Freshly Baked Science
How to: Chocolate coat!
10th December 2018
So many of us have tried to make chocolate coated ‘things’ at home and picture the outcome to be very similar to a chocolate raisin or Malteser. The reality is that you end up getting a dull looking chocolate splodge with a flat bottom from where it sat while it set. Unfortunately, there is no real fool-proof way to rectify this at home without fancy machinery. So, how is it that chocolate manufacturers can create chocolates with a completely smooth, shiny finish… and no flat bottoms?!
The process used to coat something in chocolate, smoothly, is called panning (the food we’re coating in chocolate is called the ‘centre’). Panning involves slowly pouring chocolate over the centres, which are in a pan that is constantly tumbling (like a washing machine). The speed of the tumbling and the thickness of the chocolate has to be carefully controlled to get the perfect coating. If too much chocolate is added to the pan, the centres will start to stick together and ruin the whole batch! Too little and the outcome is even worse... a layer of chocolate that is too thin (the horror)!
The tumbling of the pan creates friction, which allows the chocolate to be distributed evenly over the whole centre. While the pan is tumbling, cool air is pumped in, which cools the chocolate down and hardens it. At this point, another layer of chocolate can be added. This process is repeated over and over until they reach the desired thickness.
Once the centres have been chocolate coated, they will all be smooth, but they remain quite dull looking. To add shine to the chocolate an edible glossy spray, called a glaze, is sprayed in a fine layer over the chocolate. This creates that beautiful shine that we know and love!
Take a look at our Malteser Christmas Pudding, for smooth chocolate coated goodness! If you try making this cake, we’d love to see pictures of your masterpieces! Please send pictures to our email address (email@example.com) or through social media (@wonkscience) with the hashtag #STEMintoChristmas!