OVERHEATING, WATER, and OLD chocolate. The 2 biggest problems you will experience are WATER in your chocolate and BURNING chocolate in the microwave. Both very easy to do and both impossible to recover. We produced the video below to physically show what each problem looks like.
WATER, even the smallest splash of water can ruin beautiful chocolate, they simple do not go together. If you see water on the surface of your batch of melted chocolate, try to scoop it out, BUT… if you don’t get all the water and then stir the batch, you may see your rich creamy melted chocolate begin to harden and get lumpy, that is called “seizing.”
At that point, close you eyes and say good-bye. It will never return to the smooth, creamy stage again. If it is just barely seizing AND looking like it has a gritty sand texture you might consider using the chocolate in a cake recipe, but forget about using in gourmet confection recipes.
OVERHEATING: When using a microwave to heat/melt chocolate, the hidden culprit is often deep inside your batch, a HOT POINT in the center that burns from the inside out. On the surface your chocolate looks perfect, but when you begin stirring, you discover a burned smell and see dark crunchy chunks begin to surface. In almost ALL cases, the entire batch of chocolate is ruined. The burned flavor penetrates the entire batch and the burned chunks are impossible to retrieve. BEST PRACTICE when melting chocolate in the microwave: Go slow, heat in small bursts and thoroughly stir often!! This will evenly distribute the heat, (no hot spots) and your entire batch will melt evenly and perfectly.
OLD CHOCOLATE: If you buy fabulous chocolate and don’t use it all, be sure to properly store the extra. #1 Double bag it to protect from as much air and moisture as possible. #2 Keep in cool, dry, dark cabinet, 70 degrees or below is perfect. #3 DO NOT store near other odorous foods: Onions, Garlic, Mint, Oranges. Chocolate will absorb surrounding smells and flavors, both good and bad. DO NOT store in the freezer or refrigerator, too moist. Keep chocolate no longer than 90 days. Although the manufacturer may say 6 months and although it won’t actually spoil or go rancid, the flavor and texture WILL deteriorate. If you are working with premium chocolate and want gourmet results, buy fresh chocolate and use it quickly. Your results will be delicious every time.
So, no water around your chocolate, heat your batches slowly and use ALL your premium chocolate quickly… remember these three tips and you will never have to deal with the heartbreak of ruined chocolate 🙂