Hey, have you mastered semisweet modeling chocolate yet? If so, it’s time to advance to the white chocolate version. As yummy as the semisweet recipe is, it has its limitations – like it’s impossible to tint! So when I’m in need of a really tasty modeling medium and the flexibility to add color, I turn to this twist. It’s a bit more finicky than the semisweet rendition, but with this blow-by-blow recipe, you should have nothing to worry about. Also check out my YouTube video on the topic if you’d like to see more tips.
About 9 ounces (255 g) dough
- After the dough is mixed, it needs to sit, wrapped and contained, in a cool (60 to 65 ⁰F/15 to 18 ⁰C) but unrefrigerated place to solidify to a pliable, un-sticky working consistency. Setting time can range from one to a few days or more depending on ambient conditions and the type of chocolate used. If using real chocolate (not candy melts or coating chocolate), I suggest making the dough at least a week before you intend to use it. Dough made with candy melts will set much faster, usually overnight.
- When not in use, the dough should be wrapped tightly in plastic and then sealed in an airtight container stored at room temperature; otherwise, it can quickly dry out.
- 7.0 ounces (198 g) premium real white chocolate (Notes: (1) Chocolate substitutes like compound or coating chocolate or candy melts can be used, but the dough won’t taste as good, in my opinion. However, these faux “chocolates” are less likely to break if overmixed. (2) White candy melts are also easier to tint, as the cocoa butter in real chocolate imparts a slightly yellow cast to the dough. (3) For a glance at the chocolate I typically use, see photo 1 in the gallery, below.)
- 1/4 cup (about 2.8 oz/79 g) light corn syrup
1 | Weighing is always a good thing when baking, and the same is true in this case. Too much or too little chocolate in this recipe can alter the end consistency. Weigh your chocolate in the bowl that you’ll be melting it in, taking care to “zero out” the weight of the bowl before you add the chocolate. The bowl should fit your double boiler (or sit nicely atop a water-filled saucepan). Break the chocolate into small pieces, and place the bowl over barely simmering water on low heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted. Do not overheat the chocolate, or it can scorch and seize (thicken to a lumpy mass). Seizing is especially easy to do with white chocolate, so watch it very carefully and remove it from the heat just as soon as the chocolate is melted. (You can, of course, also melt your chocolate in a microwave, but watch it very closely.)
2 | Cool the chocolate so it is barely warm to the touch. (If you want to tint the dough, it is best to add oil-based or powdered coloring now to the melted chocolate. Water-based coloring can cause the chocolate to seize, so avoid it. Coloring, of any type, can also be kneaded in later after the dough has set, but kneading is a little more time-consuming.) Add the corn syrup, and stir just until the mixture turns into a thick, smooth paste that cleans the sides of the bowl, generally no longer than a minute or 20 strokes, whichever is less (photo 2). Heads up! This is where this white chocolate recipe begins to depart from that for my semisweet modeling chocolate. White chocolate is much more prone to breaking with any amount of excess stirring, so it’s best to stop stirring before you see any oil (cocoa butter) oozing out of the dough into small pools. You’ll do nothing more than swish the dough around in a pool of cocoa butter.
But if you break the dough (stir it too much, and the cocoa butter starts oozing as in photo 3), no worries! Despite what some people say, the dough (at least, this recipe) is completely recoverable even if broken. In fact, after years of working with this dough, I sometimes purposely break it and proceed to knead out all of the excess cocoa butter, as I’ve found that this approach can lead to a smoother, more pliable dough. However, it’s important not to let the cocoa butter cool and recrystallize in pockets either within or around the dough. If it does, you will end up with chunks of hard cocoa butter in the dough after the dough has fully set. These chunks can be difficult to work out of the dough later, and more often than not, lead to a gritty looking and tasting end product. So, what to do about the oil? On to the next step! (Note: The next step is not needed if working with candy melts, which are unlikely to break.)
3 | Pick up the dough as soon as you can easily handle it (without it flopping too much), and knead it over the bowl. The goal is to knead out as much oil as possible in order to eliminate any big pockets in the dough. I typically knead for a minute or so, during which time the dough turns into a more elastic and cohesive mass. (Note: Again, this step is not needed if working with candy melts, which are unlikely to break.)
4 | At this stage, the dough may still have a lot of oil on the outside. And, for the reasons noted above, it’s important to get as much of it off as possible before wrapping the dough and allowing it to set up. To do this, simply wad up some paper towel and repeatedly pat the surface of the dough to sop up the oil (photo 4). Be sure to pat the dough quickly, meaning let the paper touch down onto the surface, but almost immediately lift it back up. The dough is quite sticky at this stage, so if the paper sits too long on the dough it will get stuck in it – and, believe me, it can be a pain in the you-know-what to remove. Once patted dry (photo 5), the dough is ready to wrap tightly in plastic.
Set the dough on a very large, smooth piece of plastic wrap. (You don’t want the chocolate to set around any wrinkles in the plastic, or the plastic will be nearly impossible to remove too.) If more oil pools around the dough at this point, pat it dry one more time (photo 6). Wrap the loose ends of plastic around the dough, and give it a second tight wrap with plastic (photo 7); then store in an airtight container.
5 | Allow the dough to sit overnight (about 8 to 10 hours) at room temperature, all packaged up. Depending on the storage temperature and the type of chocolate used, the dough can take as little as overnight to set into a solid working consistency (photo 8), or as long as a few days to a week. Because of the relatively high proportion of cocoa butter in white chocolate, you should expect white chocolate dough to take longer to set up than dark. Likewise, once set, it will become softer more quickly in the warmth of your hands (or on a very hot day), so you will generally want to handle it less and work with it more quickly too.
Regardless of your dough’s consistency the next day, it is wise to fully knead it before it hardens any further. This way, if there is any grit (from small pockets of recrystallized cocoa butter), you can work it out before the dough completely sets. In addition to kneading the dough, I also roll it through my hand-cranked pasta machine set with the roller blades as close together as they go; this step will almost always work out any persistent cocoa butter crystals. Re-wrap the dough, and store as described above in “Prep Talk” until you’re ready to use it.
The dough will last a very long time (at least a few months) if stored as described. But as it sits, it continues to harden and may require more kneading upfront to return it to a nice, workable modeling consistency.
With the basics of both modeling chocolates now under your belt, it’s time to whip up a batch of each! However, if you haven’t yet read my semisweet recipe, do it now! Or see my YouTube video, which covers the making of both types: