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What to do when you overcook chocolate, besides cry

I'm Sarah - wife to my amazing husband, John, and mom to two little girls, Cami and Maisie.  I used to work in the finance industry before having my daughters, and now I'm a freelance personal finance writer and blogger.  I love being wi...

You can salvage that lumpy, curdled, overheated chocolate

Overheat your chocolate on the stove, and you'll be left with a thick and lumpy mess that doesn't look like you can do much of anything with anymore. But before you throw out all that delicious, delicious chocolate you worked so hard to heat, it helps to know that running a little interference in the kitchen could save your dessert.

Most bakers agree — melting chocolate can be tricky. It melts at a relatively low temperature and is extremely sensitive to high temperatures, like microwaves. Dark chocolate should never be heated to more than 120 degrees F, and milk and white chocolate should stay below 110 degrees F. Ideally we want our chocolate to be smooth, silky and creamy. If you accidentally overheat your chocolate, giving it a muddy, curdled appearance, there are some ways to save it.

More: Food Porn Friday: 20 times chocolate was utterly seductive

Cool it immediately

If you've overheated your chocolate, begin cooling it as quickly as possible. The longer it stays warm, the harder it's going to be to save. To cool the chocolate, remove it from the heat source, and transfer it to a cool, dry bowl. This immediately stops the melting process. Add in a few handfuls of chocolate chunks, and stir. The coolness of the chunks helps cool down the melted chocolate more quickly.

Whatever you do, please do not add ice cubes or cold water. This will make your chocolate curdle even more.

Run it through a sieve

A sieve is like a strainer, only it's more fine and used for sauces as opposed to pastas or noodles. After you've cooled down the chocolate, strain it through a sieve to get rid of any excess chunks. Consider adding a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil and mixing thoroughly, then straining again if the first time didn't fully solve the problem.

More: 22 boozy hot chocolate recipes that make adulthood fun

Use an immersion blender

An immersion blender is a handheld blender that looks like a stick. The purpose is to blend the foods in the container that they're in as opposed to transferring the ingredients to a regular blender. If you've cooled your chocolate and strained it through a sieve with no luck, then take out the immersion blender, and blend until smooth.

Tips to avoid overheating chocolate

  • Chop it up. Chocolate buttons are the best for melting purposes, but if you only have a regular bar of chocolate, break it up into smaller pieces before melting. This will help the chocolate melt evenly and quickly.
  • Avoid contact with water. When heating chocolate, make sure it does not come into contact with water or steam. This will cause it to seize — or become one gritty mass. Make sure all spoons and bowls are dry before adding chocolate to them.
  • Use small, heatproof bowls. Clear glass bowls work great since they don't trap the heat. This prevents the chocolate from further cooking once it's melted.
  • Use a metal spoon or spatula. Never use a wooden spoon. Wooden spoons may contain moisture from previous use, which will cause the chocolate to seize. They also may contain odors from other foods that will spoil the chocolate. Make sure to stir the chocolate frequently as it melts.

Updated by Bethany Ramos on 6/3/16

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