Tempering Chocolate by Monarch Media
Tempering is the process of heating chocolate, cooling it down, and then raising the temperature again. Simply put, tempering chocolate gives the finished product a nice glossy shine, a crisp snap when broken, and a pleasant texture, or mouth-feel when eaten.
Tempered chocolate sets quickly and doesn't melt in your hands as soon as you touch it. Chocolate that has not been properly tempered takes a long time to harden. You can have a grainy texture and can develop unsightly white blemishes through a process known as blooming.
Chocolate contains fat that is known as cocoa butter. When cocoa butter solidifies it can form various types of crystals that have different melting points. Only one of those crystals has the kind of characteristics we want.
By tempering, we encourage the formation of this kind of crystal. While there are several methods for tempering chocolate, we will be using the seeding method. When you purchase a chocolate bar at the store it is already been tempered.
By setting aside some of the temperature chocolate and introducing it into your melted chocolate, the fats in the melted chocolate are encouraged to form the same kind of crystals as those in the tempered chocolate. To temper chocolate, begin by chopping the solid chocolate in the smaller pieces.
Once you’re finished chopping, place about 75% of the chocolate in a bowl. This is the chocolate that will be melted. The remaining 25% will be used to seed the melted chocolate. Chocolate can be melted in the microwave or using the double boiler method.
Here we are using an improvised double boiler. Place about 1 inch of water in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Place the bowl of chocolate to be melted on top of the saucepan.
The steam from the water will create indirect heat so the chocolate won't get too hot and burn. Use care to avoid getting water into the melted chocolate as this will cause the chocolate to cease and be unstable.
This can happen if your bowl is too small. Begin stirring the chocolate with the spatula. You want to bring the temperature of the chocolate up to about a hundred and fifteen degrees Fahrenheit or 46 degrees centigrade. Continue stirring the chocolate and scraping any chocolate off the sides of the bowl. Once the chocolate has reached the correct temperature remove it from the heat.
Now we will add the chocolate that we have reserved. Begin adding the solid chocolate a handful at a time, mixing it until it completely melts. Adding this chocolate will provide seed crystals and help bring down the temperature. We want to bring the temperature down to about 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees centigrade.
Continue this process until the chocolate has reached the correct temperature. By adding the chopped chocolate at the beginning and then adding larger chunks at the end, the smaller bits will melt and you can easily fish out the large chunks of chocolate if they haven't melted completely when the mass has reached the correct temperature.
Now place the bowl back over the simmering water for just a few seconds. Remove the bowl from the heat, stir the chocolate and check the temperature. Repeat this process until the chocolate reaches 89 degrees Fahrenheit or about 31.5 degrees centigrade.
It's important not to let the chocolate get too hot or you'll need to start the entire process over again. Now the chocolate is tempered and is ready to be used for coating or pouring into molds.
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