Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, it’s a good time to think about chocolate and how to work with it when making treats for your valentine. Whether you are making chocolate-dipped strawberries, truffles, or bon bons, there are several things to think about.
One of the most common concerns most of us have when working with chocolate is how to successfully melt it. There are three ways to melt chocolate: 1. in a double boiler; 2. in an oven set to 110 degrees F.; and in a microwave oven.
- The safest way to melt chocolate is probably in a double boiler. Keep the water at a simmer in the bottom vessel, making sure the top vessel does not come into contact with the water. Stir often during the melting process.
- Alternatively, you can melt chocolate in the oven. Place grated chocolate or chocolate chips in a metal bowl into an oven set at 110 degrees F. Take out and stir on occasion. This method can take up to an hour to melt.
- Though seemingly convenient, melting chocolate in a microwave oven can be difficult. Most microwave ovens heat unevenly, causing some of your chocolate to overcook or burn while other parts remain unmelted. With diligence, you can successfully melt chocolate in the microwave. Use 10 to 15 second increments, stirring in between each increment.
How to store chocolate is another question we often get at work. It doesn’t matter if it is chocolate bark, baking chocolate, white chocolate or milk chocolate, they should all be treated the same. Chocolate should be tightly wrapped and stored away from strong odors since it easily absorbs flavors from food or other products located nearby. Somewhere between 65 and 68 degrees F. is the best temperature for storage, with no more than 50 to 55 percent relative humidity. With proper storage, white chocolate and milk chocolate should last for eight to 10 months. Darker chocolates: bitter, baking, unsweetened or dark, will be good for up to 2 years.