What is Double Boiler?
A double boiler is a set of two fitted saucepans or pots that are stacked together with space between them. The bottom saucepan is filled with water, then the second saucepan is stacked on top. The steam from the bottom pot rises and heats the upper pot. This indirect form of heating allows the contents of the upper pot to heat slowly and evenly and is ideal for melting chocolate and for gently heating egg and butter-based sauces that would otherwise burn with direct heat.
How to use?
A double boiler is two pots: a large one that looks a lot like a regular saucepan and a smaller, more shallow pan that nestles inside. It’s used for cooking delicate ingredients that have a tendency to seize or separate over direct heat, as when tempering chocolate, whisking up an egg-based sabayon or keeping gravy warm.
To use one, you fill the bottom pan with an inch or two of water and set the shallow pan on top. Overheat, the water in the bottom pan begins to simmer and transfers a gentle, steady heat to whatever you’re cooking in the pan above. Check the bottom pan every now and then to make sure the water hasn’t boiled off, and add more water if needed.
Owning an actual double boiler is handy if you do a lot of cooking that requires it. If you only need one occasionally, you can accomplish the same effect by setting a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Just make sure the bottom of the mixing bowl doesn’t touch the surface of the water.
You can find double boilers or single pans that fit over your regular saucepans, at most kitchen supply stores. We recommend buying one with a fairly shallow top pan, as this makes it much easier to whisk and stir sauces.
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