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To be sure chocolate solidifies properly—that is, with a glossy sheen and good “snap” when broken—it must be tempered. Chocolate is tempered as a step in chocolate making but may fall out of temper due to improper storage, heat, or humidity.
- Chocolate, chopped
What Happens During Tempering?
When chocolate’s temperature is raised to above 92° or 93°F and then lowered, the triglyceride molecules in the cocoa butter bond together to form crystals. Imagine the crystals as stacking chairs. In the right formation, these crystals form a stable, tightly linked unit. But if chocolate melts and then hardens without tempering, the crystals aren’t neatly stacked but instead tossed together every which way, which means you don’t have the same stability—and you don’t have the same beautiful glossiness, snap, and smoothness you find in tempered chocolate.
Even professional pastry chefs can approach tempering with trepidation. But if you keep in mind that tempering is just a matter of time, temperature, and stirring, you won’t feel intimidated. Here are several methods you can follow, based on how much chocolate you’d like to temper.
Whichever method you use, work slowly and do not rush the process.
THE BASIC METHOD OF TEMPERING
Place the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. When the chocolate is three-quarters melted, remove the bowl from the water and stir slowly but constantly. Stirring will distribute the still-tempered crystals throughout the chocolate and cause the other crystals to temper. The melted chocolate will be at around 95° to 96°F. Because the melting point of chocolate is actually below body temperature, it will feel slightly cool to the touch. When it is lifted on a spatula and drizzled onto itself, tempered chocolate will form ribbons on the surface of the chocolate. You can also test by dipping a knife blade in the chocolate and setting it on a plate to cool for about 5 minutes. When the chocolate on the knife is set, it shouldn’t have any streaks.
If the process of tempering goes too far, the chocolate may start to solidify in the bowl. Return it to the double boiler and stir briefly over warm water just long enough to remelt it. A workable temperature for tempered chocolate is 89° to 91°F.
THE SEEDING METHOD OF TEMPERING
You can temper a large quantity of chocolate easily by adding solid chocolate to already melted chocolate.
Put aside one-quarter to one-third of the chocolate you are going to temper, leaving it in a solid block. Chop the rest of the chocolate. Place the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Stir the chocolate slowly but constantly. Use an instant-read thermometer to gauge the temperature, and as soon as the temperature reaches 95° to 100°F, remove from the heat, add the solid chocolate you set aside, and stir slowly until the entire mass is melted.
© 2006 Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Inc.
Nutritional information is not available for this recipe.