How to Make Chocolate Bars

When I took pastry courses a number of years ago here in France and in Belgium, I tended to want to focus on the chocolate classes because – well…gosh darn it, I love it so much. We’ve become the best of friends over the years and I am never far from my bin of chocolate that I buy in bulk. (Although at some point, someone is going to have to do an intervention.) But I like cooking and creating with chocolate just as much as I do eating it and homemade chocolate bars are simple and wonderful gifts. And if entertaining at home, it nice to bring out a homemade tablet that you’ve made yourself to serve with after-dinner coffee or glasses of Armagnac or Cognac.

professional chocolate molds

The good thing is that you don’t need fancy – or expensive – chocolate molds to make chocolate bars at home. I have a stack of polycarbonate ones from my professional days of yore. But anything made of plastic will do. Since I can’t bring myself to throw away anything that might be reused, I pulled out a stack of cream cheese containers that are neat little rectangles and I used those this time around.

cream cheese containers

Ideally, the chocolate you use should be tempered. It’s a little bit of extra time, but it’s basically just three steps: Melt the chocolate to a certain temperature, let it cool, then bring it back up to a rather precise temperature. You can read more at my post, How to Temper Chocolate, or get a more complete explanation in The Great Book of Chocolate. But in brief, tempering keeps chocolate from “blooming” or getting white streaks when cool.

candied orange peel chocolate bar set-up

Tempering also makes the chocolate cool faster and raises the melting temperature of the solidified chocolate, which is why you can pick up a chocolate bar or a filled chocolate with your hands and it doesn’t melt right away, when you touch it.

The good news, and a well-guarded secret to some, is that chocolate doesn’t have to be tempered for candymaking. However the caveat is that you must keep the chocolate refrigerated until shortly before ready to eat. So you can make chocolate bars with your favorite melted chocolate, and keep them in the refrigerator without a problem. (Ideally, chocolate should not be refrigerated for a long time as the humidity in the refrigerator will ruin it. Lingering odors from other food items in there can also have an adverse effect on the flavor of the chocolate. But for a few days, it’s generally not a problem.)

chocolate bar ingredients

The great thing about homemade chocolate bars is that you can add anything you want to them; toasted nuts, glazed orange peel, cocoa nibs, candied peanuts, flakes of sea salt or a bit of spice, pumpkin seeds, pretzels, dried apricots, cherries, or figs – even shards of caramels, thin mints or other broken up candy, or candy bars. Basically, if you can ask if it can be used…it can be!

I would advise against using fresh fruits or berries as they will likely become damp unless eaten shortly after they’re used. If you want to flavor the chocolate, you can add a few drops of peppermint, citrus, or another pure oil (you can’t use anything with water or alcohol in it, such as extracts, as they will make the chocolate seize and become unusable), stirring it in right before you pour or spoon the melted chocolate into the molds.

how to make chocolate bars

Chocolate Bars

You can use anything as a mold if it’s made of plastic. Metal molds will work, but you will need to temper the chocolate, which shrinks the chocolate slightly when cooled so the bars will slip out of the metal molds.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much chocolate you’ll need. But as an example, for the 4 bars I made, I used about 8 ounces (230g). But the good news is that you can just melt what you think you might need, then any leftover chocolate can be poured on a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap and left to cool to be reused for another baking project.

1. Melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. If you want to temper the chocolate (see above.) While the chocolate is melting, gather and prepare any ingredients you want to put on the bars.

2. Once the chocolate is melted, (and tempered, if tempering the chocolate), remove the bowl from the pan and wipe the moisture off the bottom of the bowl.

3. Pour or spoon a layer of chocolate into your molds. Rap them on the counter a few times to distribute the chocolate evenly and release any air bubbles, then working quickly, top with any kinds of nuts, dried fruits, or other ingredients that you wish and press them in slightly.

(You can also stir ingredients into the chocolate, such as toasted nuts, seeds, crisped rice cereal, snipped marshmallows, or other ingredients, then pour the mixture into the molds.)

