Dipping fruits, nuts and other foods in chocolate is a tasty way to elevate your snack or dessert. Chocolate-covered strawberries, marshmallows, pretzels, cookies and nuts are fun variations of already delicious treats. They're also great for gifting.
But fun can quickly turn into frustration if you encounter one big snag: dipping chocolate that hardens.
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So what's the best way to melt chocolate? The answer lies in your technique. When it comes to making excellent dipping chocolate, it's all about the process — and ideally, your method doesn't involve zapping it in the microwave and crossing your fingers everything turns out OK.
Here, Chinelo Awa, a professional cake maker in London and owner of Good Cake Day, explains how to make thin dipping chocolate and tips to thin chocolate that's a bit too viscous.
Things You'll Need
1/2 pound couverture chocolate ($40, Amazon)
Glass or stainless steel bowl
1 cup water
1. Choose Your Chocolate
Awa recommends using couverture chocolate for dipping. It's single-origin chocolate that contains a large amount of cocoa butter — it consists of 35 percent cacao and at least 31 percent cocoa butter, according to the Institute of Culinary Education.
This results in a more fluid-like melt and overall thinner consistency that is suitable for dipping.
2. Break Chocolate Into Small Pieces
You will need about a 1/2 pound of chocolate. Some chocolate bars are already cut into small pieces or pellets, but if yours isn't, break it into smaller pieces to encourage faster melting.
3. Simmer Water in a Saucepan
Pour 1 cup of water into a medium saucepan. Place the saucepan over low heat until it reaches a simmer.
4. Create a Bain-Marie
To make dipping chocolate, you'll need to use a double boiler. If you don't have one, you can create a bain-marie with kitchen items you likely already have. The University of Illinois Extension defines a bain-marie as a heated bath that usually involves a custard dish or bowl over a larger dish or saucepan that is surrounded by hot water. The hot water creates steam that melts the contents of the smaller bowl.
In this case, you'll need a glass or stainless steel bowl to place on top of the saucepan. The steam will heat the bowl, which will melt the chocolate.
When choosing the size of your bowl in relation to the saucepan, Awa recommends that the bowl should sit snuggly on the saucepan to avoid steam escaping from the sides. The bottom of the bowl does not have to touch the water in the saucepan.
5. Place Chocolate in the Bowl to Steam
Once you've created a bain-marie, place the chocolate pieces in the bowl.
6. Allow Chocolate to Melt
Leave the saucepan on low heat. It will take about 1 minute for the chocolate to melt.
7. Stir Chocolate Occasionally
As the chocolate melts, use a spatula to occasionally stir the chocolate until it is completely and uniformly melted. The consistency should be thin. If you're using a thermometer, the chocolate should be at least 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
The chocolate is ready once it's shiny and smooth, per Le Cordon Bleu.
8. Remove the Bowl from the Heat
Once the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan.
Awa emphasizes that it's important to take extra care to avoid the water in the saucepan getting into the bowl of melted chocolate. When moisture is added to chocolate, it can curdle and become rough and grainy.
Use a kitchen towel to wipe off the water from the sides and bottom of your bowl before placing it on your counter.
9. Dunk Your Food Into the Dipping Chocolate
Use a fork to dip your chosen foods into the thin dipping chocolate.
You can also try incorporating melted dark chocolate into some of our recipes, such as:
How to Make Melted Chocolate Thinner
If you have dipping chocolate that hardens, that likely means that some water entered your bowl by accident during step 8.
To remedy this, add a small amount of fat (such as butter or coconut oil) to thin the chocolate. Use sparingly, though — a little bit goes a long way.