Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chocolate Bytes: How to 'Fix' Seized Chocolate

How many times have you been melting chocolate waiting for that wonderful smooth satiny mixture when all of a sudden it turns into a grainy clump? Overheated chocolate or chocolate that has come in contact with water often 'seizes'. This has happened to me more than once, and I've seen it happen to the best chefs. So today I thought I'd mention a few hints to prevent or to fix the problem.

As in most processes, it's best to avoid the problem by taking proper steps from the beginning.

Before melting chocolate, make sure ALL your utensils and equipment are totally dry.
Avoid using wooden spoons or bowls or other wooden tools that are porous and can retain moisture.
Eliminate any chance of the chocolate coming into contact with water. 
If you're using a double boiler to melt chocolate, keep the water simmering not boiling or turn off heat before the chocolate is placed on top. Boiling water can splash above rim of saucepan and cause water to fall in the chocolate. Boiling water also gives off a lot of steam that can cause chocolate to seize.
When taking off container holding the chocolate, always remember to wipe off the moisture underneath it using a cloth. If you don't do this, there's a risk of water getting into your chocolate.
Never cover warm chocolate with a lid--condensation could form.

Usng a microwave instead of a doubleboiler
Choose a container that does not retain a lot of heat after a few minutes of microwaving.
Set the heating level on your microwave to low, and occasionally stop to stir in between.

How to Fix Seized Chocolate!

Seized chocolate, as I mentioned, is a clumpy, grainy mess. 
To fix it:
Take your chocolate off the heat.
To bring back seized chocolate, you'll need some fat -- vegetable oil or shortening, cocoa butter, or clarified butter. I use olive oil.
Add fat in small amounts (about 1 tbsp to 6 ounces chocolate) and keep stirring gently until chocolate returns to normal.. or almost normal. You won't want to use it for dipping, but you can use it for other baking such as brownies, cakes or cookies.

Overheated Chocolate

Overheated chocolate: Chocolate cooked on too high a heat is not the same as seized chocolate.  It's thick and muddy and harder to 'save'.
Once again an ounce of prevention--or chocolate--is worth a pound of cure.
Because chocolate is sensitive to high temperatures, don't heat it above 110-120 degrees (depending on the type of chocolate). I have to admit, I don't always remember to use a thermometer, but it's good to have one, especially if you plan to work with chocolate.  It is very easy to overheat chocolate using  a double boiler if you boil the water on the lower part or if you microwave on full power.
Overheated chocolate is thick and muddy

How to Fix Overheated Chocolate!

Cool the chocolate: remove the bowl from heat source, transfer chocolate to dry, cool bowl, and stir in a handful of solid chocolate chunks. Stir constantly and allow solid chocolate to bring down the temperature of the melted chocolate.
If this doesn't work, try straining it through a sieve.
Not working? Add a spoon of vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening and stir thoroughly. 
If nothing works, save it for baking and make a fresh batch of chocolate.

Good luck! Love to hear your chocolate tips for seized or overheated chocolate!

5 comments:

Gloria said...

nice and useful!

Wren said...

Great tips...thank you.

yummychunklet said...

Thanks for these tips! I've been burned so many times on heating chocolate.

easter egg said...

thank you so much for these tips. now i know what to do when my chocolate goes hard!

Hot Cross Bunny said...

You just saved my 10 year old daughter's Easter nests - thanks very much!