Melting chocolate and tempering chocolate are two totally different things, although melting chocolate is a necessary step in the tempering process. You can melt chocolate using a microwave oven, or by utilizing a hot-water-bath. We've got a few helpful tips to guide you through melting chocolate successfully.
Make sure to chop the chocolate into small pieces, no larger than a marble. This will ensure even melting of chocolate. Do not attempt to melt large blocks of chocolate, this will lead to un-even melting and won't products great results for your molded candy chocolate pieces.
When working with chocolate for molding purposes, AVOID all contact with water! Water is the enemy of chocolate. Even a few drops of water will make your chocolate seize up - and become unworkable - this is not what you want! SO - make sure to wipe dry all of the materials that your chocolate may come in contact with, prior to getting started. This includes pots, pans, spatulas, work-areas and more. Everything should be bone dry and water free!
The key to getting smooth, easy-to-work with chocolate is to melt the chocolate S-L-O-W-L-Y over V-E-R-Y L-O-W heat.
Once the chocolate begins to melt - keep stirring with a rubber spatula or other kitchen utensil - make sure to keep stirring until all lumps and chocolate pieces are completely melted!
USING THE MICROWAVE
Melting chocolate in the microwave can be quicker and easier than using a double boiler, and it usually creates much less of a mess than using a double-boiler. The most crucial step in melting chocolate in the microwave is choosing the proper container.
Set your microwave to run at 50% of power - this is usually pretty easy for most microwaves, but check the documentation on your oven to make sure you're doing it correctly. If your microwave has an internal spinning plate, that's great. If not, then make sure to heat your chocolate in short intervals, rotating the bowl throughout.
Make sure to choose a microwave-safe bowl or container that will remain cool to the touch, after several minutes in the microwave. If the bowl is too hot for you to touch after microwaving, it's probably too hot for the chocolate inside. If by chance you have over-heated the chocolate in the microwave, the best thing is to pour the chocolate into a cool bowl and start mixing in un-melted chocolate using a rubber spatula.
A rough estimate for chocolate melting times in a microwave is as follows:
Make sure to keep a watchful eye on your chocolate as it melts - all microwave ovens are different depending on power and wattage.
USING A DOUBLE-BOILER
A double boiler works by providing indirect heat to whatever is in the top pot.
Begin by filling the bottom part of your double boiler with HOT water from your tap. Heat the water ALONE and allow it to simmer - then turn the heat off, and place the top part of the double boiler, with the chocolate on top.
Make sure to provide enough heat to melt the chocolate, but avoid allowing the water below to reach the bottom of the pot that the chocolate is in.
Give the chocolate a little time to begin to melt, and then start stirring with a rubber spatula and do not stop stirring until all of the chocolate is melted completely and begins to shine.
We'll be back with more tips on how to make the most of your chocolate molds from SweetMolds.com!