How Long Does It Take For Chocolate to Harden?

  • Date: January 1, 2023
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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Are you trying to determine how long it will take for your chocolate to set and harden? The time it takes for chocolate to harden can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of chocolate, the thickness of the layer, and the environment in which it is stored.

A general rule of thumb is that smaller and thinner pieces of chocolates set faster than larger, thicker pieces.

Properly tempered chocolate will harden in 5 to 20 minutes when refrigerated.

Whether you want to make molded candies or coat baked goods, you’ll want to have a rough idea of how long it takes to set and harden.

This article will cover how long it takes for various types of chocolates to harden. Some types are better for melting/dipping than others.

Which type of chocolate is best for hardening?

There are two main forms of chocolate, “real” chocolate and compound chocolate. As compound chocolate is more commercially available due to more cost-effective ingredients, it is important to understand why it may not temper properly.

Any chocolate that uses (hydrogenated) vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter is considered compound chocolate.

The vegetable fats cause compound chocolates to have a higher melting point. This makes it more sturdy for storage as it won’t melt in transit or warm conditions.

Compared to traditional chocolate, compound chocolate is cheaper and generally of lower quality. On the plus side, compound chocolate is easier to set and harden.

Couverture Chocolate (best quality)

This type of high-quality chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa butter than other types of chocolate. To pro chocolatiers, couverture is considered “real” chocolate.

Callebaut Belgian Dark Couverture – Suitable for many baking applications

Because of the high cocoa butter content, it is easier to temper, resulting in a smooth texture with rich flavor.

Baking Chocolate (AKA cooking chocolate)

As a chocolate specifically made for baking, it typically comes in a bittersweet or unsweetened form. This is because it is typically used as an ingredient in baking recipes that already has sugar such as cakes or brownies.

As tempting as it looks, baking chocolate is not a good stand-alone snack. By extension, baking chocolate is not ideal for coating.

Chocolate Chips (most convenient)

After melting, chocolate chips can harden in 5 to 15 minutes. To prevent overheating, melt in the microwave in short 10 or 15 second intervals with stirring in between to evenly distribute the cocoa solids and fats.

Chocolate chips are quite sturdy compared to other chocolates. However, this also means it is difficult to use as a candy coating or dip.

They typically contain soy lecithin or vegetable fats which raises the melting temperature. This is what keeps them intact when baked.

Be careful about overheating chocolate chips. Because they melt at higher temperatures, a lot of people get tricked into microwaving too long or adding too much heat.

For a little more assurance, use a double boiler and/or add coconut oil to the chocolate chips to make it easier to work with.

Candy Melts (easiest to work with)

Candy melts are the easiest type of confectionery coating to work with. They set as soon as 10 minutes to a few hours depending on factors such as:

  • Room temperature
  • Thickness of coating
  • Humidity

The reason that candy melts set fast is that they aren’t exactly true chocolate. Instead of cocoa butter found in chocolates, candy melts are made with vegetable oils.

Methods for hardening chocolate

Generally, it is best to store chocolate in an airtight container to protect the chocolate from moisture and other environmental factors such as odor.

This is especially true for setting chocolates in the fridge or freezer as condensation can form on the surface of the chocolate, resulting in undesirable blooming.

Room temperature

At room temperature, chocolate can harden in 15 to 30 minutes. When properly tempered, chocolate can set in 5 to 10 minutes.

Compound chocolates will have an easier time setting at room temperature.

For “true” chocolate, untempered chocolate will set with a dull, mushy finish.

Refrigeration

While chocolate can set or be stored in the fridge, it can also easily pick up unwanted odors from other foods in the fridge. This can also result in developing off flavors (yuck).

If you’re setting chocolate in the fridge, make sure to wrap tightly or contain the chocolates to ensure moisture stays out.

Chocolate can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks, but it should be brought to room temperature before being served or used in recipes.

Freezing

Many chocolate makers freeze chocolate as a way to store it and extend its shelf life. It is also the quickest way to cool down chocolate if you’re in a hurry.

When freezing chocolate, it is important to note that it may become slightly discolored or develop a white, mottled appearance when it is frozen.

This is known as “chocolate bloom” and is caused by the separation of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. While it may not be visually appealing, chocolate that has bloomed is still safe to eat and will still have the same flavor and texture.

Just be aware that chocolate may develop a slightly different appearance when frozen, but this will not affect its flavor or quality.

Why is my melted chocolate not hardening?

There are a few factors to double-check to make sure that your chocolate eventually sets and hardens.

Bad storage conditions can make or break your chocolates, resulting in a mushy texture or dull appearance.

Chocolate is not tempered.

Untempered chocolate takes longer to set and also does not harden completely as tempered chocolate does.

There are several ways to tell if chocolate has been tempered:

  • Visual appearance: Properly tempered chocolate will have a smooth, shiny finish and will be free of streaks and blotches. It will also have a uniform color and will not look dull or gray.
  • Snap test: Break a piece of chocolate in half. If it snaps cleanly and makes a “snappy” sound, the chocolate is likely tempered. If it crumbles or breaks unevenly, it may not have been tempered properly.
  • Melt test: Place a small piece of chocolate in your mouth and let it melt. Properly tempered chocolate will melt smoothly and evenly and will not feel gritty or grainy.

Room temperature is too high.

The ideal storage condition for chocolate is right under 70°F (about 65-69°F) in a cool, dark, and dry location.

So try to keep chocolates out of direct sunlight in a closed container.

Warm air tends to hold more moisture which leads to the next possible issue.

Humidity is too high.

While this is not a common issue, high humidity is still something to keep in mind when working with chocolate. Protecting chocolate from moisture is

Be careful about opening windows on a rainy day as humidity can affect how chocolate sets.

The chocolate could bloom in the form of white splotches. Even after the chocolate sets, it could be soft and easy to smudge.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the time it takes for chocolate to harden depends on several factors, including the type of chocolate, the thickness of the coating, and the temperature of the room.

Generally, chocolate will take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to harden completely, depending on these factors.

To speed up the hardening process, you can place the coated treats in the refrigerator or freezer to allow the chocolate to set more quickly. It’s important to note that chocolate can become brittle when it is chilled, so it’s best to let it return to room temperature before handling or serving.

Properly storing and handling chocolate can help ensure that it maintains its quality and taste.

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