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How to Save White Chocolate (and Defuse a Bomb)

How do you save white chocolate after you start to melt it and it does not melt properly?

Have you ever seen James Bond remove the detonator from a nuclear bomb just seconds before it is to go off and cause another war between archrival superpowers? How carefully he has to remove it without any portion of the firing mechanism coming in contact with the edges of the bomb housing, or else it will explode, again, setting off a needless war between the forces of good and the forces of evil?*

That's how careful you have to be when melting white chocolate.

We are confident — even cocky — melters of dark chocolate. White chocolate has us shaking in our shoes. The issue is that with white chocolate (and milk chocolate) there is a much narrower temperature range between the melting point and the burning point. It is the milk solids in these chocolates that makes them more susceptible to burning. We have not had as many unhappy experiences with milk chocolate, though, as with white, so we are doubly careful.

Because chocolate is not a good conductor of heat, a bowl or pan of chocolate will not heat evenly. You break up the chocolate into small bits and stir it frequently to spread the heat fairly, otherwise, portions can begin to burn before others begin to melt. The same result can occur if you try to melt too much chocolate at a time. As with so much in cooking, trying to do too much too fast often ends in disaster.

We generally melt chocolate in the microwave oven. But while we are comfortable melting dark chocolate on high power, we use half power for white chocolate and check it about three times as often. You could start with one cup (8 oz) of broken chocolate or morsels in small, microwave-safe bowl on half power for one minute. Stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth.

You can certainly also use the other accepted methods for melting chocolate — the top of a double boiler or a warming tray. Whatever method you use, stir, stir, stir and watch it like a hawk — or a British agent.

If the white chocolate is on the brink of overheating, quickly throw some more white chocolate bits in and stir thoroughly, which will cool the mixture. If it has just begun to overheat and seize up, you may be able to loosen it with the addition of a little cocoa butter, vegetable oil, or shortening. If it has gone any further, there is nothing you can do.

*If you haven't, we recommend The Spy Who Loved Me or Octopussy. Once you've seen them, you'll have a better sense of what's involved in melting white chocolate....


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