Sunday, January 20, 2008

How NOT to melt chocolate

Tonight I need to take something sweet to a party. I decided to make some chocolate peanut butter bars which are basically a peanut butter and brown sugar base covered in melted milk and dark chocolate and butter. How hard could this be? The recipe, from Nigella Lawson, doesn't require any cooking except for melting the chocolates and butter. The recipe suggested microwaving the chocolate for a couple of minutes to melt it. I was a little skeptical because chocolate burns very easily in the microwave but I thought I'd give it a try. What an unmitigated disaster that was!

I must confess to having a love / hate (well mostly hate) relationship with the microwave. I see it as an overpriced, large, leftover warmer that is frankly rather scary.

Melting chocolate, especially expensive dark choc that I don't want to ruin, requires a gentle touch. The temperature must be controlled or the chocolate will move past the melted stage to a glop of burnt, inedible goo. I do not have much luck in controlling the temp of food in the microwave. Maybe more experienced people do. Who knows. I prefer the old-fashioned bain-marie technique for melting chocolate. I improvise a bain-marie with the pans in my cupboard by putting some water in the bottom of a pan, letting it come to a rolling boil, and then putting another pan on top of it to melt the chocolate. If you do this, be sure not to let the boiling water touch the bottom of the pan on top.

Since the peanut butter bars didn't turn out so well, I may try some macadamia nut cookies.

5 comments:

Lenore said...

When you melt chocolate in the microwave, you need to stir it every thirty seconds. I've never tried melting anything other than baking chocolate (both unsweetened and semi-sweet), but it's pretty easy.

Vera said...

i've done the microwave melting only with chocolate that specifies microwave melting...

otherwise, i melt in a bowl over a pot of some boiling water with butter...it turns out SO much glossier and smoother.

Kelly said...

I agree that the texture is much better when melting choc in a pan over water.

quazi said...

I'm with lenore. I tried it when making some ganache @ Christmas. Microwaving for 30 sec a pop then mixing/checking on it was effortless for me

Rafe said...

My wife melts chocolate in the microwave all the time. She does it 30 seconds at a time, and always with butter.