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How to melt chocolate

Melting chocolate is not difficult if you follow a few rules. Everything you use when melting chocolate, from the pan to the stirring spoon to your hands, must be absolutely dry: the slightest amount of water in the chocolate will cause it to seize, that is, clump and turn an unappealing grey colour. Even an extremely humid day can affect the results. The second problem in melting chocolate is excessive or direct heat.

No matter what method you choose to melt chocolate, patience and following directions are the two most important guidelines. Don't cut corners to save time.

Microwave-oven method

Place coarsely chopped chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl; heat on medium power, for 15 to 20 second intervals, pausing to stir gently between times.

The chocolate will hold its shape even after it's melted, so the stirring is important. When the chocolate is almost melted, remove from the microwave and allow it to sit a minute or two to complete melting process.

Cooktop method

Place a little water in a saucepan - make sure the water won't touch the bottom of your small heatproof bowl when it is fitted inside the pan. Cover pan and bring the water to a boil.

Remove lid from pan, sit bowl over the simmering water until chocolate is melted, stirring form time to time. After chocolate has melted, carefully remove the bowl of chocolate and wipe underside of the container with a dry tea-towel.

You can melt the chocolate in a pan on direct heat only if using other liquids such as butter, cream or milk.

Top tips for melting chocolate

  • Melt chocolate slowly to avoid burning.

  • Do not allow water to come into contact with the chocolate.

  • Chopping chocolate into small pieces will help it to melt quickly and evenly.

  • Milk and white chocolate are more likely to burn, take care when melting.

  • If the chocolate begins to thicken when melting, add a small amount of vegetable or coconut oil.

  • Use good quality baking chocolate which will give a much better flavour and nice glossy finish. We love Nestle, Baker's chocolate, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Guittard and Valrhona.

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