What's the best chocolate for melting? Whether you're dipping strawberries or piping chocolate to create chocolate decorations, choosing the right type of chocolate can affect the results. Knowing what to look for in chocolate can help you get perfectly smooth, shiny chocolate with a snap.
What Makes Chocolate Melt Well?
The secret to smooth melting with quality results is the fat content. In other words, how much cocoa butter is in the chocolate? If you want smooth chocolate that works well for dipping, you want the product with the highest cocoa butter content.
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Higher cocoa butter content makes chocolate melt easier. It's thinner and flows better because of the high fat content. It also tends to be shinier once it hardens.
Couverture: Best Chocolate for Melting
Couverture chocolate is a high-quality and often-expensive chocolate with a high cocoa butter content, which is why many professional candy makers choose it. Cocoa butter content usually ranges from 32 percent to 39 percent. The two main ingredients are the cocoa butter and chocolate liquor. Other types of chocolate typically use cocoa instead of chocolate liquor.
This type of chocolate has a shiny finish and an appealing flavor. You'll also notice a snap when you break the chocolate or bite into it.
You need to temper couverture chocolate. That simply means that once you heat it, you need to let it cool before using it. If you don't, the crystals may harden at different rates and cause blooming, which is the whitish coat you sometimes see on chocolate.
Using Baking Chocolate
Head to the baking aisle, and you'll see bars of baking chocolate. Technically, baking chocolate is unsweetened with no added sugar, but you'll find baking chocolate bars in different varieties, such as semisweet and bittersweet.
Baking chocolate usually has some cocoa butter in it. However, the content isn't nearly as high as couverture chocolate. It's still a good choice for melting, but it may take a little more to melt because of the lower fat content.
Using Candy Melts
Candy melts or melting wafers are small, round discs of dipping chocolate that harden quickly, but technically, it's not chocolate. They typically use vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter. If you choose chocolate-flavored candy melts, they may have some cocoa in them.
These round wafers are designed to melt easily to a smooth consistency without tempering. They harden on their own. However, they don't taste quite like chocolate since they don't have cocoa butter. If you go this route, you're sacrificing flavor for the easy melting and hardening.
Using Chocolate Chips
While you can use chocolate chips for melting, they're usually a last resort. They're made with stabilizers to help the chips hold their shape during baking. That can make them more difficult to melt. Chocolate chips are easy to overheat because of this, which means they're not usually the best chocolate for melting.
Chocolate chips usually don't have much cocoa butter, which also makes them more difficult to melt. While the chocolate will harden, it may look streaky or swirled instead of smooth and shiny.
Tips for Melting Chocolate
Even if you choose the best chocolate for melting, you need to follow some critical tips to make sure it works right. Water makes chocolate seize, which means it hardens instantly. Make sure that everything that touches your chocolate is free of water, including the bowl, utensils and anything you dip.
Low heat is best for any type of chocolate you melt. Overheating your chocolate can affect the consistency or cause it to burn. The double-boiler method lets the chocolate melt slowly over hot water to prevent burning or overheating.