When you want to spice up a party cake, candy melts are probably the first thing that comes to your mind. Due to their colorful appearance, it is easy to make the cake look more fun! On the other hand, chocolate probably never disappointed you. Everyone loves it and it is easy to melt, too. So, which one is better – candy melts or chocolate?
Candy melts are better if you need strong and different colors. Also, they are cheaper than chocolate and easier to melt. Chocolate doesn’t come in various colors, but it tastes much better and is a lot creamier in the mouth than candy melts.
Everything already sounds very tasty! But, keep reading because I’ll list for you all their differences and uses, how to color them, which one has better taste, and, finally, what are their substitutes.
Candy Melts vs. Chocolate: Differences
Candy Melts are made to be used for decorating sweet treats. They are a great choice for decorating because you can choose among numerous colors and flavors. The most popular one is vanilla, but you can also find cocoa flavors, raspberry, toffee, and some limited editions that are worth trying.
On the other hand, this can be a disadvantage if you are looking just for decoration, not additional flavor. So, the flavor of candy melts can easily change the taste of your sweet masterpiece.
A type of chocolate that is usually used for baking, coating and molding is called couverture chocolate. As you can guess, it has only one flavor – chocolate. But, I wouldn’t say that it’s a big disadvantage because chocolate tastes so heavenly that it melts your heart! Especially if you use quality one like, for example, Lindt couverture chocolate.
When it comes to color, candy melts have strong colors that can easily mix together. For example, if you need purple color, you can melt red and blue and get purple color with ease. But, usually, there won’t be necessary to mix different candy melts since there is every color you can imagine – green, orange, black, light blue, dark blue, etc.
A variety of colors is something that couverture chocolate is not famous for. Chocolate comes in different shades of brown and ivory white. There is also pink ruby couverture chocolate, but it’s not that easily found in the supermarkets. If you are lucky and manage to find it, I suggest buying it!
Another difference is how candy melts and chocolate act at room temperature. While chocolate becomes softer, candy melts will keep their hard shape. So, if you have some candy melts leftovers, just put them in the kitchen cabinet without worrying that they will make a mess.
If you melt chocolate and candy melts at the same time, you will notice that chocolate will harden a lot quicker than candy melts. Usually, it takes about 5 minutes for chocolate to start getting firm. When it comes to candy melts, it will take them 10 to 20 minutes.
The expiration date is different, too. If you open the bag of candy melts and store them properly, you can use the leftovers in 18 months. Leftover chocolate, however, should be used in no more than 8 months.
If you are interested in price, probably the fact that candy melts are cheaper won’t surprise you.
What is very similar in using candy melts and chocolate is their preparation or, better to say, melting.
The easiest way is to put them in a microwave for approximately two and a half minutes. One thing is crucial, and that’s stirring. Neither candy melts nor chocolate will melt evenly if you won’t stir them occasionally while microwaving. The microwave should be at 50% power or use defrosting settings.
Another melting method is on a stovetop. Even though it is a slower way, you can see what’s happening to candy melts and chocolate every second. It’s a more gentle process. So, if you stir the pieces all the time, there are low chances to burn them.
Note that chocolate may not be that shiny if you choose the microwave method. On the other hand, candy melts will be great to use no matter which way of melting you choose. For that reason, people prefer candy melts before chocolate.
As I already mentioned, chocolate will start getting harder more quickly. If you do it properly, the chocolate glaze will be shinier than the candy melts covering.
Differences in Coloring Properties
Even though candy melts come in many different colors, you may not find the color tone you are looking for. In that case, you will need to figure out something else, so that the dessert will be exactly like you pictured it.
White chocolate is often used for dipping, and it is an excellent choice if you want to add a creamy, buttery taste to treats. Here are the steps on how to liven things up with coloring.
How to Color White Chocolate?
White chocolate has a beautiful ivory white color that is easy to color with edible liquid colors.
First, you will need to melt the white chocolate on a stovetop. Pour water in one pot, then place the bowl with chopped chocolate on the pot. Turn on the heat and wait until the chocolate starts to melt. Stir it constantly with a rubber spatula while being careful that water doesn’t come in.
Put the bowl on the side when the chocolate melts completely, then stir in a few drops of liquid color. Add drops until you get the wanted tone without worrying that you will spoil the taste. Food coloring very rarely has added flavors. Also, note that mixture color will never be as strong as the liquid is.
How to Color Candy Melts?
Candy melts have stronger colors than colored white chocolate, so they are great for decorating cakes for kids. Sometimes, you will want to change the shade, and here are the steps on how to do it.
To color them, melt candy melts in a microwave at 30-seconds intervals. After they melt completely, slowly add liquid food color and whisk the mixture.
I suggest pouring the melted candy melts into a few bowls, so you can add different amounts of coloring to get a few different shades of the same color.
If you have two packages of different colors, just mix them and melt them together using the same method.
Differences in Taste
Even though they are in different shapes, candy melts have a similar taste and texture as chocolate. But, if you ask yourself if candy melts taste better, the answer is no. They are very sweet and leave a waxy feel in the mouth.
Candy melts are made of sugar, milk solids, flavorings and colors. Instead of cocoa butter, you will find vegetable oil on the list of ingredients. Due to the lack of cocoa butter, candy melts will not be that soft and creamy as chocolate.
Candy melts that look like chocolate have added cocoa powder, but they still miss that chocolate taste that everybody loves.
Differences in Uses
Although you can eat candy melts from a bag, I suggest using it for what they are made for – baking, dipping and decorating.
People love strawberries dipped in melted candy melts. Not only because of the taste but also because you can take great photos for social media.
Another popular use is dipping pretzels in them. I know that it may sound strange, but this sweet-salty combination is so delicious that it’s going to be a highlight of your next party.
You can also pour it over pancakes or waffles. So, pretty much everything you would use melted chocolate for, candy melts are suitable, too.
The last use is decorating cakes, cupcakes, cookies, cake pops and anything else you want to cover with different colors and shapes. Since candy melts are easy to melt and shape, you can pour the liquid candy melts into the molds and use new shapes for decoration.
What Are the Best Candy Melts Substitutes?
The best candy melts substitute is couverture chocolate, but you can also use compound chocolate, white chocolate, almond bark, marshmallows, or fondant. If you want to decorate your cupcakes, just put edible coloring in the frosting.