How to fix that clumping-chocolate problem

ASK THE CHEF

Sunday Gourmet

August 15, 2004|By Jim Coleman & Candace Hagan | By Jim Coleman & Candace Hagan,Knight Ridder / Tribune

Sometimes when I melt chocolate it clumps together. Is there a reason for this? Should I use a different type of chocolate?

Actually, your problem doesn't have anything to do with the kind of chocolate you use. What chocolate hates is moisture and extreme heat. Even the slightest bit of moisture will cause that clumping. I've seen it happen many times when cooks try to melt a huge bowl of chocolate bits over a water bath. The problem starts when they don't turn the flame down after the water comes to a boil. Between the moisture of the steam, the boiling water splashing and the high heat, that chocolate seizes up harder than your great-aunt's fruitcake.

Now let's say you do everything right (or so you claim), with no moisture or extreme heat, and your chocolate still conspires against you. Well, don't throw your wooden spoon across the kitchen in despair, because all is not lost.

As crazy as it sounds, the next time you make chocolate cement, you can actually loosen it back up by adding a little warm water, just a bit at a time, and stirring it hard until it becomes shiny and smooth.

Try it, because I want you to get the best of your chocolate, not the other way around.

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