How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler - Always Eat Dessert (2023)

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In this post I'm sharing all of my tips and tricks for how to melt chocolate quickly and easily using a double boiler. This simple, foolproof method is so much more reliable than melting chocolate in the microwave (I'll explain why), and you can create a double boiler using kitchen tools that you already own.

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Jump to:
  • What is a Double Boiler?
  • How to DIY a Double Boiler
  • Why You Should Use a Double Boiler to Melt Chocolate
  • Best Chocolate for Melting
  • Melting vs. Tempering
  • Step-By-Step Instructions
  • Step-By-Step Video
  • FAQs
  • Uses for Melted Chocolate
  • More Baking Tips
  • Recipe
  • Comments

If you've ever melted chocolate in the microwave and ended up with thick, lumpy chocolate rather than chocolate that's glossy and smooth, then you know how frustrating it can be to ruin a batch of chocolate in the microwave. Double boiler to the rescue! This simple method for melting chocolate takes just a few minutes and uses tools you already have on hand.

Keep reading to learn how to easily melt chocolate in a double boiler!

What is a Double Boiler?

A double boiler is a kitchen tool used to apply indirect heat evenly to ingredients and foods. It looks like two saucepans stacked on top of each other. Water is placed in the lower pan, which will receive direct heat from the stove. The steam from the simmering or boiling water in the lower pan provides indirect heat to the food in the upper pan.

How to DIY a Double Boiler

Fortunately, it's very simple to create an improvised double boiler using items you already have in your kitchen! To create a double boiler, you will need a saucepan and a shallow, heat-safe mixing bowl. The mixing bowl should fit over the saucepan so that the outer edge of the bowl touches the upper edges of the saucepan (to create a "seal" that will trap steam within the saucepan). There should be several inches between the bottom of the saucepan and the bottom of the bowl so that there is space to add water to the saucepan without that water touching the bowl.

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How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler - Always Eat Dessert (3)

Why You Should Use a Double Boiler to Melt Chocolate

As I mentioned above, a double boiler allows us to melt chocolate using indirect heat (steam) rather than direct heat from a stove or radiation from a microwave. This indirect heat helps to heat - and melt - the chocolate more gradually, which greatly reduces the risk of overheating the chocolate or causing fat bloom. The result is perfectly smooth, glossy melted chocolate!

Conversely, melting chocolate in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove heats the chocolate more quickly and unevenly. Chocolate is much more likely to become overheated in these scenarios, which will lead to disappointing results:

  • Burned Chocolate - Chocolate that has been overheated becomes thick and gloppy, rather than the smooth and glossy chocolate we're aiming for.
  • Fat Bloom - This is the white, waxy spots that you sometimes see on chocolate that has melted and re-solidified. Unsteady temperature changes in the chocolate can cause the fats (like milk fat and cocoa butter) within the chocolate to move to the surface and crystalize. This is most likely to happen with lower quality chocolate. It's still safe to eat, but it doesn't look as pretty.

Best Chocolate for Melting

There are three types of chocolate that you can use for melting, but a chocolate baking bar is always my go to because it doesn't contain extra ingredients and is easy to melt to a smooth consistency.

  • Chocolate Baking Bar - A chocolate baking bar is real chocolate without added stabilizers, oils, or other ingredients. Bars should be finely chopped before melting to help them melt more quickly and evenly.
  • Chocolate Chips - Chocolate chips contain stabilizers to help them hold their shape. They can be melted, but the added ingredients make it a bit more challenging to melt chips to a smooth consistency.
  • Chocolate Wafers - Chocolate wafers are disc-shaped and larger than chocolate chips. They may contain oils to help the chocolate melt to a smooth consistency.

Melting vs. Tempering

Rather than simply melting chocolate, tempering chocolate means melting chocolate through a specific process which involves heating chocolate to a specific temperature in a double boiler, allowing it to cool slightly, and then heating it once again to a specific temperature (which varies, depending on the type of chocolate used). Tempered chocolate is stabilized, so it maintains a smooth, glossy finish and won't melt in your hands.

