How can I prevent chocolate from burning when I melt it?  

Fudge Sauce
Photo: Evan Sklar

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If you have a cooking question, our expert, Marge Perry, can answer it. Marge teaches home cooks in her classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is an award-winning food writer, longtime contributor for Cooking Light and a number of other leading food magazines, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, columnist for Newsday, and has contributed to over 20 cookbooks.

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The secret to not burning the chocolate is to take it away from the heat before it's completely melted, and keep stirring until it is. When you melt chocolate on the stovetop, place it evenly over the bottom surface of a heavy saucepan over low heat. Again, remove the pan from the heat before the chocolate is completely melted and stir: in less then a minute, the chocolate will be smooth and silky. Also, be sure all your utensils are dry: even the tiniest bit of water can cause the chocolate to seize (turn hard and grainy), leaving you with a dull, hard clump of chocolate. Some recipes call for melting the chocolate along with butter or cream, which helps prevent scorching as well.

More often than not, I melt chocolate in my microwave. (I sometimes think that were it not for melting chocolate and butter, I would never use it!). Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe shallow dish (Microwave-proof pie plates are ideal) and microwave at 50% power (medium heat) for 2 to 3 minutes or until it's soft enough to stir smooth. To be on the safe side, start checking at about 1 1/2 minutes.

For more tips, watch our video on melting chocolate.

Recipe: Fudge Sauce

Marge Perry
Dec, 2010

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