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Candy Melts vs White Chocolate: When to Use Each (2022)

Ready for the ultimate candy melts vs white chocolate showdown of 2022? Compare the appearance, flavor, and ingredients of each and learn which one is best for eating, dipping, molding, and creating edible decorations.

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Candy melts are meant to mimic white chocolate, but they are not the same thing. If you compare candy melts vs white chocolate, you will find differences in appearance, texture, flavor, and ingredients.

However, candy melts and white chocolate are similar enough to be used for many of the same things. Coat cake pops, mold them into edible decorations, and decorate desserts.

When comparing candy melts vs white chocolate, the taste and function are similar. The biggest difference involves tempering. Candy melts do not require tempering before using them to dip pretzels, cake pops, or other foods.

However, white chocolate must be tempered before it is used as a coating. You might use candy melts when you don’t have time to temper white chocolate.

This article will cover what candy melts and white chocolate are, the differences between white chocolate and candy melts, and which one is best to use for specific projects. Let the showdown begin.

What Are Candy Melts?

Candy melts are small disks of candy made from sugar, milk solids, fractionated vegetable oil, flavorings, and dyes. They are used to coat cake pops, cookies, pretzels, and other foods.

Candy melts fall into the category of candy coatings, sometimes called compound chocolate. Compound chocolate is a step down from couverture white chocolate. It is lower cost because most of the cocoa butter has been replaced by vegetable oil. It works perfectly as a candy coating.

Candy wafers, disks, meltables, and summer coating are all considered confectionery coating. Candy coating manufacturers use different names for their brand’s products.

Despite different names, these candy wafers taste, melt, and behave identically. This article will refer to all these candies as candy melts.

Candy melts come in a variety of colors and do not need to be tempered as white chocolate does. It is a quick and easy alternative when you want to coat something for a party or other festive occasion.

While candy melts are used in place of white chocolate for many things, they are not real chocolate. They do not have the same flavor profile and are not ideal inside of baked goods.

How to Store Candy Melts

You can find candy melts in a local craft store or online. Store candy melts in a cool, dry place, such as your kitchen cupboard. If they get too hot during storage, they may be ruined. Do not store them near your stove, or they might melt and become unusable.

Almond bark is a good substitute for candy melts. However, almond bark is sold as a block, rather than as candy disks.

Do Candy Melts Go Bad?

Candy melts can go bad if they are old or have not been stored at the proper temperature. They may be difficult to melt, and often they develop an off-taste and smell.

Use within 18 months after manufacturing, before the expiration date. Look for the five digits series on the package.

Store them properly because if they melt before you use them, they might not melt properly when you need to use them.

What Is White Chocolate?

White chocolate is a candy made with cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla, and milk solids. Many chocolate purists do not consider white chocolate to be real chocolate because it is made from the fats that come from the cacao bean. But it does not contain cacao or chocolate liquor.

White chocolate has milk solids (dairy and lactose). If you have a dairy or lactose allergy, use candy melts instead.

Ghirardelli and Baker's white chocolate baking bars

True white chocolate comes in many forms, such as a white chocolate bar, white chocolate wafers, or white chocolate chips.

White chocolate is more expensive than candy melts. It is delicious in baked goods, like cookies or cake.

bag of Ghirardelli white melting wafers

Sometimes it can be hard to find real white chocolate. There are many imitators, such as white morsels or Ghirardelli white melts. Use these products in baking as well as for dipping, coating, or decorating.

Always temper white chocolate before using it to coat food. Couverture white chocolate is the best white chocolate to use because it is made for tempering.

Couverture white chocolate is superior quality chocolate. It has a higher percentage of cocoa butter compared to the other ingredients. It is also ground finer during the production process.

Find it in a specialty store or order it online. This is the kind of white chocolate you use for a special occasion.

You can temper grocery store white chocolate, but it can be difficult. When you use it to coat pretzels or other foods, refrigerate after dipping to help the chocolate harden.

How to Store White Chocolate

Just like regular chocolate, store white chocolate at cool room temperature, so it does not bloom.

When chocolate blooms, the cocoa butter separates from the other ingredients and the chocolate gets white streaks. It is easier to see the white streaks on dark chocolate or milk chocolate, but white chocolate gets the streaks too.

