Double Boiler Improv

Ok, I am writing this post so that those of you who don’t have a double boiler (like me) and had no idea what a double boiler was before reading you need to use one in some recipe (like me) can melt stuff.

The picture to the right is an improvised double boiler. I actually found the picture on the internet, but it looks exactly like how I do my double boiler at home.

Basically you just take a pot with a few inches of water in it, place either a glass or metal bowl on top of it, and then heat up the water so that the steam melts whatever you put in the bowl. While the things you are trying to melt will melt faster if you stir them continuously, they will not burn if you don’t stir them like they would if you had just thrown them in a pot on the stove.

The way this works is that The phase change of water from liquid to vapor occurs at 212° F. Therefore, as long as the pot holding the water does not become pressurized or boiled dry, the maximum temperature the stuff in the bowl on top will come in contact with is 212°. Awesome. This also means that the temperature of the stuff in the upper bowl will remain constant because steam doesn’t change temperature. Cool.

The only problem with using a bowl instead of a real double boiler is steam will escape from the sides and might get some condensation in whatever you are melting, which would be bad. But as long as you keep your eye out for this and don’t let condensation build up around the edges of the bowl, you should be fine.

Baker’s chocolate squares melting in my home-made double boiler
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One thought on “Double Boiler Improv

  1. I'm a firm believer in ad-libbing your way around the kitchen, improvising utensils and such. That being said, I finally just got a double boiler this Christmas and am SO happy to have it. My previous attempts were a lot sadder than yours – I only had a small bowl to fit in the pot which meant water would always splash into the chocolate and mess up the consistency! Your technique looks a lot more sane than mine.

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