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How To Melt Chocolate In The Microwave – Ultimate Guide

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Dipping strawberries, baking brownies or making ganache, melting chocolate in the microwave is foolproof way to take shortcut when you are busy. From dark to semisweet and milk, all chocolate does not melt the same, so what is the best way to melt chocolate in the microwave?

The cacao butter or fat content determines the melting point of chocolate. Understand the characteristics of each chocolate to create the desired consistency for melted chocolate sauce.

When melting chocolate in the microwave, it’s best to chop into smaller pieces to melt even, unless you use chocolate chips. Transfer chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl and nuke for 15 second increments on medium heat, and stir in between to reach the melting temperature. 

Chopping bars and large chunks into small even size pieces actually helps you melt the choice quickly when you are not stirring it as often as you should. But, is it safe to melt chocolate in the microwave?

Is it ok to melt chocolate in the microwave?

In general, chocolate needs low heat because the melting process  is slow and takes time to achieve a smooth and saucy texture. For most bakers, a double boiler is the recommended method to control the temperature easily without burning or seizing.

However, the fastest and mess-free method is using microwave. Melting chocolate in the microwave is fairly easy, and requires less dishes to clean up afterwards.

When using a microwave, I suggest using a thermometer to keep the chocolate under the melting point temperature. It’s easily miss the mark to keep the chocolate on point without overheating.

The melting point of chocolate is based on the percentage of cocoa butter, therefore each type of chocolate has a different melting temperature. In addition, the amount of cocoa, sugars and emulsifiers will play a part in the melting temperature.

Here are the melting point temperatures for the most common types of chocolate you will melt in the microwave:

  • Dark chocolate: 114 -118° F
  • Milk chocolate: 105 – 113° F
  • White chocolate: 100 – 110° F

Chocolate begins to soften at a temperature lower than human body heat. This is why chocolate melts when you hold it in your hands for too long. 

Most chocolate melts best between 104 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit, but you do not want to go above 115 degrees because it can seize up and crystallize really easily. 

Can you melt chocolate in the microwave?

From dark to white chocolate, there are many types of chocolate to melt in the microwave. Not all chocolate melts the same due to the considerable difference in cocoa butter content, which affects the melting point.

Here is the ultimate guide of melting instructions for each type of chocolate:

  • Chocolate chips: The tendency and intended purpose of chocolate chips is not meant to melt because they are designed to retain their shape when used in cookies and baked goods. But if you do need to melt chocolate chips in the microwave, use microwave-safe bowl to heat for 15 seconds at a time and give a good stir. Stir in a tablespoon of butter if you need extra fat to thin out the chocolate and make it more glossy.
  • Chocolate chips with butter: If your recipe asks you to melt chocolate chips with butter in the microwave, you may melt them together. However, it’s best to melt the chocolate and then stir in the butter because butter has a lower melting point that chocolate. The ratio of chocolate chips to butter depends on the cacao content. For 55% to 60% cacao content in the chocolate, add 1 tablespoon butter for every 2 ounces of chocolate. Other than that, increase to 1½ tablespoons for every 2 ounces.
  • Chocolate wafers: The chocolate wafers are actually great substitute for chocolate chips, they are thinner and melt much better for all recipes. Use the microwave to melt chocolate wafers the same as regular chocolate, in low to medium power for 15 second time periods and stir until completely melted. 
  • Chocolate kisses: When microwaving chocolate kisses to melt for dipping, always remove the foil wrappers before heating up. You may experience that chocolate kisses do not melt well and might take slight longer than a bar of chocolate. Give a good stir, and continue with low heat to gradually reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Chocolate bars: The go-to essential baking ingredient for most melting needs are chocolate bars. Due to the size, it’s recommended to break down a large bar into small equal sizes to melt quickly. If you see melted chocolate start splitting or turning grainy, add a spoonful of vegetable oil instead of butter to recover. 
  • White chocolate: It is easier to melt white chocolate because it does not contain any cocoa solids and has a higher cocoa butter content. In order to melt white chocolate in the microwave properly, finely grate it, adjust to 50% power and nuke for 15 seconds. Stir well and give 10 second intervals until smooth texture. 
  • Milk chocolate: Set the microwave at low to medium power when melting milk chocolate in the microwave. If the chocolate turns out thick and pasty, it means the milk chocolate has overheated. Be careful and stay under the melting point when heating milk chocolate. 
  • Dark chocolate: Known for difficult melting compared to others, dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids than milk or white chocolate. Whether you choose bar or chips, use small pieces to melt in the microwave. If you taste bitterness in the chocolate, adding a dash of salt can take away the bitter taste and actually bring the rich chocolate flavor to life. 
  • Semi sweet chocolate: Although it is under the dark chocolate category, semisweet chocolate doesn’t necessarily means its sweet. It has 35% or more cacao solids, which helps it to melt easier. Start with medium heat level in the microwave to melt, and stir often in between each interval. 

