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By Katie Goodman
Melted chocolate is a great way to jazz up your treats. We love to dip fruits, marshmallows, candy canes, pretzels, and more in chocolate. You can also use melted chocolate to drizzle on top of cookies, bars, or cupcake frosting, but there are a few things you should know before you get started.

Melt Slow and Low

If you are using bar chocolate, chop it up into smaller, uniform pieces so that it melts faster and evenly.
In recipes that call for added liquid, such as ganache, the liquid should be added before the chocolate melts.
Too high of heat can burn chocolate, ruining the texture and flavor of the chocolate. If you want silky smooth chocolate for dipping or drizzling, be sure to try one of the following methods. Otherwise you may end up with coarse, grainy chocolate.

Microwave

The microwave is the easiest method for me. It is quick, without the risk of burning, and it requires minimal tools.
Step 1: Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. I like to use clear glass bowls for this.

Step 2:
Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for 20-30 seconds at a time on 50% power.

Step 3:
After each 30-second run, remove the bowl from the microwave and stir. Stirring helps distribute the heat in the chocolate so it melts evenly.

Step 4:
Repeat Step 2 until the chocolate has completely melted.

Double Boiler

If you don’t have a double boiler, you can fake one by using a medium saucepan and a heat-safe bowl (stainless steel works well). The bowl should fit snugly inside the saucepan.
Kitchen101-Chocolateskills-Doubleboiler1
Step 1: Fill the bottom half of the double boiler (or the medium saucepan) with a few inches of water. Make sure that the level isn’t too high – it should not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Step 2: Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
Step 3: Add the chocolate to the bowl.
Kitchen101-Chocolateskills-Doubleboiler2
Step 4: Lower the heat to low so that the boil becomes a slow simmer.
Step 5: Continue cooking until the chocolate melts, stirring periodically.

Decorating with Chocolate

Once you’ve melted your chocolate, you can use it for dipping or decorating. Drizzles, curls, and coatings are great ways to fancy up simple treats. Perfect for Valentine’s Day!
Chocolate Drizzles
I think that drizzling treats with melted chocolate is the simplest of the three decorating methods that I’m sharing here.
Kitchen101-Chocolateskills-Chocolatedrizzle-Chocolatepecantart
Chocolate Pecan Tarts
For chocolate drizzles, melt the chocolate according to your preferred method as outlined in this post.
Then, spoon the melted chocolate inside small squeeze bottles for easy decorating. Squeeze the bottles to pipe designs on top of cookies or other treats.
Kitchen101-Chocolateskills-Chocolatedrizzle-Canolisandwichcookies
Cannoli Sandwich Cookies
Dipping Chocolate
If you’d like to coat pretzels, fruits, marshmallows, and more with a shiny, hard chocolate coating, you’ll want to temper the chocolate.
Follow the directions for melting chocolate with your preferred method, but make sure that the chocolate does not achieve a temperature higher than 89 degrees F. The double boiler method is the most reliable way to temper chocolate.
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Raspberry Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
To test, dip a spoon in the melted chocolate. If the chocolate is dry, hard and shiny in 3-5 minutes then you’ve achieved temper and can proceed with dipping to your heart’s content.
Tip: to speed hardening, you can place dipped treats on a tray in the refrigerator.
Chocolate Curls
Kitchen101-Chocolateskills-Chocolatecurls-Finalshot
Curls make great decorations on top of cupcakes or cakes and are simple to make.
Step 1: After you have melted chocolate, stir in 2 tablespoons of shortening for every 4 ounces of chocolate. Stir with a fork until the shortening has melted. Place chocolate and shortening in a microwave safe bowl
Step 2: Invert a metal cookie sheet and pour the melted chocolate onto the bottom (which is now facing up).
Make sure you use a sheet that doesn’t have Teflon or other coatings that will scrape off. Mine is an old stainless steel that has been discolored over the years, but without coatings.
Kitchen101-Chocolateskills-Chocolatecurls-Spreadmeltedchocolate
Step 3: Using a butter knife or a thin spatula, spread the chocolate into a very thin layer across the cookie sheet.
Step 4: Place the chocolate-covered cookie sheet in the refrigerator and chill until the chocolate is solid, about 5-10 minutes.
Kitchen101-Chocolateskills-Chocolatecurls-Makingcurls
Step 5: When solid, remove the cookie sheet from the refrigerator. With a thin, flat metal spatula, slowly scrape the chocolate off the top of the cookie sheet.
Step 6: If the chocolate begins to flake, rather than curl, then wait a minute or two for the chocolate to warm slightly at room temperature. When it reaches the right temperature, the chocolate will curl when you scrape it off.
Step 7: Curls can be made weeks ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
More Chocolate Recipes:

About the Author:
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Katie Goodman blogs at goodLife {eats} where she shares what she finds good in the kitchen and in life through recipes, family memories, and yummy photography. She also works as a freelance food writer and photographer for various sites. Outside of cooking, Katie loves reading, gardening, visiting family, and attending the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she resides with her husband and two children.


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