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Melting chocolate in a double boiler

 
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Composer of Requiems



Joined: 31 Jan 2008
Posts: 2
Location: Singapore

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:31 pm    Post subject: Melting chocolate in a double boiler Reply with quote

Hi, I'm quite new to cooking and there was something I was wondering about.

Online, I always see instructions to melt chocolate in a double boiler over water, taking great care not to let the water enter the chocolate. I've successfully melted chocolate using this technique, but it reminded me of experiments I've done in the lab, where we had to do double boiling of chemicals without water and we used an oil bath instead.

I looked it up and haven't seen anyone actually trying to use oil to melt chocolate, by having a double boiler using oil instead of water, is there any reason for this? After all, it completely removes the chance of water entering the chocolate...

I'll be trying it this weekend, hope that if there's any fatal flaw that I'm not aware of, someone here will tell me...
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would think that one wouldn't bother using oil for a number of practical reasons. Water is cheap or free, oil is a bugger to clean up. Things like that. Cool nic by the way, music must be very sacred to you!
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msue



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At what temperature does oil boil? Is it high enough to harm the chocolate?
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With an ACTUAL double boiler pan, there is no way water will get in the chocolate. When you do a jerry-rigged version of a double boiler and you place the chocolate in a vessel and place that vessel in a pot of boiling water, you certainly run the risk of ruining the chocolate with water. Even if you are using oil, I think you would still run the risk using this method.

I recently saw in Cooks Illustrated magazine another way to do it, if you don't have a double boiler. Fill a sauce pan up about 1/4 to 1/3 full. Put a mesh strainer over the water and put a bowl with chocolate in the strainer. The bottom of the strainer should not touch the water, just hover above it. This would seem to be a safer method if you don't have a double boiler.
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Nicki



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 106
Location: England

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you know what? I've never even heard of a double boiler! I always put chocolate in a mixing bowl over, not in, and saucepan of boiling water. Its funny how people do things without even thinking about it - this is how my mum, grandmother and great-grandmother have always done it...it would never occur to me the bowl in the water, or put something in between. As long as the bowl has a diameter somewhere around its middle, that is larger than that of the saucepan, you never have a problem

I'm not entirely sure how you get water on the chocolate? And I agree; its cheaper, easier and safer not to use oil
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whatever method you use, remember that steam can ruin melting chocolate, too. That's why it's so important to keep the water at a simmer and not a boil. Too much steam rising from around the bowl can condense and leave water droplets in the chocolate. Disaster. (That's one way to get water into the chocolate, Nicki, even when you think you're doing everything right.)

We should start a separate forum called "Disasters I've Encountered and How to Avoid Them". Everyone could contribute their tips gathered from experience.
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Georgia, you are quite correct. And even in a double boiler, the water should not touch the upper pan. You are using the steam to heat the chocolate.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why not use dry heat--a very low oven for a short time, or a microwave oven?
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

you're soooo right Gingerpale. Since I have the micro , I never bothered to double boil. The micro is efficient and quick and not messy.
Oil?? Bubbling oil?

No more war, more melted chocolate
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Composer of Requiems



Joined: 31 Jan 2008
Posts: 2
Location: Singapore

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow this is quite a lot of topics, thank you!

Haha yeah, I'm using a bowl over water since I can't afford a double boiler, that's what I meant by it... I was afraid of condensation getting in, and with oil there wouldn't be any condensation. But yeah, it's troublesome to clean and more expensive, I was just wondering if it could give better results.

I'll rather not dry heat, microwaves are pretty unhomogeneous and I'll rather have it all melted at the same rate...
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to admit that the bowl over water method that Nicki mentions is the one I've heard of - called with usual poeticism a bain marie.

Tho' I would think a microwave would be better so long as you heated it up 10 seconds at a time in case the chocolate melted and then boiled! Shocked

If, as Nicki says, the bowl is bigger than the pan, the heat of the simmering water will melt the chocolate without steam condensing fiendishly in the chocolate - I would have thought. But as always here, I bow to superior knowledge.
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
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Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The microwave is GREAT for melting choco. You do have to watch it, because it can go from solid to burnt quite quickly. And it can LOOK as though it hasn't melted - that is to say when you look at it, it still looks solid, but if you stir it, it's quite melted.

We don't have a microwave anymore. We had a microwave/convection combo oven when we moved into this house. The microwave function died, and we seemed to do just fine without it, so when we bough a new oven, we didn't replace the microwave. Haven't missed it at all.
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srk



Joined: 09 Apr 2005
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Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Composer, were you a synthetic chemist in a former lifetime? I've used the oil method in lab too. For the curious, here's why you'd use each:

water - virtually free, minimal cleanup, keeps the process at roughly 212 F/100 C
oil - can get much hotter than 100 C without boiling, and doesn't evaporate (a huge plus for overnight reactions, less useful for melting chocolate in reasonable quantities)

That said, I personally melt chocolate in the microwave, at short intervals, with frequent stirring. I also recently tried the bain-marie approach, and I'm surprised but pleased to report that it worked well - and safely - even after I'd had probably 5 glasses of wine/cocktails on New Year's Eve. That also led to the surprising but pleasing discovery that molten chocolate cake batter can be refrigerated overnight and baked the next day with minimal effect on the final product.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Incredible, isn't it, how old threads resurrect. This one is more than a year and a half old.

Anyway, I'm confused by the references to moisture condensation getting into a pot/bowl set up and ruining the chocolate. Unless you've been storing the bowl in the fridge, how does that happen?

Presuming you use a bowl larger than the pot's diameter, and do not have the bottom of the bowl actually touch the water (which is how it's supposed to be done) what happens is that steam rises to the bottom of the bowl and the heat is transferred to the chocolate. Meanwhile, the steam condenses on the bottom of the bowl, and falls back into the pot as water.

Only thing liquid inside the bowl is melted chocolate.

Where is the source of water contamination in the chocolate?
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...because the original post was by a "novice chocolate-melter", the comments took extra care to describe any perils involved. That includes possibly not knowing that the water should simmer and not boil. Many years ago, not knowing any of this, I actually had the experience of too much steam rising from around the bowl, causing my melting chocolate to seize. The steam clouds alone caused problems. Maybe it was a fluke, but I thought it prudent to mention.
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