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Dec 16, 2017 10:41am

Julia Usher baking in her home kitchen
Blog Recipes and Tips From Julia Usher

White Modeling Chocolate

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.

Yield: About 9 ounces dough

Prep Talk: After the dough is mixed, it needs to sit, wrapped and contained, in a cool (60⁰F to 65⁰F) 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. 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.

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces premium real white chocolate (NOTE: Do NOT use real chocolate substitutes like compound or coating chocolate or candy melts without altering the amount of corn syrup, as the dough will set harder than intended.)
  • 1/4 cup (about 2.8 ounces) light corn syrup (Yes, this is right! White dough needs less corn syrup than its darker sister.)

Method:

1 | This is going to sound a lot like my recipe for semisweet dough, and that’s for good reason: the first step is exactly the same. If you’re familiar with the other recipe, skip any detailed reading of this step; otherwise, please read on! Weighing is always a good thing when baking, and the same is true in this case. Too much or 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 over-heat 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.

2 | Cool the chocolate so it is barely warm to the touch, and add the corn syrup (second photo). Stir just until the mixture turns into a thick, smooth paste that cleans the sides of the bowl, generally no longer than a minute. Heads up! This is where the white chocolate recipe begins to depart from that for semisweet. 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. (See third photo.) 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), 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 now purposely break it and proceed to knead out all of the excess cocoa butter (Step 3), as I’ve found that this approach leads 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?? Onto the next step!

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.

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. Be sure to pat the dough quickly (fourth photo), 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 (fifth photo), the dough is ready to wrap tightly in plastic.

As with the dark chocolate dough recipe, set the white 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 (sixth photo). Wrap the loose ends of plastic around the dough, and give it a second tight wrap with plastic; 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, the dough can take as little as overnight to set into a solid working consistency, or as long as a few days to a week. The last photo shows my dough after 24 hours. In this case, the dough was stored in a fairly chilly room at the end of May, so it set up to a manageable working consistency pretty darn fast. (See how rigid it is, and how nicely that big ball of dough holds its shape?!) But, 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 at this point, 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 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! If you haven’t yet read the semisweet recipe, do it now! You’ll find the link below. Or see my YouTube video, which covers the making of both types:

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Hello Julia,
I enjoyed the video on how to make white modelling chocolate and can’t wait to try it and start making roses.  Do you tint the white chocolate after it has set for a couple of days?  Also, how long will the formed flowers stay fresh at room temperature?
Thank you!

By Cristy on February 08, 2017

Hi, Cristy, Thanks! You can tint either the melted chocolate before adding the corn syrup or knead in coloring afterwards. Though if you know the color you want in advance, adding it to the chocolate is usually easiest. Use oil-based candy/chocolate colorings though; anything water-based will seize the chocolate.

By Julia M Usher on February 09, 2017

Hi there,
Great tutorial. It says to use real white chocolate, if I make my own do you think it would still work?? Thanks,
Becca

By Becca on July 11, 2017

Hi, Becca! Thanks! Not sure what you mean by “make your own” - do you actually start with cocoa butter and flavor it? If so, then that should be fine, as real white chocolate is mostly cocoa butter. If you use any of the fake chocolates I noted above, then you may want to increase the corn syrup a bit. You don’t have to, but recognize that the fake chocolates set a lot faster and harder at these same proportions.

By Julia M Usher on July 12, 2017

Hi again,
Yes I meant make my own white chocolate with a cocoa butter base. Thank you again, much appreciated and fingers crossed that it works will update when I give it a go.

By Becca on July 13, 2017

Great, Becca! Keep me posted - would be interested to hear the results!

By Julia M Usher on July 13, 2017