That's a little too fussy for me, and the simplified method that I'm sharing here has always served me well when melting chocolate for making chocolate covered strawberries, using in all kinds of frosting and baked goods, and drizzling over desserts. So I say we skip the candy thermometer and keep it simple!

Equipment & Ingredients

How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler - Always Eat Dessert (4)

Double Boiler (Saucepan + Heat-Safe Bowl) - The double boiler is made of two parts: a saucepan for heating water, and a heat-safe bowl for melting chocolate. The double boiler allows the chocolate to melt using even, indirect heat and can be easily improvised using kitchen tools you already own.

Rubber Spatula - A rubber spatula is used to stir the chocolate as it melts.

(Video) How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler

Water - Water is heated to create steam, which is used to warm and melt the chocolate.

Chocolate - Use a chopped chocolate baking bar, chocolate chips, or chocolate wafers... the choice is yours!

Cutting Board & Serrated Knife - If you're melting a chocolate baking bar, use a serrated knife and cutting board to chop the chocolate into small, even pieces before melting.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. Place a saucepan on the stove and add 1-2 inches of water to the pan.
  2. Place a dry, shallow, heat-safe mixing bowl over the saucepan.
    • The mixing bowl should fit over the pan so that the outer edge of the bowl touches the upper edges of the saucepan (to create a "seal" that will trap steam within the saucepan).
    • Check to make sure the water in the pan isn't touching the bottom of the bowl by lifting the bowl up and checking the bottom to be sure it's dry before replacing the bowl in the pan.
  3. Add chocolate to the mixing bowl.
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How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler - Always Eat Dessert (6)
How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler - Always Eat Dessert (7)
  1. Turn on the stove to medium heat. As the water begins to simmer and release steam, the steam will heat the chocolate and the chocolate will begin to melt. As the chocolate melts, keep stirring with a heat-safe rubber spatula until all of the chocolate has melted.
  2. Use the melted chocolate to dip or drizzle, or add it to a recipe. If dipping or drizzling, let the chocolate cool and harden before packing up your treats to store them.
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How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler - Always Eat Dessert (9)
How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler - Always Eat Dessert (10)

Step-By-Step Video

Tips & Tricks

Use a serrated knife to more easily chop chocolate baking bars.

Do not let any water come in contact with the chocolate. Water causes chocolate to seize, causing it to become thick and lumpy. Even a drop of water can destroy your chocolate, so be sure to use a bowl and spatula that are completely dry.

FAQs

How long does it take to melt chocolate in a double boiler?

It takes roughly 5 to 10 minutes for chocolate to completely melt in a double boiler, depending on how much chocolate is being melted.

Can I melt chocolate in microwave instead of double boiler?

While I recommend using a double boiler instead of the microwave, since the microwave uses uneven, direct heat and is more likely to burn the chocolate, chocolate can be melted in the microwave. If melting chocolate in the microwave, be sure to go low and slow. Heat the chocolate at 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring between increments, until completely melted.

How do you thin chocolate for dipping?

If you'll be using the melted chocolate for dipping - or if you want to know how to thin melted chocolate - I like to add a small amount of neutral oil (like vegetable or canola oil) to the chocolate as it's melting. The oil gives the melted chocolate a glossy sheen. I recommend using 2 teaspoons of oil for every 8 ounces of chocolate.

How do you keep melted chocolate from hardening?

Chocolate that is melted but not tempered will begin to re-solidify as it cools. To keep the chocolate nice and smooth while you're using it, say if you're dipping strawberries, keep the chocolate over the water pan of the double boiler - but off of the stove - so that the steam continues to keep the chocolate warm. If you find that the chocolate does begin to cool, simply return the double boiler to the heat until the chocolate re-melts.