4. Immediately put the bars in the refrigerator until firm. If tempered chocolate is used, it shouldn’t take more than five minutes for them to firm up. Otherwise the chocolate will take longer.

Tempered bars can be stored at room temperature for up to one month; if using regular melted chocolate, store the bars the refrigerator until ready to eat.


Related Posts and Recipes

Chocolate FAQs

Chocolate-Covered Salted Peanut Caramel Cups

How to Temper Chocolate

Candied Peanuts

Salted Butter Caramels

88 comments

  • Wow! Looks delicious!

  • Any percentage of cocoa is fine in the bar we’re using?

  • na: I recommend that if tempering, people use a dark chocolate that is in the 55-70% range. Higher percentage chocolates (or bean-to-bar chocolates) can be higher in acid and behave differently. If simply melting the chocolate and using it untempered, any chocolate should work just fine – including milk or white chocolate.

  • This looks like so much fun and I’m wondering why it never occurred to me that I could make my own chocolate bars!! Now I’ll be on the lookout for little molds — what a great party favor…

  • oh my goodness, this looks so much better than the shop-bought ones! frankly, i’m over the artificial, overly-sugary chocolate bars that fill the aisles. these look so… sophisticated!

  • These photos are as mouthwatering as ever, and what a great idea! People always reccomend giving this sort of thing as gifts, but I think they’d be too hard to let go!

  • Hello David!
    I’m starting my week with you, and, what a beautiful surprise, there is a new post!
    How elegant these are made in a rectangular form! Don’t they call them ‘mendiants’ in your lovely Paris…?
    Many greetings from Vienna and thanks for sharing your ideas! Anina

  • Wowza, these look fantastic! I made some bars a few years ago to give as gifts and lo and behold, not one of them made it out of my kitchen. I ate them all. Guess it was the only child in me…Might have to give your recipe a go and this time, I promise (fingers crossed) they will make it to friends.
    Have a great day!

  • Hi David,
    I have the exact same molds ;-) Now I know what I’m going to do after work tonight.
    In a comment above you recommend 55-70% cocoa content when tempering. I have on occasion used 100% chocolate from Pralus for example and it didn’t turn out. Got all streaked with white (cocoa butter?). Same thing has happened with other bars here and there. Do you know what causes the white streaks? The bars still taste fine, but are crumbly.
    Thanks!

    • 100% cacao isn’t considered chocolate – it’s usually called chocolate liquor, even through it contains not liquor. In France, they just call it pâte de cacao (cocoa bean paste). The composition of it is completely different than bittersweet chocolate, which contains additional cocoa butter and sugar. They’ll be crumbly because the chocolate is drier without the additional fat & sugar. It’s usually used in baking, not for eating (although I like it!)

      (If you like the eat 100%, Michel Cluizel makes a lovely little bar, Noir Infiniti, that’s 99% and has a touch of sugar, and some other subtle flavors add it, although it’s hard to get outside of France.)

  • Oh, what a fine way to start the week! Looks so delicious, I wished I could grab a bar off the screen. ;-)

    “I can’t bring myself to throw away anything that might be reused,”
    Thank you for sharing this, I feel like a kindred spirit and not so alone anymore! ;-)

  • A little trick I learned in a chocolate class is that instead of tempering, you can add a tiny bit of vegetable oil to the chocolate before melting it (a teaspoon or so for 8 oz). It helps give the chocolate the characteristics of tempered chocolate without the actual process, though it doesn’t last as long as actual tempered chocolate.

    • Yes, sometimes you can add vegetable shortening or a some people work with a product called Paramount crystals (to name one) that helps stabilizes the fat so you don’t necessarily need to temper. There are also things called “summer coatings” or “coatings” which are similar to chocolate (and they contain chocolate, and some are colored and used for decoration), and are designed so you don’t need to temper them after you melt them down. The problem is that most of those things don’t taste very good, so I prefer not to use them. But they are interesting to know about.

  • Another great post David! So after all these years what is your favorite post you’ve done — the one you’re most proud of?

