Melting Chocolate Wafers or Chips-Baking Basics, Volume #1

Using melted chocolate can be a great way to decorate your baked goods, add some flavor to them, or to enrobe baked goods, fruit, nuts, and more!  Melting chocolate is so easy.

I prefer to use semi-sweet chocolate chips or Merckens brand chocolate wafers.  When using wafers, I tend to mix 1/2 milk chocolate and 1/2 dark chocolate for a less sweet taste.  Some bakers have melted up chocolate bars as well (excellent way to get rid of those Easter bunnies, Halloween or Christmas candies!).

To start, put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and cook them for 20 seconds.  They will still look pretty much the same as they went in.  DON'T let this fool you.  You will need to stir them some.  If not, the chocolate will burn.  Trust me.  :)  Here's a photo for you to start to see the process:

Cook for another 20 seconds, then take out to stir.  (If your chocolate looks more melted than this, then do these next steps in 10 second intervals.)  Again, make sure you do a through job or any chocolate not moved around will burn.  Here's what it looks like after the second 20 second rotation:

You will see some melting now.  After stirring, put back in the microwave for another 20 seconds (10 seconds if melted more).  This next photo is when you know you are almost to the melted phase.  

Notice there is still a few chunks?  If the bowl is really hot to the touch, you may be able to keep stirring and get all the chocolate to melt.  After a few seconds of stirring, if there are still some chunks, you will want to put back in the microwave for 5-10 more seconds.  Here's what you want it to look like:

There are a few do's and don't's when working with chocolate. 

Here's a few do's

  • Use the freshest chocolate possible.  Old chocolate won't melt as smooth. 
  • Use a few drops of vegetable oil should it not melt smoothly.  This MAY help with older chocolate.
  • Work as quickly as possible once the chocolate is fully melted.  
  • Use wax paper under items to allow easy removal once the items are cool.

Here's a few don't's

  • Get water anywhere near or in the chocolate.  This will leave white streaks and marks in the chocolate.  You will need to throw it out if so, there's no way I know to remedy this
  • Keep reheating the same chocolate.  It will start to clump and won't melt smoothly again.  Using a heating pad under the bowl can help keep the chocolate melted while working with it.
  • Use chilly temps to cool your items after coating with chocolate.  This may cause the chocolate to turn color
  • Don't store the chocolate in a refrigerator.  To store, keep it in a dark and cool place (like the back of your pantry) in a sealed container.  Avoid  placing in sunlight and near anything with strong flavors or aromas (like peppermint, coffee, etc).  

A few things to keep in mind concerning chocolate.  You can add extracts to flavor it, but make sure it is oil based (remember that water will discolor it).  Same goes if adding color to white chocolate, use a paste type of dye.  If using chocolate that is not chips, wafers, or candy bars, you will need to add paraffin wax (weird, I know!  Without it, your chocolate won't "set".).  Lastly, chocolate is susceptible to absorbing odors.  This is the reason you don't want it near anything that it will pick up the odor or flavor of.

May you have fun working with chocolate!  There are so many things you can do with it!  I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes with chocolate soon.  Keep an eye out for my future postings.  Love to see some photos of things you create with chocolate.  Feel free to post below!