A double boiler is a special kind of kitchen apparatus that is designed for boiling or simmering. The double boiler consists of two saucepans that fit one on top of the other. The slightly bigger saucepan is partially filled with water and allowed to boil or simmer. The inner saucepan is then firmly placed on top of the bigger saucepan and the indirect heat that comes from the steam and the hot water is used for cooking and preparing food stuff. For example, a double boiler is used to melt chocolate, cook custards and delicate sauces. A double boiler is also used in crafts projects like melting wax for use in candlemaking. One doesn’t have to necessarily buy a double boiler to get the effect provided by it. A large saucepan on which a bowl is place on top is a good enough substitute for a double boiler. Other improvised double boilers can include two saucepans where the top one is placed on a trivet or other spacer that can withstand heat.
A double boiler is different from conventional cooking because there is no direct heat involved. Direct heat is too strong to use in making delicate food preparations. A double boiler’s indirect heat will allow food to heat up slowly and evenly, which eliminates the possibility of scorching or overcooking food. Chocolate is always melted on double boiler because using direct heat will ruin the consistency of the chocolate and even burn it. It should be remembered that when a recipe says to use a double boiler there is no other method that can be used as a substitute.