Knowing how to melt chocolate is very important when using chocolate to decorate a cake. The best way to melt chocolate, in my experience is using the double boiler method.
Before looking at the step by step procedures, it is good to know the type of chocolates that are available in the market and how to choose the best ones for cake decorating.
Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans. These beans are processed to make chocolate and cocoa powder. The processing of cocoa beans produces cocoa liquor which consists of cocoa fat and cocoa solids known as cocoa butter and cocoa mass, respectively. It is from these components of cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa mass that different types of chocolates are produced.
Types of Chocolate
While there are many types of chocolates available in the market, I will, in this section explain only the main types most commonly used in cake decorating. From my personal experience, I find couverture chocolate much easier to handle and produces better results as compared to other types due to the heat and humidity where I live. If heat is not an issue for you, I would suggest choosing good quality chocolate that you actually love to eat!
There are basically 3 main classes of chocolate:
- This is also known as unsweetened chocolate. It is the most basic form of chocolate, made of cooled and hardened chocolate liquor. Cooking chocolate is also the most commonly used type in baking.
- There are also other types used for cooking, namely bitter chocolate, dark chocolate, and plain chocolate. These chocolates are made with varying amounts of cocoa butter, cocoa mass, and sugar.
- Couverture is another version of cooking chocolate. However, it contains a higher level of cocoa butter as compared to other types of chocolate.
- The high cocoa butter content makes this chocolate smoother and gives its more strength, making it easier to handle.
- Most often, the ratio of cocoa mass, sugar, and cocoa butter in couverture chocolate is as follows:
- 70/30/38 – extra bitter
- 60/40/38 – bitter
- 50/50/38 – semisweet
- 36/42/38 – milk chocolate couverture
- The components of white chocolate are cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla.
- The lack of chocolate liquor contributes to its creamy white appearance.
- This is the most fragile of all chocolates and care should be exercised when handling this chocolate during heating as it is easy to burn and seize.
How to Melt Chocolate On The Stove
To melt chocolate on the stove, you need a double boiler. There are special double boiler pots that you can purchase, but it is really not necessary.
- To make your own double boiler, all you need is a small pot and a heat proof bowl or a stainless steel bowl. The bowl will be placed on top of the pot so you have to make sure it is larger than the pot.
- To begin with, fill your pot with water. You need not fill it up until it is full, suffice if it is about half-filled. Place it on the stove and turn the stove on to a low heat.
- Next, chop your chocolate into small pieces. If you are using chcolate chips, you need not chop them further.
- Place the chopped chocolate into your heat proof/stainless steel bowl.
- Place the bowl directly on the pot that you filled with water earlier.
- Ideally, the bowl should not touch the water.
- Let the heat from the boiling water in the pot melt the chocolate. Stir occasionally to help speed up the melting.
- Remove the chocolate bowl from heat as soon as the chocolate has melted.
- And you will have a bowl of perfectly melted chocolate using the stove.
How to Melt Chocolate in a Microwave
To melt chocolate in a microwave, all you need is a microwave-safe bowl and a microwave oven.
- To begin with, chop the chocolate into small pieces.
- Place them in the bowl.
- Turn on the microwave on high for 10 seconds (depending on the amount of chocolate you are melting, you may need to leave it longer or lesser time in the oven).
- Remove the chocolate from the oven, and stir the chocolate to make sure all the chocolate is evenly melted. If required, place the chocolate in the oven again for a few more seconds.
- To avoid the chocolate from being overheated, remember to remove it from the oven every few seconds.
Tips on The Best Way to Melt Chocolate
Here are some important tips when it comes to melting chocolate. Keep these in mind for perfectly melted chocolate every single time.
- Never try to melt chocolate on direct heat as chocolate is prone to burning very quickly. Always work on low heat and use a double boiler.
- Chop the chocolate you intend to melt into small, equal sized pieces. This will help the chocolate melt faster and uniformly.
- Always ensure that no water or any other form of cold liquid comes into contact with the melted chocolate. A slight contact of water, even in the form of steam can cause the chocolate to seize, i.e, become a curdle mass.
And that's pretty much my sharing on how to melt chocolate.
Happy baking and decorating 🙂