Tempering Chocolate Simplified Instructions

By Bob Sherman

If you are having troubles with your chocolate being too soft or having a dull finish, or a powdery surface (also called bloom) on the chocolate within a few days of making it then tempering will help cure and prevent it. Chocolate contains fat crystals which separate when melted and reform in different formations dependent on temperature. By carefully monitoring and controlling the temperature all these problems can be avoided. This problem occurs primarily with real chocolate (chocolate containing cocoa butter) and does not really affect the taste - only the appearance and texture.

My personal preference when making chocolates is to use coating wafers which are much less temperature sensitive when making chocolate. I have made thousands of chocolates without tempering using these and find it far more convenient.

Simplified Chocolate Tempering

Stir often to prevent overheating and scorching. You will need a very accurate thermometer for this.

  1. Melt half the chocolate to no higher than 120 degrees F. using a double boiler.
  2. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the other half of the chocolate.
  3. Allow the chocolate to cool until the temperature is in the low 80's F.
  4. Reheat the chocolate to 88 degrees F. A slightly lower temperature may be necessary for milk or white chocolate.
  5. Pour the chocolate.
  6. If using for dipping, maintain the temperature by moving it on and off the double boiler.
  7. If the chocolate hardens you will need to re temper it.

Is There An Easier Way To Temper Chocolate?

Yes. There are commercially available chocolate temperers which have built in automated stirrers and thermostats. Some are even programmable. These are beyond the realm of most chocolate makers though as pricing starts in the 300 dollar range for basic models, and substantially more for programmable models.

What is Real Chocolate?

Although entire books could probably be written on the subject, for the sake of this discussion we can consider it to be any chocolate containing cocoa butter and chocolate liqueur which are required ingredients for a product to be called chocolate according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

What Are Coatings?

For many years it was common practice to combine paraffin wax with chocolate to make a more durable chocolate for coating candy. A common ratio was 6 parts chocolate to 1 part paraffin. This practice has fallen out of use with the development of coatings which don't contain non food products. These generally contain vegetable oils and fats in place of cocoa butter which makes them less temperature sensitive and much easier to work with.

Since these contain no cocoa butter or chocolate liqueur they are technically not chocolate. Coatings are available in a wide variety of colors and in Dark, Milk, and White chocolate flavor. Colors are white chocolate flavor.

What Is Best To Use?

This is largely a matter of personal preference. If you want to make gourmet chocolates and have the budget and patience for it then you will need to use pure chocolate and temper it. The vast majority of us will use coatings. for ease of use, durability, and budget minded price.

Is there a big difference in taste? Yes. If you are used to eating 10.00+ a pound chocolates you will probably not be happy with a coating based chocolate. On the other hand if you normally eat candy bars from the supermarket, coatings will be quite satisfactory (I prefer the taste of the coatings personally).


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Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and usage practices as of the time of this writing - originally published in March 2006 and updated in November 2010. The author and the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational purposes and is used at your own risk.

Author: Bob Sherman

Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.

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