Whether you’re a baking enthusiast or just love to indulge in chocolate creations, knowing how to melt chocolate properly is an essential kitchen skill! Learn double boiler and microwave methods, and a few bonus options. Plus, find out the most common mistakes and how to avoid them!
I’ve never met a person who doesn’t appreciate melted chocolate, whether on its own for fondue or paired with cherry yogurt popsicles. However, knowing how to melt chocolate without burning it or turning it grainy is another story!
Although seemingly simple, the process is an art that can seriously make or break your dessert. Whether you’re preparing a ganache, fruity chocolate truffles, chocolate-dipped granola bars, or just want chocolate for dipping or to drizzle on fruits, the technique you choose can significantly impact the outcome.
Method 1: Microwave
Melting chocolate in the microwave is the quickest and easiest method. Here’s how to do it:
- Chop the chocolate: Cut your chocolate into even pieces or use chocolate chips meant for melting.
- 15-second bursts: Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it for 15 seconds at a time, then give it a stir with a rubber spatula.
- Repeat until smooth: Continue microwaving in short bursts, stirring between each. Stop when most of the chocolate is melted but a few lumps remain.
- Final stir: The residual heat will melt the remaining pieces as you stir, preventing the chocolate from burning.
Method 2: Double boiler
The double boiler method involves melting chocolate using indirect heat. Here’s how:
- Simmer the water: Fill a pot with an inch of water and bring it to a simmer over medium heat on the stove. The steam from the simmering water is what will melt your chocolate.
- Heat the chocolate: Place a heatproof metal or glass bowl on top of the pot. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water, so ensure your bowl is big enough.
- Stir until melted: Add the chopped chocolate to the bowl and stir gently until it has melted. Remove it from the heat immediately to prevent burning.
Other methods For Melting Chocolate
If you’re not a fan of the above melting techniques, you can try one of these honorary mentions:
A pot directly on the stove: In this method, you’ll melt the chocolate directly in a saucepan over low heat. This is riskier as direct heat can easily burn chocolate.
Hair dryer: This is an unconventional and potentially messy option. Place the chocolate in a bowl or container and heat it with a hair dryer until it is mostly melted. Make sure to stop and stir frequently to reduce the chances of burning.
Water bath: Similar to the double boiler method, you will need to immerse the container of chocolate in hot water. Make sure the water never touches the chocolate.
All of these methods increase the risk of scorching and are less controlled. I highly recommend either microwaving or melting the chocolate with the double boiler method.
What happens if water gets in?
If water mixes with the chocolate, it can seize and become clumpy. Seizing of chocolate happens because chocolate contains fat (cocoa butter), and water causes the fat to seize into a stiff, grainy paste.
If this happens to you, you can try fixing it by adding a tablespoon of hot water at a time until the chocolate smooths out again. Note that it won’t be as shiny as before.
Tempering vs. melting
Tempering involves heating and cooling chocolate to stabilize it for a shiny appearance in recipes that need it. Some examples include chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate-covered candies, and chocolate-covered truffles.
Melted chocolate is perfect for general use, but it won’t have the same sheen or texture as tempered chocolate. So, if you’re looking for professional-looking chocolate with a glossy finish and a firm snap, try tempering!
Adding coconut oil for shine
Adding a small amount of coconut oil to the melted chocolate can give it a subtle shine once it cools. This doesn’t temper the chocolate but improves its appearance for certain recipes that may benefit from a glossy finish!
Top tips For Melting Chocolate
- Low heat: Always melt the chocolate slowly over low heat. High heat will cause burning.
- Stir regularly: Constant stirring helps evenly distribute heat and prevents scorching.
- Avoid water: Even a small drop of water can cause chocolate to seize and become grainy. Be careful not to splash it accidentally!
- Chop chocolate evenly: Uniform pieces melt at the same rate, ensuring a smooth, creamy texture.
- Use a dry bowl: Ensure the bowl you’re melting chocolate in is completely dry.
- Don’t cover the pot: When using a double boiler, steam can cause water droplets to fall into the chocolate. Keep the bowl uncovered.
Recipes with melted chocolate
- Chocolate Bark with Salted Popcorn
- Chocolate-Dipped Chewy Granola Bars
- Avocado Chocolate Mousse Pie
- Mint Chocolate Popsicles
- Frozen Chocolate Raspberries (Tru Fru Copycats!)
Melting chocolate FAQs
Chocolate chips often contain stabilizers and may not melt as smoothly as chocolate bars. If you have the choice, opt for chocolate bars!
Use high-quality chocolate bars or chocolate chips meant for melting (like from Ghirardelli, Callebaut, or Godiva). Whether using bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate pieces, they should all melt well with these instructions!
If you have leftover chocolate, spread it out on a parchment-lined tray or plate. Once hardened, transfer it to an airtight container for storage. If a gray layer forms on the chocolate, don’t worry! This is known as bloom and is a normal occurrence. The chocolate is still safe to eat.
- 1 cup chocolate dark, milk, or white
- Prep: Cut your chocolate into even pieces or use chocolate chips.
- Heat: Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it for 15 seconds at a time, then give it a stir.
- Stir and Repeat: Continue microwaving in short bursts, stirring between each. Stop when most of the chocolate is melted but a few lumps remain. The residual heat will melt the remaining pieces as you stir, preventing the chocolate from burning.
- Prep: Fill a pot with a small amount of water and bring it to a simmer. Place a heatproof bowl on top of the pot. The bowl should not touch the water.
- Heat: Add the chopped chocolate to the bowl and stir gently until it has melted.