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How to Melt Chocolate


from Fine Cooking
Issue 61

Whether you're melting chocolate for cookies, coating truffles, or a decadent chocolate sauce, you want to avoid putting it directly on the stovetop, which can cause scorching. The safest methods for melting chocolate gently are either on the stovetop over a water bath (which we find a little easier and more consistent) or in the microwave.

Stovetop method — Put chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over a pot of barely simmering water (or put the bowl directly in a wide, shallow skillet of barely simmering water). Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth; remove it from the heat. Don’t let water come in contact with the chocolate, and be sure the bowl and spoon or spatula are perfectly dry. Small amounts of water can cause chocolate to "seize," or turn into a stiff, grainy mess. Seized chocolate can be brought back to a smooth state by adding cream, but this can affect your recipe, so it’s often best to start over and set the seized chocolate aside for a recipe that calls for a lot of cream.

Microwave method — Put chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it at 50% power for 1 minute; remove and stir. (In a microwave, chocolate doesn’t lose its shape as it melts, so you must stir it to gauge how far along it is.) Return it to the microwave and repeat, stopping to stir every 15-seconds to prevent scorching.

Gorgeous embellisments from melted chocolate —

  • How to drizzle chocolate
    Decorative drizzle: To give plain cookies or a simple cake a pretty finishing touch, scrape melted chocolate into a small heavy-duty zip-top bag, seal it, and gather the chocolate into one corner. Snip off a small bit of the tip and drizzle the chocolate onto the cookies.
  • How to make chocolate shards
    Chocolate shards: Spread melted chocolate on a piece of waxed paper, roll it up, and chill until set. Then unroll the tube, breaking the chocolate into spiky shards. Watch a video to see how it's done.
  • How to make chocolate leaves
    Chocolate leaves: Paint the undersides of organic leaves (lemon leaves have a nice shape) with melted chocolate and then peel the leaves away once the chocolate has set. Watch a video to see how it's done.

Photo: Scott Phillips

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