Melting chocolate chips is an essential skill for anyone who enjoys the culinary arts. Melted chocolate chips can be mixed into recipes, used for dipping or tempered to create stunning designs. Chocolate chips can be tricky to melt, and if done improperly will become scorched, flavorless and grainy.
When creating a dessert that calls for melted chocolate chips, it is important to choose a quality chip. Lower quality chocolate chips contain vegetable oil, which dilutes the flavor and can cause an unappealing final result. Brands such as Ghirardelli, Cluizel, El Rey, Valrhona, Callebaut, E. Guittard and Lindt are excellent to use for melting, as they contain pure chocolate with no added oil.
The weaker the chocolate, the more sensitive it will be to heat. Dark and bitter chocolates have the highest tolerance for heat, as they contain little or no milk. As such, they require only occasional stirring while melting. Milk and white chocolate chips contain high amounts of milk, and must be stirred constantly to avoid scorching and curdling.
Chocolate chips should never be heated above 150 degrees F. Chocolate chips melt faster and have a smoother texture when they are melted slowly. The best means of melting chocolate chips is a double boiler. Chocolate chips can also be melted in the microwave at half power, but will need to be very carefully monitored to ensure there is no scorching. For those who prefer a slow and gentle melting, they can be melted in an oven set to 110 degrees F. If using an oven, they will be ready in about an hour.
Melting chocolate chips should never be combined with water. If water drips into the pot, seizing will occur, and the chocolate will be ruined. The best means of avoiding this problem include keeping the water in the boiler at a simmer instead of a rolling boil, avoiding the use of wooden utensils, hand drying the heatproof bowl being used for melting to ensure no moisture, and never placing a cover over the bowl, as it can cause condensation to build up. If seizing does occur, try adding some vegetable oil and stirring to re-smoothen the texture. Once vegetable oil has been added, the chocolate chips cannot be used for tempered recipes.
Chocolate chips are best when stored at a constant, cool temperature. Many chefs recommend storing the chocolate chips in the freezer for the most constant temperature. After the chocolate chips have been melted and used, the finished products should either be stored at room temperature or in the freezer, as the refrigerator's temperature and humidity are too inconsistent.