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I am having some issues with panning dark chocolate and would really appreciate some help please.

I am using Sicao 62% (I blend 70% and 53% as that is all that my supplier can supply me). I have no real issue when I do coffee beans but when I pan razz cherries, raspberry jellies or freeze dried strawberries it's a different matter.

I can do any of these with milk or white chocolate simply by leaving the pan to run and bringing the atmospheric temperature  up a bit towards the end of the panning process (to around 19 degrees C). This makes the chocolate plastic and it smooths beautifully so I can polish it.

But the dark gets hard and with products that "give" a bit, the chocolate tends to crack and/or the final shellac seal (Capol 425M) cracks and chips as the chocolate in the pan and the chocolate on the product are simply too hard. As I say, milk (36%) and white are no problem. Coffee beans, being hard themselves are OK too as the chocolate and seal does not need to flex. At least I THINK this is what is happening. (The strawberries are brittle so they can't "flex" either).

So, is there a way to make the dark chocolate more flexible and "plastic"? Or do I need a better technique? (Very possible!)

Forgot to mention that I am using the same stainless steel pan for both panning and polishing as it's all that I have. Many people have two pans but that's for another lifetime I think.

Thanks in advance if anyone can help!

Tags: chocolate, dark, hard, panning, plastic, polishing, shellac

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are you sure you pan is not overloaded?  Just a thought.


I don't think so Jeremy. I have loaded it up to 15Kg but it IS a thought in that some things are lighter than others.

With the freeze dried strawberries I had to reduce substantially. But these are heavier things - raspberry jellies, razzcherries etc.

I'll put this in mind. Am trying to do it now and I have ripped out so much hair that the room looks as though the dog has been fighting :-)

Thanks for your message :-)

I tried your thought Jeremy, and reduced the amount in the pan - re-did in two batches. I got a far better result.

So maybe over-filling is the problem. I was careful to stay within the 15Kg limit but maybe it needs to be 12Kg (or so) for this line.

Thanks for your insight!

Colin :-)

Can you tell me the temp and relative humidity of your environment?  Are you using ribs during polishing?

Thanks so much for your interest Paul. The RH is around 43% and the temp around 17-18 Celsius. I am not using ribs as I have one pan that has to both build and polish with. I line the pan with chocolate. I did manage to get a batch reasonably polished but as soon as I introduced the shellac it all went to pieces - from a reasonable polish to many milky dots. I don't believe it is water related as I am really careful about that.

The rep from Capol was here on Friday and is as perplexed as I am. I think I am going to have to trash a whole load of chocolate covered raspberry jellies - lots of money and lots of time. It's very worrying and I don't seem to be winning at all.

Hi Colin,

That's cool that the rep from Capol stopped by to have a look.  Dissapointing not to have an answer.  I was going to guess that the RH might be off. 43% seems pretty good. 

Are the dots kiss marks or does it look like something migrating from the under layer? 

Hi Paul,

If I rub the product it polishes up reasonably. It SEEMS that the dark chocolate is so hard that there is pretty much no flexibility and as such the shellac powders but does not really create "stars" or kiss marks.

It's seemingly not coming up from below - that could have indicated water seeping through and interacting with the shellac but I don't think so. Have looked at this.

I don't have the problem to the same degree with choclate covered coffee beans but then they are much smaller and don't hit the side of the pan with the same velocity. The Capol rep experimented with speeding up the pan substantially (I run it at around 20rpm - he took it to about 40rpm) but the product started to break up and then the debris went through the batch making it worse. So he put more gum arabic on and we started again.

I THINK that part of the issue now may be that I already did a batch so there is a thin coating shellac in the pan and when the product hits that shellac coating the two surfaces together fracture.

I just feel that it's to do with the hardness and bittleness of the dark chocolate and then the shellac being harder again (isn't it??) exacerbating the problem until it simply won't work.

That said, I cannot believe that I am unique in the world with this silly problem!

Thanks again Paul


Hi Colin,

I like your theory that there is a thin coat of shellac in the pan.  The two surfaces collide.  I've always panned with dark chocolate then reset and used ribs for polishing and shellac.  It never occurred to me to shellac back to back.  The weight and velocity impact with residual shellac theory feels right. 

I'm not the best at polishing.  Mostly due to limits in RH and environmental temp.  I get breaking from over polishing a rather heavy center.  I have not used a shellac powder. 

What percent is the dark chocolate? 



Hi Paul,

I have just posted that I think that part of the problem may be over filling too. I very much apprecviate your confirmation of the shellac back-to-back possibility too. I changed both of those variables (filling & shellac residue) and have a far improved result.

I don't use a shellac powder - I use a liquid (Capol 425M). I didn't know there was a powder and I'll keep that in mind. If you don't use shellac how do you seal the surfaces?

The chocolate is 62%. I use Sicao (sometime Barry Callebaut) 70% and also 55% and combine them to get it "just right" for the balance for coffee beans, which is what I mostly do. For simplicity I tend to stay with the same mix for all dark chcolare work. I had wondered if the mixture was a problem too but for now it remains a "possibility" to ponder next time.

You mention your environment. I have been over your various pictures and saved them for inspiration as I need to re-do my room. You have a very similar set-up to me as far as I can see but your wall surfaces and some of your equipment is better. Your pan seems about the same as mine - a bit smaller I think. You look really well organized! You have two pans?

In one of the pics you have two pipes leading into your pan - one will be cold air. What is the other one please (the flexible pipe).

Thanks again!



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