Modeling chocolate is made from melted chocolate and corn syrup to make a flexible, moldable, delicious clay
How to make fool-proof modeling chocolate! Whether it's candy melts, white chocolate, dark chocolate or you want to use glucose instead of corn syrup. We've got all the ratios, recipes, tips and techniques for success every time.
Modeling chocolate is what you wish play-doh tasted like when you where a kid. It's yummy to eat, you can color white modeling chocolate with regular food colors or you can use dark chocolate to make darker colors like black.
When I first heard of modeling chocolate I was super nervous to even give it a try. For some reason chocolate really intimidates me! But once I made it, I wondered why it took me so long to give it a try.
What is modeling chocolate used for?
Modeling chocolate is super versatile and used for a lot of things in the cake decorating industry. I personally use it a lot for sculpting realistic faces because it works very much like clay. You can build it up, smooth out the seams and it holds details really well. After the face is sculpted I can then add the face to a bust cake.
Modeling chocolate is also really great to model figures with, make chocolate flowers, bows or pretty much any type of decoration. Some people even use it to panel cakes.
Here's a little video I made a few years back of using modeling chocolate over a chocolate skull mold to make a realistic face.
Modeling chocolate recipe
This is the modeling chocolate recipe I have been using for years. It's very dependable and easy to make because of the candy melts. Candy melts are basically fool-proof chocolate. You don't need to temper them and they are easy to work with.
I melt down my candy melts in the microwave. I start with 1 minute and then go in 30 second increments stirring in between. White chocolate melts VERY easily so be careful to melt in short bursts or you will burn it and there's no coming back from that.
After my candy melts are melted, I warm up my corn syrup for 15 seconds. Just to make it a little bit easier to pour out of the container. This also makes it easier to incorporate into the chocolate because if your corn syrup is really cold, it will make the chocolate it touches really harden faster than the rest of the chocolate so you'll get lumps.
How to get smooth modeling chocolate
The secret to making perfect modeling chocolate is not to over-stir. You want to mix until all your corn syrup is incorporated and there are no wet streaks but stop as soon as it starts to seize up and look like soft serve ice cream. If you keep stirring expecting it to get harder, the opposite will happen. You'll notice some oil will start to seep out and separate. This is the cocoa butter.
The best thing to do in this instance is stop mixing, let thing cool down and slowly incorporate it all back together. You might have to physically smoosh some bits of cocoa butter in the end to get it smooth.
Once the chocolate is at the ice cream stage, go ahead and pour it onto some plastic wrap and let it "half set". This is the secret to getting the perfect modeling chocolate every time. I flatten my mixture down so it sets fairly evenly. You can put it in the fridge to make it set faster or let it sit on the counter.
Once it's mostly firmed up but still flexible, you can then knead it until it's smooth. I usually let it set for even longer to firm up before using.
Something to remember. When your chocolate is FULLY set it will be HARD. You'll think it's totally broken and you messed it up. You didn't! Modeling chocolate is always really hard when it's been sitting for over 24 hours. Just pop it in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften it up and knead it until it's pliable again.
What is the ratio of chocolate to corn syrup for modeling chocolate
For this recipe I am using roughly a 4:1 ratio which is four times as much chocolate as corn syrup. This results in a fairly sturdy modeling chocolate which I prefer for most projects. You will have to adjust your ratio depending on the type of chocolate you are using.
Candy Melts - 4:1 - 16 oz chocolate - 3.5 oz corn syrup
White chocolate - 4:1 - 16 oz chocolate - 4 oz corn syrup
Dark chocolate - 2:1 - 16 oz chocolate - 8 oz corn syrup
The process for making the modeling chocolate is the same
How to color modeling chocolate?
Believe it or not there is no special food coloring required to color modeling chocolate. Modeling chocolate already has liquid in it (corn syrup) so adding more won't hurt. I like to use artisan accents food coloring because it is highly concentrated or you can use regular gel food colors like americolor.
Most of my modeling chocolate ends up skin colored. To make skin color I like the ivory food color from americolor. Sometimes I add in some warm brown if I want the skin to be a bit darker. Of course the color combination it up to your preference.
For really dark colors like black, I would recommend starting with dark chocolate so you don't have to add a lot of color to get it dark. I always let my chocolate rest after adding color because it's always really soft.
How do you use modeling chocolate?
