When we spoke with Alice Medrich about her 5 essential tips for working with chocolate, her years of expertise coupled with her enthusiasm for the subject meant that she ended up giving us way more than five tips! So today we're highlighting one of our favorites: Alice's tried-and-true method for melting chocolate. "I've been using this method for decades and I cannot remember the last time I burned chocolate," she said.
Read on for her simple, foolproof method.
Melting Chocolate: The Water Bath Method
Alice prefers the water bath method for melting chocolate.
The process is dead simple:
Place a wide skillet with about one inch of water on a burner.
Place your chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl (stainless steel or tempered glass), and set the bowl directly in the water.
Bring the water to a simmer, then turn off the flame and let the chocolate sit until it is melted.
Alice says, "Yes, it's OK if the bowl touches the water — it can touch the bottom of the skillet, too. That old advice about not letting the bottom of the bowl touch the water when melting chocolate has got to go! The steam that's trapped in a double boiler is hotter than water so you're actually in a better, gentler situation with the water bath."
"With this method you can see everything, you can see when the water is starting to simmer (it will rattle the bowl, too!) and you can turn off the flame. You can't see what's happening inside a double boiler. Of course, you always have to be careful, no matter what your method, but this is the easiest way I know how to keep track of everything."
What about the microwave? "Sure, that works, too. You can't do it all in one go, though, or you'll risk burning the chocolate. Do it in small spurts and stir and check in-between. But what I love about this water bath method is that you can set it up, bring the water to a simmer, turn it off and just walk away. There's no babysitting, there's no danger of burning."
Note: You will still have to exercise caution not to splash water into the melted chocolate, which will cause the chocolate to sieze up and become hard and grainy. Be sure to stir the chocolate gently when it is in the water bath and to remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the water with care.
Thank you, Alice!
(Image credits: Dana Velden)