Buy good chocolate. Read the ingredients and look for the familiar: cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, organic cane sugar, etc. Remember, the higher percentage of cacao, the darker and less sweet the chocolate. Thus, and 80% cacao content has little sugar and lots of chocolate and will be more to the bitter.
- Keep water, liquids, and steam away from the process! It is always dangerous to melt chocolate in a double boiler because any little burst of steam or water droplet can cause the chocolate to seize.
- Never melt chocolate over high heat to avoid graininess and lumps.
- Chocolate you want to use as a coating, such as dipping fruit, should be “tempered” by melting 2/3 of the chocolate in the microwave, remove and add the last third and stir until that is also melted. Tempering produces the best texture and gloss.
- Add a pinch of salt to all recipes, and for most ganache I also add some instant espresso powder. It does not create a coffee taste, but deepens and enhances the flavor.
- When melting chocolate for ganache, cut into small pieces. They will melt faster, and ensure that everything gets blended evenly.
- When stirring chocolate and cream together, use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. A whisk might impart too much air and change the texture.
- Milk chocolate has dairy, but other chocolate does not, so keep this in mind for your vegan and lactose intolerant friends. Milk chocolate is also usually on the sweet side with a lower cacao content.
- The most important rule? Always buy chocolate that you love licking off your fingers!