So a lot of people struggle with modeling chocolate at first because they want to use it like you use fondant. It's not the same. It is very sensitive to the heat of your hands. I will see students in my class mindlessly softening the chocolate in their hands while they think about where to put it and before you know it, you've got mush.
For most of my bust cakes, I use modeling chocolate over a solid chocolate skull mold to make the face as anatomically correct as possible. The chocolate works much like clay and allows me to get really realistic results like in my squid contessa timelapse. Check out my tutorial on how to sculpt a face on a chocolate skull.
Modeling chocolate is meant to be place onto a cake and smoothed with a tool or modeled quickly on the top of the table. Mike McCarey says in his craftsy classes, let the table hold the chocolate for you. Wise words because if you try to hold that chocolate, you're gonna end up with a mess.
I prefer to use this yellow clay tool, fondly named my magic tool, for smoothing out chocolate. Keeps my fingers from getting messy and my hands from making the chocolate too hot.
What the difference between modeling chocolate and fondant?
One question I get a lot is can you use modeling chocolate the way that you use fondant. The answer is kinda. You can definitely make little details and accents out of modeling chocolate much like the way you use fondant but it doesn't have the stretch like fondant does. So if you want to cover your cake in modeling chocolate you have to panel it.
Is modeling chocolate edible?
Ok this is just a weird question. Of course it's edible! And it's quite delicious! Much more delicious than fondant if you ask me.
Modeling chocolate is a great alternative for people who don't like fondant.
Can you make modeling chocolate with glucose?
I have heard that you can make modeling chocolate with glucose the same amount as corn syrup but you may find that your chocolate is too crumbly because it's not exactly the same thing. If you find that your modeling chocolate is setting too quickly or is too firm, then up your recipe by an ounce until you get the right consistency. You can always re-melt it, add in my syrup and let it set again. No need to throw away your experiments.
Where to buy modeling chocolate
Ok so truth be told, I haven't made my own modeling chocolate in years! Not since my friend Nathalie invented this amazing modeling chocolate called Hot Hands. You might have guessed, it's specially formulated to resist the heat of your hands. She's based in San Diego CA so she knows hot!
Once I used this amazing chocolate in one of my classes I was hooked! I now exclusively use Hot Hands because it's sooooo smooth, super firm and great for sculpting and if you have hot hands (like me) even better. If you're a member of my online school Sugar Geek Show then you get an exclusive discount as well.
How to fix crumbly modeling chocolate
Ok, so I've been getting a lot of questions about modeling chocolate being dry and hard the day after you make it. Modeling chocolate is HARD when it sets. That's one of the good things about it! So if you have left your modeling chocolate to dry overnight, it's probably really hard the next day. Same thing if you buy modeling chocolate.
You always have to knead your modeling chocolate before you use it. Knead about 1 cup at a time. It's easier that way. I put mine in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds just to warm it a bit. Especially on a hot day. At first, it's really crumbly and dry. Just keep smashing it together with your hands, work out any lumps with your fingers.
I will literally smash the modeling chocolate into the table with the palm of my hand to work out lumps and get it smooth. After a couple of minutes, it will be smooth again.
Want to see how to make modeling chocolate? Check out this very old video from forever ago but still does a good job of showing the steps to making perfect, fail-proof modeling chocolate. Sorry about the weird music. I was still learning lol.
White Modeling Chocolate (from melties)
- 16 oz white candy melts
- 4 oz corn syrup (or glucose) Warmed for a few seconds until about body temperature
- Few drops gel food coloring If you plan on coloring, if not, leave out
Modeling Chocolate (from real chocolate)
- 6 oz corn syrup
- 16 oz chocolate (any kind)
- Melt candy melts in a plastic or microwave-safe bowl in the microwave or stove-top sauce pan.
- Warm corn syrup and add food coloring. Remember that your final product will be lighter than the color of your corn syrup. You can also add color later if you want.
- Fold mixture together with a spatula until mixture starts to seize and resembles soft serve ice cream.
- It is important to not over-mix or your modeling chocolate will get oily.
- Wrap in plastic and let set until chocolate is firm but still pliable. Usually a couple of hours depending on how hot it is in your room.
- Unwrap chocolate and knead until smooth, smashing any hard lumps with your fingers.
- Re-wrap chocolate and place back in plastic wrap to set up until hard.