The Best Ways to Melt Chocolate for a Dazzling Finish to Your Desserts
There's something special about biting into a decadent chocolate truffle that's decorated with extra melted chocolate drizzle. For most recipes (think chocolate bark, dipped fruit, or cookie toppers), you can melt chocolate using one of three methods: direct heat, a double boiler, or a microwave oven. These methods all work when a dessert recipe calls for melting chocolate with another ingredient, such as butter, shortening, coconut oil, or whipping cream. For a more showstopping finish to your sweet treats, tempering chocolate provides that professional-looking glossy finish. Grab your favorite quality chocolate bar or bag of chocolate chips and read on to learn the best ways to melt chocolate for drizzling, dipping, and coating all your favorite desserts.
How to Make Melted Chocolate
These methods work for melting chocolate chips, chocolate bars, and squares. For best results, coarsely chop bars and squares before following these melting chocolate methods:
How to Melt Chocolate On the Stove
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 smooth.
Melting Chocolate Using a 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 ($17, Walmart) so the top of the water is a ½-inch below the upper pan. Then place the double boiler over low heat. Stir the chocolate constantly until it's melted. The water in the bottom of the double boiler should not come to boiling while the chocolate is melting.
How to Melt Chocolate in the Microwave
Place up to 6 ounces of chopped chocolate bars, chocolate squares, or chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe bowl, custard cup, or glass measuring cup ($4, Target). Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1½ to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so, or until chocolate is soft enough to stir smooth.
How to Temper Chocolate
- Start with chopped chocolate of choice and place in a medium bowl with shortening (½ tsp. per ounce of chocolate); stir to coat chocolate with shortening.
- Pour very warm tap water (110°F) in a bowl larger than the bowl with chocolate to a depth of 1 inch. Place the bowl with chocolate inside the bowl of warm water (water should cover the bottom half of the bowl with chocolate). Adjust water level as necessary (be careful not to splash water into the chocolate).
- Stir the chocolate mixture constantly with a rubber spatula until completely melted and smooth (this should take 20 to 25 minutes). When the water cools, remove the bowl containing the chocolate. Discard the cool water; add warm water and continue as above until all the chocolate is melted.
- When melted and smooth, the chocolate is ready for dipping or shaping. If the chocolate becomes too thick during handling, repeat step 4. Stir the chocolate constantly until it again reaches dipping consistency.
- Let your finished product set up in a cool, dry place. Do not chill your finished product or the chocolate will lose temper and become soft at room temperature.
Tips for Melting Chocolate
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 (changing from a silky fluid state to hard and grainy). If this happens, stir in ½ to 1 tsp. 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 the heat low to avoid scorching.
- Stir constantly because most chocolate retains its shape as it melts. This also helps keep the chocolate from scorching.
Tips for Decorating with Melted Chocolate
Whether it's a whole truffle or half a biscotti, you can make your finished desserts look as fancy as a bakeshop. After your chocolate is melted using the above methods and tips, try decorating your sweet treats using the following techniques.
Using Melted Chocolate for Dipping
How to Make Chocolate Drizzle
Place cookies, truffles, or candies on a wire rack ($9, Target) over waxed paper. Dip a fork or spoon into melted chocolate, and let the first large drip (to prevent a large drop) land in the pan. Drizzle chocolate over the edges and tops of cookies or dessert.
Test Kitchen Tip: For a more controlled drizzle or piping, place melted chocolate in a pastry bag or plastic storage bag and snip off a tiny piece of one corner. Make the hole larger, if necessary. If the chocolate starts to stiffen as you work, heat the bag in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.
Once you master melting chocolate, you can do so much with it! Drizzle it over chocolate cookies for an extra sweet finish. Cover your chocolate cake with a shiny layer of tempered chocolate. Make chocolate spoons with a white chocolate drizzle to gift loved ones. No matter how you use your melted chocolate, it's going to be a real treat.