Chocolate 101: Seizing

Chocolate gets along with a lot of things: strawberries, cinnamon bears, potato chips, you name it! But when it comes to water, that’s where chocolate draws the line. The important thing to remember is that chocolate and water do not mix.

Let’s take a chunk of chocolate again:

Melt it down:

Add 3 drops of water:

Stir:

And stir some more…

…And voila! We have seized chocolate.

What is seizing?

Seizing occurs when moisture is added to chocolate. It makes your smooth melted chocolate turn into a pasty mess.

Why does chocolate seize?

Chocolate is made up of fat and dry ingredients. The process of making cocoa beans into chocolate takes out all of the moisture, so the end result is a dry product made of up cocoa butter (fat), cocoa and sugar (dry). This means that even when chocolate is in its liquid state, it is still a dry product. Adding water to chocolate is the equivalent to adding water to flour.

How can I prevent my chocolate from seizing?

Preventing seizing is easy. Just be sure that you don’t allow the chocolate to come in contact with moisture. Here are a few things to be aware of:

Be sure that all of the equipment you use are completely dry.

Be careful when using a double boiler to melt chocolate, because the steam from the hot water can cause your chocolate to seize.

Be aware of the utensil you are using to stir your melted chocolate. Make sure that it is dry, especially when using a wooden spoon. Wood has a tendency to hold in moisture that can escape into the chocolate when you are stirring it. So be sure that if your utensil is wooden, that it is completely moisture free. Also, it is not recommended that you use a wooden utensil if you are using a double boiler. The wooden spoon will soak up the steam and place it into your chocolate.

Never cover chocolate that is hot. The condensation can cause the chocolate to seize.

Is water the only thing that will make chocolate seize?

Anything with a water base will cause your chocolate to seize. Food coloring, for example, is a useful tool to cause your chocolate to seize. If you would like to color your chocolate, then an oil-based food coloring is recommended.

Chocolate can also seize if it is scorched. Be aware of the temperature you are heating it to. Always be sure to use a candy thermometer and these simple heating instructions.

My chocolate has already seized! Can I fix it?

No, you cannot fix your chocolate if it has seized. But you can still use it. You won’t be able to use if for molding or dipping, but you can certainly use it in baking. Throw your seized chocolate into a brownie or cake batter or use it in cookie dough. Seizing doesn’t alter the taste at all, just the texture.

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Do you have a question about seizing chocolate? ASK US! We are more than happy to help you. And chances are, if you have a question, you aren’t the only one.