Whether you’re making ooey-gooey brownies or want to drizzle an elegant layer of chocolate atop your Sunday morning waffles, you’re going to need to master the art of melting down baking chocolate. Although it seems like a breeze, melting chocolate isn’t as easy as tossing it in a pan over medium heat. That’s because, by its very nature, chocolate is hyper-sensitive to high temps, so too much direct heat can turn it into a burned, gritty blob that’s impossible to salvage.
But melted chocolate is a versatile and delicious ingredient in tons of tasty chocolate recipes, so you don’t want to let the process intimidate you. Sure, it takes a bit of technique to master, but it’s really quite simple once you know the rules. Below you’ll find the best techniques for melting chocolate without burning it.
Amateur bakers and candymakers know better than anyone that, when exposed to temperature fluctuations, chocolate is a fickle beast. When melting or tempering chocolate, you can start with a rich and creamy consistency and wind up with a burnt, clumpy mess in a matter of seconds. It can be very frustrating, even to seasoned bakers!
The key to melting chocolate properly — no matter if you’re working with chocolate bars, chips or discs — is to keep it away from direct heat and do not let the temperature of the chocolate rise above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. The problem is that most of our standard cooking appliances rely on direct heat. That’s where the double-boil method comes into play. This method lets you slowly, indirectly melt the chocolate.
How to Double Boil Chocolate Chips on the Stove
Step 1: Make a Double-Boiler — A double-boiler is a two-layer pot that has two separate compartments stacked on top of one another. If you don’t own one of these pots, you can create your own by nestling a tempered or borosilicate glass bowl atop a deep saucepan. Make sure it fits securely on top of the pot, with the bottom of the bowl resting close to the top of the pan.
Step 2: Fill the Saucepan with Water — Fill a pot about a third of the way full of water. Make sure the water is shallow enough that it doesn’t touch the bowl when boiling. Allow the water to heat before adding your chocolate pieces. For the best results, use bars broken into small chunks, chocolate chips or chocolate discs for baking. This will ensure that the chocolate melts quickly and evenly.
Step 3: Melt the Chocolate — Once your water has risen to a gentle boil, turn it down to simmer, add your chocolate pieces in a single layer to the bowl. Stir often using a silicone or rubber spatula until it completely melts and reaches a silky smooth, even consistency. You may have to melt the chocolate in batches to ensure that it evenly melts through. Never cover the bowl with a lid. Even a small amount of condensation or humidity can cause the chocolate to seize up!
Can You Melt Chocolate in the Microwave?
Not super keen on busting out the pots and pans? No worries! You can melt chocolate in the microwave if you prefer but note that this method is a bit harder to monitor and control. To melt chocolate in the microwave, simply place the small pieces of chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat it at half-power in 15-minute increments, stirring between each session. Yes, we said that right, 15-minute increments until the chocolate is completely melted. Trust us, having patience is worth it. Be careful when pulling the hot bowl out of the microwave and always make sure to protect your hand with an oven mitt.
Start with the Best Chocolate
If you’re looking to seriously nail your chocolate melting strategy, make sure to start with the right ingredients and know these tips beforehand. While this melting technique applies to broken up bars, chips, discs and couvertures, you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the right sweetness level and style for your application.
We recommend using our couvertures for melting and adding to your cakes, cookies, confections and mousses, but you can learn more about the different types of baking chocolate here.