It might sound obvious, but melting chocolate in the microwave can actually be quite tricky. The most common and reliable way of melting chocolate is with a double boiler (also known as a bain-marie). In that case, you would heat the chocolate in a compartment suspended over boiling water. If you're not pressed for time, that method is much more trustworthy. However, in many cases, making dipping chocolate in the microwave can be a real time-saver, and with the right technique, easy too!
Having once burned my own finger and messing up on perfectly good batch of chocolate chips attempting to melt chocolate in the microwave, I know that there is a definite line between a good and bad melt.
- Set your microwave at 50% power. Chocolate is very easy to overheat, and 50% power makes the heating process much more manageable.
- Microwave your chocolate in 20-30 second intervals, mixing with a completely dry* utensil between every heating session. Chocolate actually retains it's shape when heated this way, so you need to mix it to test it's structural integrity. If you are able to mix most of your chocolate smoothly, just keep mixing, as the remaining chips will likely melt.
- Decrease the intervals in which you heat the chocolate with every session. From 30, go to 20, and 15, and 10, and so on. The line between perfectly heated and very badly heated chocolate is much finer than you might expect. *If enough water comes in contact with your chocolate, it will become grainy and unusable.
Tips and Tricks
- Find a good, microwaveable bowl that doesn't retain too much heat. If your bowl gets too hot, it will very likely overheat your chocolate too. It matters more if you're doing a large batch of chocolate, but still!
- The symptoms of overheated chocolate include extreme dryness and chunkiness. If your chocolate is only slightly overheated, you might be able to save it by adding in a little vegetable oil, but it's not a guarantee.
- Pre-emptively dropping little bit of vegetable oil to your chocolate bits before you microwave it will give you a bit more room for error.