During the Christmas Season it is tradition to make numerous delectable goodies to share with others.
It’s a great way to have cheaper holiday treats, a backup treat for those expected, and unexpected holiday gatherings, and a great way to share goodies, and love and holiday spirit with all those around you.
And as my mom said: “What else was I gonna do with you guys over the break!?”
Over the years I have developed an affinity for goodies dipped in chocolate. (And honestly, who hasn’t)
As many people who have created various chocolaty goodies have discovered, chocolate is a temperamental beast that can be coaxed into a purring best friend when treated correctly. And who can turn on you like a vicious mother bear protecting its young.
Over the years, and through many MANY vicious mother bear attacks, I have come up with some tips and tricks to make chocolate your best friend for life!
(At least in your food)
There are 3 different chocolate bases I will explain. Each kind can be melted on a stove top or microwave.
I want to make a note about microwave melting. Every microwave is different. And the heat settings are different. Do not always trust the package instructions on how to melt your chocolate in the microwave. Here are some tips for microwave melting:
- Use a glass bowl! Trust me. The heat is dispersed more evenly without over heating the bowl and burning your hand.
- Do Not heat your chocolate for more than 30 seconds at a time!! Seriously guys. Some packages say 1 minute. Even on a low setting that is a good way to burn your chocolate. And once you burn chocolate you can’t use it, no matter what you do to it. It’s no good.
I start with 30 seconds, and then I stir. If my chocolate is not melted enough by then I will put it back in for 10 seconds, remove and stir again. If it is still not the right consistency I will put it in for another 10 seconds. By then it should be ready. If not give it some breathing time for a few minutes then pop it back in for no more for 10 seconds!
- Add some oils. Adding a teaspoon of butter, margarine, shortening, or an oil as you melt your chocolate will help to keep it from burning as easy and will help it stay liquid longer. And if for whatever reason you need to save some chocolate and melt it again later it will be easier to melt the second time around.
ON TO THE CHOCOLATE!!
- Almond Bark (also comes in chocolate)
Commonly used for dipping goodies in. A substitute for white chocolate. I use it for dipping cookies as well pretzels and for making my peppermint bark. I find that this product only comes out in most stores around the Christmas Season, though it has been known to appear in a local Thriftway during the year.
(The package will give pretty good directions on how to melt this chocolate which I found works for this type.)
Because of the ingredients this is one type that can be melted straight on the stove top without any worries. It will melt evenly and stay liquid while it is warm but also hardens nicely when cooled. When I use it for the peppermint bark I mix crushed candy canes and it works well with the candy.
On stove top (1 pot):
- Place in a pot on medium heat, stirring frequently.
- Once melted turn down heat to low. Be sure to check on the consistency to avoid over burning or hardening.
- If hardening does occur heat up slightly till melted.
This comes in a box with one ounce squares wrapped in a parchment paper and can come in semi-sweet and bittersweet. (At least that’s what I used.) For my chocolate concoctions I used a mixture of the two kinds.
- Place in microwave safe bowl.
- Add a teaspoon of shortening.
- Heat for 30 seconds, stir.
- If not completely melted heat for another 10 seconds.
- I added other things to this chocolate mixture (powdered sugar and brewed coffee. The combination was MMMMMMMM!!! So tasty!)
- Milk Chocolate Chips
I use for dipping pretzels, cookies and drizzle.
On Stove Top (2 pots):
Unlike the Almond bark, melting chocolate chips straight on a burner is risky business. And even though sliding through the house in your unders is fun, nobody wants to have to replace their daddy’s Porsche.
That being said, I use the double boiler method which is simply two pots. The first pot has water in it, not to much, and the second pot rests inside it with the chocolate in it.
Tips for double boiler method:
- NEVER add water in your chocolate. Now just like over melting your chocolate will kill it, so will water. When you use this method I suggest putting water in the first pot and setting the second one in to see the water level before adding the chocolate.
- Choose appropriate sized pots. You don’t want your smaller pot too small that it won’t sit right in the water pot. You don’t want your small put to tip too far into the water. That is a good way to get water in chocolate and end up wasting a whole bag of chocolate chips.
- Don’t put too much water in. There should be enough water for the pot to float in. A good way to check is to push down on the smaller pot till it touches the bottom of the pot with water. (Do this before adding chocolate) If the water comes into your small pot or comes to the top it’s too much water.
- Don’t let the water boil. Honestly the water doesn’t need to boil to melt the chocolate. Just heat up. Plus boiling water is not good since it can most likely boil into the chocolate and ruin it.
- Add an oil. For bakers and chocolate chips. (See microwave melting)
Another tip is to stir constantly. Don’t get too distracted that you forget it. Most of the time when it is on a low setting on a stove top it will be ok to sit for a while, but be on the safe side a stir it every 10 minutes or so.
Also remember …it’s hot! I have fooled myself many a time into thinking it wasn’t. And melted chocolate can burn, so be careful.
Buy extra. It never hurts to have backup just in case. Better to have extra bags than to burn what you have and not be able to get more.
Bubbling = Bad. Chocolate is not meant for bubbling. It is not meant to boil. It’s meant for melting. If you notice little air bubbles coming from the bottom of the chocolate pot, remove from the heat immediately and turn it down. The air escaping means that your chocolate is burning on the bottom. If you catch it early you have might just have saved your chocolate in time.
Take your time. While melting chocolate doesn’t take very long. Don’t rush it. Coax it, love it, treat it gently and it will love you back!
All right that’s all I’ve got. Now you know what I know! Happy Melting!