(Submitted by Sir Oliver. Some Excerpts from the Delia Smith website)

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When baking with chocolate, it is best to use black or bitter chocolate and not milk chocolate, which burns easier and loses flavor in cooking.

A fifty or sixty-percent proof Cacao chocolate is ideal for baking. Good chocolate gives a good healthy snap when broken.

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(This Morinaga bitter chocolate is the best buy I have ever seen in Japan. Each 65 gram bar costs about 75-80 yen at most supermarkets, but on discount days you can get it for less. The bars are 60 per cent Cocoa.)

There’s not much good to be said about cheap chocolate. Chocolate is made of cacao masses, cacao Butter (fat), sugar, and in the case of milk chocolate there is milk added. Cacao mass is the chocolate content. Cacao butter is the valued fat from the cacao bean. (It is more heat resistant than regular vegetable oils and more smooth tasting.) When reading labels, the cacao mass or sugar should always come first.

Cheap chocolates use mostly sugar (which is cheap), loads of milk or some other lactic substance, vegetable oils in place of or supplementing Cacao butter, and cacao mass at the very end. Cacao mass content can be as little as 20-30 percent in these sorry excuses for chocolate.

Melting Chocolate:

In either method, be careful not to let any water get inside the chocolate or it will harden into a clump.

The Stovetop Method:

 

 

 

1. For this you will need a large [glass or ceramic, not plastic] bowl to sit over a saucepan filled with a couple of inches of barely simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Break up the chocolate into pieces, add them to the bowl and, keeping the heat at its lowest, leave the chocolate to melt slowly.

 

 

 

2. The chocolate will take about 10 minutes to melt and become smooth and glossy. (Though the time will vary depending on the amount of chocolate – individual timings are given in each recipe.) Then remove it from the heat, give it a good stir and it’s ready for use.

The Microwave Method:

Break the pieces of chocolate into a microwavable bowl, being careful not to let any of the covering foil get inside. (metals burn in the microwave)

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Process on low for three minutes. The chocolates will still retain their form, but if you stir them with a spoon they will become smooth. microwave in one minute intervals until done. A danger of microwaving chocolate is the risk of scorching it. You can microwave it halfway and leave the unmelted pieces to melt naturally in the already melted chocolate. Over-microwaving will also harm the flavor.

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