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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Melting Butterscotch Chips

    My friend who lives in the Midwest kindly sent me the recipe she uses for making Scotharoos, an American peanut-butter variant of Rice Krispie treats. I love them but I can't replicate the suggested topping, which is made by melting equal quantities of butterscotch chips and chocolate chips together. I can't get the butterscotch chips to melt before the chocolate seizes. I've tried a double boiler and also taking it very slowly in a saucepan. Unfortunately I don't currently have a microwave, which is what my friend uses. Please can you advise me on the best method? Would a different brand of butterscotch chips help? Many thanks!

    From the nigella team:

    Butterscotch chips (morsels) are mostly made of sugar and so have a slightly different structure to chocolate chips. So as the butterscotch chips heat up they tend to hold their shape unless they are stirred regularly. This make mean that it looks as if they aren't melting and as as you continue to heat them they (or the chocolate) will start to overheat and "sieze". When chips are melted in a microwave you are instructed to stir regularly, this instruction is not always given when melting in a double boiler.

    As well as stirring the mixture regularly you could try chopping the butterscotch chips a bit so that they are in smaller pieces and will heat slightly more quickly than the chocolate. Remove the bowl from the pan of hot water while there are still some small unmelted lumps of chocolate and butterscotch chips left as these will melt in the residual heat of the mixture and it reduces the risk of the mixture overheating. Keep stirring the mixture every couple of minutes until it is smooth. A few drops of unflavoured vegetable oil added to the bowl of chips before melting can also sometimes reduce the risk of the mixture siezing.

    When using a double boiler make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the hot water as this will cause the mixture to heat quickly and unevenly and increases the risk of scorching. Also make sure that no water enters the bowl as this can also cause the chocolate to turn grainy.

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