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Feb 20, 2008 09:20 AM

Melt chocolate with milk or cocoa without seizing?

Hi -- I know that small amounts of liquid can cause chocolate to seize, and I know how to rescue it once it's happened. But I'm trying to figure out how to bring together melted chocolate and milk without it seizing. I'm making ice cream, and the recipes say to melt the chocolate in a double boiler and then whisk in the milk. When I try that, it immediately seizes.

I've read lots of articles on this, and most say it has to do with the difference in temperatures between the chocolate and the milk. I've tried heating the milk to the same temperature as the melted chocolate first (both were about 120 degrees F), but it still seized when I poured the milk into the chocolate. And I also tried heating the milk first and then adding the hard chocolate to it, but then I ended up with chocolate milk with tiny bits of hard chocolate in it, like tiny chocolate chips that refused to melt. I've read about tempering things like egg yolks first by adding a small amount of melted chocolate to it, but I don't think that's going to work with 2 cups of milk. I've also read about adding oil to the chocolate first, but that doesn't sound like a great idea for ice cream. The only other thing I can think of is to heat both the cold milk and the hard chocolate together at the same time, but I haven't tried it yet.

Also, I occasionally have to add dry cocoa powder to melted chocolate, and I have the same problem there. Since there's no liquid in cocoa powder, I'm not sure why it seized, or what to do to prevent it.

Anyone have a fool-proof way to do this? Thanks!

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  1. How much milk and chocolate are you using? If there is enough milk, you can heat it up first and pour it over chopped chocolate to melt it. If it's two cups of milk, that should do it. You could also do as you suggested, cold milk and chocolate over a double boiler, stir frequently. I have no idea about cocoa making it seize, though. I'd also probably start both cocoa and hard chocolate over a double boiler.

    1. I second heating the milk to a simmer then pouring it over chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes, then stir to blend. I do that with cream when I make ganache.

      1. One (or many) things have happened when chocolate seizes:

        1. Water has been introduced to melting chocolate.
        2. The chocolate overheated, or the temperature fluctuated too rapidly (many times people mistake seizing for what is really burning - so use a double boiler and you should be okay)
        3. Really cold liquids have been added to melting chocolate.
        4. You've added too little liquid to the chocolate (although this isn't necessarily true because I've added small amount of milk/cream to chocolate with no problems....)

        I'm not sure why your chocolate-cocoa mixture would be seizing... You should try not adding the cocoa straight to melted chocolate, but rather putting the cocoa in the melted chocolate mixture that you have already made with other liquids. I haven't seen any recipes where you add cocoa straight to the melted chocolate.

        1. Are you whisking vigourously when you add the warm milk to the chocolate? Make sure to start whisking in the middle in small tight circles, then work your way around to the outside of the bowl. At first, it might seem like the two will not come together, but it definitely should. Another idea would be to put the melted chocolate in a food processor, add the milk and pulse it till it's emulsified.

          1. You should have no problem if you put everything together in a bowl over a pot of hot/simmering water until the chocolate is just about melted. I've also heard that it's best NOT to stir or whisk too much, but I'm not sure why. I usually put the chocolate/milk/cream/butter all in at the same time, then give a stir now and again with a chopstick or knife. Take off the heat just before all the chocolate is melted.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kagey

              I think because whisking either intoduces too much air into the mix or helps develop the crystals too much.

              One of them.