(Video) How to melt chocolate using a double-boiler

Uses for Melted Chocolate

You can use melted chocolate for so many things, like:

  • Dipping fruit, like chocolate covered strawberries
  • Dipping marshmallows
  • Dipping treats, like Oreos or pretzels
  • Drizzling over pound cake
  • Drizzling over cookies, like these orange shortbread cookies
  • Adding to buttercream frosting
  • And so much more!
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More Baking Tips

  • How to Line Pans with Parchment Paper
  • How to Brown Butter

Love this baking tutorial? Please leave a star rating and check out these other great baking tips linked above! And don't forget to subscribe to Always Eat Dessert for even more baking tips and simple dessert recipes.

Recipe

How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler - Always Eat Dessert (16)

How to Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler

How to melt chocolate quickly and easily using a double boiler. This simple method is so much more reliable than melting chocolate in the microwave, and you can create a double boiler using kitchen tools that you already own.

5 from 2 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: Dessert

(Video) Melt Chocolate Using Your Instant Pot as a Double Boiler- Dip Whatever You Want!

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

Yield: 4 ounces (113 grams) melted chocolate

Calories: 170kcal

Author: Allison Ferraro

Special Equipment

Ingredients

  • water
  • 4 ounces chocolate (chopped chocolate baking bar, chocolate chips, or chocolate melting wafers) Use whatever amount you wish to melt.

US Customary - Metric

(Video) How to Melt Chocolate Using a Double Boiler

Instructions

  • Place a saucepan on the stove and add 1-2 inches of water to the pan.

  • Place a dry, shallow, heat-safe mixing bowl over the saucepan.

  • Add chocolate to the mixing bowl.

  • Turn on the stove to medium heat. As the water begins to simmer and release steam, the steam will heat the chocolate and the chocolate will begin to melt. As the chocolate melts, keep stirring with a heat-safe rubber spatula until all of the chocolate has melted.

  • Use the melted chocolate to dip or drizzle, or add it to a recipe. If dipping or drizzling, let the chocolate cool and harden before packing up your treats to store them.

Notes

The mixing bowl should fit over the pan so that the outer edge of the bowl touches the upper edges of the saucepan (to create a "seal" that will trap steam within the saucepan).

Check to make sure the water in the pan isn't touching the bottom of the bowl by lifting the bowl up and checking the bottom to be sure it's dry before replacing the bowl in the pan.

If you're melting a chocolate baking bar, use a serrated knife and cutting board to chop the chocolate into small, even pieces before melting.

Do not let any water come in contact with the chocolate. Water causes chocolate to seize, causing it to become thick and lumpy.

(Video) How To Temper (Melt) Chocolate: Double Boiler Method

Chocolate that is melted but not tempered will begin to re-solidify as it cools. To keep the chocolate nice and smooth while you're using it, say if you're dipping strawberries, keep the chocolate over the water pan of the double boiler - but off of the stove - so that the steam continues to keep the chocolate warm. If you find that the chocolate does begin to cool, simply return the double boiler to the heat until the chocolate re-melts.

If you'll be using the melted chocolate for dipping - or if you want to know how to thin melted chocolate - I like to add a small amount of neutral oil (like vegetable or canola oil) to the chocolate as it's melting. The oil gives the melted chocolate a glossy sheen. I recommend using 2 teaspoons of oil for every 8 ounces of chocolate.

Nutrition

Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 203mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 11IU | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 3mg

FAQs

Why do you melt chocolate in a double boiler? ›

Melting on the stovetop

Using a double boiler gives you maximum control over the heating process. The steam of the barely simmering water gently melts the chocolate so that it doesn't have a chance to burn. Create a double boiler by bringing a medium pot filled with about an inch of water to a simmer.

Is a double boiler the best way to melt chocolate? ›

The best way to melt chocolate is on the stovetop using a double boiler. A double boiler is simply a heat-proof bowl (think glass, ceramic, or metal) placed on top of a saucepan of simmering water.

How do you melt chocolate for dessert? ›

Step 1: Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in microwave-safe bowl. Step 2: Microwave at 70% power for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and give it a stir. Step 3: Continue to microwave in 30-second increments, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has fully melted.

