Sometimes you’ve just got to try something to believe it. Melting chocolate in the pressure cooker is one of those things.
Using the pressure cooker to melt chocolate goes against every piece of advice written about melting chocolate since the dawn of confectionery: melt at a low temperature (absolutely not above 110°F); water and chocolate don’t mix; stir slowly, gently and constantly; and, monitor the chocolate’s temperature obsessively.
Well, the pressure cooker can reach temperatures over 250°F, it is a wet cooking method (uses water) and there is no way you can open the lid to do any stirring or temperature monitoring while it’s at pressure. This really shouldn’t work… but it does.
Pressure cooking chocolate will not save you lots of time over melting chocolate in a conventional stove top bain marie set-up. But, seriously, has anyone ever in the history of time , shaken a piece of cut fruit on a stick and yelled “Chocolate fondue, STAT!?!”
The advantage of this technique is that you don’t actually need a fondue pot, and even if you have one, there’s no need to melt and prepare the ingredients in a separate container. No hovering, measuring or constantly stirring , either. The whole chocolate fondue-making process is basically hands-off until it’s time to dip in.
|Pressure Cooker||Accessories||Pr. Cook Time||Pr. Level||Open|
|4 L or larger||steamer basket, heat-proof bowl(s)||1-2 min.||High(2)||Slow Normal|
- Serves: Serves 2-4
- Serving size: ¼th
- Calories: 216
- TOTAL Fat: 20.3g
- TOTAL Carbs: 11.7g
- Sugar Carbs: 6.5g
- Sodium: 9.5mg
- Fiber Carbs: 2.6g
- Protein: 1.8g
- Cholesterol: 34.3mg
- 3.5oz (100g) Swiss Dark Bittersweet Chocolate 85% (use minimum 70% chocolate)
- 3.5 oz (100g) Fresh Cream
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Amaretto liquor (optional)
- Prepare the pressure cooker by adding two cup of water and the rack or trivet and set aside.
- In a small ceramic heat-proof container, such as a small fondue pot or ramekin or mug, add the chocolate in large chunks and measure their weight. Then, add the same amount of fresh cream, sugar and liquor (or any aromatics and spices you wish) – if using.
- Lower the un-covered container into the pressure cooker.
- Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
- Electric pressure cookers: Punch-in 2 minutes pressure cooking time at high pressure.
Stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it. Then, begin counting 1 minute cooking time.
- When time is up, open the cooker by slowly releasing the pressure .
- Open the pressure cooker tilting the lid so the condensation does not fall back onto the container.
- Using tongs, or an oven-glove-covered-hand, pull out the container. Then, using a fork quickly stir the contents of the ramekin vigorously for about a minute. At first the chocolate will break apart and look like it’s never going to come together, but keep stirring until it becomes a smooth, thick dark-brown mixture. Do not add any cold ingredients to this mixture (ie. more sugar, liquor, etc).
- Serve immediately or transfer to a fondue stand with the heat/flame set at medium. Serve with fresh fruit cut into bite-sized pieces, small long cookies or bread cubes.
Recipe Testing Outtakes
Usually I do my experimenting while I’m doing something else, or at night, so I rarely post any photos of the technique development and testing. But these are somewhat useful so enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek at some of the chocolate experiments!
Once I figured out that melting chocolate in the pressure cooker worked, I ran out and bought different formulations of dark chocolate to test…
Generally, the lower the percentage of cocoa in dark chocolate means there is a higher concentration of cocoa butterfat and sugar- which makes the melted chocolate more runny – so we recommend using 70% or higher concentration dark chocolate for fondue.
And.. JUST chocolate?
The focus of my testing was just in seeing what happened to chocolate under pressure and the come up with a recipe for you (fondue seemed like a good Idea for the up-coming V-day ; ). A couple of my foodie friends wanted to know what would happen to just chocolate under pressure? After pressure cooking it kind softens and keeps it shape. You can sink a spoon in it and it’s the consistency between a cloud and mousse. But, specifically, they were asking about tempering. I had a few chunks sitting around and after reading J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s treatise on tempering chocolate and, despite the warnings of doom, I thought that the pressure cooker might be a valid option for tempering.
I tried pressure cooking -uncovered chocolate and stirring it… and guess what happened? It seized-up: it turned into a fascinating play-dough like consistency that can shaped into anything that will eventually harden but never, ever melted again. Chocolate penguins, anyone?
I’m relatively sure that the condensation from the pressure cooker lid dibbled into the testing ramekins that seized.
However, one of my three test chocolates, the 72% cocoa was runny and only slightly grainy. When it dried it had a slight sheen and when I crumbled it – it snapped! No marbling or other obvious signs that it had been improperly tempered as described in Kenji’s article (other than a bump or two).
So, I suspect, but have not had a chance to confirm, that melting chocolate for tempering can very likely be done in a tightly covered container inside the pressure cooker despite the temperatures (I measured the contents of the ramekins after pressure cooking to be 63-70°C or 145 – 160°F). This was not the goal of my recipe – but I thought it would be worthwhile to report on my side-findings so far.
Once I’ve been able to confirm whether chocolate can be successfully tempered in a sealed container, or not, I’ll post the information here.