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How to Temper Chocolate

 

What is tempering?

 

Tempering is the process whereby the cocoa butter in chocolate is changed into a stable crystal form. The process requires specific timing and temperatures for melting and cooling the chocolate. These vary for different chocolates. If you were to simply melt chocolate, it will set with unattractive white streaks and a soft uneven texture. Tempering ensures a glossy lustre, brittle breaking characteristics, and the smooth melting properties of quality chocolate.

 

If you’ve not tempered chocolate before, it can take a little time to achieve a perfectly tempered piece of chocolate. Generally "Tempering by Seeding" is the easiest and quickest way to temper chocolate. With a little practice, you'll start to identify the signs of tempered chocolate more and more quickly until you're tempering like a pro. Properly tempered chocolate is also great for moulding chocolate because the pieces will release out of the moulds more easily - it's because it shrinks slightly at it sets.

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Generally speaking the only time you really need to temper chocolate is when you want an attractive, shiny chocolate for beautifully moulded or filled chocolates that will sit at room temperature. You do not need to temper if the chocolate is combined with other ingredients, like if you’re going to bake a chocolate cake. You also don’t need to temper if you want to coat/dip your chocolates, you can use candy melts, chocolate chips or just plain chocolate (although some people still like to temper chocolate for dipping to make sure they get that genuine chocolate in terms of taste and texture).

 

What is the best way to temper chocolate?

 

There are different ways to temper chocolate. Preferred methods of tempering will vary from one person to the next. Some temper the chocolate on a marble slab, while others use a double boiler. Professionals often have tempering machines.

 

Generally "Tempering by Seeding" using the double boiler is the easiest and quickest way to temper chocolate and that is the method discussed here.

 

What special equipment is required?


Accurate chocolate tempering thermometer. Rubber (silicone) spatula. Double boiler (stainless steel bowl set on a saucepan). All equipment should be perfectly clean and dry.

 

How do I temper chocolate?

 

There are three basic steps for tempering chocolate:

 

1) Melt the chocolate to specific temperature,

 

2) Cool it down to specific temperature,

 

3) Reheat it to specific temperature and maintain working temperature. That’s it…your tempered chocolate is ready to use

 


STEP BY STEP GUIDE:

 

Note: The temperatures noted below are a guideline for tempering, please be aware that chocolates from different manufacturers can have different heating, cooling and reheating temperatures and should be checked with the manufacturer prior to tempering.

 

1. It is a good idea to plan to temper at least 450g (1 lb) of chocolate at a time as this is a good quantity to maintain its temperature as ease. If you are using a chocolate block, cut the chocolate into small even pieces to ensure the chocolate will melt evenly. If you are using couverture chocolate chips, these can be used straight from the bag as they come in small same size pieces that will melt evenly.

 

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Don’t try to melt large bars/blocks of chocolate; the chocolate should be chopped into uniform pieces to ensure even melting.

 

2. Take two-thirds of your chopped chocolate and put it into a metal heatproof bowl.

 

 

3. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure no water comes in contact with the underside of the bowl as the water in contact with the bowl may heat the chocolate too quickly and overheat.

 

4. Stir occasionally. Dark chocolate should be fully melted to 46°C (115°F) and milk & white chocolate should be fully melted at 44°C (112°F). The melting temperature for couverture chocolate chips will vary between manufacturers and this information is generally found on the packaging. You’ll need a chocolate thermometer to make sure your melting temperature is just right. Once the correct temperature has been reached remove the bowl from the pan of simmering water and place on kitchen towel to help retain heat.

 

5. Use silicone spatula to stir the chocolate gently. Add the remaining one-third chocolate a little at a time until the pieces cease to melt.

 

6. Allow the chocolate to continue to cool down checking the temperature with the thermometer. For dark chocolate cool to 31°C (88°F) and for milk & white chocolate cool to 30°C (86°F).

 

7. Reheat the chocolate by placing the bowl back over the pan, stirring and checking the temperature. Bring the chocolate to its ideal temperature for – dark chocolate to 32°C (90°F) and milk & white chocolate to 31°C (88°F).

 

8. To keep your chocolate tempered – check your chocolate temperature regularly and if it falls 4°C below the ideal temperature then you can gently reheat it (but don’t let it exceed the ideal working temperature).

 

9. If you are not sure if you have tempered your chocolate properly, you can check by dipping a piece of greaseproof paper into the chocolate and leave it to harden for about 3-5 minutes. If successful, the chocolate will set hard and look smooth and shiny. If it is streaky, tacky/soft or looks dull try stirring in more chopped chocolate and testing again in 5 minutes. If it is still not right you’ll need to temper again.

 

 

Notes:

 

Chocolate will seize and become unworkable if it comes into contact with even a few droplets of water. Make sure your bowls, workstation, and spatulas are completely dry.

 

If possible, store your chocolate at room temperature to avoid condensation. For best results tempering should be done at room temperature between 18°C (65°F) and 21°C (70°F), otherwise the chocolate will set either too slowly or too quickly.