  • Prunes would be delicious in the chocolate, I made a rockyroad with candied orange peel, prunes and caramel almonds (with marshmallows, too, obviously) and it was divine

  • What a great blog. Thanks for the info!

  • Thanks for your reply, David.
    I have tried Cluizel’s Noir Infini, but prefer Domori’s IL100% or IL100% Criollo. Pralus’ 100% is also sold for eating as is. I’ll stick to 70% when tempering for now, even though I have had trouble with some brands (Idilio for example).
    Take it easy and all the best.
    Adrian

  • So easy to make at home—no idea why I’ve never thought to do this!

    And can I say, it is immensely endearing to imagine you with a stash of cream cheese “molds” in your kitchen ;).

    J.

  • Hi David,
    Do you have a recipe (either in a book or a link somewhere) for making your own chocolate from scratch? I’ve experimented with various combinations using cacao butter, cacao paste, coconut oil, different types of sweetener, cocoa powder (dark, regular, “raw”)… I like them all, but always am up for something new.

    PS. Figs in chocolate… my FAVOURITE! Great call!

  • David:

    I have been making chocolates in your manner for some years and have always found it hard to keep the chocolate at 91 degrees after bringing it to the prescribed temperature in the 80s: lots of rushing to use it at exactly the right temperature. I recently got a sous vide and used that: I poured the chocolate into Ziploc bags, popped them into a 91 degree bath, where they gradually came to temperature. Then, when I was ready, I cut a corner at the bottom of the bag and piped the chocolate. Perfect! Here is a post on my blog about this:

    http://www.bobbyjayonfood.com/2013/01/homemade-chocolates-and-sous-vide.html

  • Lisa: I’ve worked (and played) a bit in a few chocolate factories, but have not made chocolate at home. You can buy cocoa nibs and grind them in a spice grinder but for more information, the site Chocolate Alchemy is a good source for people who want to venture into the world of making chocolate on a small scale, or at home.

    Sissy: Thanks! I don’t have a favorite but do have a category of some of my favorites listed in the right sidebar under “David’s Favorite Posts” where I keep ‘em.

    Robert: That’s a great technique (provided you have a sous-vide machine) but it’s a spot-on idea. Some folks recommend keeping tempered chocolate on a hot water bottle to keep it the right temperature for dipping, although it doesn’t bring it up to the right temperature like our technique does. My only concern is about getting water in contact with the chocolate. You must have to clean the bag very (very!) thoroughly. I used to have a Revolation home chocolate tempering machine, which worked well, although they’re kind of pricey. (I’d met the inventor, and I was fortunate that he gave me one to try.)

    Jonathan: Prunes and chocolate is a great combination. Down in Gascony, they sell the local dried prunes dipped in pure chcolate = heaven.

  • The latest version of Peter Greweling’s “Chocolates & Confections” has a section on “American-style layered candy bars,” according to Amazon.

  • What timing! There are chocolate related items on zulily.com today, and some of your books in the mix!

  • It is closing on 1 am here in Japan but now I am craving dark chocolate with some dried fruit. Not my typical flavor profile, but I can taste it from your photos. Damn you!! Got all the stuff but not willing to do it before I go to bed. Compromise….bite of chocolate/bite of dried fruit. Works for me in the interim.

  • Brilliant!!!

  • I’m finally weaning myself from a two month addiction to your spicy candied peanuts and now you’re suggesting I make more and put them in chocolate bars?! Absolutely brilliant!

  • When I was a little girl, my uncle had a contract with a large chocolate & candy manufacturer and took me on an “all access” tour of the factory that included looking in on the chocolate tempering process and being handed fresh-off-the-line pieces of all sorts of amazing confections, most of which I took a tiny nibble of and tried to hold on to for later savoring. My mother did not appreciate the melty “prize” she found in my windbreaker that evening. I’ve been chasing the taste/smell memory with my own chocolate ever since… sans the whole chocolatey-pocket thing. Thanks something I can add to my collection!

