Jan 22

13th January 2020

How to Temper Chocolate

What does Tempering mean?

“Tempering” confuses many people who are put off working with chocolate for fear that they do not know what it means.

The good news is that “tempering” is just a posh term for heating and cooling chocolate in a controlled way. It is as simple as that. There is no magic to it BUT it does change the chocolate in a big way.

Properly tempered chocolate has a clean snap when broken and has a glossy or matt quality, and can be used in a wide range of chocolate products.

Why does temperature measurement matter?

When you temper chocolate, what you are doing is crystallising the cocoa butter in the chocolate. Tempering controls the formation of crystals so that only crystals of the right size are produced, resulting in good quality chocolate. If the crystals are too large – which happens if chocolate is melted at a temperature too low – the chocolate will be soft and crumbly and melt too easily. If the crystals are too small – which happens if chocolate is melted at a higher temperature – the chocolate will simply be too hard.

The fats in cocoa butter can crystallise in six different forms, and it is by controlling the temperature of the melted chocolate that you can ensure that only the best form of crystallisation is present.

Stage 1

First heat the chocolate to a relatively high temperature (46ºC/115ºF for dark chocolate, 43ºC/110ºF for milk or white chocolate). This gets rid of all of the crystals from previous treatment of the chocolate, after which your chocolate is like a blank canvas. Next is the really temperature-sensitive part.

Stage 2

Cool the chocolate to about 27ºC/81ºF. At this temperature, crystals will start to form (even though you won’t be able to see them). These are Type IV crystals, which melt at 28ºC/81ºF, and Type V crystals, which melt at 34ºC/93ºF.

Stage 3

Re-heat the chocolate to 30-31ºC/87ºF. This is because we only want Type V crystals as they make the chocolate glossy and firm, and give it a good snap and with a melt-in-the-mouth 37ºC/98.5ºF melting point. We have to make sure that the Type IV crystals melt (i.e. over 28ºC/81ºF) and even more Type V form (i.e. keeping it under 34ºC/93ºF) at the same time.

What kind of chocolate can you temper?

You can temper dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate but don’t use supermarket chocolate chips as they have additives to retain their shape at higher temperatures.

Do I always need to temper chocolate?

You can use chocolate without tempering it but the results will be inferior and your chocolate may not have a glossy shine to it.

Chocolate should be tempered in order to produce the smooth, shiny finish, uniform sheen and crisp bits that customers expect from the professional chocolate products. You can use tempered chocolate when you:

Make moulded chocolates (think sea shell chocolates, solid       chocolates, cherry liqueur chocolates);

Make dipped products (dipping cookies or flapjacks for instance, in   chocolate);

Make enrobed chocolates (i.e. covering confections like brownies   with chocolate coating);

Use transfer sheets (although you can get away with not doing it if   you are making spirals and use good quality or white chocolate! For   members, see the video on how to use chocolate transfer sheets   here)

Make hollow chocolate figures or fantastic Easter eggs; or

Pan almonds (or anything else) in chocolate.

Once tempered, you can store your chocolates at room temperature without refrigeration, and they will melt in the mouth perfectly to produce that pleasing velvety smooth sensation that we all love. 

How do I temper chocolate?

We recommend that you use at least 450 grams (1lb) of chocolate as this is a sufficient quantity to ensure the temperature is maintained in the tempering process while you coat moulds, transfer sheets or otherwise.

You can temper chocolate in four ways. 

Method 1 – Double Boiler and Seeding

Melting the chocolate using a double boiler, and using solid chocolate to “seed” / inoculate the molten chocolate (average difficulty).

Method 2 – Double Boiler and marble/granite surface

Melting the chocolate using a double boiler, and cooling the molten chocolate on a heat-absorbing surface like marble or granite until thickening indicates sufficient crystallisation (most difficult).

Method 3 - Microwave

Microwaving the chocolate (pretty easy).

Method 4 – Using Mycryo

Tempering using Mycryo (pretty easy).

For Members: The last two methods (microwave and using Mycryo) are show in videos in the Online Tutorials section here and here.


