Double Boilers (also called a bain-marie) are really nothing more than two pans, one fitting inside the other, so you can cook using indirect heat.
Water partially fills the bottom pan and your food is “gently cooked” in the top pan.
A "bain marie" is used to heat materials gently without burning or scorching them. It has many applications in science, industry, and cooking.
You can purchase a double boiler, or make your own.
This hot water bath allows us to cook "gently," like melting chocolate or making delicate sauces. Heat sensitive foods like chocolate, cheesecake, custard, and many others really should be cooked in one of these pan combinations.
Bains Marie are used daily to hold food hot or warm.
Restaurants use them every day. Have you seen them in use? Of course you have.
Bains-marie can be used in place of chafing dishes for keeping foods warm for long periods of time.
(Example of a commercial bain-marie)
What does a "bain marie" for home use look like? Of course you know. (The one pictured above is a "beaut.")
Do you absolutely need a double boiler? Once again, it depends on what you cook most often.
Here is an ideal scenario: buy two sauce pans, one fitting inside the other, with a lid and then you may not need to purchase any more. Once again, it depends on what you cook and for how many people.
Let's take this one step further. Find the cookware as described above and a steamer insert that fits into the larger sauce pan! It's kind of like three for one deal!
What material? Again, as discussed on the cookware page there are many factors to
consider, including your budget. But if you build a system as described,
you will actually have three pans at a reduced cost with tremendous flexibility.
I hope you found this article about "gentle" cookware informative and that you also take the time to read the additional cookware information on the website. - Donna
Did you know? The term ‘bain marie’ was first used in the 1300’s according to a written record.
The French translation of the original medieval Latin term apparently means ‘bath of Maria.’ In Greek it was kaminos Marias meaning ‘furnace of Maria.’
Who was Marie? Apparently a Jewish alchemist named Maria Prophetissima.
(Alchemistry is the subtlest kind of chemistry which, in theory, allows a person to observe extraordinary chemical changes in substances at a more rapid pace that require a long or longer time for nature to produce.)
She lived in the 1st century A.D. and is credited with the invention of several kinds of chemical apparatus. She is considered to be the first true alchemist of the Western world by many historians.