  • My favorite thing to pair with melted chocolate is a stir-in of toasted coconut. So simple, so wonderful!

  • Your chocolates look amazing David. The idea of making your own chocolate really is an appealing one. I am going to have to start working towards making this a reality.

  • I’m not sure if my chocolate bars will last as long as a month, haha! Thanks for the tips!

  • Gorgeous. Your photos are beautiful (as usual) and they make me almost feel like I can taste them! Almost!

  • Yummy!!

    I just started molding chocolate myself recently and I was amazed at how something so easy to accomplish could sollicite such a “WOW” from others. Your idea of adding nuts and dried fruit is a keeper!
    Have you also tried to add cookie pieces, like Petit Beurre for example ?

    I was happy to find your blog, as I am also an American, formally in Paris, but now in Champagne, and lover of all that is edible therapy :-)

    Best from the Land of the Bubbly!

  • I think the intervention needs to be for saving plastic cream cheese containers. The bars look great.

  • Ai yai yai… 1.30am in Singapore and I’ve just seen this post. Wonder what chocolate I have in my wine fridge? Please put up a warning at the top of a similar post next time, something along the lines of “Beware, will cause intense cravings” ! ;-)

  • I’m still on dessert sabbatical & I’m not a chocolate lover but this looks amazing. Anyone have great ideas for wrapping these bars for gifting? I’m totally doing these to ship to recipients next holiday season & I want to give them a try before that.

  • I have a ton of nuts from other baking projects that just are begging for this treatment.

    If you want to fill or layer them is there anything you’d recommend?

  • Love that first photo. Looks so delicious.

  • David, I made batches as Christmas gifts using the silicon moulds that are now available so cheaply (our local Gifi and Kandy often have them). My ‘bars’ were individual, about 15mm x 30mm, and I used chopped nuts, glacé and dried fruit and peel, and a few flicks of edible gold leaf. They looked very elegant and I’ll definitely do them again.

  • Hi David,

    If you are using tempered chocolate, do you need to put it in the fridge at all to set or can you just leave it at room temperature until it sets? Thank you!

  • Gorgeous bars. Perfect for after-holiday snacking! My sweet hub (not a big cook) sometimes make me chocolate bars for Valentine’s Day. They are chocolate, grated tangerine rind, dried cherries and almonds–nothing else: LOVEBARS!

  • David, the candied orange peel in one of your photos peaked my interest. Did you make it yourself? I usually cut the peel into strips before I process it. Sometimes it comes out rather soggy. Any advice?

  • Gorgeous, I love the dried fig addition!

  • Your cream cheese containers reminded me of a question I wanted to ask you.
    I too live in a country where you often find 200g packages of cream cheese, butter, etc. I’m wondering if you care about adding the 27g to make 8 oz when making American recipes. Or do you convert and adapt all your recipes to match the container size of different basic ingredients you can buy in France?

  • Bobbie: When candying large pieces of citrus, you might want to give my glazed fruit recipe a try. I often do it with citron, but it would work with oranges.

    Alyce: Since I schlep dried cherries over to France from the states, anyone who gets them I certainly must love – those things are precious! : )

    Monica: You can put it in a cool place, preferably with a draft, for best results if you don’t have a refrigerator. The chocolate needs to be cooled relatively quickly, so keep that in mind when tempering.

    Don: I can’t bear to throw any plastic containers away and luckily I have a small stack of these. They worked perfectly!

  • Love the figs in there… and the general scattering of goodness all over those bars. Valentine’s Day is on its way :)

  • Inspiring as always! Can’t wait to make these chocolate bars. David, sorry if this question has already been asked, but do you have some favorite brands of chocolate that you like to use for recipes like this?

    • Hi Debbie: I generally avoid telling people to use certain brands because chocolate is so variable, like wine or other things, that what one person might like, another might not. And folks have various budgets and things aren’t necessarily available globally (like some of the Spanish or American bean-to-bar chocolates, for example.) So I recommend finding a chocolate that you like, and try to buy it in bulk, as it’s more economical to use.

