There are some tricks to successfully melting chocolate, whether you're making candy, baking brownies, or whipping up a fabulous frosting. If you aren't careful, the chocolate could burn or it could seize - get thick and clumpy all of a sudden. Whether you are working with dark, semisweet, milk, or white chocolate, here are some foolproof tips to follow.
- Never allow any water to come in contact with the melting chocolate, unless the chocolate is being melted in a large amount of water (2 tablespoons water per ounce of chocolate is the minimum amount). Just a drop or two of water can make the chocolate seize up, which means it becomes hard and lumpy. Even the steam from the bottom of a double boiler can cause this problem. Make sure to keep the chocolate dry as it melts. If it does seize, you can blend in a teaspoon of vegetable oil (NOT butter or margarine since they contain water too) and the chocolate should smooth out.
- Chocolate should only be melted over low heat. The microwave is a good appliance to use because the cooking time is so controlled. If you stand there at the stove and stir constantly, you can melt chocolate in a pan set over very low heat. A double boiler (watch out for condensation) is a good method; make sure the water in the bottom is barely simmering and don't let the water touch the bottom of the pan that holds the chocolate.
- White chocolate or vanilla milk chips are the most difficult to melt. Too much heat will make this type of chocolate seize. Use very low heat and watch it carefully as it melts.
- To melt chocolate bars in a microwave, first coarsely chop the chocolate. Place in a microwave safe bowl and heat on 50% power for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir. Continue this process until the chocolate is almost melted. Then stir until the chocolate is smooth. Don't overheat or the chocolate can become stiff.
- Want to temper chocolate easily? To make a dipping chocolate for coating candies, when the chocolate is almost melted add 1/4 cup more chips and stir constantly until the mixture is smooth. This method, called "tempering", will set up sugar crystals so the chocolate stays firm and glossy at room temperature.
- You can melt chocolate chips just like you melt chopped chocolate. Use low heat, watch carefully, stir, and avoid getting any water into the chocolate.
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