I have distinct, clear memories of being in high school, discovering that I had a stash of chocolate eggs leftover from Easter time.
The moment I found them, whilst remembering that there were strawberries in the refrigerator, I made the decision to treat myself: I was going to make chocolate covered strawberries. Amazing decision.
I figured it would be a quick and easy snack to make, considering the most time consuming part of the process would be melting the chocolate… and that was going to be easy. All I had to do was put a load of broken up chocolate in a bowl and melt it in the microwave, right?
So, imagine my bitter disappointment when, once the timer had dinged, I opened the microwave door to discover a bowl filled with black, tacky, charred remains of what had once been a chocolate egg. It was like entering a crime scene.
I couldn’t understand how this scenario had even played out: I’d only put the timer on for three minutes. How could this have happened?
Anyway, I digress: this isn’t an article about children’s broken dreams. This is an article that will teach you how to melt chocolate without repeating my mistakes.
After all, it is truly a crime to waste chocolate, and the disappointment will last for days. No one deserves to go through the heartbreak that I did.
So, how do you melt chocolate, or more specifically, chocolate chips in a microwave?
Let’s get straight into it.
Starting With the Basics
Before we even catch a glimpse of a microwave, you should know exactly why it can be so difficult to melt chocolate, and how you can avoid burning it beyond repair.
So, basically, chocolate can be a finicky ingredient to use while cooking, especially if you need to melt it. The most important thing to remember is that, in order to melt it in that glossy, smooth consistency that you have pictured in your head, you need to heat it at the exact right temperature.
It also needs to remain at that temperature in order for it to melt thoroughly. The heat must be slowly added: this is why, when I tried melting my chocolate eggs, it didn’t work.
I simply placed the bowl in the microwave and let it cook for three minutes straight, letting it heat up very quickly within that small space of time.
The method of slowly adding heat is known as ‘tempering’ chocolate.
If you fail this method, and the chocolate becomes the same tacky, dark texture that mine did, there is no recovery stage: the mixture will have seized, and it will continue to burn more and more once in contact with heat. Mission: failed.
Ingredients and Tools Needed
If you want to melt your chocolate to perfection, you will need the following ingredients and utensils at hand, readily available:
- Chocolate chips
- A microwave-safe bowl
- A spatula or a whisk
- Milk or butter
So, there we have it: only three, possibly four ingredients and tools needed. Make sure you have these at the ready, prepared for your following task.
Of course, you will also need a microwave, but I’m guessing you will have already worked that out for yourself.
NOTE: you will need to use a microwave with a turntable, as this will ensure that the chocolate will melt evenly throughout the cooking process. If you don’t, this will almost guarantee that your chocolate will seize and won’t melt into the liquidy consistency that we are aiming for.
The science behind this is somewhat simple: a microwave heats up food through thermal waves, and these waves bounce against the walls of the inner microwave.
Sometimes these waves will hit each other, and this will cause one of two effects: either the waves will connect together and create a hot spot, or they will bounce off each other and create a cold spot.
If you don’t use a turntable in your microwave, the food will not spin around, and parts of the food will remain within the hot spots and the cold spots, remaining that temperature. In the end, you will be left with a food item that is partly hot and partly cold. Interesting, right?
Anyway, enough of the science tutorials: let’s move on to the fun part, and the very reason that you originally clicked onto this article.
Let’s Get Started!
With all your ingredients and utensils set out and readily prepared, make sure you also have a dash of patience and a handful of confidence on hand: trust me, you’re going to need it.
Now, let’s melt some chocolate.
1. Fill your microwave-safe bowl with a reasonable amount of chocolate chips, avoiding filling it to the brim. Leave a little room so that the contents won’t overflow while being heated.
- OPTIONAL: if you like, you also add 3 tablespoons of milk for every 1 cup of chocolate used for better luck at a smoother consistency, although this isn’t mandatory.
2. Place the bowl in the microwave, and heat for 30 seconds on high power.
3.Remove the bowl from the microwave, place it back on the counter, and stir the chocolate for a couple of seconds.
4. Place the bowl back in the microwave and heat for another 30 seconds.
5.Remove the bowl from the microwave, and stir again for another couple of seconds. At this point, the chocolate should be starting to melt.
6.Place the bowl back in the microwave, and heat for another 10 seconds.
7. Remove the bowl and stir for a couple seconds.
8. Continue step 6 and 7 as many times as needed, continuing until the chocolate is a smooth, liquidy texture.
- OPTIONAL: if you want to, you may add 2 tablespoons of butter for every ½ cup of chocolate chips used for a richer consistency. Although, if you already added milk in step a), this step is unnecessary.
9. Enjoy your successfully melted chocolate!
By following these 9 steps, you should be left with a bowl filled with melted chocolate of a lovely, gooey consistency. Congratulations! Use wisely, and enjoy.
If these steps didn’t work, however, perhaps something went wrong along the way. Consider the amount of chocolate you used: did you use too much? Did you use too little?
These small, seemingly insignificant factors will make or break your fantasy of ending up with the perfectly melted chocolate of your dreams.
Another annoying factor that may be getting in the way is if your bowl was slightly wet before pouring the dry chocolate chips in: most types of moisture will cause the chocolate to seize, and your plan will have failed before you’ve even begun.
Make sure your microwave-safe bowl is bone dry before pouring any ingredients inside!
If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘my bowl was completely dry, and I used an average amount of chocolate chips: why has my chocolate STILL not melted properly?’, there’s one more factor that you will need to consider… did you definitely use a spatula or a whisk to stir the chocolate during the intervals while you removed the bowl from the microwave?
Because if you used a wooden spoon instead, thinking that would suffice, you made the wrong decision. Wood retains moisture, therefore it will transfer from your wooden spoon into the chocolate, ruining the mixture.
Who would’ve ever thought that melting chocolate would be such hard work?
One wrong move, and it is game over. You must follow this recipe step-by-step to ensure you end up with the ideal end result… and, no, we’re not just being picky. Chocolate can be an extremely temperamental ingredient to work with.
It is lucky that the end result is so worth it.
Is There An Easier Option?
Well, it depends what you mean by the word ‘easier’.
Out of many techniques that can be used to melt chocolate, using a microwave is, by far, the quickest. It is also probably the easiest to clean up afterwards.
Other techniques include melting the chocolate in a saucepan over a stovetop, leaving the chocolate to melt in a slow cooker, or even placing the chocolate chips inside a sandwich bag and placing them in a pot of boiling water.
These options may prove to be better for you if you just can’t seem to grasp the microwave method, so why not give them a try? Go for it!
We wish you the best of luck with your chocolate-melting adventures, and we hope you enjoy your end result.