I first learned about double boilers when making chocolate sauce. If you're unfamiliar with the gadget, a double boiler is a specialized piece of cookware that consists of a cooking bowl that is suspended in a pot of boiling water that's heated on the stove. The benefit of using a double boiler is its capability to gently warm things like chocolate and Hollandaise sauce, so that the ingredients don't burn. Most often, you buy a double boiler as a set that has both a stovetop pot for holding the water and the bowl that sits on top.
As a thrifty spender, the concept of buying a specialized piece of cookware for a purpose I seldom need seems a little bit over the top, so I've avoided buying an expensive stainless steel set in lieu of using a bowl nested in the top of a standard small saucepan. This method, though economical, still has its pitfalls, and with alternatives like this Lekue Silicone Mirage La Bomba Mold Collapsible 9-Inch Double Boiler, I may not have to use the "Franken-boiler" ever again.
The bowl still holds up as a rigid vessel ideal for melting chocolate, creating gently warmed sauces, and heating eggs without cooking them, but like its many silicone kitchen cousins, it will collapse into a shape that's convenient for storage.
According to Amazon, "Lekue is the leading manufacturer of silicone bakeware and has sold over 10 million pans worldwide, thanks to the unique features of their platinum silicone raw material and their expertise of baking with silicone." Now seen as a standard component of many professional kitchens, silicone bakeware has established itself as a convenient way to get the job done at a level of quality that's on par with its glass and aluminum counterparts. Silicone is flexible, inherently nonstick, and can be used in the oven, microwave, refrigerator, and freezer. It's also safe for the dishwasher and has an intrinsic capability to repel odors and tastes.
A big selling point of the Lekue Double Boiler is its cost: at $19.95 on Amazon, it's a cost-effective solution for a problem that only rears its ugly head when you get the urge for eggs Benedict or chocolate-dipped strawberries.