Chocolate can be molded in a number of molds, including cheap novelty molds, silicone candy molds and silicone ice cube trays (you know those cute little novelty ice cube trays in the shape of Screams or guns or stars or dentures? Work great!). Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
If using novelty molds, you will want a more stable base for scraping, because they won’t stay straight when you hold them. The advantage to a novelty mold is it’s cheap, about two dollars a mold, but the disadvantage is it will not necessarily give you the best gloss, it will melt in the dishwasher, it’s floppy, and it only makes a few at a time.
Silicone moldsare great for beginners because they are so easy to unmold. Many people say they are cheaper than polycarbonate, but when you factor in the number of cavities in each mold, they are about the same price because you need about two silicone molds to make as many candies as one polycarbonate mold.
But for the beginner, a silicone mold is not only much easier to unmold, but if you don’t stick with chocolate making, you have a great mold for butters, ice and juice. The downside is that like novelty molds, silicone molds are floppy, and again, you don’t get the gloss you do on a polycarbonate mold.
The best molds are polycarbonate molds – they come in a huge variety of shapes, they are virtually indestructible, you can bang away with your meat mallet and never worry, they can wash up in the dishwasher (though this is an issue of contention among chocolatiers), take the high heat of a hair dryer (for warming and/or melting cocoa butter) and the cold temp of the freezer. They run about $20 to $30 each, but most make double the number of chocolates of a silicone mold, and are more indestructible than Fidel Castro.
Always make sure your molds are immaculate. Polish with a white cloth, white cotton, or both. Do not wash with abrasive materials, because that will scratch them and the scratches will show up in the chocolates.
There are also magnetic molds for 3-D effects or using transfer sheets (which put silk screened designs on the chocolates) but I haven’t yet used those so will hold off for now.
“But where can I buy these marvelous molds?” you are undoubtedly wondering. Well, the silicone molds are easy to find in most cooking stores, and many gift shops are selling a line by Fred and others which are marketed for ice cubes. Of course, Amazon has a large variety, and while you’re ordering you can probably throw a medieval castle, a newborn baby and a prosthetic limb into your cart because they pretty much have everything.
Novelty molds can be found at Amazon too, as well as crafts stores, baking supply stores, and your mother’s junk drawer leftover from that time she got the bright idea to make soap in the shape of Christmas trees.
Polycarbonate molds can also be found on Amazon, but there are some great sources you can order from directly:
Chocolat Chocolat Based in Montreal, this company has a huge supply of chocolate making supplies and packaging. The shipping is high (usually runs about thirty dollars) if shipping to the U.S., so whenever I order, I order far more than I need or can afford “to save money” but they have amazing service, ship immediately, and sometimes even throw in some extras if they think you are reckless with your money and apt to buy more. But beware their website navigation — they have so many molds they organize them by manufacturer, with a million sub-pages and if you don’t add to your cart or make a note of where you found something, you may never be able to track it down again.
Bake Deco Another great source for chocolate making supplies with a much lower shipping rate than Chocolat Chocolat if you are in the U.S., but I have found that the shipping is glacially slow. Maybe you won’t have the same experiences I have had, though, so you might want to try them out.
J. B. Prince One of the best sources for chocolate supplies, though I haven’t yet tried them.