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Tips for Successfully Melting Chocolate

Chocolate must be melted smoothly to prevent it from scorching or burning. The traditional method for melting chocolate is with a double boiler, which works well, but can be a bit risky since you are increasing the chance that the chocolate seizes as a result of coming in contact with water.

You can either melting the chocolate directly on top of the stove or in the microwave.
Here are some important tips for safely melting chocolate:

* Chop the chocolate into small uniform pieces so it melts faster and more evenly and is less likely to burn

* Never try to melt large bars or blocks of chocolate that have not been chopped since they are much more likely to burn before they melt.

* Avoid any contact with water or moisture. When moisture causes chocolate to get thick, grainy and lumpy it is called seizing. Make sure your bowls, utensils, and pans are completely dry and that no moisture gets into the chocolate when melting.

* Stir the chocolate frequently with a rubber spatula, once the outer edges start to melt to prevent it from scorching.

* Chocolate retains its shape when melted in the microwave, so the only way to know if it is truly melted is to stir it.

- How to Melt Chocolate in the Microwave

Melting chocolate in the microwave is fast and easy. When done properly, chocolate can be melted in the microwave more quickly than directly on the stove top or in a double boiler, and with less effort and mess. The time required will depend on the amount and type of chocolate being melted.

Start by placing the small pieces of chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heating for 30 to 45 seconds on 100% power. Then stir the chocolate well. If needed, microwave for additional 10 to 20 second intervals, stirring well after each interval, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

- Melting Chocolate on the Top of the Stove

Most cookbooks and cooking experts will tell you to never melt chocolate directly on the stove top. But if you don't have access to a microwave, be very careful and don't walk away from the stove with chocolate on a burner.

Place the small pieces of chopped chocolate in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over the lowest heat possible. Stir the chocolate constantly and remove it from the heat just before it is completely melted. Continue to stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Just remember low and slow and you should have no problem.

What to Do If the Chocolate Seizes?

Stir 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or shortening into every 6 ounces of chocolate and stir until smooth.

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