By LeafTV Contributor

Unsweetened or bitter chocolate is made by crushing roasted cacao beans, also called cocoa beans, and releasing the liquor, which is poured into molds for hardening. It contains no sugar and has a sharp, unpleasant taste. To use it as a dip for fruit or baked goods, as a hard shell topping for ice cream, or as a glaze, you must mix in a sweetener. You can also sweeten bitter chocolate to use as a substitute in recipes that call for semisweet chocolate. Once melted and sweetened, the chocolate can be used immediately or hardened and stored for future use.

Chopped chocolate bars
credit: dziewul/iStock/Getty Images
The smaller the chocolate pieces, the more quickly they melt.

Double Boiler Method

Step 1

Fill the bottom half of the double boiler with 1 or 2 inches of water, and place on a stove burner. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to low, or just enough to keep the water hot but not boiling.

Step 2

Measure the amount of chocolate needed, and chop or grate it. Measure the sugar using a ratio of 2 tablespoons for every 1 ounce of chocolate. Place sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Step 3

Transfer the chocolate to the top section of the double boiler and place that over the bottom section. Leave the cover off and stir the chocolate frequently with a wooden spoon as it melts.

Step 4

Add the sugar in small amounts, using more or less than the standard ratio according to your taste. Stir after each addition until the sugar completely melts and no longer feels gritty when you press the spoon to the side of the pan.

Step 5

Turn off the burner and carefully remove the top pan from the double boiler. Proceed with your recipe or pour the melted chocolate into a bowl to cool.

Microwave Method

Step 1

Measure the chocolate and the sugar separately. Transfer the chopped or grated chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl and place it in the microwave. Set the oven to medium power and microwave the chocolate, uncovered, for 60 to 90 seconds.

Step 2

Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir. Add the sugar and stir well to combine. Microwave for another 30 seconds. Remove the bowl and stir until all the chocolate pieces are completely melted and the sugar no longer feels gritty against the side of the bowl.

Step 3

Use the melted sweetened chocolate immediately or pour it into a separate container and refrigerate for future use.