Written by Roar Elias
A lot of people run into trouble with melting chocolate and this is definitely something you have to take care with, especially when you have a bar of chocolate that is on the expensive side. I remember once putting a lot of chopped chocolate in the microwave and, not being that great at multi-tasking, I totally forgot about it. I was not the most popular person after stinking the kitchen out as well as burning a hole through the microwave container.
I have to say, I'm not really one for microwaves. I like to see what is going on in the cooking process, but if you are thinking of melting chocolate in the microwave then you have to be focused and can't be thinking of too many things out of the kitchen at the same time. Of course, this applies to all forms of melting so let's have a more in depth look at how to go about this.
What I like to do is just melt the chocolate over a bain marie. You don't need a fancy double boiler made especially for the purpose. Just get yourself a pot of water and bring it to the boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Fill the pot half way with water. Ideally, you should be using a stainless steel bowl that fits on top.
The worst thing that can happen to a batch of chocolate is for it to split or seize up. This happens if the water is too hot or if you are stirring like a crazy person. When the chocolate splits, there is nothing you can do, no matter how much you try and smooth it out with your spatula. Don't worry, this happens to everyone. Just start again, but to prevent this from happening I would simply just not stir at all and leave the chocolate on very gentle simmer.
So if you are a microwave kind of person then get yourself a microwaveable bowl and break the chocolate up in there. This is something you have to keep an eye on because it will go very quickly. Check it every 30 seconds and give it a shake around and maybe one stir with your spatula.
Now it is a little easier if you break your chocolate into something in order to make some sort of sauce or mixture to put in a cake. Once the liquid is hot, you won't need to keep this on the heat whilst you break the chocolate up. In fact this could do more harm than good. So if you have melted butter, cream or milk for example, then you need to take your pot off the stove or out of the microwave before you drop in the chopped chocolate.
OK, so what about the oven? Say for example, you have been piping beautiful chocolate creations out of a grease proof piping bag. Chocolate will obviously go hard after a while and often this happens so this prevents the chocolate from flowing. Have the oven heated on its lowest temperature and just pop the piping bag in there for a few minutes. Soon enough you will be able to get back to work.
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