      I also like to have 2 chocolates I keep in stock; one for baking that is of regular quality (since you’re going to mix a bunch of ingredients with it, it doesn’t need to be the best-quality you can possible imagine), and another for eating, where I’ll spend more. I do switch around and have a variety of chocolates around, just because I like to taste and play around with various brands. And because that’s part of my job description : )

  • Yum! Looks amazing!

  • Cute idea! I love it! I’d love to try that with prunes in the bar and a glass of armangac on the side… delicious!

  • well… I have a 1kg bar of Valhrona in my fridge for over an year now. I can’t get myself to cook with it ’cause it’s so good raw. I just chop a bit of it every now and then… like, for example, right now
    oh, the flavor doesn’t suffer. just make sure it is tightly wrapped

  • David,
    Are you ok with using Swiss grocery store branded dark chocolate bars (55-60%) such as Migros or COOP for baking or chocolate bar making? It seemed good enough for chocolate pudding but was wondering about your opinion before I try making these bars. Thanks for an inspiring post. I’d like to make my own version of Nestle crunch bars with dark chocolate and less sugar.

  • I love your idea of using cream cheese pots. Great tip! Thank you.

  • Thanks for giving me inspiration for Valentine’s Day and Christmas! I love how you break down recipes to make them much less intimidating!

  • They look super delicious :)

  • Delicious stuff! If I want to learn to temper chocolate can I use ordinary chocolate with low cocoa solids. I don’t want to wate an expensive bar learning to temper. I can see myself failing a it at first…..! Thanks in advance.

  • Ok, just melt it, add lots of nuts and put it in the fridge. Perfection made easy.

  • I’ve been scooping up bars like this on my trips to the US – it never occurred to me I could make them myself! Thanks!

  • Umm…what?!? Chocolate bars?? YAY! These look delicious and yes it may be quite simple in concept but the thought of making my own chocolate bars never even crossed my mind! I have a couple ideas…

  • I’ve tempered chocolate, but stayed away from bars and other molded chocolates because I thought I did need those fancy molds. Now I’ll see what else I have that might work–like ice cube trays…?

    P.S. If you’ve tempered some chocolate and are trying to figure out how to keep it in temper while you’re working with it, try putting the bowl on a heating pad. There’s no danger of water getting in or of it getting overheated on a stove that way.

  • These look great David. Buying chocolate in bulk is just too tempting for me :)

  • Hi David! If I temper my chocolate, is it best to put it in the fridge for the five minutes or to leave it out at room temperature? Thanks, and love your blog!

    Check here for an answer. -dl

  • Ghiradelli now makes a candy making and dipping bar that while might not be your favorite chocolate, is pretty darn good for chocolate that doesn’t need tempering. We used it for candy that needed to travel well during the holidays and were pleased with the results: Ghirardelli Chocolate Candy Making & Dipping Bar

  • Hey David,
    Another great post!
    Just like to say I’ve been reading your blog for the last couple of years.just bought one of your books to help keep the blog going.
    My wife is french and thinks your observations of the french are hilarious!
    The reasons I’ve been given for trimming green beans only YOU will believe!

  • Do you know anywhere in paris that sells Amedei chocolate? I have tried Da Rosa, but they no longer stock it.

    • I’m not 100% sure but you might want to try Via Chocolat – they have a changing array of chocolates from elsewhere. They’re listed in my Paris Pastry App or you can get their contact info and address via an online search. Good luck!

      • I have your Paris Pastry App, and its great. Sadly after trying all the possible places listed, I did not manage to find Amedei chocolate in Paris. Mail order is now the only way to buy it in Paris, it’s a shame really.

        • It’s true that Amedei, and other Italian small-batch chocolates (like Domori, Slitti) – and other terrific chocolates aren’t available in France. Da Rosa used to carry Amedei but stopped. I think people just aren’t in the habit of buying chocolate from other countries; most of the chocolate tablets sold in Paris are French or Swiss.

