How To Melt Chocolate
In a Microwave Oven
In a Double Boiler
1.Chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks. Put half of the chocolate in a 1 1/2 quart microwave-safe bowl. (Use a 1 quart bowl when tempering 8-ounces of chocolate or le ss. When tempering more than 2 pounds of chocolate, use a larger bowl.) Microwave uncovered on MEDIUM (50 percent) power for 1 1/2 to 6 minutes, stirring every 1 1/2 minutes, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in the remaining chocolate chunks.
2.Microwave uncovered on MEDIUM (50 percent) power for 1 1/2 to 5 minutes, stirring every 60 seconds, until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Gently stir the chocolate and when it is completely melted, check the temperature. It should read between 110 and 120 degrees F (or the temperature recommended by the manufacturer.) If necessary, put the chocolate back in the microwave set on low (10 percent) power for 5 to 10 second intervals, until it reaches the correct temperature. (Stir the chocolate for at least 1 minute before checking the temperature.)
3.Transfer the melted chocolate to another 1 1/2-quart (or a smaller or larger bowl depending on the amount of chocolate being tempered.) This will bring the temperature of the chocolate down to approximately 100 degrees F.
4.Wrap a heating pad (normally used for backaches) in plastic to protect it from chocolate stains. Set the control dial to the lowest setting.
5.Pour one-third of the melted chocolate onto a clean, dry work surface (such as marble or Formica). Keep the remaining chocolate in the bowl on the heating pad.
6.Using an offset metal cake spatula, spread the chocolate evenly across the work surface into a rectangle. Using a pastry scraper, bring the chocolate together, and as you do so, scrape the chocolate off the spatula. Continue this spreading and scraping process until the chocolate cools to 80 to 82 degrees F for milk and white chocolates and 82 to 84 degrees F for dark chocolate, loses its shine and forms a thick paste with a dull matte finish. Work quickly so that the chocolate does not lump. This process can take anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes, depending on the amount of chocolate, the type and brand of chocolate as well as the temperature of the kitchen. The chocolate is now seeded. The professional term for this is "mush."
7.Add the mush to the bowl of 100 degrees F chocolate and using a clean, dry rubber spatula, stir the chocolate gently, until smooth . Be careful not to create air bubbles as you stir the chocolate.
8.Check the temperature of the chocolate. It should register between 86 and 91 degrees F depending on the type and brand of chocolate. (In general, dark chocolate should register between 86 to 90 degrees F and milk and white chocolates should register between 86 to 89 degrees F.) If necessary, heat the bowl of chocolate in the microwave on LOW (10 percent) power for 5 to 10 second intervals, to raise the temperature the required number of degrees. (Stir the chocolate for at least 1 minute before checking the temperature. Be very careful not to overheat the chocolate.) The chocolate is now ready to work with. As you work, regularly stir the chocolate and check its temperature. Adjust the temperature and fluidity of the chocolate by turning the heating pad on and off. If for some reason the chocolate becomes too cold, simply reheat it in the microwave oven set on LOW (10 percent) power for 5 to 10 second intervals. (Stir the chocolate for at least 1 minute before rechecking the temperature.) Never let its temperature exceed 92 degrees F, or the stable cocoa butter crystals will start to melt and the temper will be lost.