If you have ever tried making the perfect chocolate decorations or tried coating a confectionary in a thin and even layer of melted chocolate, you know how difficult and frustrating this can be!
Luckily, paramount crystals are now readily available to aid you in your chocolate-making ventures! Let’s start with exactly what these crystals are.
They are a type of flat palm kernel fat shavings enriched with citric acid and soy lecithin. And to put it simply, they function like cocoa butter does—by thinning chocolate and making it easier to work with.
So, how do you use these crystals correctly? First, start by melting your chocolate. Then, add a tiny bit of paramount crystals to the melted (and still warm) chocolate so that it melts it. Give the chocolate a gentle stir and you will immediately see that it starts thinning it.
Today, we are going all science-mode and diving deep into what exactly paramount crystals are and how they work.
We will also compare them with some of their more commonly known alternatives, and explain in which situations they work best.
Then, finally, we will have a look at exactly how and where to use them, and ultimately, the effect they have on your final product.
What Are Paramount Crystals?
Have you ever heard of tempered chocolate?
If not, the briefest explanation is basically that you are heating and cooling the chocolate to help make it stable and give confections a smooth thin finish with a delicious “snap” when you bite into it.
The biggest disadvantage of tempering chocolate, however, is that it is very difficult to do because you are working with extremely specific temperatures.
And, even if you do get it right, if you wait too long the chocolate cools down and becomes thick again. This thickness is what gives the coating a lumpy appearance.
This is where paramount crystals come in. It performs 2 main functions:
- It helps thin chocolate
- It gives confections and candies a glossy finish and hard crack
Paramount crystals are partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil that has been combined with soy lecithin and citric acid.
Despite the name, they aren’t actually crystals at all (but they do slightly resemble sugar crystals). They are more like flat and thin flakes of fat.
The soy lecithin acts as an emulsifier or lubricant in food. It also works as an antioxidant and helps protect the flavor of the item.
The citric acid on the other hand helps preserve the paramount crystals, extending its otherwise fragile shelf life.
Functions Of Paramount Crystals
So, as we mentioned before, paramount crystals have two main functions.
The first and main function people use it for is to help them get a nice and thin consistency.
Now, you may be thinking “Why don’t you just reheat the chocolate to melt it again?” Well, the simple answer is that you could; however, there are a lot of problems that usually come with this.
The first is that you could potentially overheat your chocolate, causing it to seize (become grainy and lumpy).
The second is that you finally get it to the perfect consistency, only for it to thicken too much before you have even coated half of your products.
Using paramount crystals to help you thin down your chocolate (and keep it thin for a longer period of time) will allow you to beautifully coat the items with a thin layer of melted chocolate without having to rush at all.
It also makes the entire process much easier!
The second function that paramount crystals perform is giving confectionary a classic chocolate-look.
By this we mean exactly what we described above—a beautiful shiny or glossy finish to the chocolate, a perfectly smooth consistency, and a hard crack (or “snap”) finish when you break it.
This gives your products a quality finish and a professional look.
As a whole, these crystals make enrobing items and coating them an absolute breeze, and taking the pressure off tempering the chocolate.
Paramount Crystals Alternatives
Yes, we know. You have probably never even heard of this item before, so what did they use before it? Well, traditionally cocoa butter or shortening was used to help thin chocolate, but there are a few pros and cons to these.
Let’s have a look at cocoa butter first. Cocoa butter is a pale yellowish fat that has been extracted from the cocoa bean (the chocolate bean).
It is commonly used to make chocolate or aid in certain decorating techniques. In this case, making beautiful coatings.
Cocoa butter definitely helps make the chocolate smooth and keeps it fluid to it can create thin even coatings on other items.
Cocoa butter, like paramount crystals, remains hard at room temperature and will help give your products a hard finish.
The biggest downfall to cocoa butter is arguably its price. This is a very expensive product that should never be used with cheap or fake chocolate.
Only if you are using real chocolate (like dark chocolate without any sugar or additives) should you use cocoa butter.
When it comes to shortening, it is another very affordable option, however, it remains soft when it is cold. This means that you could end up with a potentially sticky end product that will also not have a nice crack to it.
A lot of shortening products also tend to add a slight flavor to the chocolate which not everybody is a fan of. Paramount crystals on the other hand are virtually flavorless!
This is arguably the cheapest alternative to paramount crystals, but along with it comes a few disadvantages. The two biggest being the flavor it will add to your melted chocolate, and that it is liquid at room temperature.
What this comes down to is that your end product will be very soft and won’t give your product a nice hard crack. You will also see that it becomes almost instantly sticky when you touch it. That’s a little gross, right?
|Form at room temperature
|Effect on the final texture
|Crack (snap) Makes it hard
|Crack (snap) Makes it hard
|No crack Soft coating
|No crack Soft coating Sticky
|Effect on the final flavor
|No effect on flavor
|A slight effect on flavor
How To Use Paramount Crystals
Paramount crystals are extremely easy to use – in our opinion, easier compared to any other alternative!
First, you have to melt your chocolate. Be careful not to overheat and seize the chocolate, but you should also not allow it to cool too much. Your chocolate should be very runny and easily drip off of the spoon.
Only then should you add the paramount crystals. We would recommend about one teaspoon of paramount crystals for every 2 cups of melted chocolate.
But, especially when working in larger batches, only add a small amount at a time until you have reached the correct thin consistency.
You can always thin the chocolate some more (at a slow pace) than if you have to make it thicker because you have added too much.
