Chatelaine Kitchen

Kitchen Tip: Don't let this happen to your baking

Melted chocolate can seize if even a small amount of water gets into it. Find out how to save your chocolate with just a bit of water!


While developing our pumpkin feature in the October issue, we fell in love with these Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars. We loved them so much, we even filmed a How-To video on how to make them for And while the video turned out flawless (and not just because our food editor, Claire, is a pro at this!), but we did have a bit of a sticky situation behind-the-scenes.

To prep for the shoot, we wanted to prepare our ganache topping the day before. But The Chatelaine Kitchen happened to be particularly busy that day, with lots of cooking, baking and other activities going on and while melting the chocolate and cream together, the chocolate started to seize into a hard, grainy chocolatey mess. This had not happened during our many stages of testing, so at first we weren’t sure what was going on.

As is turns out, melted chocolate can seize if even a small amount of water gets into it.  This can be from a variety of sources – mixing with damp utensils, temperature shock, steam, or even the air if it’s a particularly humid day. Chocolate is composed of fine, dry particles and fat so if a few drops of water gets stirred into melted chocolate, it will actually cause the dry particles and fat to separate, forming a  grainy clump with oil floating on top. 

To fix this, simply whisk in some very hot water – a little at a time. I added boiling water one tbsp at a time to the chocolate while whisking, and it eventually smoothed out into a nice, shiny ganache that we could still use for the bars. So, if you’re making ganache or melting chocolate for your next baking project, make sure to have a kettle close by for some emergency hot water!