Here's how to make a smooth transition from
solid bars or chips to silky, warm chocolate liquid. Always try to use
small pieces as the smaller the pieces, the faster the chocolate will
melt. Use uniform-size pieces when possible. To ensure easy cleanup, coat
the melting pan or bowl with oil before adding the chocolate.
Keep the heat low and gently. If body
heat is enough to melt chocolate on your tongues, it won't take much heat
on the stove. To keep chocolate from hardening and drying out during
melting, heat it slowly over low heat, preferably indirect heat. The ideal
method is to melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water.
If you don't have a double boiler, snugly fit a heatproof or stainless
steel bowl into a saucepan of shallow water that's just barely simmering.
This method works well for milk chocolate, white chocolate, or when
melting chocolate and butter together. For dark chocolate, you can simply
place it in a heatproof bowl and place the bowl in an oven set on the
lowest setting until melted, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Beware even a drop of water. The
smallest drop of water is enough to make warm, melted chocolate seize into
a stiff mess. Make sure that bowls, spoons or pans used are really dry. If
melting chocolate in a saucepan, leave off the lid to avoid steam
condensing on the lid and dripping onto the chocolate. If you are using a
bowl set over a pan and the bowl is smaller in diameter than the pan, wrap
a towel around the bowl and tuck it into the pan edge to prevent steam
from wafting up from the pan into the chocolate.
Try the microwave method. Chop any
type of chocolate into small pieces (or use chips), place in a
microwaveable container, and heat on medium power. 40 seconds for 1 ounce
chocolate, 1 minute for 2 ounces, 2 minutes for up to 4 ounces, and 3
minutes for up to 8 ounces. Stop halfway through to stir the chocolate,
which will not lose its shape and melt completely but will soften enough
to be stirred into a smooth liquid. If melting chocolate and butter
together, chop the butter into tablespoon size pieces and add during the
last half of the cooking time.
Pull out the heating pan. Set a
heating pad on high and place in a large bowl, preferably not metal. Put
chocolate pieces into a smaller metal bowl and nestle the bowl into the
heating pad. The chocolate will start to melt in about 10 minutes. Stir it
briefly, then let sit until completely melted, another 5 minutes. To keep
warm and melted for several hours (or if using for dipping), turn the
heating pad to low.
To rescue seized chocolate. If your
chocolate seizes up, blend in 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil or solid
shortening for every 4 ounces chocolate. Stir constantly, and your
chocolate will regain its smooth texture.