How do you melt chocolate step by step? ›

Try these easy step-by-step instructions:
  1. Fill a medium saucepan with 4cm of water. ...
  2. Place a heatproof bowl on top of the pan so that it fits snuggly but doesn't touch the water.
  3. Lower the heat to a very gentle simmer.
  4. Break up the chocolate and add to the bowl, then leave to melt for 4-5 mins, stirring regularly.

How do I use a double boiler? ›

How to Use a Double Boiler. To use a double boiler, simply fill the bottom pot with one or two inches of water. Next, add in the top pot and turn on your burner to a simmer. As the water heats up and steam is released, the steam stays trapped between the two pots, which then heats the food in the top pot.

Why use a double boiler? ›

When Do You Use a Double Boiler? It's used for cooking delicate ingredients that have a tendency to seize or separate over direct heat, as when tempering chocolate, whisking up a egg-based sabayon, or keeping gravy warm.

What happens to chocolate when heated? ›

When you heat chocolate, the cocoa butter crystals melt and the chocolate becomes fluid, but if you get the chocolate too hot, it can separate into burned, blackened cocoa particles and pale golden liquid.

What temperature does chocolate double boil? ›

Place two-thirds of the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler. Heat over hot but not boiling water, stirring constantly, until chocolate reaches 110°–115°F. Place the top pan of the double boiler on a towel.

Is there a trick to melting chocolate? ›

Place chocolate in a dry, microwave-safe bowl. Now put the bowl in the microwave and microwave in 30-second intervals. Stir the chocolate with a dry spoon or spatula in between each 30-second blast until all of the chips are just about melted and look very glossy. Stop now so the chocolate does not burn.

Why is my chocolate not melting? ›

Overheating chocolate (anything over 46°C will do it), adding cold substances or getting any liquid (even a teaspoon) into melted chocolate can make chocolate seize up in this way because the sugars in the chocolate lump together and separate from the fat, rather than harmoniously melding together as happens in ...

How much water do you put in a double boiler? ›

To use a double boiler correctly, put about 1 to 2 inches of water in the bottom pan, and put the pan on the stove on medium heat. Make sure that the bottom of the top pan will not be touching the water when it is inserted into the bottom pan. Then, place the top pan on the bottom pan and add your ingredients.

How do you melt chocolate so smooth? ›

This method is easy and convenient. Place the chocolate in a heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly till the chocolate begins to melt. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir the chocolate until smooth.

How do you melt chocolate in hot water? ›

Boil water in a kettle and immediately pour into the measuring cup or bowl. Place the bowl of chocolate or chocolate chips over the hot water, makgin sure the bottom of the bowl does not actually touch the hot water. Let the chocolate sit for 1-2 minutes to melt slightly and then stir.

What can I use for a double boiler? ›

Use A Pot/Saucepan and Bowl (or Two Pots)

To simulate the function of a double boiler, the most popular method is using two pots, or a small pot/saucepan, and a large heat-resistant bowl. You should use food-grade metal bowls or glass/ceramic bowls.

How do you heat food in a double boiler? ›

Double boiler

Add some water to the pan; one inch should do it. Place the covered or uncovered container of food on the ring. Cover. Use medium-low heat and let the boiling water heat the food.

What is a double boiler called? ›

A bain-marie (pronounced [bɛ̃ maʁi]; also known as a water bath or double boiler), a type of heated bath, is a piece of equipment used in science, industry, and cooking to heat materials gently or to keep materials warm over a period of time.

Why did my double boiler explode? ›

But by floating a Pyrex or metal vessel in a pot of boiling water, you may have steam or boiling water bubbles shooting out in unexpected directions, or if the top pot or vessel fits too snugly, the build-up of steam in the bottom one may cause an explosion.

Do you have to use glass for a double boiler? ›

All you need to make a double boiler is a mixing bowl (preferably glass/pyrex or metal) and a saucepan that the bowl will fit on top of. The two should fit tightly together; you don't want a gap between the bowl and the saucepan, nor do you want a bowl that sits precariously on a tiny saucepan.

Does the double boiler have to touch the pan? ›

The bowl in your homemade double boiler should fit snugly onto the large pot. There should be no gaps or spaces between the bowl and the rim of the pot. The bottom of the bowl should not touch bottom of the large pot.

