Using paraffin wax in making chocolates is a holdover from older candy making techniques. The paraffin was used to help the chocolate set up properly. It was also a somewhat dangerous practice, since paraffin is the same wax used in making candles. Although very little paraffin was used in making the chocolates, it is still a substance not approved for human consumption, and there are several substitutes available.
Almond bark is a bit of a misnomer, since no almonds are used in the making of this product. Almond bark is made of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. It can be used as a substitute for chocolate itself, to hold confections like gingerbread houses together, or as a substitute for paraffin wax as an additive to chocolates.
Compound coatings are similar to almond bark. They are formulated by combining cocoa powder with vegetable oil. Like almond butter, this combination has a low melting temperature. The combination is also very receptive to other added flavours. Compound coatings can be added to chocolate whenever dipping items, garnishing desserts, moulding candies and baking.
Common Cupboard Substitutions
A homemade moulding compound can be made by adding 2 tbsp light corn syrup to 1/2 cup melted chocolate. Likewise, because almond bark and compound coatings are made up of vegetable oils, vegetable shortening can be used. Substitute a couple of the tablespoons of the shortening for every half bar of paraffin called for in a recipe.
The final substitute is no substitute at all. Paraffin, almond bark and compound coatings are used to help chocolate set up properly. They are additives that are not needed when the chocolate has been tempered properly. Tempering stabilises chocolate through a careful process of melting and cooling the chocolate. Although the process is a difficult skill to acquire, when done properly, no additives to the chocolate are needed.
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- Chocolate University Online; Wax in Your Chocolates?; Bryn Kirk; January 2011
- Ames Eats Flavors; Ways to Use Almond Bark; Kelsey Schirm; December 2010
- Baking 911: Melting and Tempering