The Ideal Type Of Bowl To Use For A Double Boiler

Sometimes the low setting on your stove just isn't low enough. It might not happen often, but when it does, it pays to have a good setup for a double boiler.

The Kitchn says that a double boiler is simply any type of small pot with another pot or container placed over it. The bottom pot is filled with a shallow depth of water, and then the food being cooked is placed in the one on top. Another name for this process is a bain-marie, and it has similar uses to a double boiler.

According to Bon Appétit, a double boiler is used anytime that a gentle heat is required. Because the boiling water in the lower pot is heated directly instead of the food, the top basin only receives the soft, gentle heat of steam coming into contact with its base. This gentle heat is ideal for delicate recipes that contain eggs, such as a lemony hollandaise sauce, which would turn to scrambled eggs over a direct heat. Alton Brown also recommends using it for chocolate-based recipes to temper the chocolate, or carefully melt it down for chocolate mousse.

Because the success or failure of a good double boiler is dependent on heat conduction, it's important to make sure you're using the correct vessel.

Heat-resistant vessels are a must

As Bon Appétit points out, it's possible to buy a fancy dedicated double boiler setup. It's basically just two pots that fit together snugly, and ensure that the top vessel never touches the water. Unless you're an aspiring chocolatier or a hollandaise addict though, you likely won't get enough mileage out of these appliances to justify a purchase.

Instead, you can simply use another vessel that will sit on top of any old pot you already own. MasterClass recommends using either a glass or stainless steel bowl as the vessel when constructing your own double boiler. Both of these materials are heat resistant, meaning that they won't warp or break while their base is heated by the steam. Their rounded shape also helps them sit snugly over the pot without getting too close to the water below. Just make sure that you're also using oven mitts when steadying the bowl, as it will conduct heat as well, and become too hot to handle with bare hands.

You may not always need a double boiler, but when you do, it should be done safely and effectively with the proper vessel.