Why and how to temper chocolate?

Have you ever tried to make chocolates at home? Not a prep including chocolate but bars, barks or shells? If yes, you know chocolate is one funny ingredient which can be capricious. If no, don’t be afraid, we can do this.

When it comes to chocolate, there is one thing to learn like your multiplication table. It’s your temperatures. To make chocolates that look great and have a good snap, you’ll need to follow precisly those temperatures.

Why? Because of science and chemistry in particular.

Chocolate contains half of fat (the cocoa butter). And those molecules in cocoa butter are acting differently depending on the temperature. When you heat the chocolate, you seperate the molecules that had formed crystals when solidified. They navigate randomly in the melted chocolate. When you lower the temperature, the molecules are bonding together and are forming crystals again. Thing is, they can form six kind of crystals and only one is the type you want: the type V. That is why you want to reach the second temperature called the tempering point to form those cool crystals because they just like it more. And the quickest, the best. Now why re-heating the chocolate? This is to eliminate some resilient non V-type crystals. But from experience and years of tempering chocolate, the most important step is to go from temperature 1 to temperature as quickly as possible.

Feel reassured now you got the scientific explanation? Now is time to practice! So gather your chocolate and equipement and let’s go.

What you’ll need:

  • Two mixing bowls (one used for the double-boiler)
  • A saucepan
  • A thermometer
  • A hair-dryer (optional)
  • Chocolate (tempering at least 1kg/2lbs is preferred)


How to temper chocolate

To temper chocolate, you’ll need to follow a temperature curve reaching three different temperature points. This is crucial to fix the cocoa butter molecules and gives chocolate a nice appearance and texture. So here is what you need to now.

Different types of chocolate, different temperatures*:

  • Dark chocolate: 122°F – 82°F – 89°C (50°C – 28°C – 32°C)
  • Milk chocolate: 113/122°F – 80°F – 86°F (45/50°C – 27°C – 30°C)
  • White chocolate: 104°F/113°F – 79°F – 84°F (40/45 ° C – 26°C – 29°C)

*Those temperatures may vary from one chocolate to another. The best is to follow the maker instructions.

How do I reach those temperatures?

There are different techniques to temper chocolate. But the one that’s the easiest to do at home is the seeding method. That is the one we gonna follow below.

The seeding method

Following the seeding method, you are going to melt 2/3 of the total quantity you want to temper in step 1 and finely chop 1/3 that you’ll put aside for step 2. Let’s say you want to make 900g of chocolate, you’ll then have to melt 600g and put aside 300g of chopped chocolate for cooling.

Step 1- Melt the chocolate

To melt the chocolate, you’ll need a double boiler – never use a direct flame. You’ll also need a kitchen thermometer to know exactly when to remove the chocolate from heat and follow step 2.

Step 2 – Lower the temperature and reach tempering point

To cool the chocolate, simply add the chopped chocolate into the melted chocolate. All in once.  Stir gently with a spatula until the second temperature is reached.

The quicker the temperature is reached, the better. So do not hesitate to move your recipient regularly on a cold surface.

Step 3 – Re-heat the chocolate and reach the working temperature

To get the chocolate meet the working temperature, simply heat it quickly using a double-boiler until you reach the right temperature or use a hair-dryer (an excellent option to avoid contact with water). You’ll then need to maintain this temperature as long as you need to use the chocolate. If it gets too high or too low, you’ll need to start it all over again, since step 1.

tablettes aux bleuets

Your chocolate seems well-tempered? So, it’s ready to play with. As you’ve noticed, tempering your chocolate may take a moment so we recommend to prepare your ingredients and inclusions in advance so you may be quicker doing what you want. The more you wait, the more you risk to get out of the desired temperature and to see your chocolate thicken.

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