My top tips on how to thin candy melts for chocolate and baking projects. Comprehensive guide with step by step instructions and alternative solutions based on years of experience working with chocolate and candy melts running my chocolate courses and making handmade chocolates for my customers and corporate orders.
Candy melts are great to use for quick chocolate projects or if you are just starting with candy or chocolate making. But, sometimes they could be tricky to work with because they are not as runny or thin as we would like them to be.
If you use freshly opened candy melts recently bought from a reputable shop ( I usually buy candy melts online because the delivery is fast and the quality is always good), you shouldn’t need to thin them (or dilute) them in any way. Candy melts have been manufactured, so that you only need to melt them very gently and then use them for moulding, dipping, drizzling or creating your sweets.
But, if you leave out candy melts open or you (or the shop where you bought them) store candy melts incorrectly, they might dry out a little, which makes them slightly difficult to melt or melt properly.
Which is where thinning your candy melts come to! By adding extra fat to the candy melts you are making them more fluid and easier to work with. This method also works with most candy melts substitutes and alternative types of chocolates.
You might also need to thin candy melts if you want the candy melts to run more (for example for making a drizzle cake) or if you are using candy melts for chocolate fondue or fountain to dip strawberries, marshmallows and other treats in.
The candy melts will run through the chocolate fountain several times before they get used up and the fat or oil helps the mixture to keep runny (and not to thicken too much to early).
How to tell if you should thin your candy melts?
As I mentioned before you will not need to thin you candy melts all the time, which is why it’s important to recognise when to thin the candy and when not.
If you melt your candy melts and the mixture is easy to move around (quite thick like a custard, but not more), then you are fine to start using your candy melts for your project.
If the candy melt mixture is very thick and when you try to dip a spoon or a spatula in and pour the candy melts down and they don’t want to come off the spoon easily, then you definitely need to thin your candy melts.
How to use the fat/oil/thinning aid to thin your candy melts
No matter which thinning ingredient you use, you always melt the candy melts first and then start with adding a 1/2 a teaspoon of the fat, oil, butter or thinning aid.
If possible, melt the fat, oil or butter before you add it in the candy melts. This will make it easier to absorb and you can tell straightaway if it’s making a difference or not.
Mix it in slowly and only if the mixture is still thick, add some more.
Keep adding more (in very small portions) fat or oil and gently mixing it in, until you get smooth and nicely runny candy melts. Make sure they are also warm as you stir the thinning aids in, because if the candy melts cool down too much, they will naturally thicken.
Make sure that you warm up your candy melts to 27 C (80 F) and not much more. If you overheat your candy melts they will seize and you won’t be able to use them. By overheating, I mean anything over 40 C (104 F), which is only about 3 C (37F) more than your body temperature! Basically, that’s just comfortably warm, pretty much warm or hot like a water that you’d use for washing your hands (maybe a bit colder).
Let’s start with a few ingredients that you might already have at home and then we’ll move on to few that you can pick up next time when you are stocking up for your chocolate or candy melts supplies.
The difference between using spreadable fats, butters and oils
Anything fat based will thin your candy melts, but as a rule of thumb, the more you need to melt your thinning agent the harder the candy melt will set when you finish working with it.
This is important to know, because if you want a perfectly snappy chocolate finish, you need to use something like a proper cocoa butter. If you are after thinning candy melts for fondue or chocolate fountain, then a regular cooking oil will be the best (ei. you don’t actually need or want the candy melts to set completely).
Oils – set softer or semi hard if you don’t add too much
Shortenning – set semi hard or hard if you don’t add too much
Butter – sets semi hard
Cocoa butter – sets hard
Shortening is easy to use and since it’s plant based, it’s also suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets. Shortenning is also good to use, because it doesn’t have much flavour, so it won’t overpower the candy melt chocolate flavour like some other oils or fats in my list.
Always add one teaspoon at a time, mix in and then add more if needed. Don’t add too much otherwise the candy melts will be way too runny and you won’t be able to use them for dipping (the mixture will run too much and not set quickly enough).
Shortening is also great to ad to your candy melts if the candy melts start to seize a bit.
Margarine or other type of fat
Margarine or other butter or margarine types of cooking butters or fats can be also used and the chances are that you have it already in your kitchen. Like with the shortening, add one teaspoon at a time, mix in and only add more if needed.
Vegetable or Sunflower oil
Oils are much more liquid than butters or spreadable fats, so you need to be even more careful when you are adding them in. Start with a 1/2 teaspoon, mix in and add more if needed.
Can make candy melts very thin, so only add about 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Don’t add too much otherwise, your candy melts might have difficulty in hardening and setting. It’s always difficult to harden candy melts when they have too much oil in.
Coconut oil sets reasonably well, so it’s better to use than other oils if you want a reasonable set afterwards. Coconut oil is also widely available and fairly affordable, which makes it a great option for your candy melts thinning. The only issue, I have with coconut oil, is that it has such as strong coconut flavour. But if the coconut flavour works well with the rest of your candy melt project, then this is a great option for you to use.
Melt your coconut oil first before you add it in the candy melts.
