Chocolate is one of nature's sweetest gifts; a treat that is loved by many. It is used as a gift, a form of therapy, and a method of celebration. Chocolate is popular in the baking world as well, and it is often required in melted form to make some of the most delectable chocolate desserts. In order to successfully melt chocolate, you must work slowly and patiently. In order to find the best melting chocolate, you have to do the best type of research: taste it.
Best for Melting
White chocolate is more difficult to melt than other chocolates. Because it burns very easily, it must be melted in a double broiler, or in a heat-resistant bowl over hot water. A microwave simply scorches it too quickly. For darker chocolate, the best for melting is the chocolate that tastes the best. This depends on personal preference, although some chefs swear by certain brands. In 2005, "Forbes" magazine did a comprehensive chocolate testing with professional taste testers. They rated Lake Champlain to be the best tasting chocolate, with Godiva ranking second. However, if you think Hershey's chocolate is the best-tasting chocolate, than that is the best melting chocolate for you. No matter what type or brand of chocolate you use, know that smaller pieces of chocolate melt faster than larger pieces. If you have a chunk of chocolate, break it up into smaller chunks before melting, or use chocolate chips or separated squares.
Types of Chocolate
There are four main types of chocolate: unsweetened, semi-sweet, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. Unsweetened chocolate, also called baking chocolate, is used mostly in cooking or as a garnish. Semi-sweet chocolate is also a baking chocolate, though it is more often used in desserts because it is slightly sweeter. The popular milk chocolate has the added sugar, vanilla, and milk and is one of the only types of chocolate that is eaten by itself. White chocolate is only considered an actual chocolate if it is made from real cocoa butter, though many candy companies use vegetable oils to make it and try to pass it off as the real thing.
You can melt chocolate using either a double boiler or microwave. Chocolate is very sensitive to moisture, so you want to make sure no water or condensation touches it during the melting process. That's why a double boiler, a large pot with another pot suspended over top, works so well for melting chocolate. Water is simmered in the bottom pot, while the chocolate is placed in the top pot and melted slowly. Make sure the water never touches the bottom of the chocolate pan, and be sure to use low heat so the chocolate doesn't burn. If you don't have a double boiler, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place it over a pan of simmering water. If you prefer to use the microwave method, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and microwave it in 10-second intervals, stirring it each time in between.