Tempering Chocolate | Step by step guide on how to temper chocolate

I only assume that 99% of the people are as crazy about chocolate as I am. Chocolate equals Nirvana! 😀 Have you ever wondered how chocolate gets that lustrous sheen? Ever wonder what makes the chocolate go ‘snap’? The answer is Tempering, folks, tem-pe-ring! 😀
Well, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but untempered or wrongly tempered chocolate is not a pretty sight. (I hear a chocoholic saying ” aaah! how is that possible! If you love something, accept it as it is!“) 😛 Would you accept an untamed, wild monkey to live with you just because you love it? No? I feel the same way about untempered chocolate! 😀 totally went off course, there. but okay.. coming back-
Wikipedia –

Uncontrolled crystallization of cocoa butter typically results in crystals of varying size, some or all large enough to be clearly seen with the naked eye. This causes the surface of the chocolate to appear mottled and matte, and causes the chocolate to crumble rather than snap when broken. The uniform sheen and crisp bite of properly processed chocolate are the result of producing consistently small cocoa butter crystals by the tempering process.

Tempering chocolate isn’t especially difficult, but it’s just not something you do everyday. So, why bother? It’s because it is the process that gives chocolate a lustrous finish, a higher melting point and a good “snap” when broken. Chocolate that hasn’t been tempered can develop a blotchy look on its surface, also known as fat bloom. This is caused by crystals of cocoa butter rising to the surface of the chocolate and setting as a film. It doesn’t affect the chocolate’s taste, but it looks ugly and melts quickly, making it a messy eating experience
To temper chocolate, you heat it and cool it, changing its structure. When chocolate is melted beyond 36C – even if it was an already-tempered block to begin with – the cocoa butter can form into six types of crystals. All these crystals have different melting points and variable hardness, and only one boasts all the attributes for tempering. You temper chocolate to achieve a result where only the desirable crystals form, giving you a luscious finished product.
While the physics of tempering is complex, the process is quite simple. There are three basic stages:
– heating
– cooling and crystallizing
– reheating
You need a candy thermometer to do this right
I. Heating
The first stage is to gently melt the chocolate until all cocoa butter crystals are completely melted; this happens at 48C. You can melt chocolate using a microwave or water bath (bain-marie), but you must be vigilant in ensuring absolutely no moisture gets in the bowl.
Water Bath:
  • The best method is to bring 2 inches of water to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan.
  • Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly onto the saucepan but ensure the bowl doesn’t touch the surface of the water. Direct contact is too hot for the chocolate.
  • Now stir the chocolate frequently until it melts and monitor the temperature with a thermometer. You want to warm it only until it just reaches 48C, then remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Microwave Method: You can also use a microwave to melt smaller amounts of chocolate in 10- to 15-second increments, stirring well after each burst of heat.

Either way, be careful not to overheat the chocolate because once it’s heated over 60C it’s ruined.
II. Cooling and Crystallizing
The next step is to cool and crystallize the chocolate. Tabling is the traditional method and a good way to temper large quantities of chocolate. It involves cooling and agitating some of the melted chocolate on a cool surface (like marble) until the desired crystals form, then introducing it back into the remaining chocolate.
I find a process called seeding to be an easier way of cooling and crystallizing.
– You add some perfectly tempered chocolate into your melted chocolate – a quarter of the total chocolate is needed, either finely chopped or grated first. These crystals of tempered chocolate act like magnets, attracting the other loose crystals of fatty acids to begin the crystallization process that results in well-tempered chocolate
– All Lindt chocolate or chocolate chips, for instance, is tempered, so you can grate it straight from the block or you can keep some of your own already tempered chocolate on hand for the next time you temper.
III. Re-Heating
After cooling and crystallizing, you need to carefully reheat the chocolate to bring it to working temperature. This will melt away some of the unstable cocoa butter crystals that make chocolate set without a gloss.
To reheat the chocolate, you have to be exact with the temperature. A hot-air gun – available from hardware stores is a good way to reheat chocolate. But believe it or not, a hair dryer does the trick just as well.
Warm the chocolate with your hot-air gun or hair dryer, stirring continuously, monitoring with a digital thermometer until it reaches the desired temperature.
For dark chocolate, the perfect working temperature is 32C, for milk chocolate it’s 30C, and for white it’s 29C. (REMEMBER THAT.)
To Check if the Chocolate is Tempered correctly-
It’s a good idea to check a small sample to see if the chocolate is tempered correctly as you go. The easiest way to do this is to dip a small piece of baking paper into the chocolate. If it sets quickly and without streaks, you have perfectly tempered chocolate.
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I have tried to break down 100s of facts I read in a gazillion websites and put it across in simple steps. If you have any questions regarding the same, shoot your queries in the comments section. So, now, you can go and temper your chocolate to get a perfect shiny texture and the “snap” you’ve always dreamed of! 🙂 Oh, and think of all the possibilities…..
all images have been taken from the internet. I own nothing

10 Replies to “Tempering Chocolate | Step by step guide on how to temper chocolate”

  1. Can any one help me do i need to temper morde dark milk n white compound and what should be the temperature

    1. depends on what you need to use the chocolate for

  2. Can we temper morde compound chovolate

  3. Hi please help me out ..I was using a Belgian chocolate called callebaut couverture andd I always pay attention to temper it by bringing it up to 48deg and cooling it to 29 and once again bringing it up to 32 and pouring. When I test it on a parchment paper it’s shiny and beautiful and then I pour it into moulds ..even when I take them out,it’s shiny…since its a Belgian chocolate which can’t handle delhi heat and humidity and melts v fast I store it at 18 deg … Somehow two days later they always bloom in this weather. Do ou feel maybe for our delhi temp morde dark is better and can handle the delhi temp…I really need to know as maybe I should coat the mould with morde and then pour Belgian callee aunt to avoid bloom. It would really help me if you d let me know what to do as I’m getting tired of bloom
    Thank you

    1. Hi Divya,

      While I don’t claim to b an expert at tempering, having done it only once in my life, I do believe the temperature of Delhi might be one of the causes of the bloom. Maybe you should do the process of tempering in a cool room with the AC on.. 🙂

      I also find that instead of melting all the chocolate at once, I reserve about 1/4th of the chocolate to be mixed in later. (you’ll find that in the post). Also, I’ve only every tried Morde and tempering well.. So I really donno about Belgian chocolate. But I suspect it to be of a better quality than Morde so you’ll probably get better results with Belgian than Morde.

      Good Luck!

  4. I’ve tried simple decorations but they either cracks while lifting from butter paper or breaks when arranged on cakes…..why s that????

    1. Well, I’m not sure. 1stly, I use parchment paper, not butter paper (donno if that would make a difference) And secondly, I’m extremely careful while arrange them on a cake coz they’re incredibly delicate. I’ve had many broken decorations too. My chocolate shards was the only choc decoration that wasn’t too delicate to break easily. So I think the thickness of the chocolate piping also matters here. That’s all I can think about! Tempering will definitely give it a different much more elegant finish, but its not what I do

  5. Hi Kavitha,
    i normally use morde or valneer both are tempered as its written on it….do i still need to temper them.

    1. If you’re going to be making simple chocolate decorations, then its not really needed. Even I use morde and I don’t do it this way. But I’ll be trying it out soon to see if there’s a difference 🙂

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