Do you like a challenge? Are you keen to learn a new skill? Boy, do I have a weekend baking project for you! This post is a step-by-step tutorial guide on how to temper chocolate. Whether you’re making chocolate decorations, a chocolate collar, a chocolate dome to fill with mousse or simply want to make your own chocolate pralines with fillings, you’re going to need to know how to temper chocolate. Well, if you’re using really good- quality couverture chocolate, that is!
Lucky for me, I’m married to a chocolate-maker – he just needs to look at chocolate and it tempers itself! So, when Food & Home Entertaining Magazine asked us to team up and show bakers how to temper chocolate for Easter, I thought it would be a good idea to share it here, too.
Why does chocolate need to be tempered?
You know that lovely shine a chocolate bar has when you open it? And when you take a bite, it gives a solid snap? That’s all down to tempering. When you buy a slab of chocolate, it is tempered. However, when it’s melted again, the cocoa butter crystallizes. This makes the surface of the chocolate dull and it loses its shine and snap. This you’ll know if you’ve probably tried to make chocolate decorations without tempering it. Tempering is basically a process of heating and cooling which arranges the cocoa butter crystals in a uniform way.
How to temper chocolate
There are a few ways of tempering chocolate by hand. I’m going to share my two favourites. Both require a little patience (as with all baking!) but getting that shine, is so worth it!
The tabling method
This is the fastest method for small amounts of chocolate (and the most fun!). You will need a marble slab or cold stone surface, though. You’ll also need the following special equipment: 2 x palette knives or bench scrapers (you can get the kind used in the images from Builder’s Warehouse!), digital thermometer. If you don’t have these things, skip down to the seeding method below.
STEP 1: Chop your couverture chocolate into small pieces.
STEP 2: Place the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of gently steaming water. Melt it to the correct temperature as per the table below. Remember, each type of chocolate has a slightly different temperature so keep the table handy.
We’ve used dark chocolate here, so we want to melt it to 45 degrees Celsius.
Tempering Temperature Chart
|Chocolate||Melted temperature||Cooled temperature||Reheated temperature|
Pour one-third of the melted chocolate onto the marble. Using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate thinly over the marble. We’re trying to cool it down now. Keep the remaining chocolate to one side.
Move and scrape the chocolate toward the centre of the marble. Then scrape the remaining chocolate off the spatula and spread it out again. Repeat this action, moving, spreading, and scraping the chocolate until it starts to thicken.
Check the temperature of the chocolate again. It should read 27 degrees (check the table for the ‘cooled temperature’ of the chocolate you’re using).
Scrape the chocolate off the marble and immediately add it the remaining two-thirds of melted chocolate. Stir until it is incorporated and completely melted.
The chocolate should now be tempered! If it’s very thick, you can reheat it VERY CAREFULLY to the reheated temperature in the table. Don’t heat it above this or you’ll have to start over!
To test if your chocolate is on temper, spread a small amount of chocolate onto a spatula or knife. You can also dip a piece of paper into the chocolate and allow it to set. If the chocolate is tempered correctly, it will start to set evenly within a minute and will be glossy. If your chocolate didn’t temper, simply remelt it and start again.
The seeding method
This is the cleanest way to temper chocolate and makes the least amount of mess!
- Chop all your chocolate finely (the larger the pieces, the longer it will take).
- Melt two-thirds of the chocolate to the correct temperature (see the tempering table).
- Once the chocolate has reached the correct temperature, add the reserved chopped chocolate. Give it a stir and allow it to melt, undisturbed for a few minutes.
- Check the temperature again – see the table for the cooled temperature.
- Once the chocolate has cooled to the correct temperature, heat it again gently until it reaches the working temperature.
- Your chocolate is now tempered and ready to be used!
Remember, once the chocolate is tempered, it’s important to never heat it over the reheating temperature. This will cause it to lose its temper. I like to use a hairdryer on the lowest heat setting to blast short bursts of warm air into the chocolate. This keeps it just warm enough and gives you full control.
Got any questions about tempering chocolate? Post them below!
In the meantime, here are some treats to make with your beautifully tempered chocolate: