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Old 03-07-2016, 12:33 PM   #1
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Melting Chocolate - Serious help needed!

Hey folks,
I'm coming here in a moment of pure desperation. I've literally ran our of ideas and I need some expert help. Here's the story.

I'm making a chocolate tart, one from a Hairy Bikers Book and one which I've actually made a couple of times in the past. Pastry base turned out great, never had any issues with that, now I've got to melt the chocolate. I've never had much luck with melting chocolate but this is driving me insane..

The recipe calls for 200g White chocolate to be melted with 50ml of double cream (which I took out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit before using) and a further 50ml to be added once the chocolate has melted.

Attempt no.1
Put roughly an inch of hot water into a saucepan and gradually bought it to a simmer. Placed a glass bowl with the chocolate and cream on top (making sure it didn't touch the water) and began to keep an eye on it and stir occasionally. The chocolate started melting nicely then at around 5-10 mins it started getting oily around the sides and the chocolate became "gritty". It now resembles scrambled egg in oil .. Fail.

Attempt no.2
So maybe it got too hot or had water in the bowl? So washed everything and dried it very thoroughly. Set the hob on its lowest setting and took extra care in making sure the water only stayed at a very gently simmer. Same thing happened again .. Fail.

Attempt no.3
We didn't have a small bowl so I had to use a large glass bowl and saucepan, so maybe the surface area was too large and it still got too hot? (I knew chocolate was sensitive but I didn't think it was THAT sensitive). Anyway bought a smaller bowl, used a smaller saucepan.. Same thing happened agin .. Fail.

Attempt no.4
Okay so maybe it was just a really poor quality chocolate? (Sainsbury's) So tried tescos finest at about 3 per bar, couldn't find a much better quality. Same thing happened again .. Fail.

This is driving me nuts now. I know chocolate is sensitive to the correct cooking conditions but this is crazy! I've never been brilliant at melting chocolate but I've never had this much of an issue. I'd have given up if it wasn't driving me so crazy to find out why it wasn't working. It's already cost much more than it's worth. The thing that really annoys me is that I've made this tart several times before and never done anything different or had any problems.

Anyway now I'm handing it over to you. Where am I going wrong? :)



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Old 03-07-2016, 12:48 PM   #2
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Welcome to DC.

It sure is aggravating, isn't it!?

I think you got the chocolate too hot.

Try this. Set up the double boiler as you have been and heat the cream in it. It just has to be warm, not boiling. Add the white chocolate and take the bowl off the heat. Stir constantly to melt the choc. If there isn't enough heat to melt all the chocolate, put the bowl back on the pan and stir a bit.

Be patient and use just enough heat to melt. Doing it this way may take longer but gives you a much better chance of success.

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:51 PM   #3
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Hey thanks for the reply!

Yeah it's driving me insane!

In the end the bowl was about 2 inches from the water and it wasn't even simmering. The 3rd and 4th attempt took a lot longer but still started to separate before even half the chocolate had melted.

Maybe I'll try that method of taking it off the heat. It's just driving my crazy, I knew it's sensitive to heat but I've never had THIS much trouble with it.
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:56 PM   #4
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Hi S7ewie, welcome to DC! Sorry to hear you're having problems with your chocolate. She's a fickle ingredient; it's easy to either overheat it or have water find its way into the chocolate.

Is there any chance you have a microwave oven? Whenever I melted chocolate (a mid-grade variety), I always did it in the microwave with no problem. If you do have a microwave, I suggest you put your measure of chocolate into the microwave (in a bowl large enough to accommodate all of the chocolate plus cream, then microwave it slowly at 50% power. Start at one minute, and as the chocolate begins to melt reduce the cooking time (take it down to 30 seconds, then 15, etc, each time you put it back into the microwave). I've never added cream to chocolate, though, so I can only guess when you would add it if melting chocolate in the microwave. Wait long enough, and someone else will wander along here and give you (their version of) the right information.

Good luck and let us know how it finally works out.
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Old 03-07-2016, 01:06 PM   #5
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I've seen where chefs melt chocolate by bringing cream to just below boil, pour over chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, let it sit for a minute or 2 and then stir until melted. I've done it that way a time or 2 myself and it seems to work fine.

I've always let just the very bottom of my double boiler insert touch the top of the water and have never had a problem unless the water got too hot or I left it sitting too long and the chocolate started to cook.
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Old 03-07-2016, 01:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by S7ewie View Post
Attempt no.1
The chocolate started melting nicely then at around 5-10 mins it started getting oily around the sides and the chocolate became "gritty".
What exactly is the method you are following? It seems to me it should be well melted before five minutes are up and there's a long time between five and ten minutes. When did you add the cream, or did you?

How quickly you bring the water to a boil has no bearing on how the chocolate melts. The temperature of the chocolate and the time it's heated determine that.
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Old 03-07-2016, 01:17 PM   #7
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I'll start by saying that I've never cooked with chocolate, I don't do desserts, so if this sounds stupid, just ignore it.

I'm wondering if the OP is doing anything with the chocolate before melting. I'm thinking that the smaller the pieces are the more readily they will melt and the less time there will be for it to separate. Seems like it might make sense to try grating it coarsely, then add gradually to the warmed cream, stirring it in constantly as it melts.

Like I said, I know nothing, so you can place precisely that value on this if it's not a valid idea.
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Old 03-07-2016, 01:21 PM   #8
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Use the microwave! Put the chocolate in a bowl and heat it at 10 second intervals until it is melted.
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Old 03-07-2016, 01:26 PM   #9
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Wow this picked up quickly!!

I could try the microwave method but a part of me with never be completely happy until I know why this isn't working. After all we've melted chocolate loads of times before without problems. My mother even said she usually does it with the bowl touching the water and never has an issue. But even she can't seem to do it now.

I'm half tempted to believe it's something to do with the cream, but as I said I've done it before. I added the cream (well 50ml of it anyway) at the same time as the chocolate so that they heated up together.

When I said 5-10 mins I was referring to putting the chocolate in the bowl before the water was at a simmer. In later times it took less time because I got the water to a simmer before. But at the same time I made extra afford to keep the heat very low. Which makes it seem almost impossibly that I could be overheating it.

The chocolate was broken into the 5g chunks that the bar breaks into. I couldn't get it any smaller without using a grater or a knife.
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Old 03-07-2016, 01:37 PM   #10
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I think the chocolate seizes up because it was too hot.
I would take the method of heating it for a couple minutes in your double boiler, then take it off, stir it, stir it until everything that is going to melt does melt. Take your time. Then if it is not all melted, put it back on the double boiler for a minute or two, then remove, stir again, wait until everything that is going to melt, does melt. Try to keep the outside edges (where you said it was separating) the same temperature as the middle chocolate/cream. [once chocolate starts to crystalize even in one small part of your bowl, it will spread to the rest, seizing it up]

I use this method except I use a microwave in 20 second increments. I melted semi sweet chocolate with a tablespoon of coconut oil (you can use shortening or butter), it was about 3/4 of a cup, it took at least 5 times, of heating, stirring, heating, stirring, until it was liquid enough to put on turtles.

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