          • Da Rosa don’t seem to sell chocolates anymore, they did not even have butter when I went in, just hams and cheeses.

            Via Roma now only sell their own brands of chocolate.

            Chocolatittude stock mainly French brands.

            I think French chocolate is generally pretty good really. I am not a fan of swiss chocolate (at least the ones they sell in Paris), although some people in Paris must like it. I ended up ordering Amedei online. It was nice to try, but the postage cost made it basically double the price.

            As for other hard to find Italian brands, I think it’s best I don’t think about them at the moment. It’s probably best I just go to Italy and try them.

  • It looks absolutely delicious. I have to try with some Pralus’ Mélissa, it can only be delightful I guess.

  • I’ve tried to make some mendiants for Xmas… Impossible ! DOn’t know why, the chocolate (good one) didn’t melt well…etc … A catastrophe.
    I keep your recipe, maybe one day, I’ll try yours.

  • This does not directly relate to this post, except the opening part, but I just had to send a link to a wonderful remix video of Julia Child, in case you or your readers haven’t seen it. “Bring on the roasted potatoes!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80ZrUI7RNfI

  • David, I make salted cashew chocolate clusters and dried cherry chocolate clusters (yes I temper the chocolate, but I cheat with a small chocolate tempering machine I purchased about 10 years ago), and they are always the biggest hit of all the candy I make. I was never a huge fan of cashews, but in chocolate they are sublime. I just use a can of inexpensive salted cashew pieces. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.

  • So much better than the Merkur – now Läderach Chocolatier Suisse, where yes the chocolates are delicious, but the nice lady behind the counter keeps piling your bag full until you have spent CHF 50 for what I could eat in 1 sitting… The blackberry and dark chocolate is divine.

    David, I am sorry to post on a different subject, but I think the comment period for the Lausanne blogs is over:

    I am looking for your recommendation for the best patisserie and /or pastry chef in Geneve. Let me know if you have any favorites.

    Thank you!

  • As always David, lovely!
    ~Caroline

  • These look delicious! I just finished reading your book, “The Sweet Life in Paris”, and I was trying to give these a silly Parisian chocolatier name the entire time I was reading.

  • Using cream cheese containers for chocolate bar molds is brilliant! Great post.

  • Hi david! I love reading your blog :)
    I was wondering..I see some slight ‘swirls’ in the finished chocolate bars . when i was doing some tempering practice, i had some bits of chocolate that showed the same swirls…..is that due to not enough stirring/agitating during the heating-back-up process?

  • These look wonderful! from my last experiment I see that I will need to temper the chocolate Im using. But here is what Im trying to do. I am wanting to make a sugar free chocolate bar with liquid Stevia. I have been using the Bakers chocolate and adding a few drops in. Its still not very sweet at all. How much can I add?

  • lovely with white chocolate too- not dissimilar to mr slater’s http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sea_salt_chocolate_snaps_81237

  • Dear David,
    Will it work out if I use my silicone mini muffin moulds? Thanks a lot, wonderfu, idea!

  • Well, it works perfectly then – I prefer matt to shiny : ) Thank you very much, you are so kind!

  • Claire and David:

    I use tempered chocolate and silicon chocolate molds and other silicon molds and find that it is perfectly glossy, not matte. See the photo on my recent blog post: http://www.bobbyjayonfood.com/2013/01/homemade-chocolates-and-sous-vide.html

  • Robert and Claire: Yes, silicone mats, such as these) – if the interiors are shiny and smooth, the chocolate finish will be shiny and smooth. Just check the finish as some are different – I have some for baking that are a little textured inside. Happy dipping and molding! : )

  • These look great! Thanks for posting, especially the photos!

  • brilliant idea to use those square containers as molds.
    and it makes me think how I wish the USA would have a 1/4 of the variety of yogurts as paris or any other european country.

  • Great. Now I’m obsessed with the idea that I need to start making my own chocolate bars. As if I didn’t have enough problems with chocolate consumption…Now this! :

    Thanks for the recipe :)