White chocolate is a little harder to melt than milk chocolate or dark chocolate because it has a lower cooking point. As a result, it burns fast and burning white chocolate can be difficult, if not impossible, to save. It is recommended to melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie, but as a last resort, a microwave can also be used. Here's how to do it both ways.
Method 1 of 2: With pan in a bain-marie
Step 1. Cut white chocolate into small pieces
Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut the chocolate into equal pieces, approximately 6.35mm to 1.27cm in size.
- You can also use your hands to break the chocolate into pieces or use a grater to grate it.
- This is only necessary if you are using white chocolate bars or white chocolate chips. If you're using white chocolate chips, you can melt them just as they are without having to break them into smaller pieces.
Step 2. Boil water in a double boiler
Fill the bottom half of the pan with about 2.5 cm of water. Heat the water over medium-high heat until it starts to boil.
- Note that the bain-marie pan method is the best method for melting white chocolate. White chocolate has a very low melting point of around 44°C. This method guarantees you a better level of temperature control, so it is usually the most successful.
- There should be plenty of space between the surface of the water and the bottom of the top of the pan. Water should not come into contact with the top of the pan, even after it starts to boil.
- Test the water level by placing the top of the pan in place after the water starts to boil. Remove the top after 30 seconds to check for moisture. If the water has wet the bottom, reduce the water level at the bottom and try again.
- If you don't have a double boiler, try creating something similar with a simple metal skillet and pot. Choose a small to medium skillet and a shallow pan that fits snugly into the skillet. If possible, choose a container with a rim that fits snugly against the sides of the skillet. One pan bigger than the other should work. Ideally, the pan should float a little over the water, but it's okay if it doesn't.
Step 3. Heat white chocolate above water
Lower the fire. Add the white chocolate to the pot in a double boiler. Stir the white chocolate until it melts.
- Remove white chocolate from heat after most of it has melted, but with a few bits available here and there. The chocolate will continue to melt after being removed from the heat as long as you continue to stir. Taking it out of the fire before everything is melted prevents the chocolate from burning.
- When white chocolate burns, it becomes lumpy and grainy. You won't be able to restore it to a usable state if that happens.
- If you are unable to melt the remaining pieces after removing it from the heat, simply put the top of the bain-marie pan back and heat the chocolate for 30 seconds or more.
- Don't let any liquid get into the white chocolate as it melts. The liquid will cause the chocolate to become lumpy. If possible, you should even prevent the steam from the underside of the pan from reaching the white chocolate. Keep the used spoon dry during the process. Metal spoons are better than wooden or plastic spoons as they are less likely to retain moisture.
- Do not cover the bain-marie pan while the chocolate is melting, as condensation will collect on the lid. Drops of water condensed on the lid will spoil the chocolate if they fall into it.
- If you really want to add a liquid ingredient to white chocolate, such as an extract or food coloring, it's best to do it before it starts to melt. This will allow the temperature of the liquid and the chocolate to remain the same, minimizing the risk of lumpy chocolate.
Step 4. Emulsify the white chocolate again, if necessary
If white chocolate becomes lumpy, try saving it by adding a small amount of butter or shortening to it.
- Remove white chocolate from heat before trying to save it.
- Add butter or shortening to the lumpy white chocolate 1 tsp at a time to avoid overfilling. You'll probably end up needing about 1 teaspoon for every 200g of white chocolate.
- You can also use unflavored vegetable oil, warm milk, or warm cream. Only add liquids after heating them to the chocolate temperature. Adding cold liquids will only make things worse.
- Use emulsified white chocolate again along with other ingredients to make sauces, meringues and batters. It is difficult to use white chocolate alone to cover candy or create decorations, as the texture and shine will be different. You can use it alone to make decorations on cookies.
Method 2 of 2: With the microwave
Step 1. Cut white chocolate into small pieces
Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut the chocolate into equal pieces of up to 1 cm.
- You can skip this step if you are using chocolate drops. The drops are usually small enough to melt without having to cut them further.
- For larger pieces, you can either break them into smaller pieces using your hand or grate them using a grater.
Step 2. Adjust your microwave power
Instead of putting the white chocolate to heat on full microwave power, reduce the power to medium power or 50%.
- Reducing the microwave power ensures that the chocolate doesn't overheat too quickly. Turning the microwave to full power will cause the delicate white chocolate to overheat very quickly, resulting in a lumpy, grainy slop.
- Note that microwave-melting white chocolate is not the recommended option. It is more difficult to monitor the temperature of white chocolate in the microwave than in a double boiler. White chocolate burns at around 44°C and is easy to microwave if you don't pay careful attention.
Step 3. Microwave the white chocolate for 30 seconds. Heat the white chocolate for 30 seconds in a microwaveable bowl and stir
- White chocolate will continue to melt with its own heat when being stirred.
- Do not cover the bowl as this can cause condensation. Condensed water can finish the chocolate if it drips into it.
- Even if it doesn't look melted, you should check the temperature of the white chocolate before continuing to heat it in the microwave. Chocolate will retain its shape if not stirred; therefore, looking at it will not indicate that the temperature is okay.
- Generally speaking, white chocolate shouldn't get any hotter than the inside of your lower lip. If you want to measure the temperature of the chocolate, touch it with your clean hands and compare the temperature of the candy to your lower lip.
Step 4. Continue with 30 second intervals as needed
If the white chocolate still doesn't melt after stirring it for a minute or so, you can continue heating it in the microwave at 30-second intervals at 50% of the appliance's power.
- Stir the white chocolate between intervals to give it a chance to melt outside the microwave.
- This is often necessary for larger pieces of chocolate, but not for small amounts.
- To be safe, you can even heat white chocolate at 15-second intervals instead of 30 seconds.
Step 5. Recover the chocolate if necessary
White chocolate that is lumpy and granulated can be saved with a little butter or vegetable shortening.
- Add about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of margarine, butter or shortening to every 200 g of white chocolate. To be safe, add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) at a time and stir between each addition.
- Warm milk, warm cream, or unflavored vegetable oil can also be used to re-emulsify white chocolate instead of butter or shortening. Ideally, these products are at the same temperature as white chocolate if you have to add them.
- Even if you manage to save the lumpy white chocolate, its uses will be limited. Saved white chocolate is often used to decorate candy or as an ingredient in batters, meringues and sauces.