Hundred-year-old Advice for Melting Chocolate

Holiday baking often requires melting chocolate so I was thrilled to see advice in a hundred-year-old magazine for an easy way to melt chocolate without waste.The Discoveries  column in Good Housekeeping invited readers to send in their “discoveries” for possible publication Readers whose submissions were published received $1 from the magazine. This is what a reader wrote:

Melted Chocolate

To have chocolate already at hand for melting without waste, keep your chocolate in a pint jar. To melt it simply place it in hot water. Any amount desired may be taken out. Seal the jar and keep it in the kitchen cabinet when you are not using it. –Mrs. F.M.F., N.Y.

Good Housekeeping (September, 1917)

It took a really long time to melt the chocolate. Perhaps chocolate a hundred years ago melted at lower temperatures than modern chocolate. A better approach today would be to melt in the microwave.

25 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Advice for Melting Chocolate

  1. I still have the double boiler my mother used to melt chocolate; it works beautifully — and relatively quickly. I had two thoughts when I read the hint. One was, “But what do you do with the chocolate that’s left in the bottom of the jar, and hard to get out?” The other was, “Never, ever melt chocolate in a microwave!” I have no idea when or how that got implanted in my mind, but there it is. When I read some advice on how to microwave chocolate, the double boiler certainly seemed easier.

    1. My mother always used a double boiler, but I must admit that I’ve shifted to using a microwave. As to whether it was difficult to get out – After I melted the chocolate, I got busy taking the photo, uploading it, and preparing this post. When I went back into the kitchen the chocolate had hardened in the bottom of the jar, and I had to remelt it to get it out. 🙂

  2. It’s really easy to burn chocolate, trying to melt it quickly, so the slowness of the method makes sense. My microwave actually has a “melt chocolate” button but it, too, is pretty slow.

    1. I also use a low power setting when microwaving chocolate. When I was working on this post, I noticed that the box that the chocolate came in said that it should be microwaved on high which really surprised me. It seems like it would burn.

  3. Good to know although I do not bake much any more. Usually use the microwave if I need to melt anything. The slowness would not bother me as there is always something else to do while waiting.

  4. I use a double boiler. I have two of them. One is 51 years old the other is Corelle glass, I like the glass because I can see the water boiling. I melt mine with a slow tiny bubbles in the bottom pan. I have more control over the process with a double boiler then using a microwave.

      1. Actually, there’s a whole science to chocolate. Usually, it’ll cool to something that resembles the original state, but with visible imperfections. You might also get degradation in the texture. In some cases, you can get something to horrifying in both looks and texture, that you’ll feel sure you should throw it out. However, no matter what happens when it cools, it will always melt back into the same melted state, so long as you get it hot enough (which varies according to the type of chocolate).

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