How to melt chocolate
by Amy Davies | 14 March 2011 | 9 commentsTweet
Melting chocolate is the first step to creating many decadent desserts... but what's the best method for perfect results?
Chocolate is a temperamental little blighter, one false move and you’ll end up with a seized mess that you’ll more than likely end up chucking in the bin. But melting chocolate is essential for so many delicious treats that you’ve really got no choice but to master it if you want to be a successful baker.
While there are a few different methods, most people will agree that using either a microwave or a double boiler/bain marie are the two best options. Here we look at the pros and cons of each, and exactly how to master both techniques. Once you’ve picked a favourite, a good recipe to get started with is Kenny Atkinson’s brownies.
Melting chocolate: the microwave method
Melting chocolate in the microwave is the best method if you’re looking for fast results. Get it right and you can have melted chocolate in under a minute. But the risks of a burning chocolate disaster are significantly higher in the microwave than using the bain marie.
Still, aside from speed, the microwave does have one big advantage: the lack of water. If any water comes into contact with your chocolate during the melting process, you might as well kiss that batch goodbye. With a microwave, there’s zero chance of that happening, as dry heat is used.
To melt chocolate with the microwave, chop up your chocolate into small chunks and make sure the microwave is on a low heat or defrost setting. Place the chocolate into a microwave-proof bowl and put inside the microwave. Set the timer running but check the chocolate every 45 seconds to 1 minute. Since all microwaves are different, the first few times you do this you might want to check a bit more frequently to make sure the chocolate isn’t burning.
Claire Rennie from Berry Scrumptious favours the microwave method, melting between 250g and 1kg of chocolate at a time for the company’s chocolate covered strawberries and raspberries, and offers a further tip to ensure chocolate perfection: “Make sure the size of the bowl fits the amount of chocolate – I have frequently burned 250g in a large bowl when it would have been fine in a small one.”
Melting chocolate: the bain marie/double boiler method
The bain marie is the method that I have always favoured, since learning it at a very young age. While this method is slower than the microwave, it’s less risky as you have more control over the melt.
For the perfect bain marie, choose a saucepan with a diameter a bit smaller than a glass bowl you will use to melt the chocolate in. You want to make sure that the bowl can sit snugly on top of the saucepan but, crucially, doesn’t come into contact with the water at any point.
Boil around a third to a half saucepan full of water, and while that’s boiling, break up the chocolate you want to melt into small chunks and place in a glass bowl ready. Once the water has boiled, remove the pan from the heat and place the glass bowl over the top of the pan.
Carefully stir the chocolate until it’s completely melted – this could take a few minutes, but it’s weirdly satisfying watching the chocolate transform into a gorgeous gloopy river. Once it’s completely melted, take the bowl away from the pan and you’re ready to use the chocolate for whatever purpose is necessary, such as Fay Ripley’s chocolate torte.
Just bear in mind for some recipes you will need to wait until the chocolate has cooled a little before you can use it.
Melting chocolate: what do you think?
@TheBoyWhoBakes (Edd Kimber – winner of the Great British Bake Off): “Bain marie is my normal method although microwave is good too if used carefully.”
@CardiffBites (food blogger, Nicola Tudor): “Bain marie – can control the melt better and you won’t burn the chocolate as can happen in a microwave (the smell is awful, trust me).
@meetJoSmith: “In your mouth... failing that, microwave!”
@innercitypickle: “In a bowl over a pan of barely boiling water and don’t get any water in chocolate.”
@matt_j_friend: “Always a bain marie, but NEVER get liquid in the bowl with the melted chocolate, or you’re screwed!”
@Kyanos: “Bowl on top of a pan full of boiling water, ‘bain marie’.... or just microwave it!”
@vanillalatte_1: “I melt it in a glass bowl placed inside a pan of hot water.”
Please add your own in the comments box below!