It has the magical ability to turn me into a candy maker. All you have to do is dip, coat or mix something up with the melted chocolate and plop it on wax paper. A few minutes later, you have a tray full of wonderful confections made by you! How did that happen?!
Alas, chocolate can at times be a bit persnickety so I'm compiling all the tips and tricks I know to working with chocolate.
Melting Chocolate in the Microwave
Melt the chocolate at 30 second intervals or less.Chocolate burns very easily so it's best to microwave it in small intervals. You can also set the microwave to 50% power to play it on the safe side. Chocolate becomes lumpy or grainy if overheated. I microwave mine on full power at 30 seconds or less depending on the amount of chocolate. Take into account your own microwave.
Stir the chocolate between each microwaving.Chocolate melts from the inside out, so the chocolate may appear to be solid but when you begin to stir it, you will see that it's melting. I've read that you should use a rubber spatula, however I use a regular (metal) spoon and have seen no negative effects.
Make sure the chocolate is in uniform pieces.I used chocolate chips, but if you are using a bar, make sure to chop it into uniform pieces for even melting.
Make sure the chocolate doesn't come in contact with water.Even just a drop of water will cause the chocolate to seize and become unusable. Make sure the bowl and spoon are completely dry.
Vegetable oil is your friend.Vegetable oil can be used to salvage overheated chocolate. It can also be used to thin chocolate that's too thick - I often add it to thin my chocolate. I once tried butter before I did any research and it went horribly wrong, so I wouldn't recommend that. I've read that vegetable shortening can be used also. Here's a nestle site that gives specific amounts for salvaging seized chocolate: http://www.verybestbaking.com/Resources/Baking-School/Articles/Seizing-Morsels.aspx.
I don't have a double boiler so I don't have any tips for doing that, but it is the preferred method. If you don't have a double boiler either, don't fret! I always microwave my chocolate without any problems.
Tempering chocolate is recommended so that the chocolate doesn't melt at room temperature and so that it has a shiny appearance and good snap. The process for tempering seems quite complicated so I've never done it. My chocolate does, however, set up at room temperature and I've served truffles at a gathering before and they didn't melt. Most of the time I keep them in the refrigerator just because. So, do what you want in that regard. :)