Cooking and Baking with Chocolate
When chocolate cravings hit, you want satisfaction NOW. Use these tips and techniques to get the most satisfaction from chocolate!
Keeping It Cool: How to Store Chocolate
- Store chocolate in a dry, cool place between 60°F and 78°F. Wrapping chocolate in moisture-proof wrap is wise if the temperature is higher or the humidity is above 50 percent.
- Chocolate can be stored in the fridge; let it stand at room temperature before using.
- Cocoa is less sensitive to temperature and humidity; simply store tightly covered in a cool, dry place.
That Blooming Chocolate
If your chocolate has a white, crusty-looking film on it, don't toss it out! This is called "bloom" and develops when the chocolate is exposed to varying temperatures, from hot to cold. This change in heat allows the cocoa butter to melt and rise to the surface of the chocolate. Bloom doesn't affect the quality or flavor. The chocolate will look normal again once it's melted or used in baking.
The Great Meltdown: How to Melt Chocolate
- Chocolate must be melted carefully because it can burn easily. Never heat dark chocolate above 120°F or white or milk chocolate above 110°F. Be sure to break up or chop chocolate bars or squares before melting.
- To melt most types of chocolate, cook uncovered in a microwavable dish or bowl using a microwave on Medium (50%), stirring once every minute, just until melted. Some chocolate retains its shape when softened, so stir it frequently.
- Take care to never get water in chocolate while it's melting. If this happens, the chocolate will get thick, lumpy and sometimes grainy--it's called "seizing." You'll think it's ruined.
- Seized chocolate can be "saved" by stirring in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or shortening for every ounce of chocolate melted. (Don't use butter or margarine because they contain water.)
- Little specks of hardened chocolate can appear when you are stirring melted chocolate into other ingredients.
- To keep this from happening, melt the chocolate with the liquid or fat that is also called for in the recipe. If you use at least 1 tablespoon of liquid or fat to 2 ounces of chocolate, you will avoid the risk of the chocolate seizing.
- Also, never stir cooled melted chocolate into ice-cold ingredients because the cocoa butter will harden immediately.