Ever wondered how best to melt chocolate? Want to know which chocolate to use for cooking? Follow our guide on cooking with chocolate, plus the lowdown on all the equipment you’ll need to do it.
To get you started
Our handy guide will give you the lowdown on chocolate melting and moulding, but if you want to delve deeper in to the history of cocoa, this stylish book is a must-buy. From learning how chocolate is made to how you should store it, Cocoa: An Exploration of Chocolate, will satisfy your craving.
Chocolate to use for cooking
If you’re cooking with chocolate, good-quality chopped chocolate will work better than ready-made chips – this is because chocolate chips sometimes have added ingredients to stop them melting.
Save the best-quality chocolate for desserts (a dark chocolate mousse, torte, ganache or glaze, for example), where you’ll really taste the flavour in its purest form. If you’re baking chocolate into brownies or cupcakes, it’s fine to use standard dark chocolate.
Equipment you'll need
It’s best to melt chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water as this will overheat the chocolate. Let it melt gently, stirring now and again, and take off the heat just before it’s fully melted (the residual heat in the bowl will melt the remaining chocolate).
Melting chocolate this way makes it easier to control temperature and gives a more even melt. These glass bowls will come in useful for mixing cake batters and whipping buttercream, too.
It’s time to shape your melted chocolate. Using a non-stick mould will make it easier to pop chocolates out once they’ve set – these easy-to-use moulds come in a range of shapes (including a classic bar), plus the silicone material makes the chocolate less likely to crack when taking out. When you’re not using them for chocolate, they’ll double as funky ice-cube trays.
To remove any excess chocolate from the mould to get a clean shape, you'll need a stainless-steel scraper. This one with a wooden handle is angled so you’re able to level it off evenly.
Want to make hot chocolate like a pro? Hotel Chocolat’s Velvetiser gives you just that – velvety smooth chocolate at the press of a button. This nifty machine takes just over 2 minutes to whisk chocolate and milk into a comforting drink.
Tempering is a way of changing the structure of chocolate by heating and cooling to exact temperatures. This controls the crystallisation of the cocoa butter, creating a shiny look and a pleasing snap when the chocolate is broken. It’s a hard skill to master and is only really needed by specialist chocolatiers. However, if you did want to try it yourself, you'll need a granite board and electronic thermometer.