How to Melt Chocolate in the Microwave
Skip the double boiler and learn the time-saving method of melting chocolate in the microwave. With a few tips, you can enjoy perfectly smooth chocolate on strawberries, truffles, biscotti, and more.
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Chocolate can be a bit fussy to work with. It hardens quickly, becomes grainy and unusable if it touches water, scorches when overheated, and gets white spots if it's not tempered. Yikes! So when it comes to melting chocolate, most pastry chefs and cookbooks recommend the very reliable stovetop double-boiler method — you place uniform pieces of chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. As you stir, the heat slowly and gently melts the chocolate without burning it. Voila!
But when you're in a hurry, a double boiler is not the most attractive option for melting chocolate — a microwave is. Melting chocolate in the microwave is a serious time-saver, since you don't have to wait for the water to reach a simmer, the chocolate breaks down much faster, and you have fewer dirty dishes to wash later. Follow the simple steps below to learn the microwave method of melting chocolate.
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Tips and tricks for melting chocolate
Read these important tips before melting chocolate in your microwave so you can avoid irreversibly ruining the chocolate
Tip 1: The bowl matters
Find a good microwave-safe bowl that doesn't retain too much heat. Glass bowls work well. Some ceramic bowls also make excellent microwave bowls. If your bowl gets too hot, it could overheat your chocolate, too. This is more important with large batches of chocolate.
Tip 2: Use uniform pieces of chocolate
It's important to break or chop your chocolate into equal-sized pieces so they melt at the same pace.
Tip 3: Avoid overheating
Overheated chocolate can get extremely dry and unpleasantly chalky. If your chocolate is only slightly overheated, you might be able to save it by adding in a little vegetable oil, but it's not a guarantee. When in doubt, take your heated chocolate out of the microwave early, give it a stir, and allow some residual heat to melt any remaining solid pieces.
Tip 4: Vegetable oil is added insurance
Dropping a little vegetable oil onto the chocolate before microwaving will give you a bit more room for error. The added fat helps ensure the chocolate melts into a nice thin drizzle without overheating or burning.
Tip 5: Water is the enemy
Be sure you are using completely dry equipment. That means don’t use a bowl or spoon that you’ve just washed. Even when you think you’ve dried the equipment completely, there might be a single drop of water that you missed. If water comes in contact with your chocolate, it will likely become grainy and unusable, also known as seizing.
Microwave method of melting chocolate, step-by-step
You are just a few short steps away from perfectly melted chocolate, done conveniently in the microwave
Step 1: Choose a lower power on your microwave
Set your microwave oven to 50 percent power. It’s very easy to accidentally overheat chocolate, and low heat makes the melting process much more manageable.
Step 2: Use a dry microwave-safe bowl
Place your chocolate chips or chopped chocolate in a completely dry microwave-safe bowl. (Note: If any water comes in contact with your chocolate, the chocolate might become grainy and unusable.)
Step 3: Heat in short, decreasing intervals
Microwave the chocolate in short intervals, starting with 20 to 30 seconds, stirring with a rubber spatula between each heating session. Decrease the time intervals with every microwave session: From 20 or 30 seconds, go down to 15 seconds, then 10, and so on.
Step 4: Stir before returning to microwave
Chocolate retains its shape longer when heated this way, making it difficult to tell visually if it’s melted enough. Therefore, you need to stir it to see if the chocolate pieces easily start breaking down into a more stirrable consistency. If you are able to mix most of your chocolate pieces, it’s already heated enough; just keep mixing until it has a smooth consistency. The remaining chips will gradually melt without the need to return the bowl to the microwave.
Step 5: Use the melted chocolate while it is still stirrable
Melted chocolate sets pretty quickly. So once it is melted and ready to use, work quickly to drizzle it over your sweets, or dip sweets directly into the bowl. Reheat in microwave in 10-second intervals as needed to return the chocolate to a usable consistency.
Recipes that use melted chocolate
Now that you know the tricks to melting chocolate, try out your new skill on one of these heavenly recipes
Biscotti and other dippers:
Recipes with drizzled chocolate:
Ice cream toppings:
More chocolatey goodness ahead
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