What is a Bain Marie and why do I hear different meanings or uses?
Known as Bain de Marie, au-Bain-Marie, "kerotakis," these old-time double boilers could be one of the most versatile kitchen tools in the world.
In chemistry it was handed down from the Middle Ages as "bomari" & Latin term "balneus mariae."
Eventually finding its way to our homes as a chef tool. Or, was that a technique?
The kerotakis medicinal past remains unknown to most folks these days.
Even so, it has to be the most versatile of all kitchen tools since its inception in alchemy during ancient Greek times.
Here's a picture of the ancient Bain Marie known as the "balneum mariae."
It is used by alchemist in search of the elixir of life, or cure all (panacea) through the extraction of oils in plants.
Nowadays it's referred to as a double boiler.
Our purpose, of course, is to use it when we want a source of indirect heat for melting chocolate and even compound chocolates.
It's a great way to melt chocolate for making chocolates, and chocolate candy making we use for those gift ideas.
In other cases, the Au-Bain-Marie is/was used for precious metals formation.
It's one pot sitting inside of a larger container a couple of inches (5 cm) or so above the water in the lower pan (upper pan doesn't touch water in the lower pan).
You might have notice someone like mom using two stacked pans on the cook stove. Like the one in the photo of a copper double boiler.
It's easy to put together! Here's a great example with illustrations of a homemade double boiler.
Another technique is that the upper pan actually touches the water in the lower pan–known as the "wet bath."
It is used for steady cooking and/or melting with uniform, direct heat (not used this way for melting chocolate).
However, the wet bath is great for making soaps and some desserts that are not affected by this uniform direct heat style.
Either way you say it, this fine invention is just as much a technique as it is a tool for many things.
That includes homemade chocolate candy making.
Hope this helps you, and if you have question, Ask me!
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