One of the biggest bummers when doing the delicate work of melting chocolate is when you overheat it. You go from the perfect, silky chocolate to something stiff and unappetizing. Chocolate is remarkably delicate. Dark chocolate needs to stay below 120 degrees F, and milk chocolate beneath 110 degrees F. This allows it to be smooth, silky and creamy. Between finding the perfect temperature and trying to keep moisture out of the concoction, which can lead to your chocolate seizing, there are a lot of ways to ruin your perfect chocolate.
Luckily, if you do find you’ve accidentally made your chocolate too hot but haven’t yet burned it, there are some ways to save it.
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.
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.
A version of this article was originally published in November 2012.