It’s really not that hard, you just have to forget about the colorings and flavorings that you find in the grocery store.
Now to be fair we do make great chocolate covered strawberries for Christmas and just about every other Holiday or occasion, and ship those nationwide, but we do get a lot of basic questions on how to work with chocolate or some special work at home and it’s a lot easier to put the information out here than to get hundreds of helpdesk cases on the subject. You’ll see the same concept applied to our stores FAQ section, we try to provide you with as much information as possible so you can help yourself.
So why is the grocery store the wrong place to go? That is because the colorings and flavorings in the grocery store are generally water based, and if you add a few drops of a water based coloring or flavoring you will ruin that batch of chocolate. Water makes chocolate seize (get clumpy and unworkable) and ruins it for dipping.
So how do you color and flavor chocolate?
It’s pretty simple: use flavorings and colorings that do not have any water in them.
So if you wanted to make mint flavored chocolate you would add peppermint oil, there are tons of types of flavoring oils. They are very simple to use, a few drops of the oil and you have a pound of chocolate flavored to taste.
Sometimes you can find a limited selection of candy colors in a craft store, you have to be very careful because the company that makes these colors also makes frosting colors and the packaging is exactly the same, you must read the packaging to make sure it is the oil casted candy color and not the water based frosting color.
In a commercial environment dropping $75 on a set of high end colorants is not a big deal, but for the average hobbyist the minimum quantities would be a bit much. That’s where the oil based colorings come into play, they are a lot less expensive and can be found here. There are other options: you could dip in your tempered chocolate but then use colored sprinkles or a non-chocolate colored drizzle.
Thats the basics.. but what if you want to get really fancy?
By now everyone has seen the truffles and bite sized candies that have a distinctive/pearlized finish.. they look like they have tiny sparkles in the finish of the chocolate. These are a lot simpler to make than you would imagine, all they did was carefully melt some special cocoa butter and wipe the inside of a mold with it (in the demonstrations at candy shows the host just uses his finger), the messy act of just dipping a (clean or gloved) finger in some melted cocoa butter or tinted chocolate and just wiping it in a mold can make really pretty candy, (just don’t stop in the middle of the wipe or you will leave a fingerprint).
Of course not all flavoring has to be in the chocolate, you can get that peppermint flavor just by crushing some of those round peppermints that are everywhere at Christmas. Put some in a plastic bag, wrap it with paper and give it to someone who knows how to use a hammer: far away from kitchen counter tops replace the plastic bag and use them as you would any sprinkles.