Make your bakes pretty: how to colour white chocolate

Are you looking to learn a new cake decorating skill? Find out how to colour white chocolate with our handy guide and video tutorial!

Coloured chocolate decorations are so on trend at the moment (have you seen rainbow unicorn chocolate bark??!!). We’re totally obsessed with these gorgeous chocolate creations and we just HAD to share the techniques with you! 

Knowing how to colour white chocolate is a fabulous skill that can help you become a master of gorgeous and unique handmade creations! Be it for birthdays, Christmas, weddings and more, you’ll wonder why you never learned how to colour white chocolate before today!

How to colour white chocolate

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White chocolate chunks

Ensure your hands are clean and dry and break down your chocolate, if not using chocolate chips or buttons, into small pieces of roughly equal size.

If you’re planning on setting your melted, coloured chocolate in a mould, make sure the mould is both completely clean and completely dry. While you will be turning your chocolate from a solid to a liquid, chocolate ironically doesn’t actually like moisture at all. Melted chocolate that has been in contact with water, even just a small droplet of moisture, will end up losing some of its beautiful shine. Water residue will leave dull watermarks on your chocolate, so keep everything nice and dry to get the perfect shiny chocolate!

Melting chocolate

Melting white chocolate

There are two main ways you can melt chocolate: the bain marie method and the microwave method. This is a very controversial topic and we’re not going to tell you which method you should use. So, we’ll give you both methods and you can decide which works best for you. 

The bain marie method

Boiling water

If you’re lucky enough to have a double boiler pan, put a small amount of water in it and bring it to a simmer. If not, a heatproof mixing bowl and a large saucepan that will hold the bowl aloft will do just fine. Heat a small amount of water in the uncovered pan (around 1-3 inches is all you’ll need) until it starts to gently boil. Before placing your chocolate into a heatproof bowl, make sure the bowl is completely dry. 

Top Tip! We recommend using silicone utensils to stir your chocolate once it’s melting, rather than wooden ones, as wood can retain moisture. 

Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl and place this into your pan of boiling water. It is essential that the boiling water does not touch the bowl. 

Simply stir gently until all of the chocolate has melted. If you're melting a large batch of chocolate (we’re talking several kilos here) then a thermometer is very handy to ensure your chocolate melts evenly. You will want the chocolate kept between 37–43ºC while melting.

The microwave method


Heat the chocolate in the microwave in small time bursts of no more than 30 seconds on half power. 

Mix the chocolate well between each session in the microwave, even if it looks like not much melting is going on. This keeps the temperature of the chocolate even throughout the process. As soon as the chocolate starts visibly melting, reduce the sessions in the microwave to 20 seconds, then 10 seconds at a time. 

Stop using the microwave to heat the chocolate once almost all of it has melted. Remaining lumps will melt as you stir them in and keeps your chocolate from drying out from too much heat in the microwave, leaving you with a perfectly shiny finish.

Colouring chocolate

Coloured white chocolate

There are three main methods when it comes to colouring white chocolate. It’s very important to note that you should never use gel food colours to colour chocolate. Once again, it’s because of chocolate’s aversion to moisture. If you add a water-based food colouring gel to melted chocolate, it simply won’t mix will. Instead, you’ll get these awful little dots of colouring through your chocolate that will be dull and unappealing. Stick to one of these methods instead:

Powdered dye

Powdered dye

These clever little bags of cocoa butter powder are available from good cake decorating shops. These can come in a gorgeous variety of colours and are best added early on in the melting stage. As soon as your chocolate starts to melt, pop in your coloured cocoa butter and watch it change before your eyes!

Oil-based dye

Oil dye

This is best added after the chocolate has melted. It’s important that you warm the dye before use though! Add the warmed dye in very small amounts, to control the level of colour within your chocolate and prevent any changes in the structure of the chocolate. It can seize (turn grainy and gritty) if the dye is added too quickly. If this happens, don’t panic! Stir in a small amount of a neutral-flavoured oil. Just be aware that this can affect the flavour of your chocolate.

Setting chocolate

Chocolate mould

Once you’ve finished melting and colouring the chocolate and are casting it in a mould or leaving it to set as a sheet, do not go straight for the fridge. We’ve all seen it done on The Great British Bake Off, where the contestants will put pretty much anything straight into the fridge (or even the freezer!) to cool them down quickly. When it comes to melting chocolate for colouring, moving it immediately from hot to cold is a very bad idea. Allow the chocolate to cool and set BEFORE putting it in the freezer. 

If you're making flat chocolate decorations, make sure you place something on top of the chocolate (such as a baking tray) as it cools. Chocolate contracts as it cools down, which can cause it to curve up and ruin the delicate shapes you are creating. 

Keeping chocolate

Artisan chocolate

Once your chocolate is in the fridge, it’s worth noting that chocolate is notorious for taking on strong smells. Don’t leave it near, say, chopped onion or a peeled garlic bulb, or you’ll end up with some pretty funky tasting chocolate! If you don’t want to be remembered for your beautifully decorated chocolate-onion shards gift, make sure you wrap your chocolate very well with cling film and keep it as far away from strong-smelling items as possible. 

Last updated one year ago

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