Whether you plan on making truffles or fudge, there are a few things you need to know about using chocolate for cooking. Although melting it seems easy enough, chocolate can scorch and become unusable if it's not prepared correctly.
Similar to sugary candy, chocolate needs time and care to reach a delectable, smooth state. It must be cut and tempered correctly, regardless of the dish you're making. Patience is the key when it comes to melting chocolate for all of your cooking needs.
Preparing Chocolate for Melting
When people buy baking chocolate for their recipes, they often think that they can just break them into small chunks and throw them into a pot for melting. However, all chocolate must be roughly chopped or shaved in order to liquefy correctly, whether it's being used for cake pops, brownies or other desserts.
RealSimple.com recommends using a serrated knife and a wooden cutting board to properly prepare the sugary substance for cooking. Simply chop the pieces into fine slivers or cubes - this will make sure they melt quickly and smoothly.
Using a Double Boiler
Placing chocolate directly in a sauce pan is a fast and easy way to burn it. Instead, a double boiler should be used to prevent scorching. This can be accomplished by placing a heat-resistant bowl over a simmering pot of water. The steam will rise and heat the bowl, but keep the chocolate off of direct heat.
The chopped chocolate will only take a few minutes to start melting while in the double boiler. Once there are only a few solid pieces left in the bowl, remove it from the boiler. The residual heat will melt the rest of the chocolate without burning it.
Microwaving Chocolate for Desired Consistency
Many people prefer to keep chocolate off of the stove entirely, using a microwave as an alternative. While this method works, there are a couple things to keep in mind. The chocolate should never be left to microwave for minutes on end - this can result in burning.
Instead, cooks should heat the confection for no more than 30 seconds, pull it out, stir and then place back into the microwave for another 30 seconds. This process may need to be repeated for several minutes until the chocolate melts and reaches an ideal temperature between 100 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Though time consuming, it's possible to melt chocolate properly in a microwave.