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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Chocolate >>  Melting Chocolate

Melting Chocolate

A bar of chocolate can be transformed into a gorgeous pool of smooth melted chocolate in a matter of minutes if you know how. There are several tips and tricks to remember when melting chocolate and three easy ways to do so as well. To understand how to melt chocolate, you have to know what you are dealing with in the first place. Solid chocolate consists of cocoa butter and cocoa powder. When you heat chocolate, the cocoa butter melts into a puddle of chocolate goodness.

However, if you heat it at too high a temperature, there is the risk that the chocolate will burn or seize and separate into cocoa butter liquid and unappealing clumps of cocoa powder.

Different types of chocolate melt at different temperatures. Professional cooks and pastry chefs use a candy thermometer to ensure that dark chocolate is heated between 100°F to 120°F and white or milk chocolate at no more than 115°F. Semi-sweet chocolate and chocolate chips generally used in baking can be heated a slightly higher temperatures as compared to milk and white chocolate bars. If you do not have a candy thermometer, do not worry. All it takes is some practice and you will soon instinctively know when your chocolate is melted.

Process To Melt Chocolates

Following are the three most popular methods of melting chocolate. Before beginning, you can chop the chocolate into even pieces or chunks so that it melts more evenly and faster.

Water bath - Fill a pan half way with water. Heat till the time it is just simmering. Place your chocolate chunks in a shallow heatproof bowl. Put this bowl in the water but make sure that no water falls onto the chocolate. Stir the chocolate gently till it melts.

Double boiler technique - A double boiler is a wonderful contraption consisting of a pan that holds the boiling water and another pan or bowl that fits over for the chocolate. The water in the pan below is brought to a boil. The heat is then turned off while the chocolate melts in the bowl above. At no point of time should the water touch the upper bowl. Indirect heat is used with a double boiler and is a gentle, foolproof way to melt chocolate. If you don’t have a double boiler, just use a saucepan for the water and a bowl that fits snugly over the top of the saucepan’s rim for the chocolate. If melting large amounts of chocolate by the double boiler method, it is better to do so in batches. Stir the chocolate with a plastic spatula till it is shiny and totally melted.

Microwave - A microwave can be an ideal way to melt chocolate. It takes lesser time than the water bath and double boiler methods and uses only one bowl. The most important part in melting chocolate in a microwave is finding out the correct temperature and heating time. This will happen only through a series of trials as all microwaves are built differently. All you need to do is place the chocolate chunks in a shallow, microwave safe bowl and melt your chocolate on a low setting so that it doesn’t burn. Alternatively, you can heat the chocolate in small intervals always stopping to check that the chocolate is not burnt or overheated. In case your microwave does not have a turntable, you will need to move the bowl of chocolate around so that it melts evenly. Chocolate melts differently in a microwave. It retains its shape but gets glossier and softer. Only when you stir it will you know whether it has reached the melted consistency that you desire. Microwave times depend on the wattage of your machine, the amount of chocolate you are melting and the cocoa butter content of the chocolate being used. On an average you can estimate at about a minute for every single ounce of chocolate. Heat in 30-second installments and stir often.

Use Of Melted Chocolate

Once the chocolate is melted you have to use it immediately or it will soon get hard again. The one thing to avoid when melting chocolate is getting water into your heated chocolate. This causes the whole concoction to freeze and seize and become unwieldy. In such cases, you can try and salvage the situation by mixing a small amount of neutral vegetable oil or warm water to the hardened chocolate. Stir through till the chocolate returns to its smooth consistency. If the chocolate has been heated at too high a temperature, it will burn. If this happens, you will sadly have to junk the lot as burnt chocolate tastes acrid and bitter and cannot be used for baking or cooking.

Melting Chocolate Chips

When melting chocolate chips, keep in mind that they have a hardening agent to keep their shape. This means that chocolate chips require a slightly higher temperature than other types of chocolates to melt properly. When asked how to melt chocolate chips, experts generally suggest the double boiler method to prevent burning and overheating. Using a double boiler gives you more control over the process and you can keep an eye on the chocolate as it melts. Melting white chocolate requires even more care than normal dark or milk chocolate. White chocolate has a number of ingredients such as cocoa butter, milk solids, and other flavorings. High temperatures can cause the milk solids to clump and the cocoa butter to liquefy. Moisture can also ruin a perfectly good white chocolate. The best way to melt white chocolate is either by using a double boiler or with a microwave. Experiment with power setting and cooking times on your microwave to hit upon that perfect combination for melting white chocolate.

Smooth Melted Chocolate For Dipping

Melting chocolate for dipping can be used with pieces of fruit, cookies, or cake. In case you overheat chocolate, it has a tendency to split, become thick or grainy and even turn bitter. None of this will do when using melted chocolate for dipping. The double boiler technique is again the best way to melt your chocolate to prevent overheating and scorching. To keep your melted chocolate smooth for dipping, add a small teaspoon of shortening. Do not substitute butter for shortening as it contains water and will cause the chocolate to seize or get lumpy.

Submitted on January 16, 2014