Tempering chocolate is a process of melting and cooling it to cause something scientific to happen to the fat. The explanation involves a chemical reaction within the fats. The purpose of this post isn’t to explain why, but to tell how. Tempering makes the chocolate shiny and hard. It will snap when you break it. It also prevents discoloration. This is an example of what happens to chocolate when you melt it without tempering it.
If you want to make your own chocolates, and you want to use quality chocolate, you’ll need to temper it. I’ve seen a million recipes using chocolate chips and vegetable oil. That works too, but it doesn’t taste nearly as good. If you’re a chocolate snob, WHICH I AM, you’ll need to learn how to do this. It’s not hard, but it takes time and a good thermometer. I’ve also found that the more chocolate you’re working with, the better the results. Always use at least a pound, preferably more. I think it’s because it maintains a more constant temperature.
You’ll also need a double boiler, but if you don’t have one, use a metal bowl over a pot of hot water. You’ll also need a silicone spatula.
Before you begin, here are a few critical things to know.
- The tiniest drop of water will ruin your chocolate, causing it to seize. DON’T GET ANY WATER IN THE CHOCOLATE! Everything that touches it must be completely dry.
- Don’t allow the chocolate to get too hot.
- If you avoided numbers 1 and 2, but your chocolate didn’t temper properly, don’t worry, you can try again.
Now, let’s get started.
Reserve one fourth of the chopped chocolate to use to “seed” the melted chocolate. This speeds up the cooling process.
STEP 1. MELT
Place a bowl at least an inch above simmering (not boiling) water, then melt, stirring frequently, as follows:
STEP 2. SEED
As soon as your chocolate reaches it’s desired temperature range, remove it from the heat. Stir in the reserved 1/4 seeding chocolate, and stir, frequently.
Keep stirring until the seed chocolate has melted and you reach the following temperature range:
STEP 3. WARM UP
This step happens very quickly, so watch carefully!
Place the chocolate back over the warm water. I don’t even set the bowl in the pot, I just hold it over the water for a few seconds/minutes. It heats back up fast. This is the temperature range you need:
Here comes the trickiest part, once you reach this temperature range, you’re in the golden circle. Start dipping or doing whatever you want, but the chocolate MUST stay in this range or it goes out of temper. Keep your thermometer in the chocolate, and hold it back over the hot water, if it starts to cool too much.