Melting chocolate can be accomplished in a microwave or in a double boiler. There are a few fundamental guidelines to successfully melting chocolate:
- Make sure the chocolate is chopped into uniform pieces to ensure even melting. Never try to melt large bars or big blocks of chocolate.
- Melt the chocolate slowly over low heat. Chocolate is very delicate and can become lumpy or grainy if overheated.
- Stir the chocolate frequently with a spatula.
- Chocolate retains its shape when melted, so the only way to know if it is truly melted is to stir it.
- Avoid all contact with water! Chocolate will seize and become unworkable if it comes into contact with even a few droplets of water. Make sure your bowls, workstation, and spatulas are completely dry.
Melting Chocolate in the Microwave
The microwave is a great tool for melting chocolate. If used properly, it can melt chocolate more quickly than a double boiler with minimal effort and mess. If you have overheated your chocolate, immediately pour it into a cool bowl add chunks of unmelted chocolate, and stir continuously. It is preferable to melt your chocolate on a low (50%) power setting, to avoid scorching or burning it. If your microwave does not have this option, heat the chocolate in shorter intervals and stir between each interval.
It is very difficult to determine exact microwaving times, as it can vary depending on microwave wattage, quantity of chocolate, and even the cocoa butter content of the chocolate.
Run the microwave intervals of 20 seconds, stirring in between every interval and rotating the bowl if necessary. Finish heating when most, but not all, of the chocolate is melted. Stir the chocolate continuously until it is completely melted.
Melting Chocolate With a Double Boiler
The traditional method of melting chocolate is to use a double boiler. A double boiler is a set of pans consisting of a saucepan that holds hot water, and a bowl that fits securely over the saucepan. Chocolate is placed in the top bowl.
Begin by filling the saucepan with water. Water should be enough to provide heat, but it should not touch the bottom of the top bowl in which chocolate is placed. Heat the saucepan over low heat until it just begins to simmer, place the chocolate bowl over the water. If you are melting large amounts of chocolate, begin with 1/3 of your final quantity and melt in batches, waiting until the chocolate in the bowl is melted before adding more unmelted chunks. Once the chocolate begins to melt stir it gently with a spatula. When almost all of the chocolate is melted, take the top bowl from the saucepan and place it on the counter. Stir continuously until it is shiny, smooth, and completely melted.