Candy makers temper chocolate by heating, cooling and reheating the mixture in a highly scientific way. The result is smooth-tasting, glossy-looking chocolate.
Why Temper Chocolate?
Chocolate makers temper their mixtures to make sure the cocoa butter involved sets properly. Cocoa butter, a crystalline substance, must be melted, cooled and melted again to make these crystals a uniform size and shape.
The more tempering that goes on, the tighter and more equally-sized the cocoa butter crystals become. The perfect amount of tempering gives chocolate its glossy surface and its signature snap when broken.
Methods of Tempering Chocolate
An easy method for tempering chocolate at home is done by breaking your chocolate into small pieces, reserving half for seeding, or adding solid chocolate into the mixture.
Heat the mixture to 115 degrees Fahrenheit in a double boiler or over indirect heat, then remove the melting chocolate from heat and stir with a silicone spatula, adding in reserved chocolate. When the chocolate reaches about 90 degrees, the mixture is adequately tempered.
Another method of tempering involves melting the two-thirds of your chocolate until smooth, then adding the other third and heating again.
Next, pour the chocolate onto a marble or laminate surface and scrape and stir the mixture to smooth and cool it. When the mixture reaches 80 to 82 degrees, return the mixture to the top pan and heat once more.
Guide to Chocolate Making: Tips for Tempering
To perfectly temper chocolate, remember the following tips:
• Buy a thermometer: After you get good at tempering chocolate, you may not need one, but thermometers are a must when you first start out to help you determine how hot and how long your chocolate should be warmed.
• Don’t heat over 130 degrees: Chocolate, particularly milk varieties, is highly susceptible to heat and can seize or scorch when too hot.
• Keep stirring: If your chocolate is sticky or soft to the touch, you just need to keep the mixture moving as it cools.
• Keep water out: No liquid should get into your chocolate mixture during the tempering process. Added moisture will cause clumping or seizing.
• Use a block or chunk of chocolate: Chocolate chips have an additive to maintain their shape during baking, so they won’t melt and, thus, temper correctly. Your chocolate fondue or other cocoa products will easily be ruined.