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Chocolate Tempering Revisited

What is chocolate tempering, and why do it?

If chocolate is tempered it will produce a good snap and shine to the finished piece(s). Chocolate that is not tempered will look dull and unappetising. Tempering chocolate is the use of heat to what they call ‘pre-crystallise’ the cocoa butter – by changing the form of the cocoa butter will give the characteristic shine and snap of a good quality chocolate. You are basically heating chocolate to a working temperature.

There are three things to bear in mind when using tempering – timing, the temperature and movement of the chocolate. There are quite a few ways to temper but we will describe two of them – microwave and with a bowl of hot water (bain –marie)

Top tips for choosing chocolate:

Look for the words couverture. Chocolate commonly bought in supermarkets for general culinary purposes usually and has a high vegetable fat content which might be ok for your chocolate crispies but not for tempering.

Decide on your preferred type of chocolate either milk, white or dark – for darker chocolate we recommend not going any higher than 60% when you are starting out.   Percentage just means the amount of coco solids present in the chocolate. Milk chocolate for instance has a ratio of more milk to solids.  All coverture chocolate has cocoa butter present.

 For both methods begin by melting only two thirds of the chocolate

 Hot water (bain-marie):

  • Don’t over-fill with water and do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water
  • Ensure the top heat proof bowl fits the pan well (you don’t want steam and water to get into the chocolate).
  • Bring the pan of water to a simmer then add the chocolate, as the chocolate melts ensure you keep stirring the chocolate
  • Once the chocolate has melted remove from the heat you can place on a dampened kitchen cloth/towel to help cool the glass bowl. The chocolate should be around 45 0C – use a digital thermometer if you have one*
  • Add the remaining chocolate to the melted batch this lowers the temperature slightly

If this does not melt fully use a hairdryer or heat gun to melt the remainder of the chocolate – slowly – turn off the heat just before all the chocolate has melted

  • Test the chocolates temperature at this stage

Dark chocolate 31-320C

Milk chocolate 29-300C

White chocolate 27-280C

If the chocolate is too hot add more chocolate to cool, and if the chocolate isn’t melting then use the hairdryer to melt the remainder of the chocolate

Microwave:

  • Melt the chocolate in microwaveable plastic bowls – glass and porcelain can get to hot
  • Start by melting chocolate on half power for 20 secs, take out and stir – repeat as many times as needed until the chocolate has melted. Microwaves can vary so start lower; don’t hurry the process!
  • When the chocolate has melted it should be around 45oc – use a digital thermometer if you have one*
  • Add the remaining chocolate to the melted batch this lowers the temperature slightly

If this does not melt fully use a hairdryer to melt the remainder of the chocolate – slowly – turn off the heat just before all the chocolate has melted

  • Test the chocolates temperature at this stage

Dark chocolate 31-320C

Milk chocolate 29-300C

White chocolate 27-280C

 If the chocolate is too hot add more chocolate to cool, and if the chocolate isn’t melting then use the hairdryer or heatgun to melt the remainder of the chocolate

*If you do not have a digital thermometer then use a tip of a palette knife to dip into the chocolate and if this sets within 5 minutes then the chocolate should be tempered and ready to use.

 

Once you have the chocolate at the correct working temperature you can then use it to pipe, make chocolate lattices, use with transfer sheets, or use in moulds etc

 

When you begin working with the chocolate it will begin to cool and thicken. Use the hairdryer or heatgun to heat the chocolate just a little, and then check the temperatures as before.

 

Tempering may take some practice so you may not get it first time but keep trying!

 

Below is our 1kg bags of couverture chocolate for purchase:

 

 

 

 Chocolate Tempering Revisited

 

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