How to melt chocolate (otherwise known as tempering chocolate) for perfect chocolate-dipped fruit, treats, and chocolate molds:
Chocolate is one of the most popular treats and certainly THE most popular desserts amongst GKC readers. One of the most common questions we get is about melting chocolate for chocolate dipping, molding and for pastry decorating. At home, it is not always easy to melt chocolate and set properly. Sometimes the chocolate burns, sometimes it seizes (comes in contact with even a drop or two of liquid), and sometimes it just doesn't seem to harden as expected. In order for melted chocolate to harden (and shape) properly, it needs to be tempered. If you do not temper the chocolate, it will most likely heat to too high a temperature, which makes it impossible to use for dipping or molding. But now we have the GKC easy guide to tempering chocolate. No more buying chocolate covered pretzels or strawberries. You will now be a pro in your own kitchen.
First, I need to mention a few, NEVER DO’s in tempering chocolate.
Do NOT use chocolate chips. They have coating on them that protects their shape and actually prevents them from melting. So in order to get them to melt, you must use high temperature, which destroys the chance of a smooth, shiny, dipping chocolate. They are great in chocolate chip cookies and work fine in ganache but forget it for dipping chocolate.
Do NOT melt chocolate in the bottom of a pot. Use a double boiler. I have tried this without a double boiler (even with really good pots that conduct heat slowly and evenly); it does not work as well and most often fails.
It is not hard to temper chocolate but it requires a little patience. I taught my 11 year old daughter Sarah who has become an expert and now she makes ice cream bon bons and chocolate covered strawberries every Shabbos.
Here is the GKC step by step, no fail, how to:
1. Chop your chocolate. It is best to use at least 1 pound of chocolate, as it is easier to temper (and retain the temper) of larger amounts of chocolate. If this is more than you need, you can always save the extra for later use. Be sure that your chocolate is in block or bar form.
2. Melt 2/3 of your chocolate. Place it in the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water. Securely clip a chocolate or instant-read thermometer to the side of the boiler to monitor the chocolate’s temperature. When you get more experienced, you can avoid the thermometer.
3. Stir gently but steadily as the chocolate melts and heats up. Use a rubber spatula, not a wooden or metal spoon.
4. Bring the chocolate to 115 degrees (for dark chocolate) or 110 degrees (for milk or white chocolate). Do not allow the chocolate to exceed its recommended temperature. When it is at the right temperature, remove it from the heat, wipe the bottom of the bowl, and set it on a heatproof surface.
5. Add the remaining chunks of chocolate and stir gently to incorporate. The warm chocolate will melt the chopped chocolate, and the newly added chocolate will bring down the temperature of the warm chocolate.
Your chocolate should now be tempered! To make sure it has been done properly, do a spot test: spread a spoonful thinly over an area of waxed paper and allow it to cool. If the chocolate is shiny and smooth, it is properly tempered. If it is dull or streaky, it has not been tempered correctly.
You can reheat it over the double boiler if you need a little extra melting time but do not allow it to get back over 89 degrees.