What is it called when chocolate turns white? ›

That white discoloration that sometimes forms on old chocolate turns the stomachs of chocolate lovers everywhere. For years, researchers have known that the harmless change, known as a fat bloom, is caused by liquid fat such as cocoa butter migrating through the chocolate and crystalizing on the candy's surface.

Why does chocolate burn my throat? ›

Cocoa can cause the intestinal cells that relax the esophageal sphincter to release a surge of serotonin. When this muscle relaxes, gastric contents can rise. This causes a burning sensation in the esophagus. Chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine, which can increase symptoms.

What happens to chocolate when it gets too cold? ›

If chocolate gets too cold or undergoes a temperature shock, condensation can form and potentially cause sugar bloom. Sugar bloom changes the texture and appearance of the bar.

How do you make chocolate shiny? ›

Warm the chocolate gently to 86 degrees for dark or 84 degrees for milk and white. Hold it at this temperature for a few minutes, then warm up to 91-92 degrees for dark (87-89 degrees for milk or white). As the chocolate warms, the undesirable beta-prime crystals will melt and the chocolate will be ready to use.

What is the perfect temperature for melting chocolate? ›

For example, dark chocolate should be melted between 120 and 130°F (50°C and 55°C), while milk and white chocolate should melt at around 105-115°F (40-45°C).

What temperature is chocolate best at? ›

Ideally, chocolate should be enjoyed somewhere between 65-68° F (18-20° C). This desired range is directly linked behind the science of chocolate and its ingredients, with the main culprit in this case being cacao butter. Since cacao butter is a fat, its structure becomes more brittle the cooler it gets.

Is it better to melt chocolate in glass or plastic? ›

Cut the chocolate into similar-sized pieces and place in a clean, dry microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl. Don't use a plastic bowl, as it can retain moisture and make the chocolate seize.

Why is my chocolate burning instead of melting? ›

Overheating Chocolate

Chocolate is very sensitive to high temperatures and different chocolates require different maximum temperatures in order to melt properly. Dark chocolate should never be heated above 120 F, while milk and white chocolates should never be heated to above 110 F.

Why has my chocolate gone lumpy when melting? ›

When chocolate is melted, its ingredients—mainly cocoa powder, sugar, and cocoa butter—disperse evenly, creating a fluid mass. But if even a tiny amount of moisture is introduced, the liquid and the sugar will form a syrup to which the cocoa particles will cling, thereby creating grainy clumps.

What do you do when melted chocolate is too thick? ›

Thick and Muddy
  1. Add More. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh cocoa buttons to bring the temperature down, and stir constantly until the new pieces have dissolved.
  2. Oil. ...
  3. Strain or Blend. ...
  4. Dairy. ...
  5. Break It Up. ...
  6. Keep Temperature in Check. ...
  7. Avoid Ice.
21 Oct 2016

How do I know if my boiler has enough water? ›

The first and easiest way to tell if your boiler water is low, is by checking the sight glass. In most cases, this is the only visual you'll be able to use to check on your boiler's water level. You should become familiar with the normal level in your sight glass.

How often should I fill my boiler with water? ›

The guy who installed this unit, who is the "boiler expert" at my plumber (Nick at Mulder Plumbing in Teaneck, NJ) said that I should put water in as infrequently as possible, no more than every 3 weeks, if possible, because everytime you add water you are putting in oxygenated water which promotes rust.

How often should you refill your boiler? ›

If pressure rises by more than 1 bar when the heating is up to temperature then the expansion vessel may require repressurising. This will require a service engineer. The pressure in the system will usually require topping up once or twice a year.

Do you add oil before or after melting chocolate? ›

Before you melt your chocolate, add a little vegetable oil. This will keep your chocolate from drying out. It can also fix slightly overheated chocolate!

What makes chocolate smooth and creamy? ›

Cocoa butter is a very special kind of fat that has unique properties. This makes chocolate famously “melt in your mouth but not on your hands,” and it also adds the silky and smooth taste. Cocoa butter's melting temperatures are in the range of 81 to 95°F.

