The Best Way to Melt Chocolate (Comparison)

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This is part four in our Pure Chocolate Wisdom series of information, sponsored by Pascha Chocolate. I hand-picked Pascha Chocolate for Go Dairy Free, as it is made in a top allergen-free facility (dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, and even soy-free!), and is certified organic, vegan, fair trade, kosher, and non-GMO verified. They even offer 100% cacao chocolate chips that are suitable for paleo diets.

The Best Way to Melt Chocolate (Comparison + Directions)

I was in the dark about the best way to melt chocolate, until I received a lesson from the experts. I assumed the double-broiler was king, but it was such a pain, and I don’t have the best equipment for that set-up. So I often reverted to the microwave method, knowing full-well the risks I was taking, and yes, I have occasionally suffered losses of good quality chocolate due to scorching.

But before getting into the best way to melt chocolate, lets start by addressing the methods that I, like many of you have used in the past, while discussing the benefits and pitfalls:

Cheater: The Microwave

Method: Place chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH, uncovered, for 60 seconds. Whisk the chocolate vigorously. If not completely melted, microwave on HIGH for 15 seconds. Whisk vigorously. If not yet melted, repeat the heating and whisking in 15 second intervals until just melted. Do not overheat – not even a little.

Pros: Quick; No specialty equipment needed.
Cons: High risk of scorching the chocolate; Can degrade the chocolate; May need to reheat if using the chocolate for dipping.

Traditional: Double Broiler

Method: Place water in the bottom of the double boiler so the top of the water is 1/2 inch below the upper pan. Place chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in the upper pan, and then place the double boiler over low heat. Stir the chocolate constantly until it is melted. The water in the bottom of the double boiler should not come to boiling while the chocolate is melting.

Pros: Allows for a slower melt to prevent scorching and degradation.
Cons: Need specialty equipment; hard to make a makeshift double broiler where the top pan doesn’t touch the water; can be challenging to keep the stove-top at just the right temperature, particularly with electric.

Tempered: Heated Creamy Bath

Method: This is a standard way of melting chocolate when making truffles or fudge. Place finely chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl. Heat coconut cream or milk until hot, but not yet boiling, and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds. Whisk vigorously until the chocolate is fully melted and incorporated.

Pros: Lower likelihood of scorching than The Microwave method.
Cons: Chocolate pieces have to be very small, or it may not fully melt; Getting cream/milk to the perfect temperature can be finicky; Only suitable for recipes where the chocolate will be incorporated with a type of milk/cream.

The Best Way to Melt Chocolate

It isn’t to say that the above methods are wrong, but in my opinion, this recommendation from Pascha Chocolate is the best way to melt chocolate. And I’m betting that this specific method is new to many of you!

Equipment: Whisk and a double broiler OR two pans or metal bowls, where one can fit inside of the other.
Method:

  1. Heat water to 125ºF to 150ºF (50-65ºC) either on the stove-top in your bottom pan or in an electric kettle (pour the heated water into your bottom pan or bowl). Kettles like this Cuisinart that can heat water to 150ºF exactly are priceless!
  2. Place chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in the top pan or bowl, and place that pan or bowl right in the pan with water. Yes, it can touch the water – in fact, you want the water to go part way up the sides.
  3. Whisk as the chocolate melts. It will take just about 1 minute for the chocolate to melt completely.

The Best Way to Melt Chocolate - No Stove-Top Required! (Comparison + Directions)

Pros: Allows for a slower melt to prevent scorching and degradation; Keeps chocolate at a consistent melted temperature while dipping; Doesn’t require specialty equipment; Can be done on or off the stove-top, so you can use the melted chocolate in a better work space, if desired; Chocolate still melts relatively quickly.
Cons: None that I’ve found!

Dip Tip: If dipping truffles or other goodies in the chocolate, leave the set-up as is while you dip. The water will stay warm enough to keep the chocolate at the perfect, melted temperature.

For More Pure Chocolate Wisdom:

I’m sharing this recipe on Gluten-Free Wednesdays at Gluten-Free Easily.

The Best Way to Melt Chocolate (Comparison + Directions)

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

20 Comments

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  7. I usually use the microwave method. I find that if I melt it just until it’s mostly melted but not quite and whisk it the rest of the way it comes out perfect every time. I love your “best way” version though and will definitely give that a try!

  8. This is really great! I mostly use the bowls and pot of water to melt chocolate but if I’m in a rush will go the microwave route. It’s nice that you noted the results, this is a great reference. Shared.

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  10. You’re right. Each method has it’s own place when it’s best used. I definitely used the microwave method throughout college when I had near no kitchen equipment.

    • Yes, I actually had to just use the microwave method as I didn’t have any clean bowls for the other one! With caution, the microwave method works great, but alas, I have scorched a few bowls of good chocolate that way over the years!

  11. if I am using it to coat truffles, I generally use the double boiler method; honestly? if I am melting it for another reason – to add to a recipe, to cover bars or cookies, to shove in my mouth – I just chop and heat at lowest heat in my tiny saucepan – it works! 🙂

    now you have me craving chocolate…

    • I’m all about cheater methods 🙂 I was just so excited to learn that the double broiler method can be done over low heat, off the stove, with the bowl immersed – no trickiness and able to work with the chocolate on the counter as I coat things!

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  14. I have found that by adding a very small amount of liquid to the chocolate (I love lemon with chocolate so it’s usually a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice) and making sure to heat no longer than 30 seconds at a go, I can get perfectly melted chocolate every time without degrading or “seizing up.”

    Adding liquid when using other methods would probably help as well. A lot of issues with melting chocolate occur when liquid gets in accidentally during the process and the chocolate turns rock hard. Adding a little liquid in the beginning prevents that.

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