The following tips are from the lovely Melanie - Chocolate Cook Extraordinaire!
- Never allow any water to come in contact with the melting chocolate, unless the chocolate is being melted in a large amount of water (2 Tbspns water per ounce of chocolate is the minimum amount). Just a drop or two of water can make the chocolate seize up, or become hard and lumpy. Even the steam from the bottom of a double boiler can cause this problem.
- If chocolate does seize, you can blend in a tspn of vegetable oil (NOT butter or margarine) and the chocolate should smooth out.
- Chocolate should only be melted over LOW heat. The microwave is a good appliance to use because cooking time is controlled. So long as you stand and stir constantly, you can melt chocolate in a pan set over a very low heat. A double boiler (watch out for condensation) is a good method;make sure the water in the bottom is barely simmering.
- White chocolate or vanilla milk chips are the most difficult to melt. Too much heat will make this type of chocolate seize.
- To melt chocolate bars in a microwave, first coarsely chop the chocolate. Place in a microwave safe bowl and heat on 50% power for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir. Continue this process until the chocolate is almost melted, then stir until smooth.
- Want to temper chocolate easily? To make a dipping chocolate for coating candies, when the chocolate is almost melted add 1/4 cup more chips and stir constantly until the mixture is smooth. This method, called 'tempering' will set up sugar crystals so the chocolate stays firm at room temperature.
- Melt chocolate chips the same way as coarsely chopped chocolate. NOTE: Chocolate chips will NOT spread out on their own when melted. If you have a toffee or something where you need to melt chocolate chips on top at the end of a recipe, turn off the oven, sprinkle your dessert with chocolate chips and place in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Then spread the melted chips with a knife.