Courtesy Alton Brown, 2012
1. Use a serrated knife when chopping blocks or bars of chocolate. If the chocolate is especially hard, tap the back of the knife with a wooden mallet or rolling pin.
2. To melt chopped chocolate, place in a medium metal mixing bowl. Use a salon-style hairdryer on low speed and high heat to melt the chocolate by alternating between heating the outside of the bowl and the surface of the chocolate itself. Keep the chocolate moving with a rubber or silicone spatula so that temperature will rise evenly. Eight ounces should take less than 3 minutes while two pounds can be liquefied in 10 minutes depending on the size of the pieces.
3. To hold chocolate for later use, place a standard heating pad, set to medium, inside a bowl, and set the bowl of melted chocolate on top of the heating pad. Cover the bowl of chocolate with a tea towel and hold until ready to use.