To add the paramount crystals to your melted chocolate, simply sprinkle them over the top and gently mix them in. They will slowly start to change the consistency of the chocolate.
Keep in mind that the chocolate will thicken as it cools, even if you have added the paramount crystals.
If you know you have reached the right consistency before, simply gently reheat the chocolate. You should preferably use the double boiler.
This method basically uses gentle temperatures to apply to heat slowly. Fill a pot with an inch or so of water and bring it to a boil with the lid on. Once it boils, reduce the heat and allow it to gently simmer.
Add the bowl with the chocolate over the boiling water and make sure they fit tightly (without touching the water). There shouldn’t be any steam escaping – steam can potentially cause chocolate to seize.
Keep the bowl onto the heat for 10 seconds, remove it, then gently stir the chocolate. This way the temperature is slowly raised and gently distributed.
These crystals do not affect the taste of any product in any way. They are almost completely flavorless and the flavor of the chocolate itself overpowers it completely.
This is what makes it such a great alternative to products that were originally used, like cocoa butter, shortening, and vegetable oils.
Paramount crystals give the chocolate a delicious crack or “snap” that resembles tempered chocolate products.
This is great because it means you can make your products appear temperature (and essentially high quality) without having to spend all that time and effort on actually tempering them.
Seized chocolate is what happens when the chocolate has either been heated to too high temperatures or if it has been exposed to too much moisture.
Either way, what happens is that the chocolate has become unstable and its particles have formed a paste-like and grainy mess.
Now, fixing seized chocolate is nearly impossible and in our opinion, you are better off starting from scratch.
However, some people have suggested using some paramount crystals (seeing as they do help thin chocolate) will thin the graininess and ultimately fix it.
We have tried this once before and it didn’t work for us, but this could just be because our chocolate was seized beyond the point of no return.
Maybe, just maybe, you can save chocolate that has just started to seize by immediately adding some.
This is an ongoing debate so our final opinion. If your chocolate has already begun to seize, give paramount crystals a try!
Best Recipes For Paramount Crystals
We get this type of question a lot, but you don’t actually use paramount crystals IN recipes.
It is rather an ingredient used to aid with confectionary-making techniques. Using these crystals to help this your chocolate will enable you to perfect a ton of finishes like:
- Perfectly dipping truffles
- Completely enrobing other confectionary products like biscuits
- Making chocolate decorations
- Creating chocolate glazes
- Make smooth and even chocolate molds
Other than their use for chocolate making, they can also be used in exactly the same way with candy melts. Candy melts are also used to make confections and coatings and are more specifically used for their range of beautiful colors.
Recipes To Stay Away From
One type of coating you should never make with paramount crystals is cake pop coatings. Because the chocolate solidified and creates a hard coating, the cake inside has nowhere to expand to.
This means that it will basically crack the coating you have just spent all that time perfecting.
It isn’t impossible to use paramount crystals when coating cake pops, we would just recommend figuring out exactly how your recipe contracts and expands throughout the process.
Our recipe specifically needs to be fully made, shaped and cooled, or hardened before adding the chocolate decorative coating.
It is very difficult to find more specific nutritional information on paramount crystals, mainly because it is such a new product to the general public.
What we can say, however, with confidence is that it is an ingredient that mostly consists of fat (obviously) and also contains some vitamins and minerals.
That being said, because you are using so little in relation to the amount of chocolate you are melting, these nutrients (and even fat content) will barely make a difference.
How To Store
Paramount crystals should be stored in a similar way chocolate is. Keep it in a cool and dark place, away from any high temperatures and direct sunlight.
These crystals (because they are fat) will melt when they are heated too much. Thanks to the soy lecithin it will luckily solidify again, but this will still make more work for you.
When the paramount crystals have melted and re-solidified into a block, you have to cut off shavings and incorporate them into your melted chocolate.
Personally, we wouldn’t store these in the fridge; however, many people have mentioned that it is possible especially in warmer climates.
Paramount crystals have a shelf life of up to 1 year at room temperature, which is more than enough time to use what you bought.
Where To Buy
Speaking of buying, the first time we went looking for these it was an absolute nightmare! We went from baking store to baking store, browsed endless online websites, and still were only able to buy off of our local chocolatier!
Luckily, today this product has gained popularity and can now be easily found at baking stores, health shops, and even online.
Now that we’ve gone over how to properly use paramount crystals in your baking, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
What is the difference between paramount crystals and isomalt crystals?
These are two completely different types of “crystals” and cannot be substituted for each other! Isomalt sugar is a cane sugar alternative that is used in sugar making and provides structure (helps harden products).
Can paramount crystals help you temper your chocolate?
Paramount crystals assist primarily in the texture and finish of chocolate, something is accomplished through tempering. However, this ingredient won’t necessarily make tempering chocolate any easier.
Tempering involves the ability to melt chocolate down without the molecules splitting, keeping the different ingredients within chocolate so it hardens in a more favorable way.
Are paramount crystals the same as beta crystals?
No, they are not. Beta crystals are a type of crystal that is formed from cocoa butter.
It does, however, perform the same function that is to give the chocolate its hard crack. This function is initiated when chocolate is heated above 94°F during the tempering process.
Can you make paramount crystals at home?
We wouldn’t say that it is possible to make paramount crystals at home. But, what you can do instead is use palm kernel oil—it is the closest thing you will get. It is in liquid form and it won’t function in exactly the same way.
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