Double Boiler Cooking Method
A double boiler is two sauce pots that fit together nicely so that the contents of the upper pot can be cooked or heated by heating the water in the lower pot. Double boilers allow food to heat gently, as well as to stay warm over a period of time. This is beneficial when heating temperature-sensitive foods, such as chocolate. When using a double boiler, two pots work together using steam to cook, or to melt the food.
The cushion of hot air between the water and the food helps keep the temperature constant, in addition to keeping the food from overheating. Some believe this cooking method achieves the maximum extraction of flavor while having minimal effects on the flavor and the texture of the ingredients. The double boiler can be used for tasks such as melting chocolate, melting butter, or softening cream cheese.
Don’t have one? Make your own…
You need a mixing bowl and a sauce pot that the bowl will sit on top of. They should fit together tightly. A metal, glass, or Pyrex bowl will work. However, don’t use a bowl that will sit precariously on the pot. You don’t want a gap between it and the bowl. You want it to fit snugly without touching the water. If it touches the water, it will get too hot.
Cooking with a double boiler:
- Fill the bottom pot with one or two inches of water and place it on a burner.
- Place the second pot, or bowl on top, and turn the burner on to simmer.
- Add your ingredients to melt or cook, and follow your recipes directions.
The name double boiler, however, is a bit of a misnomer since a boil isn’t necessary because you’re going for a gentle heat. As water heats up, steam is released, staying trapped between the two pots. This heats the top pot without overheating it. The actual point of a double boiler is low, slow, even heat.
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