Tutorial: Tempering Chocolate

At one time or another you might have melted chocolate, but this is different. Very different. There are three types of melted chocolate: tempered (which has a shiny appearance and makes a snapping noise when you bite into it), non-tempered (this is just regular, melted, non-shiny chocolate), and seized (this shouldn’t happen!). When you bite into a good chocolate bar you should hear a snap. This is because the fat molecules in the chocolate are all lined up in rows and so when you bite into the chocolate you break the bonds that the fat molecules have to each other and you get a snapping noise. If this doesn’t happen then the chocolate bar was tempered incorrectly. But how do you actually temper the chocolate? You’re about to find out.

Dipping a strawberry into tempered chocolate

To temper your chocolate chop it up and place 2/3 of it in a bowl. Heat up a pot of water (with less than an inch of water) on the stove and place the bowl on top of it so that the pot holds it up.

Turn the heat to medium-low, stirring your chocolate constantly to make sure it isn’t exposed to too much heat at once. This is called a bain-marie, and its purpose is so that the chocolate isn’t exposed to direct heat, but is rather heated by the steam from the simmering water.

It is a good idea to do the next steps with a digital thermometer (like a meat probe) or a candy or chocolate thermometer, but if you don’t have one, just follow the temperatures roughly. Please note that the temperatures used below are average chocolate tempering temperatures, but some chocolates have tempering temperatures that you can find on the company’s website. If you’re using milk or white chocolate you want to heat the chocolate to roughly 110 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you prefer dark chocolate on your strawberries then heat it to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (if you’re not using a thermometer this is about twenty seconds after it melts).

You then want to take the bowl off the pot and stir in the rest of the chopped chocolate. After the chocolate melts let it sit untouched until it reaches 83 degrees Fahrenheit, this should take about a minute. Why do this step? When you melted the chocolate the fat molecules got mixed up in the chocolate and were no longer in rows, but when you add in the rest of the chocolate it helps the fat molecules form chains again. Then, put the bowl onto the pot for ten seconds, take it off and stir. Repeat this until the chocolate reaches 87 degrees Fahrenheit (about a minute), and then you finished tempering your chocolate! If you have thermometers use it instead of relying on the times because you’ll get a better result. If your chocolate hardens you can re-temper it to use it again.

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One thought on “Tutorial: Tempering Chocolate

  1. Thank you for spelling out the reasons in each major step – they are helpful for people like me who are totally new to cooking. It’s this reason I enjoy your website. Instead of memorising recipes, I’m learning important culinary concepts from you. Thank you!

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