Store white chocolate in an airtight container at cool room temperature (below 70° F at least, but ideally between 65° and 68° F). Do not store in the refrigerator. Chocolate stored in the refrigerator can get sugar bloom and it can pick up the odors from other foods.

Keep the chocolate away from light by storing it in a cupboard or pantry. The airtight container should protect it from other foods or spices nearby. The cocoa butter in the chocolate will pick up the smell of the foods around it.

If stored properly, white chocolate can last 6 months to a year.

Can White Chocolate Go Bad?

White chocolate can go bad, especially if not stored properly. It can pick up odors of foods surrounding it.

In addition, melted white chocolate can develop mold over time. Store items made with white chocolate in the fridge or freezer.

Does White Chocolate Have Caffeine?

White chocolate does not have caffeine because caffeine is contained in the cocoa solids of the cacao bean.

However, because the fat and cocoa solids are separated to make cocoa butter, there might be a trace of caffeine in white chocolate.

The Taste Showdown: Which Has the Best Taste?

What do candy melts taste like? Candy melts taste very sweet but have a filmy artificial flavor aftertaste. They usually are vanilla flavored, although they can come in other flavors. The candy has a soft snap when you bite into it. The texture is waxy and slightly crumbly before melting on your tongue.

What does white chocolate taste like? White chocolate is sweet but less sweet than candy melts. Often it is vanilla flavored with a hint of creamy butter aftertaste. White chocolate is softer than candy melts and has a softer snap. The texture is smooth and silky with a slow melt on your tongue.

Eating From a Bag: Candy Melts vs White Chocolate

When you open a bag of candy, are you tempted to sneak a few? Of course! So, straight from the bag … do candy melts or white chocolate taste better?

Easy. When it comes to taste, white chocolate gets the upper hand every time. Without question. There is no comparison.

The high cocoa butter content in white chocolate tastes much better than palm kernel oil in candy melts. Creamy, milky, and smooth. Candy melts cannot match the depth of flavor.

Because candy melts are made with vegetable oils, you will taste more of a filmy flavor on your tongue. Filmy plus sugary is not my idea of tasty candy.

You could eat candy melts from a bag, but I don’t recommend it.

Melting Showdown: Candy Melts vs White Chocolate

White chocolate melts smoother and quicker than Wilton candy melts. However, if you will use it as a coating or edible decoration, it must be tempered.

Candy melts can be more temperamental when melting. But, they do not need to be tempered as white chocolate does.

The secret to melting white chocolate and candy melts is to not overheat. Stop heating when about 80 to 85% of the chocolate or candy is melted. Then stir until the rest melts.

The best way to melt white chocolate and candy melts is in the microwave. However, you can also use a double boiler.

Microwave Method

Do not melt more than 12 ounces at a time.

To melt white chocolate, break it into pieces. Reserve ⅓ of the white chocolate for seeding. Do not reserve any candy melts.

  1. Place candy melts or the white chocolate pieces into a microwave-safe bowl.

  2. Heat at 50% power for 1 minute.

  3. Stir. If necessary, heat again at 50% power for 30-second intervals. (Only the candy melts should require added melting time.)

  4. When 80-85% is melted, stir continually until the rest melts.

Note for white chocolate: If melting white chocolate, add the remaining ⅓ and stir it into the melted chocolate until it all has melted and is smooth.

Double Boiler Method

The double boiler method slowly melts the chocolate candy bowl in a water bath. It is slower than the microwave but can get just as good results.

To melt white chocolate, break it into pieces. Reserve ⅓ of the white chocolate for seeding. Do not reserve any candy melts.

  1. Heat a pan with 1 inch of water until it is steaming. Place a heat-proof bowl on top of the pan. It should not touch the water.

  2. Add the white chocolate pieces or candy melts to the top bowl.

  3. Stir as they begin to melt.

  4. When 85 to 90% melted, remove from heat, and stir until it all melts.

Note for white chocolate: If melting white chocolate, add the remaining ⅓ and stir it into the melted chocolate until it all has melted and is smooth.

Coloring Candy Melts vs White Chocolate: Which Colors Best?

Candy melts and white chocolate can both be colored with oil-based food coloring.

