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Chocolate burns easily. Never heat dark chocolate above 120°F or white or milk chocolate above 110°F. Be sure to break up or chop chocolate bars or squares before melting.

Most types of chocolate may be melted in a microwave oven. Cook uncovered in a microwavable dish or bowl using a microwave oven on Medium (50%), stirring once every minute, just until melted. Some chocolate retains its shape when softened, so stir it frequently.

Chocolate: 1 square baking chocolate = 1 oz

1 square = 4 TB cocoa and 1/2 TB fat
1 pound grated chocolate = about 3 1/2 cups

     If DARK chocolate is stored at 60 to 70 degrees F at low humidity, it can be kept for years, probably up to 10 years. If too warm, you may notice a gray surface covering on stored chocolate - this is just 'bloom' - and is simply some of the cocoa butter rising to the surface - it is still ok. If too humid, there may be some tiny sugar crystals on the surface, and this changes the flavor and texture very slightly.

     MILK chocolate will only last about 6 to 9 months before the flavor changes for the worse.

Melting Chocolate
     Adding any liquid to melted chocolate will cause it to 'seize up'. Sometimes even steam or a wet spoon can cause the chocolate to seize up and harden.

     When chocolate 'seizes up', adding butter or vegetable oil 1 teaspoon at a time will usually save it.

     To avoid the problem, chop the chocolate into pieces and combine it with the liqueur (or other liquid) and heat them together over low heat.

     Also, some chocolates may need at least 1 tablespoon of liquid per 2 ounces of chocolate in order to melt properly with a liquid.

White Chocolate
     White chocolate originates from the cocoa (cacao) plant, but it is not 'chocolate.' According to the FDA, to be called 'chocolate' a product must contain chocolate liquor, which is what gives it the biter intense chocolate flavor (and color) to dark and milk chocolates.

     White chocolate contains cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, lecithin and flavorings (usually including vanilla). Cocoa butter is the fat from cocoa beans, extracted from the cocoa beans during the process of making chocolate and cocoa powder. Cocoa butter has very little 'chocolate' flavor. 

Cocoa Butter
     Cocoa butter is one of the ingredients used to make real chocolate, it is gives chocolate the ability to remain solid at room temperature, yet melt easily in the mouth.

     Cocoa butter is one of the most stable fats known, containing natural antioxidants that prevent rancidity and give it a storage life of 2 to 5 years.  It is used for its smooth texture in foods (including chocolate) and in cosmetics and soaps.



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