Chocolate producers weigh in on common mistakes that can happen in the chocolate-making process, and sometimes it's not so sweet.

Sure, chocolate brings a smile to your face, but what if it doesn’t? Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s managing editor, Marina Mayer, recently spoke with several experts to find out what can go wrong in the chocolate-making process and learn why sometimes it doesn’t always come out as smooth and silky as you like.


John Sweeney, director of technology for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, Lititz, Pa.:

When using chocolate it is important to remember that chocolate is a dispersion of fine solid particles such as cocoa, sugar in cocoa butter fat. The cocoa fat contained in chocolate is unique in that it is a solid fat at room temperature but melts in your mouth.  Cocoa fat is polymorphic, which means after melting as it solidifies, it can crystallize into different crystal forms.


A major step in the chocolate process is tempering where the cocoa butter is crystallized to the most stable form. Well-tempered chocolate will contract when it is cooled and therefore can be easily removed from a mould. It will have good brittleness when broken into pieces. If chocolate is incorrectly tempered after it has been melted it can sometimes result in what is called fat bloom where it has a whitish film.


Another mistake can be letting moisture or water contact the chocolate, which can make it impossible or difficult to work with. It is important therefore to remove water and sources of condensation when working with chocolate.


Adam Lechter, product services and development manager for Archer Daniels Midland, Cocoa Division, Milwaukee: Chocolate is a very unique ingredient and presents many technical challenges to those just beginning to use it. The most common mistakes we see with chocolate would be tempering mistakes, lack of temperature control, not choosing the right product for an application, improper cooling and storage, odor pickup, mistaken moisture addition and use of chocolate in products with incompatible fats.


Beau Netzer, vice president of gourmet sales, Barry Callebaut, Chicago: I would say that what I see in customers when they have application issues is when they utilize a chocolate that doesn’t have the proper melt point for an inclusion, specifically in a bakery. You have to have the proper melt point and the proper functionality of the actual construction of the formula to work in applications. And I see that’s probably the biggest.


What we strive to do is when we go to industrial customers is very clearly articulate specifications and understand what their processes are before we recommend a chocolate. And I’d say it’s basically, in the bakery world, is probably the critical thing.


And the other thing is also just understanding how flavors can compete with each other, so it’s getting the right flavor profile of the chocolate to mirror with the right dough if it’s a cookie, if it’s a muffin, the right dough flavoring system to complement each other versus conflicting with each other. So I’d say those are two critical pieces to perfecting a perfect baked good.


Rose Potts, sensory programs manager, The Blommer Chocolate Co., Chicago: Not knowing all the options of products that are available for the customer’s application.

This is where it is very important that the customer allow their developers to speak directly to the R&D team of the chocolate supplier so that recommendations can be made based on a flavor profile that is to be achieved in combination with the functionality that is expected.


Editor’s Note: For tips on new products and ingredient technology, visit, and coming soon, our upcoming December issue of Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine will feature more solutions for chocolate users. You can get a copy of the issue by clicking on the “subscribe” button on our Web site, or check out our online digital edition next month.

Photo courtesy of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate