Working with Chocolate

A better way to melt chocolate
  Sue asked me to tell you a little about working with chocolate. I find that it really is one of the things that is fussier than you would think. Melting it is one of the easy yet hard to do things. It must be melted at low heat. If high heat is used, it can become grainy, too thick or scorch.
There are three basic ways to melt chocolate. 
One is in the microwave. I rarely do this as I find it is too easy to burn it and then you have ruined a batch and it is not cheap to buy any more. If you are going to do it this way, heat it for one minute at 50% power. The chocolate will start melting but won’t look like it till you touch it. Stir and microwave it one minute more. Stir and if it needs it just do it by 10 second intervals.
  To melt it over direct heat, which I would not do, put chocolate in a pan over very low burner heat, the pilot light of your store or on a heat diffuser. Keep in mind the heat murders chocolate.
  To melt over hot water, which really is the best way, use a double boiler or best of all a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temp. 
Melted chocolate for dipping
  If you are using it to dip candy, you can always rewarm it if it becomes too thick to work with. Just set back over the warm water. You must be careful not to get water in the chocolate. It will set up and become a mess. Sometimes you can save it with some shortening added to it. 
Use a fork or tooth pick to dip your chocolates or if you are going to do this often, there are some great commercial candy dipping tools. They are available in most kitchen stores or stores like Walmart or Target. Dipping chocolate is fun and really quite easy to do. 
Do add some vegetable shortening, not butter, to your chocolate for a nice finish and easy to handle chocolate.
  Combining a liquid like milk, cream, or melted butter can be tricky. The best way is to melt the chocolate and additional ingredient at the same time. If the liquid ingredient is hotter than the chocolate the cocoa butter in the chocolate will separate out. Put your chocolate and cream in the same bowl over the hot water and melt the chocolate and heat the cream at the same time. It will be much smoother and easier to handle. There must be at least one tablespoon of liquid per ounce of chocolate.
Here are some recipes for dipped chocolates:
Chocolate Covered Cherries
Exquisite Almond Truffles
Maple Cream Bon Bons


  1. Thanks! Good topic! Now a question for you: I have a recipe for buttermilk biscuits that calls for self-rising flour. I know I have a substitute in my cookbook for using regular flour instead. What I'm wondering is, will there be a difference in the biscuits if I substitute all purpose flour the way they say to or should I actually go buy self-rising flour? Thanks!

    1. I like self-rising flour, as I lived in the South...however, I wouldn't buy it if you don't use it all the time. I substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for each cup of all-purpose flour for a cup of self-rising flour.
      It's a soft flour which makes good biscuits; but as it has baking powder in it, you need to buy it where they sell it regularly so it's fresh. The best place I've found it in Iowa, unbelievably, is at the Dollar General store, where they have it and other Southern items like canned black-eyed peas and hominy.

  2. I would use the substitute in the cookbook. I have never had good luck with the self rising flour, though I think Sue does.

  3. OK. I'll give them a try soon. I don't think I ever bought self-rising flour. The recipe is in the current Country Living magazine. Thanks. Sue: The mention of black-eyed peas made me hungry for Hoppin' John! ;-)


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