Kitchen Hacks

The Safest, Cleanest Way to Melt Chocolate

January 12, 2015

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: For the safety of your chocolate, bring your hair dryer out of the bathroom and into the kitchen.

For melting chocolate, I’m on record as preferring the water bath, but others opt for a double boiler and some use a microwave. Any way you do it, you must avoid contact with moisture and excessive heat. Milk and white chocolates are the trickiest. New cooks are often daunted…experienced cooks find it a chore.

Here’s another way that’s clean, quick, and safe, with no water baths, double boilers, microwaves, or stove tops involved. 

Here's how to melt chocolate with a hair dryer:

Make sure your hands, cutting board, knife, spatula, and bowl are completely dry. Chop or break the chocolate into pieces -- no need to chop finely -- and put them in the bowl. Hold a hair dryer 8 to 10 inches from the chocolate, pointing it straight down into the bowl. Turn it on and move it around to warm the chocolate, stirring from time to time, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

I don’t think more needs to be said. Couldn’t be easier.

P.S. This is terrific way to melt chocolate in a dorm room. 

Photos by James Ransom

11 Comments

Carolyn H. April 4, 2015
This is good for me as I don't have much luck melting chocolate, thanks!
 
Asif January 25, 2015
The first thing that comes to mind is all that hot air being blown into that chocolate! and along with the air comes dust/specs from the fan or air and anything else roaming around. What's wrong with melting chocolate using steam?
 
Julie January 19, 2015
Looks like fun, but you'd have to be careful not to scorch the chocolate, especially if melting white or milk chocolate. Scorched chocolate is burnt tasting and grainy, and can't be fixed.<br /><br />To temper after melting, just stir in some reserved, unmelted chocolate (about 25% of the total) and keep stirring until it cools enough to get to a good working consistency, i.e., a little thicker.
 
Elder January 18, 2015
I wonder if this would work using a heat gun. Most of us guys that cook do NOT have access to a hair dryer, but probably have a heat gun around somewhere.
 
Cindy January 18, 2015
What a great idea, never too old to learn.
 
Jara January 16, 2015
I have to try this. Love the looks of that knife, where is it from?
 
Katie M. January 12, 2015
Does this temper the chocolate?
 
Rebecca @. January 12, 2015
Katie - melting chocolate undos all tempering. You'd have to temper it after it's fully melted to whip it back into shape :) There are some types of "dipping chocolate" that will set without tempering, but you'd have to buy that type specifically (coating chocolate, couverture, etc).
 
MRubenzahl January 12, 2015
It definitely won't temper chocolate that's not tempered already but it may be possible to avoid losing an existing temper (and most manufactured chocolate comes tempered). If you melt carefully, never reaching 94°F, the temperature at which beta crystals melt, it should retain its temper. I have experimented (using a sous vide water bath) and it half-worked for me. The result was not well tempered but was definitely not as soft as an uncontrolled melt.
 
Rebecca @. January 12, 2015
What a creative way to melt chocolate! I suspect most chocolate in dorm rooms is stored in a drawer, eaten in the wrapper, and sometimes smeared on keyboards, much less melted for cooking, but I'm sure there are a few out there that are driven to do otherwise! :)<br /><br />Actually, this could come in handy for me because I only have 1 good bowl and pot combination that works as a double boiler. The rest of the bowl/pot combinations only work because of my own stubbornness..
 
Francesca M. January 12, 2015
I love this. Need to find an excuse to try the technique. :)