Every type of chocolate does not comes with the same melting instructions that are universally applied. For dipping or quick glazes and decoration, simply melt Hershey’s chocolate in the microwave as alternate to baking chocolate, it is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.

How do you melt chocolate for dipping?

If you are preparing dipping sauce for strawberry or pretzel, melted chocolate is an absolutely must-have. Depending on the type of chocolate, melting is easy to do in the microwave, but hard to recover once it have begun to crystallize.

In order to properly melt chocolate for dipping, start by choosing the right chocolate. I recommend going with a chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips. 

The bar requires chopping to make small equal sized pieces that melts faster. Chocolate chips tend to retain their shape when melted, and might not be the best choice for dipping. 

Don’t rely on the looks, if you see a few chunks, stop microwaving and keep stir to use the remaining heat in the bowl to melt the chocolate completely. 

How long should you microwave chocolate?

Microwaving chocolate is recommended method to melt chocolate if you’re in a hurry. The microwave keeps the heat levels consistent and easy to manage by stopping and starting at the push of a button.

Depending on the heat setting of your microwave, amount of chocolate and the type of chocolate you are using, the cooking time to melt chocolate can vary slightly.

However, it generally takes around 30 seconds to melt chocolate in the microwave. Evaluate how the chocolate looks after every 15 seconds and give a stir to melt smoothly. 

Some recipes suggest high heat power, but I would go with medium power and slowly melt the chocolate to avoid scorching or seizing. 

What happens if you microwave chocolate too long?

It can be hard to just watch the chocolate melting in front of the microwave when you are busy trying to multi-task. However, time and temperature are key factors of success.

Chocolate is actually very sensitive to high heat. If you microwave chocolate too long, you are overheating and the bonds  will loose the silky shiny surface, become thick and muddy, and potentially seize up into a crystallized clump.

Fortunately, sometimes overheated chocolate can be saved. First, take out from microwave and transfer the chocolate to a dry and cool bowl. Stir in small pieces of unmelted chocolate to bring down the temperature of the overheated chocolate. 

If the chocolate is still thick or lumpy, add a spoonful of vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening. You can attempt a rescue operation, but sometimes overcooked chocolate is beyond repair.

Things to know before melting chocolate in the microwave

Whether you are melting white chocolate, semisweet or dark chocolate, you do need the proper time, temperature and technique to reach the foolproof melting point. Type of chocolate, cocoa butte content and weight of the pieces can all impact how long it takes to melt chocolate in the microwave, 

For additional information, here are things you need to be aware of before starting microwave melted chocolate for your desserts:

  • Avoid water while melting chocolate, that includes steam. Any amount of water can cause chocolate to instant seize. 
  • Rotate the bowl in the microwave if necessary to evenly heat all side and melt the chocolate smoothly. 
  • Adjust the microwave to a low or medium power setting to avoid burning or overheating. 
  • Use a glass bowl that is microwave-safe to see the melting process more clearly. 
  • When in doubt, set aside ⅓ of chocolate chips before melting and add the remainder to the melted chocolate so that you avoid overheating.

Sometimes melting the chocolate can be tricky. Microwaving for less than a minute doesn’t always solve the issue of grainy, lumpy, or horrible burning smell. 

Chop the chocolate into small uniform sized pieces. Place the chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl, set to medium power and nuke for 15 seconds at a time and stir between each interval. Once the chocolate becomes shiny and softened, use the residual heat from the bowl to finish melting the chocolate into a silky smooth liquid.

Whether you need a dipping sauce, topping for a cookie or a silky smooth ganache, use the microwave tips found in this ultimate guide to melt chocolate perfectly. 

Ultimate guide to melt chocolate in microwave.