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To avoid shards of chocolate getting all over the countertop, try this simple hack.

By Betty Gold
February 08, 2021
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Fact: True love is tirelessly chipping away at a hard bittersweet block of chocolate so that your entire household can have their own personal extra-fudgy hot molten-chocolate cake. Whether you're a from-scratch brownie fangirl, a firm believer in hot chocolate bombs, or just a general baked good aficionado, you know that this is no simple task. Shards of chocolate bar fly (and then melt) into every far-flung nook and crevice of your kitchen, including your hair and all over the carpet. You pray the dog doesn't come trotting in.

The best way to chop chocolate for baking—without rediscovering cement-like bits of it on every surface for months to come—is quite easy. All you'll need are a couple of damp paper towels, a microwave, and a serrated knife. Here's how.

Anchor your cutting board.

Step one is to anchor your cutting board to the counter. This tip is commonly taught in culinary school to help cooks avoid the spontaneous shakes and quakes that inevitably happen when chopping something hard on an unstable cutting board. To lock it down, simple moisten a few paper towels (or thin cloths) and lay them underneath the cutting board in an even layer. You want them to occupy around the same size of countertop space as the surface of your cutting board.

Microwave the chocolate.

Next, gently heat the chocolate bar in the microwave in 10-second intervals. After each interval, turn the bar over. Warm until the chocolate just shines at the corners—you don’t want it to get melted or mushy anywhere.

Why soften the chocolate? The less hard, dense texture makes the bar easier to cut, plus it’ll project fewer dusty shavings and there will be less risk of the knife sliding off and nicking a finger.

Use a serrated knife.

The serrations on the blade of your favorite serrated knife are much better at “grabbing” the smooth surface of a chocolate bar than your chef’s knife or paring knife. It’s the same reason you always grab your serrated knife to slice through a fresh bread loaf or super ripe summer tomato.