Points to remember
- If a recipe requires dark chocolate, choose one with cocoa solids of 68% or more. The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the more intensely chocolatey and high in quality the bar will be.
- Milk chocolate has a much lower percentage of cocoa solids, so if your recipe calls for milk chocolate, choose a bar you like the taste of.
- White chocolate has no cocoa solids, just cocoa butter. If you're using it for a recipe, go for a cheap bar that tends to melt better.
- Store all chocolate in a cool, dry environment.
- To melt chocolate, chop it into small pieces. It can be melted either in the microwave or over a bain marie. If you're microwaving it, be sure to do it in short bursts, mixing often, as the chocolate can burn easily if left unchecked. If using a bain marie, tip your chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't hit the water as it may cause the chocolate to seize and go grainy.
- Other reasons the chocolate may seize is if it's overworked, if water gets into the bowl, or if an ingredient of a different temperature is added to it.
When buying chocolate, try to find a variety that's single-origin, for instance from Madagascar or Ecuador.
Playing it safe when melting
If you're concerned about spoiling the chocolate during the melting process, take it off the heat early and allow the residual heat from the pan to continue melting it gently.