Melting chocolate is an essential technique used in a variety of recipes, so it’s important to understand some of the skills required. There are a couple of different ways to melt chocolate:
- A quick method over boiling water which takes around 3-5 minutes
- Tempering, which is more technical
How To Melt Chocolate Quickly (In Under 5 Minutes)
This quicker method for melting chocolate is effective for baking and desserts where the appearance of the chocolate isn’t as much of a consideration.
Begin by melting the chocolate in a large bowl over a simmering pan of water.
Or, microwave the chocolate on a low heat for 30 seconds, take it out and stir and then place it back in the microwave for 10 second blasts until it’s fully melted.
Tempering chocolate is all about precision temperatures. The chocolate needs to be melted carefully, then quickly cooled, then finally warmed again. You might have seen people moving melted chocolate across a large marble surface – and this is to cool the mix rapidly.
The temperatures for tempering chocolate
What Does Tempering Chocolate Mean?
Tempering chocolate involves rearranging the cocoa butter crystals in order to give it a smooth, glossy finish. When you melt chocolate the easy way, you will often be left with a dull colour and texture due to the way the cocoa butter separates. Conversely, with tempered chocolate, the consistency is improved leaving you with a glossy finish and an enjoyable snap to the chocolate.
Tempering improves the visual finish of chocolate, and gives it a sharp snap once broken and improves the mouth feel. Cocoa butter can crystallise in 6 different ways in chocolate but only one formation, beta crystals, produce the desired shiny chocolate effect.
The process of tempering also prevents the cocoa butter from rising to the surface and 'blooming'. Bloom is a dull whitish covering which appears on the surface of chocolate if it hasn't been tempered. All chocolate will bloom over time but the process of tempering chocolate delays the bloom and hence preserves the chocolate’s shine and snap for longer.
Learn how to melt chocolate the right way, with our guide to the quick way to melt chocolate, and how to temper chocolate for professional results:
How to Temper Chocolate
- Place your broken couverture chocolate in a bain marie over a bubbling heat, until it has melted and reached 55°C (for dark chocolate), or 45C- 50°C (for milk or white chocolate).
- Set aside a third of your melted mix and keep it somewhere warm.
- Now it must be cooled to 27°C. You can do this by pouring it over a marble slab and turning it over, or by putting your bowl over an ice bath. You can also add more unmelted couverture to the mix as this will reduce the temperature as its melts into the mix. Use your thermometer to track the temperature as it drops.
- Finally, reheat your mix to 31°C by pouring in the remaining third of the mix which has been kept warm. Now your chocolate is ready to pour into moulds or for dipping.
- To test that the chocolate is tempered dip a strip of baking paper into the chocolate and set aside. Once set the chocolate should be shiny.
Top Tips When Melting Chocolate
Water causes chocolate to separate and split, so avoid using any utensils that are wet and ensure that the chocolate doesn’t come into contact with water or steam. If this does occur, you will have to start from scratch as the water will give the chocolate an unattractive rough texture.
In order to get a beautiful smooth and shiny finish on your melted chocolate, do not overheat it. Take it slowly, stirring gently as you go along.
Keep the chocolate moving, so that it melts evenly. Before you begin, have a spatula on hand to scrape the edges of your bowl so that everything cooks at the same time.