Instructions for Tempering

Below we have set out instructions for each of the 4 methods

Method 1 - Double Boiler and Seeding:

  1. Chop 450 grammes (1lb) of chocolate. It is easiest if you finely chop the chocolate, e.g. using a serrated knife.
  2. Separate out two-thirds of the chopped chocolate, i.e. 300 grammes (10.5 oz), and place it in the top of a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, put the chocolate in a glass bowl that you put on top of a saucepan, with two inches (5 cm) of simmering (not boiling) water in the bottom of the pan but not touching the glass bowl.
  3. Place a thermometer in the chocolate, ideally clipped to the side of the bowl.
  4. Warm the chocolate slowly, stirring it gently with a silicone spatula.
  5. When the chocolate reaches the target temperature (46ºC/115ºF for dark chocolate, 43ºC/110ºF for milk or white chocolate), remove it from the heat and set the glass bowl on a heat-proof surface.
  6. Add the remaining one-third of the chopped chocolate, i.e. 150 grammes (5 oz), stirring gently. The new chocolate will partially melt, will bring down the temperature and will start crystallising the warm chocolate.
  7. Keep stirring. When the chocolate reaches 27ºC/81ºF, remove the remaining chunks of chocolate (you can set these aside for a later date).
  8. Slowly increase the chocolate temperature by replacing the glass bowl in the double boiler for a few seconds, then removing it and stirring it, and repeating the process until the chocolate reaches 30-31ºC/87ºF.
  9. Maintain the tempered chocolate between 28ºC/81ºF and 34ºC/93ºF while using it for your moulds, dipping, etc. The chocolate has been tempered correctly if it is shiny and smooth when cool (you can test by spreading some on acetate, wax paper or transfer sheets).
  10. For the “seed” method, you will need 450 grammes (1lb) of chocolate, a double boiler/glass bowl and pan, a thermometer and a silicone spatula.

Method 2 - Double Boiler and Granite or Marble Surface

Also known as “marbling”, this technique is hardest but very satisfying

  1. Chop 450 grammes (1lb) of chocolate.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, put the chocolate in a glass bowl that you put on top of a saucepan, with two inches (5 cm) of simmering (not boiling) water in the bottom of the pan but not touching the glass bowl.
  3. Place a thermometer in the chocolate, ideally clipped to the side of the bowl.
  4. Warm the chocolate slowly, stirring it gently with a silicone spatula.
  5. When the chocolate reaches the target temperature (46ºC/115ºF for dark chocolate, 43ºC/110ºF for milk or white chocolate), remove it from the heat and pour three quarters of it (approximately) onto a heat-absorbing surface (traditionally marble or granite).
  6. Work it across the slab until it reaches a temperature of 27ºC/81ºF. Until you have developed a routine (given the heat and humidity where you are), check the temperature by inserting the thermometer into the chocolate in several places on the slab.
  7. Using your scraper / palette knife / spatula, scrape the chocolate back into the bowl.
  8. Slowly increase the chocolate temperature by replacing the glass bowl in the double boiler for a few seconds, then removing it and stirring it, and repeating the process until the chocolate reaches 30-31ºC/87ºF.
  9. Maintain the tempered chocolate between 28ºC/81ºF and 34ºC/93ºF while using it for your moulds, dipping, etc. The chocolate has been tempered correctly if it is shiny and smooth when cool (you can test by spreading some on acetate, wax paper or transfer sheets).
  10. For the “stone slab” method, you will need 450 grammes (1lb) of chocolate, a double boiler/glass bowl and pan, a thermometer, a silicone spatula and a scraper / palette knife / spatula.

Method 3 - Microwaving the chocolate (easiest)

  1. Chop 450 grammes (1lb) of chocolate.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and place in your microwave.
  3. Put the power on in 1 minute bursts, preferably not on full power (taking care not to overheat the chocolate).
  4. When the chocolate is starting to look shiny, and is virtually melted, take out of the microwave and stir until smooth using a silicone spatula. If any bits remain, put it back in the microwave for further 15 second bursts, and stir further.
  5. The chocolate should be 45 degrees
  6. Pour half onto a granite table and continue as with the marbling method above. Work the chocolate with palette knives to cool the chocolate
  7. Aim to get the chocolate to 27 degrees to increase the good crystals.
  8. Put back into the bowl and stir it until it is at 32 degrees (working temperature). This will ensure the chocolate is stable and has a shine.
  9. For the microwave method, you only need 450 grammes (1lb) of chocolate, a microwavable bowl and a silicone spatula.

Members can watch the online video, How to Temper Chocolate using a Microwave. The full recipe and method and templates are included

Method 4 - How to Temper Chocolate Using Mycryo

This is the easiest and fastest way to temper chocolate.

  1. Chop 450 grammes (1lb) of chocolate.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and place in your microwave until it reaches 45 degrees
  3. Bring the chocolate temperature down to 34 degrees by stirring it
  4. Add 1% of the weight of chocolate of Mycryo (ie 500 grams chocolate and 5 grams of Mycryo). Mycryo is powdered cocoa butter.
  5. Stir in the Mycryo. Bring to 32 degrees (working temperature).

And remember:

Members can watch the online video, How to Temper Chocolate using Mycryo. The full recipe and method and templates are included.

We hope you found this helpful!


What To Do Next:

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Why not check out some of these amazing novelty cakes now! See more at Pretty Witty Academy.

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