Melting Chocolate – How To Temper Chocolate The Correct Way
Melting chocolate is the most important steps in 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, which are in turn 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 Chocolates:
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. I would strongly recommend that if you are new to decorating with chocolate, that you start with couverture first.
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 read as follows:
70/30/38 – extra bitter
60/40/38 – bitter
50/50/38 – semisweet
36/42/38 – milk chocolate couverture
White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla.
Its creamy white appearance is contributed by the lack of chocolate liquor.
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.
Melting Chocolate - How to Melt Chocolate the Correct Way
Using Double boiler method for melting chocolate:
Chop chocolate into small, even sized pieces.
Place them in the top of a double boiler.
Heat the chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted.
Remove from heat and stir until the chocolate is smooth.
Using Microwave Oven for Melting Chocolate:
Chop the chocolate into small pieces like above.
Place them in microwave safe bowl.
On the microwave on high for 10 seconds (depending on the amount of chocolate you are melting, you may need to leave it longer 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.
Please remember to remove the chocolate from the oven every few seconds to avoid the chocolate from being overheated.
Note: if you don’t have a double boiler, you can melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a pan filled with simmering water. Just be sure to not to let the bowl come into contact with the water. Heat the water and stir until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir until chocolate is smooth.
Tips on melting chocolate:
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.
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