There are several ways to melt chocolate: in a bowl over simmering water (bain marie), in a tempering machine, or in your mouth.
Chris Kollar of Kollar Chocolates, however, prefers a simpler technique: in the microwave. Melting chocolate that way, he says, allows for less chance of water getting into the bowl, which can happen with stove-top methods. Water can cause chocolate to seize up, resulting in (possibly) irreparable damage to its texture (i.e. it becomes a grainy mess and you'll have to throw it away).
To start, Kollar starts with a clean, dry bowl and chocolate coins. If you have bar or block chocolate instead, just cut it into relatively uniform chunks with a serrated knife. He nukes the chocolate in 30-second intervals, slowly warming the solids until they begin to give way. At each interval, he gives the chocolate a stir with a rubber scraper, ensuring the warmth is evenly distributed and testing to see how much longer it needs to reach a fully liquid state.
Once no lumps remain, and the chocolate is glossy, avoid dipping your face directly into the bowl, and instead, whip up a batch of Nutty Chocolate Bark with Cardamom and Coffee, dip candied cherries into a vat of the stuff for Cherry Cordials or drizzle spicy Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies with white chocolate for a festive finish.
As you're working with melted chocolate, if it gets too stiff to drizzle or dip, simply pop it back in the microwave for another 20 seconds and repeat the process as necessary.
Now that it's melted, watch Chris Kollar whip it into the creamiest ganache »
See a gallery of our favorite chocolate desserts »