In this post I'm sharing all of my tips and tricks for how to melt chocolate quickly and easily using a double boiler. This method is SO much more reliable than trying to melt chocolate in the microwave (I'll explain why), and you can create a double boiler using kitchen tools that you already own!
If you've ever melted chocolate in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove you've almost certainly witnessed first hand the problems that arise when chocolate is heated too quickly or exposed to direct heat. Chocolate can be finicky, and trying to melt it in the microwave or over direct heat can result in one of the following:
- Overheated Chocolate - Chocolate that has been overheated becomes thick and gloppy, rather then the smooth and glossy chocolate we're aiming for.
- Fat Bloom - This is the white, waxy spots that you sometimes see on chocolate that has melted and re-solidified. Unsteady temperature changes in the chocolate can cause the fats (like milk fat and cocoa butter) within the chocolate to move to the surface and crystalize. This is most likely to happen with lower quality chocolate. It's still safe to eat, but it doesn't look as pretty.
I ruined more chocolate than I'd care to admit by trying to melt it in the microwave (#lazy) before I learned the benefits of a double boiler.
NOTE: The truly "correct" way to melt chocolate is to temper it, which involves heating chocolate to a specific temperature in a double boiler, allowing it to cool slightly, and then heating it once again to a specific temperature (which varies, depending on the type of chocolate used). That's a little too fussy for me, and the simplified method that I'm sharing here has always served me well when melting chocolate for making chocolate covered strawberries, using in all kinds of frosting and baked goods, and drizzling over desserts. So I say we skip the candy thermometer and keep it simple!
Keep reading to learn my simple method for how to melt chocolate in a double boiler!
What is a Double Boiler?
A double boiler is a kitchen tool used to apply indirect heat to ingredients and foods. It looks like two saucepans stacked on top of each other. Water is placed in the lower pan, which will receive direct heat from the stove. The steam from the simmering or boiling water in the lower pan provides indirect heat to the food in the upper pan.
Fortunately, it's very simple to create a make-shift double boiler using items you already have in your kitchen! To create a double boiler, you will need a saucepan and a shallow, heat-safe mixing bowl. The mixing bowl should fit over the saucepan so that the outer edge of the bowl touches the upper edges of the saucepan (to create a "seal" that will trap steam within the saucepan) and there are several inches between the bottom of the saucepan and the bottom of the bowl. This is so that there is room to add water to the saucepan without that water touching the bowl.
Why You Should Use a Double Boiler to Melt Chocolate
As I mentioned above, a double boiler allows us to melt chocolate using indirect heat (steam) rather than direct heat from a stove or microwave. This indirect heat helps to heat - and melt - the chocolate more gradually, which greatly reduces the risk of overheating the chocolate or causing fat bloom. The result is perfectly smooth, glossy melted chocolate!
How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler
- Place a saucepan on the stove and add 1-2 inches of water to the pan.
- Place a dry, shallow, heat-safe mixing bowl over the saucepan.
- The mixing bowl should fit over the pan so that the outer edge of the bowl touches the upper edges of the saucepan (to create a "seal" that will trap steam within the saucepan).
- Check to make sure the water in the pan isn't touching the bottom of the bowl by lifting the bowl up and checking the bottom to be sure it's dry before replacing the bowl in the pan.
- Add chopped chocolate or chocolate chips to the mixing bowl.
- Turn on the stove to medium heat. As the water begins to simmer and release steam, the steam will heat the chocolate and the chocolate will begin to melt.
- As the chocolate melts keep stirring with a heat-safe rubber spatula or wooden spoon until all of the chocolate has melted.
- Use the melted chocolate to dip or drizzle, or add it to a recipe. If dipping or drizzling, let the chocolate cool and harden before packing up your treats to store them.
DON'T GORGET TO PIN THIS BAKING TIP FOR LATER!