Melting Chocolate in a Microwave
When melting chocolate in a microwave, have you ever noticed that it's warm..., but it still looks solid?
So..., do microwaves melt chocolate from the inside out?
Microwave ovens are widely considered the simplest method for melting smaller quantities of chocolates (less than 16 ounces). When warm, the chocolate in that Pyrex bowl can hold its shape. It's usually glossy at this point and has the resistance of "mush" (the technical term) when melted.
These ovens use microwaves (radio waves) operating at a standard frequency range of about 2450 MHz (2.45 GHz). Energy from those waves are absorbed primarily by water particles (water molecules react–create friction).
Take away water, as is the case with chocolate, and the fats & sugar absorb those radio waves first, instead. Fats are less responsive to microwaves. However, fat will actually heat rapidly due to its low heat tolerance. That's why that leftover chicken leg crackles and pops when it's nuked.
Instruction manuals will tell you to let the foods sit idle between microwave sessions to allow the heaat to evenly distribute throughout the food. The same applies to melting chocolate in a microwave.
Inside Out or Just Appearance
Cocoa butter (a natural fat of cocoa beans) in chocolate acts in the same manner as other fats, which is one of the reasons it's necessary to heat in short intervals (about 30 seconds, stirring after each interval).
The melting point of chocolate is lower than human body temperature (why it melts so easily in your mouth).The strong crystalline structure of cocoa butter melded (emulsified) with dry ingredients become one, uniform solid mass of tempered chocolate.
Imagine a sand castle–it holds its shape after the water has dissipated.
Looks Might Be Deceiving
So when we amp up the microwave oven, the energy from those waves warm the cocoa butter that's evenly distributed throughout, and it will stay stacked somewhat with the help of the dry cocoa powder and other ingredients.
Sometimes, as we're melting chocolate in a microwave, we make the mistake of thinking it needs more heat, when it just needs stirred. While the fats heat up quick, molecules in sugar heat up similar to water too, resulting in the likelihood that the heat in this combination could easily scorch or burn if the temperature goes beyond 110-120 °F (43-49 °C) (depending on the type of chocolate).
If the chocolate becomes grainy, it is overheated. A remedy starts at the beginning... The first few sessions in the microwave, use short heating intervals around 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between until the chocolate starts to melt. You'll notice that although the chocolate looks mostly solid, there is also melted chocolate when stirred.
Pay special attention as you stir during the first few session in the microwave.
When you notice the chocolate is starting to melt..., stop heating let it set a few minutes in the microwave oven–utilize the "stand time." The heat will have time to disperse (as directed by the microwave manufacturer's instructions).
While melting chocolate in a microwave, save some money and don't heat until the chocolate melts entirely..., it's not a great idea, unless you're into burnt chocolate.
At 50 percent power (or low power mode), the oven goes through power burst in short cycles. Those bursts of power cook in short intervals then cycle off to allow the food time to stand which makes this power mode on the microwave ovens safest for chocolates until the allotted time is up...
...BEEEEP! Now grab your silicone spatula and start stirring.
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