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PSmith

Melting chocolate

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Now I know the purists out there will say that chocolate should be melted in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, but I have always melted chocolate in a microwave on a low setting.

It does need constant checking and stirring, otherwise too much and the sugar will go solid, but it takes seconds rather than many minutes.

What is the general opinion on this?



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You definitely should *not* melt chocolate in a glass bowl, IMHO. Glass has a massive capability to hold heat, so if you overheat the chocolate, it's going to stay hot for longer.

My 2c is also that you shouldn't melt it over water, simply because it's so easy to get water in your chocolate. Heaps of people are going to say they've never had problems, but for me, it's not worth the risk. If you use your microwave, with a microwave safe plastic bowl, you're going to have no problems at all, so long as you're careful, monitor the temperature and just use short bursts, never more than 30 seconds. I always microwave on high, just carefully. I've never overheated it.

Other options I have available are a melt tank and a dehydrator set at 45C, dump the chocolate in it and seal the bowl with gladwrap the night before and it's ready to precrystallise the next morning.

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I prefer the microwave, and I melt between 2-20 kgs per day with the nuker.

With the double boiler method, the opportunity to get water into the chocolate is very high. Also, many people make the mistake of simmering the water--when this happens, steam escapes from under the bowl and condenses above the melted chocolate, and you get brown cement....

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I melt chocolate in a 4 or 8 cup pyrex measuring cup. Depending on how much I'm melting I'll start with about a minute on high then either another minute or less depending on how things are coming along. As long as I stick to the Pyrex brand cups I haven't had any burned chocolate - it doesn't seem to get the hot spots of other glass (or stainless) vessels I've used.

White chocolate in small quantities - I'd probably start with 20 seconds.

When I'm trying to warm up chocolate that is already tempered but is getting cool - I usually nuke on high power in 6 to 8 second bursts.

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If I am going to put the chocolate into something else, I microwave in a measuring cup, but if I am going to add ingredients to chocolate, especially over heat, I melt it in a saucepan--directly, not over water. Pre-microwave habit, picked up from my grandmother.

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Have to say that most of the chocolate which I 'melt' I do over water using a stainless bowl whose flanges far outreach the edge of the pot. So far, so good.

The other melting is putting the chocolate into the heated cream for ganache. Tempering in my Revolation except when away from home and then I use a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave, once I have figured out the particular microwave I am using.

Not exciting, but it's what I do.

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PSmith, I don't understand your comment about "sugar going solid". Can you elaborate?

On occasions (especially when using budget chocolate - not the 70% stuff) the sugar in the chocolate re-crystalises if you use too high a heat in the microwave.

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I've got a friend that always sets some sort of bowl (or cup or whatever she has handy) on the burner of her coffee maker. She's in a small apt with not a lot of room and often uses that burner to slow-warm things.

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I'm in the habit of using a bowl over a saucepan of water. Water has never been an issue. Just keep it out of the chocolate.

Every pastry chef I know uses a microwave. It must work well.

If you're paying attention and have a responsive pan you use direct heat. I realize every cookbook says that doing so will cause a kitten to die. I'm just not often in that big a hurry. There are other things to do while the chocolate melts.

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