It is more challenging to get a precise color with white chocolate. This is because white chocolate’s natural color is off-white or light yellow. You will get a different color when you mix a little food gel color with the yellowish-white chocolate than you would with a white candy melt.

Candy melts can be easier to color with regular gel colors, especially if you start with Wilton bright white candy melts. Bright white candy melts are just what the name says – bright white. They easily take any food coloring.

Candy melts also win the color showdown because they come in a wide array of colors. For example, Wilton candy melts have over 12 colors widely available, plus bright seasonal colors during the holidays.

With all the candy colors, you might find the color you need without having to color the candy melts at all.

However, if you want to color candy melts on your own, there are two ways.

Method 1. Candy Melt Color Combinations

Melt two or more colors of candy melts together to make a new color.

Remember learning about colors in kindergarten? Red and blue make purple. Yellow and blue make green. This is the same concept.

Easy Directions:

  1. Choose the color combination of candy melts. Melt them all in the microwave, according to the package instructions.

  2. Stir to blend the colors together.

Tips:

  • If you want to add more color to the melted candy melts, melt the new wafers separately. Then stir them into the other melted candy. Otherwise, you could scorch the wafers that are already melted.

  • If you want to lighten the color, add white.

  • If you want to darken the color, add more of the base color.

Method 2. Oil-Based Food Coloring

Color candy melts with oil-based food coloring.

Do not use water-based food coloring or the candy melts will seize and be ruined. Seized candy melts get lumpy, hard, and grainy. Heating the candy melts again just makes it worse.

Easy Directions:

  1. Melt the candy melts in the microwave, according to the package directions.

  2. Add one drop of oil-based food coloring at a time. Or use a toothpick to dip into the food coloring and then dip into the melted candy.

  3. Stir to incorporate the color.

  4. Add more food coloring, if necessary.

Can You Color White Chocolate or White Chocolate Chips?

You can color white chocolate or white chocolate chips with oil-based food coloring.

Usually when you add liquid to chocolate after it’s been tempered, it can seize up, and it won’t have the right consistency. However, chocolate will not seize with oil-based food coloring.

Keep in mind that white chocolate starts as an off-white, slightly cream color. When you add food coloring, you will be combining the color you choose with cream (not white).

Easy Directions:

  1. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave.

  2. Add one drop of oil-based food coloring at a time. Or use a toothpick to dip into the food coloring and then dip into the melted chocolate.

  3. Stir to incorporate the color.

  4. Add more food coloring, if necessary.

Adding Flavor to Candy Melts vs White Chocolate

It is easy to flavor both white chocolate and candy melts. After the candy melts or white chocolate are melted, add a drop or two of candy flavoring.

Do not add regular baking extracts, like vanilla extract. If you do, the extract will cause the chocolate or candy melts to seize. They will become lumpy and hard.

Candy flavoring is oil-based and will not cause seizing. Add the flavoring to the melted candy, at the same time you add color.

Edible Decoration Showdown: Candy Melts vs White Chocolate

There are many ways to use candy melts or white chocolate when decorating desserts.

  • Make edible decorations with modeling chocolate. Modeling chocolate is made with melted candy melts or white chocolate and corn syrup.
  • Use chocolate molds or candy molds to make chocolate lollipops or other decorations.
  • Coat foods or drizzle decorations on desserts, using a disposable decorating bag filled with the melted candy. Decorate chocolate-covered strawberries or cake balls.
  • Dip any food into melted candy or white chocolate. Pretzels, cookies, Oreos, cake pops, you name it. After dipping, place on wax paper to dry. Refrigerate to help it dry quicker.

So, candy melts vs white chocolate… which is best for decorating?

Candy melts win this showdown. They do not need to be tempered, making it them the easiest to use. Candy melts come in a variety of colors, expanding your options for decorating.

The only time to consider white chocolate instead of candy melts for decoration is if the taste is the focus. For example, a wedding cake drizzle. If you do use white chocolate to decorate, splurge and go for the couverture white chocolate.

How To Thin Candy Melts for Cake Pops

Candy melts are easier to use than white chocolate when coating cake pops. They do not need tempering and they harden over the cake pop within minutes.

