milk chocolate and many of the milk chocolate replacements can be used too.
Compound or baking chocolate
Compound chocolate is the cheaper version of chocolate and it’s often used for baking, cooking and cake decorating. Whilst it doesn’t set as hard as chocolate coverture, the texture and ingredients are very similar to candy melts, which makes it the perfect replacement.
Compound chocolate is usually made with cocoa powder (for milk and dark compound chocolate), milk powder (for milk and white compound chocolate), vegetable oils (coconut oil, palm oil etc.), emulsifiers (usually soya lecithin) and various types of sugar.
The main difference is the complete absence of cocoa butter, which is replaced by the more affordable vegetable oils.
Melt the compound chocolate in the same way as chocolate coverture, add your choice of oil, fat or butter and any colours or flavours. Keep warm, whilst you are using it for dipping or coating, otherwise the chocolate will start to set.
Chocolate bar (plain, milk or white chocolate)
Use any kind of plain type of chocolate bar (with no toppings or filling or inclusions). Break the chocolate bar into smaller pieces and melt it very carefully on a bain marie or in a microwave.
Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil, coconut oil or shortening and slowly mix it in. Keep warm whilst you dip your chocolate truffles or cake pops in. Cool down your chocolate treats in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to help them to firm up.
My American readers will be familiar with almond bark, but unless you live in USA, you might not know what almond bark is.
Almond bark has it’s rather confusing name from the time, when this chocolate type of covering was used for coating chopped almonds in a very thin layers and making it into ‘almond bark’. These days, you can use almond bark for coating strawberries, fruit, marshmallows, pretzels, drizzling over puddings or indeed still make almond or other nuts bark.
Almond bark ingredients are similar to compound chocolate, but since almond bark is even cheaper than compound chocolate, it doesn’t include any cocoa powder. The main ingredients are vegetable fats or oils, sugar, flavouring and colouring. The two main flavours include vanilla and chocolate (and even the chocolate flavour doesn’t include any cocoa powder, just chocolate flavouring – whatever that is!).
To use your almond bark, melt it very carefully in the same way as the chocolate coverture or compound chocolate, add 1 teaspoon of oil and any other colours and flavours. Use the vanilla flavoured Almond Bark to make other pastel colours.
Did you know that you can melt marshmallows? How amazing is that? Take a handful of marshmallows and either melt them in bain marie (bowl over a simmering water) or very carefully in the microwave. The marshmallows will turn into a thick sauce, that you can use for dipping your cake pops or strawberries. Once the marshmallow sauce cools down again, it will thicken and set.
To achieve the best result, try to leave your cake pops to set up standing up and not touching anything (best to use a cake pop stand or stick them in a heavy jam jar or something similar).
Fudge or thick fudge sauce
You can make your own fudge and just before you whip it to cool it down, use it for coating your cake pops, chocolate truffles or strawberries.
You can also use a shop bought fudge. Use any kind of flavour you like (to compliment the flavour of the sweets you are coating) and melt it carefully first before using.
Caramels or thick caramel sauce
You can use caramels in the same way as the fudge. Melt them very slowly in the oven, on bain marie or in a microwave. Make sure that the melted caramels are not hot (or even warm!) before you start dipping you cake pops or chocolate truffles in.
If you want to achieve a ‘non-sticky’ surface, it’s probably best to roll them in some sugar sprinkles or something similar.
You can also make your own caramel sauce, but make sure that the sauce is a bit thicker by using less cream, water or other liquid that’s in the recipe.
Mix together icing sugar (fine confectioners sugar) and a little bit of water (or egg white for a better results) to create a thick icing. Dip your sweets, strawberries, cake pops or chocolate truffles in and shake off carefully any excess. The icing will harden as it tries, but it will take a little while and might not be as beautifully silky coated as with candy melts.
You can also dip the sweets in the icing and then roll them in sugar strands, ground almonds or crushed biscuits to cover them fully.
You can also make your own vegan chocolate icing, which will replace dark or milk candy melts really well in the terms of colour and flavour.
If you’ve ever tasted Chinesse type of sweet called ‘mochi’ then you’ve tasted kinako powder. The kinako powder is basically a soya bean powder, that’s mixed with a little water and some icing sugar to create a plyable coating that can be used for wrapping your sweets in, rolling into various shapes.
It has a very mild flavour, which an be adjusted by flavouring and colouring of your choice. You can find kinako powder in a specialist shops or buy it online.
Outside the box solution
If you don’t have any other of the ingredients above and you need to coat your cake pops or chocolate truffles, you can always use something crumbly and dry that will stick to the cake pops. This can include cocoa powder, icing sugar, crushed biscuits, hundred and thousands (sugar strands), ground almonds, ground nuts etc.
It won’t be exactly the same as having candy melts or chocolate covered cake pops or chocolate truffles, but it will be presentable enough and it will be still tasty to eat!