Melting down chunks of chocolate to a silky liquid consistency is something that we often need to do when baking or making desserts. It can be beaten into a ganache, swirled into a cake or drizzled over ice cream.
There are a few key points to remember when melting chocolate that will help you to achieve failproof results. Once you’ve mastered the technique, try our top chocolate recipes and bake up a range of delicious treats.
Start by watching our easy video tutorial on how to melt chocolate and try your hand at making chocolate curls:
Preparing the chocolate
When melting bars of chocolate, it’s best to chop it first so it melts quicker and more evenly. There’s no need to be too precise when it comes to chopping – in pieces or chunks is fine, as long as they’re all roughly the same size.
Many chocolatiers or pastry chefs will favour chocolate drops over bars of chocolate for melting. Chocolate drops are small and uniform, and come in different percentages of cocoa. Their shape means they are more likely to melt at the same time, avoiding burning.
Choosing your chocolate
Chocolate melts faster the higher the percentage of cocoa butter and fat, so dark chocolate melts the fastest. Once melted, it’s glossy and has a good viscosity. Good-quality dark chocolate with no less than 70 per cent cocoa solids will leave you with a darker, richer flavour. Anything lower than that is usually too sweet.
Milk and white chocolate has a higher sugar content and can catch and burn quicker, so it must be stirred continuously when melting. It has a slightly thicker overall consistency than dark chocolate when melted.
How do you melt chocolate on the hob?
Melting chocolate on the hob is the most controlled method. It’s important to remember to make sure your chocolate never comes into contact with the water, as it will become grainy and clump together – this is called ‘seizing’. Try these easy step-by-step instructions:
- Fill a medium saucepan with 4cm of water. Place over a medium heat and bring to a very gentle simmer.
- Place a heatproof bowl on top of the pan so that it fits snuggly but doesn’t touch the water.
- Lower the heat to a very gentle simmer.
- Break up the chocolate and add to the bowl, then leave to melt for 4-5 mins, stirring regularly.
- Carefully remove the pan from the heat and allow the chocolate to cool a little before using.
- Make sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water and that no water comes into contact with the melting chocolate. These may cause the chocolate to seize and become unusable.
- Also don’t let the water get too hot – the chocolate may burn and then split.
Want to expand your chocolate skills? Learn how to temper chocolate for a smooth, glossy mixture with a satisfying snap.
How do you melt chocolate in the microwave?
Be especially vigilant with this method. Checking the chocolate with 5 second intervals is important as chocolate can catch and burn really quickly in a microwave.
- Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
- Microwave for 20 seconds. Check the chocolate, stir and keep cooking and checking every 5 seconds or until it has completely melted.
Read our guide on how to melt chocolate in the microwave for even more top tips and recipe suggestions.
How to make chocolate curls
- Once the chocolate has melted, spread it over a baking sheet in a thin layer.
- Leave to set until firm but not completely solid.
- Hold a knife at a 45 degree angle to the surface of the chocolate and push along so it causes a thin layer to curl up.
Our top five chocolate baking recipes
1. Double-dipped shortbread cookies
Bake up a batch of our double-dipped shortbread cookies for a decadent afternoon treat. These will go down a treat with kids and adults, and they’re really easy to make. They only need a handful of ingredients, most of which you probably already have in the cupboard.
2. Chocolate & caramel flapjacks
Chocolate and thick caramel are a match made in heaven, so try our chocolate & caramel flapjacks. It takes just ten minutes to prep these delicoius bites, and they’re perfect for a bake sale.
3. Easy chocolate cake with chocolate shards
Decorate your favourite bakes with our easy chocolate shards, made with a mix of melted dark, white and milk chocolate. Create eye-catching swirl designs, cut the chocolate into shards and use them to top this easy chocolate cake. The pretty marbled effect is easier to make than you might think.
4. Salted caramel brownies
Indulge in chunky salted caramel brownies with our easy, step-by-step recipe. Each chocolatey treat has a thick layer of salted caramel running through the centre and a deliciously fudgy texture. The mix of dark chocolates makes for an extra rich mixture and an intense flavour.
5. Coffee ice cream terrine
Try a twist on your favourite nostalgic childhood dessert with our simple but stunning, coffee ice cream terrine. You only need a handful of ingredients to recreate this layered masterpiece, ideal for an easy dinner party pudding.
Enjoyed these recipes? Try our other cookery techniques…
What’s your favourite way to bake with chocolate? Leave a comment below…