Whether you are new to the world of chocolate or you’ve been in the industry for decades, Merckens is a brand name that stands out & is familiar to all. Merckens Chocolate has been a leader amongst other confectionery brands for over a century. The brand houses an array of products from chocolate coatings, confectionery coatings, & caramel.
The most popular product that Merckens carries is their line of confectionery coatings. Their compound coatings are a staple in every treat maker’s pantry!
Our customers often ask us similar questions about these products; how to melt Merckens chocolate? If Merckens carries real chocolate? Is Merckens chocolate gluten free? Do candy melts expire? What’s the difference between candy melts & chocolate?
We’ve compiled a short list of Frequently Asked Questions to help!
- Is Merckens real chocolate?
This question is at the very top of our list as it’s the most common question we get about Merckens products. Unless you have a culinary education or are chocolate savvy, you may not know that there are different types of chocolate, & that’s ok! We are here to help with that!
There are two main types of chocolate: Couverture & Compound. The main difference between these chocolates is the type of fat within the product: Couverture chocolate is made with cocoa butter whereas compound coatings are made with vegetable fats (such as palm kernel oil, sunflower oil, etc). Because of the different makeups, each requires different melting methods. Couverture chocolate needs to be tempered (a process of heating & cooling to specific temperatures) to achieve its optimal state. Compound coatings just need to be melted & can be left to cool at room temperature.
Couverture chocolate is mostly used by chocolatiers & pastry chefs since extra care & attention is needed. Compound Coatings are generally used by home bakers & treat makers. With that being said, Merckens has these same two lines of products: Chocolate Coatings (couverture chocolate) & confectionery coatings (compound coatings). So the answer to this question will depend on which product you are purchasing.
- How to melt Merckens Chocolate?
We mostly get this question asked about Merckens Chocolate Wafers, or compound coatings. As we mentioned, compound coatings do not need to be tempered, so they are pretty easy to work with.
There are several different methods you can use to melt compound coatings (commonly referred to as candy melts.) Let’s explore the three most popular options:
Microwave: When using this method, we suggest that you use a plastic or silicone bowl. Avoid using glass or ceramic bowls as these materials retain heat & could overheat your chocolate to the point where it is no longer usable. To prevent overheating, patience is key.
If you want perfectly melted chocolate, you’ll need to melt it slowly to ensure the temperature doesn’t exceed 90°F. As long as you follow this guideline, you will always have beautifully melted chocolate coatings.
We recommend using the following time intervals:
Microwave for 30 seconds.
Remove & stir.
Place back in the microwave for 20 seconds.
Remove & stir.
Place back in the microwave for an additional 10 seconds.
Remove & stir.
Repeat 10 second intervals as needed.
(*Keep in mind, all microwave temperatures vary*)
Double boiler: If you don’t have a double boiler handy, you can use a makeshift one by placing a pot filled halfway with water onto your stovetop. Grab a thick glass or metal bowl that fits snug in your pot on top to hold your Merckens coating wafers. Heat the water to a light boil, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl as this can cause your chocolate compound to burn. Once your water has reached a light boil, place your bowl on top of the pot & continuously stir your wafers until they are 75% melted. Remove your bowl from the heat & continue stirring until all of your wafers are fully melted. Use a thermometer to consistently check that the temperature of the chocolate to ensure it does not go above 90°F.
Melting Pot: This method is very similar to using a double boiler, except it requires a specific electric tool. Once you have a melting pot, you’re ready to go.
Most melting pots have two settings: high & low. We recommend that you start off your compound wafers on high to get the melting pot nice & hot. Once you see the Merkcens wafers beginning to melt about ¼ of the way through, you’ll want to turn the temperature down to the lower setting to prevent burning. Continue melting your Merckens on low, stirring frequently to ensure there are no hot spots.
Pro Tip: Melting pots can overheat your wafers quickly, so keep an eye on the temperature & turn your melting pot off if it's getting too hot.
You’ll need to use a different technique to melt Merckens Couverture Chocolate because these products contain cocoa solids & cocoa butter which needs to be melted using a tempering method. Tempering is simply a method of temperature control where you heat, cool & reheat to specific temperatures in order to achieve a desired finish (similar to the process that metal goes through).
There are different ways of tempering chocolate with the most popular methods being the seeding method & the tabling method.
When properly tempering chocolate, you must melt your chocolate between 110-120°F, then cool it to 84°F & quickly warm it back up to 88-89°F. Let’s talk about how to do so:
Seeding method: For this method, start by melting ¾ of your chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave, reserving ⅓ of the chocolate for later. Once you’ve melted the chocolate to 110-120°F, remove the bowl from heat by placing it on your counter. Then add (or seed) in the remaining ⅓ unmelted chocolate that you have reserved. Stir well, until all pieces & chunks have fully melted. Carefully reheat your chocolate to 88-89°F & you’re ready to use it!
Tabling method: This is the true tempering method used by artisan chocolatiers. For tabling, you will need a large marble slab or countertop. Start by melting your chocolate on a double boiler or in the microwave. Once your Merckens chocolate has reached 110-120°F, pour it onto your marble worktop. Use a palette knife & bench scraper to keep the chocolate in motion by spreading it & scraping it over & over again until it cools down to 84°F. Then transfer the chocolate back to your bowl & heat it up carefully up to 88-89°F.
PRO TIP: The key to this method is to keep the chocolate continuously in motion until it reaches the desired temperature.
- Is Merckens chocolate gluten free?
Yes! Merckens Chocolate is produced in a gluten free & certified Kosher-Dairy facility! Keep in mind that cake & candy shops often repacking the product into smaller bags to sell. This does create a risk of cross contamination. While the products themselves are gluten free, when received from the manufacturer, they may be repackaged in a facility that also processes wheat, which will void the gluten free certification.
At Stover & Company, we are proud to repack Merckens in our allergen friendly facility to ensure that our Merckens products remain gluten free, peanut free & kosher-dairy!
- Do candy melts expire?
We recommend following the best by date on each product for the best quality. Technically, candy melts do not expire. That said, you may start to see quality issues if you melt chocolate after the best by date. Sure, candy melts are edible for years down the road, but they wouldn’t melt properly.
Candy melts or compound coatings may contain different types of vegetable fat. Some of these oils can become rancid after time while others will not. The reason you see an expiration date on your product is because federal regulations require expiration dates to be included on all food labels. Most chocolate manufacturers have determined that 365 days is a safe & lengthy shelf life. While a year might sound long to store your candy melts, we don’t recommend that you store them past 4 months. While your product will remain edible, the longer you store candy melts, the higher chance there is of it being compromised by humidity, leading to melting & consistency issues.
If you have any other questions regarding Merckens or any other chocolate products that we carry, please feel free to reach out to our customer service team at firstname.lastname@example.org.