This guide on the best way to melt chocolate is modified from my book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, and was originally sponsored by Pascha Chocolate. They have a top allergen-free facility where they make certified organic, vegan, fair trade, kosher, and non-GMO verified chocolate. They even offer 100% cacao chocolate chips that are suitable for paleo diets.
The Best Way to Melt Chocolate .. and All The Other Ways
I was in the dark about the best way to melt chocolate, until I received a lesson from the experts. I assumed the double-boiler 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 Boiler
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: Counter Top Double Boiler
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 boiler OR two pans or metal bowls, where one can fit inside of the other.
- 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!
- 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.
- Whisk as the chocolate melts. It will take just about 1 minute for the chocolate to melt completely.
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.