Can I add milk to melted chocolate? ›

Chocolate can be safely melted with a small amount of liquid, such as milk, cream, butter, or alcohol if they are placed in the pan or bowl together (the same time). Cold liquids should never be added to melted chocolate, as they can cause the chocolate to seize.

Do you use hot or cold water for chocolate? ›

In general, chocolate stains are best flushed with cold water to lift as much of the stain as possible. Then tackle the oil-based part of the stain with hot water. If you're dealing with a set chocolate stain, you can try to loosen it by soaking it with a cleaning agent and then flushing it with cold water.

Do you use milk or hot water for hot chocolate? ›

Whole milk lends to the creaminess and sweetness of hot chocolate, but feel free to use low-fat or nonfat milk if you prefer. For a thicker, richer hot chocolate, switch out 1/4 cup of milk for cream. Soy milk or another non-dairy milk is an alternative if you are lactose intolerant. Use unflavored or vanilla soy milk.

Do you need boiling water for hot chocolate? ›

Cocoa powder is a very fine powder, but it's still tiny bits of dried plant matter. Boiling water hydrates these particles much better than hot water, allowing flavor components to disperse into the mixture.

Why won't my chocolate melt in a double boiler? ›

If using a double boiler, keep the water just below a boil or turn down the heat when the chocolate is placed on top. This will prevent any boiling water from splashing into your cocoa melt, and reduces the amount of steam – which can also cause seizing.

Can you leave chocolate on a double boiler? ›

To keep the chocolate nice and smooth while you're using it, say if you're dipping strawberries, keep the chocolate over the water pan of the double boiler - but off of the stove - so that the steam continues to keep the chocolate warm.

Should I add oil to melted chocolate? ›

Before you melt your chocolate, add a little vegetable oil. This will keep your chocolate from drying out. It can also fix slightly overheated chocolate!

Why has my chocolate gone hard when melting? ›

Overheating chocolate (anything over 46°C will do it), adding cold substances or getting any liquid (even a teaspoon) into melted chocolate can make chocolate seize up in this way because the sugars in the chocolate lump together and separate from the fat, rather than harmoniously melding together as happens in ...

Why does my chocolate not want to melt? ›

Chocolate is very sensitive to high temperatures and different chocolates require different maximum temperatures in order to melt properly. Dark chocolate should never be heated above 120 F, while milk and white chocolates should never be heated to above 110 F.

Why is my melted chocolate not setting? ›

Sounds like you might have messed up the tempering of the chocolate. In order to get chocolate that doesn't melt easily at room temperature, you need to properly temper the chocolate.

How do you keep chocolate melted all day? ›

Keep it in a metal bowl or glass serving dish set tightly over a bowl of warm water or in a warm environment, such as a toasty kitchen. When kept at this temperature, the chocolate will be warm to the tongue, but not scalding.

Should chocolate be room temperature before melting? ›

Most chocolate will begin to melt at about 75-95 degrees F. As long as you stay below that temperature, you should be fine. For most situations, leaving it room temperature shouldn't have any effect. On a hot day, putting a small bag of ice near the chocolate should solve the temperature problem.

How do you keep chocolate shiny after melting? ›

Warm the chocolate gently to 86 degrees for dark or 84 degrees for milk and white. Hold it at this temperature for a few minutes, then warm up to 91-92 degrees for dark (87-89 degrees for milk or white).

What do you add to chocolate to make it shiny? ›

Coconut oil is the secret to achieving a super-shiny chocolate coating. It brings a little extra luster to melted chocolate, which, on its own, can become matte when dry. Not only does coconut oil make your chocolate coating shine, but it also helps the chocolate harden.

Why do you add butter when melting chocolate? ›

Butter helps the chocolate chips melt in a smooth and glossy liquid. It also helps make the perfect consistency for dipping and glazing! What is this? Depending on the cocoa percentage, add 1 tablespoon of butter for every 2 to 12 ounces of chocolate chips.

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