How To Temper Chocolate

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We are talking all about how to temper chocolate today! Tempering chocolate is really important in chocolate making and we will go through everything you need to know about how to do it properly.

Tempered chocolate

One of my favorite things to teach in cooking class is how to temper chocolate. I love it so much there is a whole cooking class on it in the More Momma Cooking School. You can take it as a single class or as apart of the year long school curriculum.

While I was in Italy for culinary school I took a chocolate class from a world renowned chocolatier. Our class was held in his chocolate shop where we spent 2 hours learning all things chocolate from this master chef.

It was one of my favorite classes and gave me such a bigger understanding and appreciation for one of my favorite foods! Here is a picture of my chocolate teacher Andrea Bianchini. I snapped this in class

chocolate teacher

Many people assume that you can just melt chocolate and make whatever chocolate creations your heart desires. While you can do this, chocolate is a very fragile and unstable substance and needs to be tempered to yield a high quality product.

Today we are going to learn why we temper chocolate and how to temper chocolate. So let’s start with the why…

Types of Chocolate:

First there are different types of chocolate. Bitter, milk and white chocolate are the main ones that we use in the U.S. Although white chocolate isn’t actually really even chocolate because it does’t include cocoa paste.

types of chocolate

When Do We Need To Use The Tempering Technique?

Tempering chocolate is required for coating or chocolate making such as chocolate covered strawberries, ganache filled chocolates or homemade chocolate bars. This goes for chocolate bars or chocolate chips, although make sure your chocolate chips do not have added wax in them.

What is Tempering:

Tempering is the art of transforming liquid, or semi-liquid chocolate into a solid. The chocolate is heated to a specific temperature until the cocoa butter crystals have melted completely, and then cooled at a carefully selected temperature.

Why Temper Chocolate:

We temper chocolate so that we can stabilize the cocoa butter.

Cocoa butter is the ingredient in chocolate that solidifies it. It is a vegetable fat obtained just from a technique called “warm pressing”. It does’t have a specific melting temperature, but it varies according to different stages of crystallization.

Depending on the temperature, chocolate turns into a different consistency.

All are different one from the other in solidification point, stability, and amount. Here are the different stages of stability.

  1. GAMMA: non-stable state, solidification point 64 F
  2. ALFA: non-stable state, solidification point 74.3 F
  3. BETA 1: semi-stable state, solidification point 82.4 F
  4. BETA: stable state, solidification point 89.6 F

High Chocolate Qualities To Look For:

Proper tempering will yield high quality chocolate. Here is what to look for in a high quality chocolate.

  • Visual Aspect: Sheen, absence of structural defects, such as bubbles or cracks.
  • Sound: The chocolate should make a decisive crack when broken.
  • Taste: The chocolate should have a clean flavor without defects of peculiar odors; a toasted or woody flavor is good.

High quality chocolate

Types of Tempering:

There are different strategies to temper chocolate. Remember tempering chocolate is stabilizing the cocoa butter into one uniform kind of crystal configuration that will not cause the chocolate to discolor or be grainy when it hardens after melting. Here are some common tempering methods.

The Mush Method:

Terry Richardson a chocolate technologist developed a fool-proof method of tempering called the mush method. For this method you will need a double boiler and a chocolate thermometer. You will also need a clean non-pourous work surface and a bench scraper.

This method is used for dark chocolate. Milk chocolate uses different temperature ranges so keep that in mind.

  1. Finely chop the chocolate and place it into the top of a double boiler. Melt and heat until chocolate is melted and between 120 F-130 F.
  2. Have another double boiler bottom filled halfway with water at about 70 F. Place the melted chocolate over this, off the heat, occasionally stirring gently, until the chocolate cools to about 94 F.
  3. When the chocolate reaches about 94 F, place the bowl over the first double boiler bottom. Pour about one fifth of the chocolate onto a clean work surface. Quickly start “mushing” the chocolate on the work surface by scraping it back and forth with a bench scraper.
  4. When the mush acquires a dull and matte-like surface (about 8 minutes), scrape it off the board back into the rest of the chocolate. Stir in the mush until completely blended. The chocolate should register between 89 F and 91 F.

The Seed Method:

This is a popular method that uses a mixture of melted and unmelted chocolate to temper.

  1. Weigh the amount of chocolate called for in the recipe. Set aside 10 % of the total weight. Finely chop the larger amount.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Melt the chocolate to 130 F. Then remove it from the heat.
  3. Add the reserved unmelted grated chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until all the chocolate has melted, all lumps are gone and the temperature has cooled to 89 F-91 F.

Jim Graham’s Quick Seed Method:

Jim Graham is a Chicago based master chocolatier that developed a quick and painless seed tempering method for the home cook. It is very similar to the seed method.

  1. Weigh the amount of chocolate called for in the recipe. Finely chop the chocolate and set aside 10 % of the total weight and set aside.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Melt the chocolate to 130 F. Then remove it from the heat. Let cool to 94 F.
  3. Transfer it to a tall, narrow container. Add the reserved chocolate. Place a handheld immersion blender in the chocolate to submerge the blades completely and turn on high speed for 1 minute.

What You Will Need To Temper Chocolate:

Supplies to temper chocolate

How to Temper Chocolate:

  • Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a double boiler. A double boiler is simple a pot of simmering water with a metal bowl fitted on top. Make sure the bowl is large enough to cover the pot of boiling water and not touch the water.
  • Bring temperature of chocolate to melting point. Make sure it is completely melted (around 130 F). Chocolate does burn so I recommend not to go over 135 F.
  • Mix carefully until all the solid pieces are melted.
  • Pour 2/3 of mass on work surface and let temperature decrease to 80.6 F, continuously working the mass with a bench scraper moving the chocolate around on the non-porous surface.
  • Return the mass to the double boiler. Add it to the remaining chocolate (1/3) and raise the temperature to 86-87 F.
  • At this point the chocolate is tempered and ready to use.

Bitter Chocolate: Tempering point 86-87 F

Milk Chocolate: Tempering point 82-83 F

White Chocolate: Tempering point 80-81 F

*Tempered chocolate lasts for about 10 minutes or so at room temperature. After this you will need to re-temper.

Check out some fun chocolate recipes like Easy Chocolate Fruit Tart and Instant Pot Lava Cake.


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