However, sometimes the melted candy melts are too thick for good dipping. If so, add a small amount of shortening, coconut oil, or vegetable oil to thin them out before dipping.

Paramount crystals or Wilton candy melts EZ thin are two additional products that can thin melted candy melts to be ready for dipping.

The one thing that you don’t want to do is to add liquid to thin the candy melts. Liquid causes candy melts, and chocolate, to seize, which makes it completely unusable.

Try using a melting pot to keep the candy melts consistently thin. These pots can hold your melted candy coating at a constant temperature so that it won’t set before you’re ready to dip your cake pops. 

Best Candy Melts Brands

Wilton candy melts are the most popular brand and easiest to find, but there are other brands of candy melts that you might enjoy.

bag of candy melts
  • Wilton has long been known for its cake-making and decorating arts. Properly stored candy melts melt easily in the microwave or a double boiler. However, they are thick when melted and need an additive for successful dipping.
  • Ghirardelli melting wafers are also easy to find. They melt smoothly and have a thinner consistency than Wilton candy melts. They taste better too.

Best White Chocolate Brands

Find the best white chocolate brands for decorating online. These brands are couverture white chocolate. They are easy to decorate with and taste smooth, creamy, and delicious.

  • Valrhona white chocolate oval disks. Valrhona chocolate comes from a small village in France. It is superb artisan quality chocolate with complex, balanced, and consistent flavors.
  • Green & Black’s organic white chocolate bar. Green and Black’s chocolate is based on sustainable and ethical cocoa sourcing. You can feel comfortable with their moral company practices. And the distinctively smooth and rich chocolate will please your tastebuds.

FAQ

Can you use white chocolate chips as candy melts?

While you can use white chocolate chips as candy melts, you might not get the same result. Since white chocolate chips require tempering and candy melts do not, you’ll need to melt them differently for best results.

Can you use candy melts instead of white chocolate chips?

While you could use candy melts instead of white chocolate chips, they do not taste as good. Candy melts are better at decorating or coating your baked goods rather than being an ingredient inside your cake or cookie.

However, if you only have candy melts, you can chop them up and use them in your recipe. The recipe will not fail in appearance, but you will notice a difference in the taste.

What is the difference between candy melts and regular chocolate?

The main difference between candy melts and regular chocolate is the use of cocoa butter. Candy melts use palm kernel oil and other vegetable oils in place of cocoa butter. These oils eliminate the need to temper the candy melts.

Regular white chocolate has a creamy and smooth flavor, while candy melts have more of an artificial flavor.

Are candy melts and almond bark the same thing?

Candy melts and almond bark are essentially the same thing, a candy coating. Candy melts come in wafers and almond bark is found in a bar. However, almond bark can be easier to work with.

Both come in chocolate or vanilla flavors, are made with similar ingredients, and are used to coat, drizzle, and drip.

What is candy coating?

Candy coating is a generic term that encompasses all the chocolate-like products made with vegetable oil rather than cocoa butter. This category includes candy melts, almond bark, summer coating, or candy kote wafers. All can melt and coat other foods. 

The advantage of candy coating over white chocolate is that it melts smoothly almost every time, setting up at room temperature. 

Are candy melts the same as candy coating?

Candy melts are the same as candy coating. They have different names but are made with the same basic ingredients and are used for the same purpose. If you get a good quality brand, it will add flavor and texture to your creations.

Candy coating and candy melts both come in round wafer disks and are flavored and colored much the same way.

Conclusion

And there you have it. The candy melts vs white chocolate showdown. Though they are similar in taste and function, candy melts are the best choice for decorating. White chocolate is the best choice when taste is the focus. Though harder to work with and more expensive, white chocolate is worth the extra effort for special occasions.


Get Your Chocolate Education

Check out these resources about all types of chocolate. They include information on milk chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and white chocolate. You may also be interested in almond bark vs. white chocolate.

  • One of the best ways to improve chocolate baking is to learn how to measure chocolate chips correctly. It can be a little tricky.

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thelovebugbakeshop

Tuesday 17th of May 2022

So many questions answered! Thank you. I appreciate you!

Tami Mack @ The Tasty Tip

Tuesday 17th of May 2022

Glad I could help.