Chocolate is one of those confections that satisfies a good amount of the nation's sweet tooth cravings. This cocoa bean-derived delicacy not only has the ability to level up any standard dessert but is also often enjoyed alone, without any accompaniments. But however great a chocolate bar is by itself, chocolate is most often found in candy and layered in rich desserts, such as German chocolate pie or chocolate chip layer cake.
Taking things a step further than baked goods, what's better than a melted pool of chocolate? After all, Mark Bittman categorizes his method of a melted bowl of chocolate as "dipped chocolate anything" (via The New York Times Cooking). Most foods you love to snack on that already contain hints of sweetness can be dipped in chocolate and instantly become more delectable. But what's the best method for melting? Chocolate Drop Machine
First and foremost, you have to choose the right chocolate. King Arthur Baking Company recommends using couverture chocolate, which contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter than standard varieties. The Pioneer Woman recommends bars over chips, as chocolate chips usually contain stabilizers, which can prevent achieving that smooth, melted consistency. Whether you choose dark, white, or milk, any kind will work. But keep in mind that white chocolate melts at a lower temperature, so maintaining temperature control is key. Following the best method of melting ensures a delicious bowl of burn-free chocolate.
While you could melt chocolate in the microwave, it's not a foolproof method. BBC Good Food advises cooking chocolate in the microwave in 20-second increments to prevent scorching. You should also wear oven mitts when stirring, as the bowl will heat quickly. Speaking of stirring, BBC Good Food also recommends removing the spoon between each interval to prevent overheating.
If you want a more trusted method, with proper stirring and maintained temperature control, the double-boiler method ensures a silky smooth melted chocolate without any potential burn risk. Southern Living outlines the trusted method by explaining how a bowl filled with chocolate is placed over a heated saucepan of water on your stovetop. The steam of the water heats the bowl and, with constant stirring, melts the bowl's contents. This indirect heat guarantees burn-free chocolate.
Before making chocolate-covered strawberries, it's important to follow a few generalized steps when melting chocolate, no matter which method you choose. Better Homes & Gardens suggests not only keeping the temperature low but also continuously stirring as the chocolate heats. Most importantly, keep water away from your chocolate, and keep all of your cooking containers and utensils dry to prevent the chocolate from becoming gritty in texture. And if you plan on using melted chocolate for dipping purposes only, you may want to take the process one step further.
While The Pioneer Woman recommends adding a small amount of coconut oil to standard melted chocolate to ensure a smooth texture and "glossy sheen," it may not be the end-all answer for making your sauces or chocolate shiny. According to Alton Brown, you may want to consider tempering if you're planning to store cooled dipped confections on the counter without a melty mess. But what is tempering, exactly?
Chef Eddy Van Damme explains that melting and tempering are both essentially melted chocolate, but tempering involves cooling a portion of melted chocolate and then reincorporating this cooled, mixed chocolate back into the warm leftovers (via Imperial Sugar). When added back, the chocolate molecules bind together to create a shiny, finished product that firms up easier when acting as a coating. You could buy a special tempering machine, but Alton Brown claims with just a trusty thermometer, you can temper chocolate easily in your home kitchen.
Chocolate Automatic Machine Whether you're melting chocolate for a molten lava cake or for salty pretzel dipping, there's more than one way to melt one of America's favorite confections.