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.

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