Coconut butter will add flavour to your candy melts, but since it sets much firmer than coconut oil, I think it’s woth mentioning this option too. Coconut butter is usually more expensive than coconut oil, but if you happen to have some, it’s a good thinning agent. You can easily purchase coconut butter in a specialist health shops or online.
Melt coconut butter first before adding to the candy melts.
Regular dairy butter can be also used as thinning agent for your candy melts. It sets reasonably well and apart from a buttery taste, it doesn’t change the structure of the candy melts too much.
Dairy free or plant based butter
You can use any regular dairy butter or plant based alternatives.
Chocolate bar or chocolate coverture
White chocolate bar, white chocolate callets or white chocolate coverture can also be used to thin down candy melts. You will need a little bit more than just a few teaspoons or chocolate squares, but if you don’t have any other fat or oil, it will work too.
What we are after in the white chocolate is the fat portion of the white chocolate – either the cocoa butter or vegetable fat (depending on how quality chocolate you use).
You can, of course use milk or dark chocolate or milk chocolate substitute, if you are using milk or dark chocolate candy melts, but for any coloured ones I’d use white chocolate.
If using white chocolate for coloured candy melts, the colour will get slightly diluted, so just bear that in mind or add a few drops of fat soluble food colouring to bring the colour back.
Lard is an animal fat based product, so it might not be suitable for everyone, but it can be used to thin candy melts. Use only small amount and melt it before you add it to your candy melts.
Hopefully you have one of the ingredients in the list above to solve your candy melts fluidity right now. But, next time when you go shopping, it might be worth picking one of these.
Manufacturer’s made thinning aid
It makes perfect sense to use the official thinning aid from the same manufacturer that makes Candy Melts in the first place. You can easily buy the Wilton Candy Melts Thin Aid online and use it for all your chocolate and candy melts projects.
The preparation is also a bit quicker, because you don’t need to melt the thinning aid beforehand. Use about 2 tablespoon per one bag of 12 oz (340 grams) of your candy melts by adding it straight in and melting everything together slowly.
Paramount crystals are dry versions (dry crystals) of shortening, more specifically they are flakes of palm kernel oil and usually harden quicker and more than shortening. Palm kernel oil is used as one of the ingredients in most candy melts, so they make the perfect solution to our thinning problem.
They are quite handy to have around the kitchen anyway as you can use them for other baking or cooking projects. You can buy paramount crystals online in a small quantity very inexpensively and keep them for up 6 months.
If you melt your candy melts first, you can just add 1 teaspoon of the crystals in at a time and stir them in. They should melt easily as you stir them into the warm candy melts.
Cocoa butter is usually my preferred way to thin candy melts, but that’s because I always have some in my chocolate kitchen. I use it regularly for my chocolate making courses, so I never need to use anything else.
I completely understand if you don’t want to invest in the cocoa butter, because out of all the options to thin candy melts, this is the most expensive one.
But if you happen to have cocoa butter at home or want to buy some, you can always use it for other chocolate making projects.
To use cocoa butter to thin candy melts, take a few cocoa butter callets (or break or cut off few pieces). 1-2 teaspoons of melted cocoa butter should be enough to thin the regular sized pack of candy melts (12 oz or 340 grams).
It’s best to melt the cocoa butter first as it has higher point of melting than candy melts. You can do this with a hair drier or leave the cocoa butter in a heat proof bowl or container in an warm (but switched off oven) or even if you leave it in a plastic bowl on a hot water bottle it will eventually warm up and melt.
Be careful if using a microwave, as this is such as small amount that it would be very easy to burn it.
Once melted stir gently in – try about half first and then add more until you reach the consistency you like.
Cocoa Butter Powder or a Mycryo (Callebaut trademarked)
I usually buy Mycryo from Callebaut, but I’ve also recently tried this brand of cocoa butter powder and I can’t tell the difference. I mean they work the same and the quality is very good. The pleasant surprise is that the non-branded cocoa butter is much more affordable.
Oils, butter or fats you shouldn’t use for thinning candy melts
I wouldn’t recommend to use the following ingredients to thin down your candy melts
Whilst technically you can use olive oil to thin down candy melts (I mean, it will work), the flavour of olive oil will be way too strong for the candy melts to absorb. At a push, you could use olive oil if you are for example using candy melts to dip and coat your cake pops. Since there are other flavours inside the cake pops, people might not notice the olive oil flavour.
If you ever decide to use olive oil, use a very cheap one (not a great quality, which will not have as strong flavour as extra virginal or other quality olive oils).
Flavoured oils – such as chilli, herb, garlic, truffle
Again, whilst technically you can use flavoured oils to thin candy melts, the flavour will be just so strong, that it will overpower the flavour of the candy melts and anything else you are coating with your candy melts.
The only time, I might use flavoured oils, is if they work with my chocolate truffle flavours. For example if I’m making a chilli flavoured milk chocolate truffles, it makes sense to dip them in a candy melts that have been thinned down with a chilli flavoured oil.
Water based ingredients – water/milk/cream
Water or anything water based doesn’t really get on with candy melts very well. If you use water based ingredients, your candy melts or chocolate will seize. The only thing you can do, is to use the candy melts for making chocolate filling, candy melts chocolate truffles, mouse or ganache or to bake with the candy melts.
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