There are many ways that melted chocolate can be used in baking and cooking. It can be used for decoration, to add richness to a cake, and can even be added to savory foods such as chili or bolognese. But it is a difficult ingredient to handle.
Melting chocolate is a process that might sound simple but can go wrong in many ways and it can go wrong quickly. One of the ways it can go wrong is when it melts but is still too thick for your bake.
This can be due to several reasons. The chocolate you used might not be the best for melting (some are just best kept for eating straight out of the wrapper) or it might be overcooked.
But don’t worry, here are a few ways that you can thin out melted chocolate, so you don’t have to throw it out and start again.
Some chocolate becomes thick and gritty when it is melted which can make it too thick to use and also generally unpleasant.
One way of getting rid of anything that’s making the chocolate too thick or have a strange texture is to sieve it.
This is a relatively simple process but be warned: it can be messy. Make sure you do this carefully and over a large mixing bowl.
One of the simplest ways to thin melted chocolate is to add other ingredients to it. But before we get into what those ingredients are, just remember that no matter how logical it might seem or how easy DO NOT ADD WATER.
Adding water will cause the melted chocolate to separate and will be completed unusable. Even if you use a little bit, even if you use some at the same temperature as the chocolate, even if you are sure it might work – it won’t.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get on to what you actually should do. The best ingredient to add is fat. Try adding a small amount of vegetable oil, butter, or shortening as this will melt into the chocolate and make it thinner.
Chocolate already has a large amount of fat, so by adding more of an ingredient already present, you won’t risk disturbing the composition of the chocolate.
Don’t be tempted to throw loads in. Gradually as a little bit each time and keep stirring the chocolate. If the chocolate is cooling down, you can put it back over a very low heat whilst you add the fat. But be careful, if you heat the chocolate too much then it might burn.
Don’t worry too much about chocolate cooling down. If you use baking chocolate, then this is more likely to cool down to a hard solid state. Other chocolate will still be soft when it cools. Obviously, they won’t remain as liquids forever but they won’t cool down to the same level of solidity as a chocolate bar.
Add Warm Milk
Milk isn’t a fat like butter or oil, but it does have a high fat content. As with the fat, try adding a small amount and stir the chocolate. If you need more, add a little and keep stirring until you reach the consistency that you want.
Any kind of milk will work, but using whole milk will have the best effect as it has the highest fat content. As with the fat, milk chocolate contains (no surprise) milk so it will work better with the melted chocolate.
One important thing to remember is to not add anything cold to the chocolate, especially something liquid like milk. Adding something cold to something warm or hot can cause it to curdle and separate. This will make the chocolate completely unusable.
If you want something especially rich, you can add cream to the chocolate. But, as with the milk, make sure it’s warm and be slow and steady.
How to Avoid Thick Chocolate
Now that you know how to fix melted chocolate that is too thick, here are a few tips for making sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.
Melt it slowly and carefully
It can be tempting to just break a chocolate bar up and place it in a bowl in a microwave oven. This can be an easy way to melt chocolate, but it’s an easy way to burn it as well.
The best way to melt chocolate is on the stove over a bain-marie. To do this, bring a pan of water to the boil and then turn it down to a medium heat. Over the water, place a heat-proof bowl and add the broken chocolate to this.
Melting chocolate this way will stop it burning. Adding chocolate straight to the pan will heat it too quickly and cause it to burn.
Slow and Steady
Chocolate can become thick when it is overheated. Don’t rush or try and melt the chocolate too quickly as it will potentially overheat and burn.
Heat the chocolate slowly at a medium heat. Turning the heat up too high will cause the chocolate to become overheated and will be thicker than the consistency that you will want.
If you turn the heat up too high for a bain-marie, it will potentially boil over and make a mess.
Choose the Right Chocolate
The best chocolate for baking is one with a high cocoa content, about 70%-80% is good.
As you might have guessed from the rest of this article, chocolate with a high fat content is also great for melting. Anything with about 30% fat is a good option.
If you want to temper chocolate, try and look for anything with the term ”couverture”. Couverture chocolate has been specifically designed for tempering and will make the process easier.
Melting chocolate can seem difficult when you first try it but, as with anything, it will get easier with practice. You just need to make sure you have patience and use the best quality ingredients that you can.