For most recipes, you can melt chocolate using one of three methods: direct heat, a double boiler, or a microwave oven. You can also use one of these methods when a recipe calls for melting chocolate with another ingredient, such as butter, shortening, or whipping cream.
For best results, coarsely chop chocolate bars and squares before melting them.
Choose one of the following methods to melt your chocolate.
- Direct heat: This method is easy and convenient. Place the chocolate in a heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly till the chocolate begins to melt. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir the chocolate until it is smooth.
- Double boiler: This method takes a little longer than the direct-heat method but eliminates the possibility of scorching the chocolate. Place water in the bottom of the double boiler so the top of the water is 1/2 inch below the upper pan. Then place the double boiler over low heat. Stir the chocolate constantly until it is melted. The water in the bottom of the double boiler should not come to boiling while the chocolate is melting.
- Microwave oven: Place up to 6 ounces of chopped chocolate bars, chocolate squares, or chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe bowl, custard cup, or measuring cup. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is soft enough to stir smooth. The chocolate will hold its shape after it starts to melt, so stir it once every minute during heating.
Whichever method you use, remember these points:
- Make sure all equipment is completely dry. Any moisture on the utensils or in the container may cause the chocolate to seize, or stiffen. If this happens, stir in 1/2 to 1 teaspoon shortening (not butter) for every ounce of chocolate.
- Be careful to keep water from splashing into the chocolate. A single drop will cause the chocolate to seize.
- Keep heat low to avoid scorching.
- Always stir chocolate during melting, because most chocolate retains its shape as it melts.