Chocolate is a delicious and versatile staple in most baker’s cupboards. However, melting chocolate can be a little bit tricky. This article lays out some of the best ways to melt your chocolate without burning or scorching it.
Chocolate Melting Methods
While you can melt all types of chocolate the same way, to melt white chocolate takes a little more care. White chocolate doesn’t contain chocolate solids (see this article for more about how chocolate is made), so it melts at a lower temperature but also burns at a lower temperature.
The double-boiler method tends to be the gold standard for melting chocolate. It is easier to melt chocolate without scorching it, so a double-boiler is excellent for melting white chocolate. A double-boiler is a special two-part saucepan. The bottom pan holds water, and the top pan holds your chocolate. You can also DIY a double boiler by placing a heatproof glass or metal bowl on top of a saucepan of water.
Fill your saucepan or the bottom of your double boiler with about 1” of water. You don’t want the water to touch the bowl or top pan of your double boiler once the water boils. Heat your chocolate in your bowl or top pan of your double boiler. Stir gently and constantly until just a few small lumps remain. Take off the heat and continue stirring until completely smooth and melted.
When using a double boiler, be very careful to keep any water from getting into your chocolate. Even a drop of water can make your chocolate seize, which immediately turns it from smooth, liquid chocolate to grainy and stiff.
Using the microwave is one of the quickest options to melt chocolate, but you run the greatest risk of scorching your chocolate. Because of this, the microwave may be a better option for dark chocolate rather than white chocolate.
Microwave chocolate at 50% power to decrease the risk of burning your chocolate. Place your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds, then stir. Continue to microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring between each time, until just a few small lumps remain, then continue stirring until completely smooth and melted.
Like a microwave, melting chocolate in a saucepan is a quicker option and more likely to burn your chocolate. Heat your chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Stir gently and constantly and remove from heat as soon as your chocolate is mostly melted. Continue stirring until fully melted.
What Temperature Does Chocolate Melt At
|Type of Chocolate
|Approximate Burn Temperature
|99-109° F (37-43° C)
|110° F (43.3° C)
|104-113° F (40-45° C)
|115° F (46.1° C)
|113-118° F (45-48° C)
|120° F (48.9° C)
The amount of chocolate solids can affect the melting temperature of chocolate. In general, the lighter the chocolate, the lower the melting point. However, the most important thing to keep in mind when melting chocolate is to go low and slow to avoid burning your chocolate.
How to Thin Melted Chocolate
You may be tempted to add water to make chocolate thinner. However, as mentioned above, adding water to chocolate will not thin the chocolate. It actually does the opposite and makes chocolate seize and become stiff and gritty.
If you would like a thinner consistency for your melted chocolate, one of your best options is to add fat. This will make your melted chocolate thinner; it also gives the chocolate a softer consistency when cooled. You can use butter, shortening, or neutral-flavored oil, such as refined coconut oil or vegetable oil. Be careful only to add a small amount at a time until desired texture is reached.
Another option for a thin chocolate sauce is to make ganache. Ganache is a mixture of chocolate and heated cream. It is smooth, shiny, and delicious. Ganache can be used as a dip, spread, frosting, topping, sauce, or filling.
To make ganache, you heat cream to a simmer (not a boil) and pour it over finely chopped (high quality) chocolate in a heatproof metal or glass bowl. Allow this mixture to sit for several minutes, then gently stir the mixture with a silicone spatula or metal spoon until fully melted. You’ll want to use a 1:1 mixture of chocolate to cream (i.e., 8oz of chocolate to 8oz heavy cream). If making white chocolate ganache, you’ll use less cream (2/3 cup cream for each 8oz of chocolate).