Keeping your Chocolate Snappy and Shiny: 2 Ways to Temper at Home

When making candies or decorations from chocolate – and I mean real chocolate, not candy wafers bought at a craft shop – the only way to achieve a shiny, snappy finish  is by tempering. Professionals do it by smearing and working melted chocolate on a marble slab, but that’s generally too messy for a home kitchen. Here are two ways that home chocolatiers can get professional results, making small batches and avoiding the mess.

Why Temper?
Tempering makes chocolates glossy, preventing the frustrating, unprofessional, dull grey film that can form over improperly prepared candies or decorations. Tempered chocolate makes an audible snaps when you break it. You only need to temper chocolate that you want to set with a sheen, you do not need to temper chocolate if you are baking a chocolate cake.

The Chocolate Tempering Curve
Due to the different ingredient mixes of dark, milk, and white chocolate their melting and optimal reforming points vary.

Chocolate tempering curve

Two Ways to Temper Chocolate at Home
The temperatures in the processes below are for dark chocolate and should be adapted based on the chocolate tempering curve for milk or white.

  1. Seeding:
    Fill the bottom  of a double boiler halfway with water and bring to a simmer over low heat. Place ⅔ of your finely chopped chocolates in the top section, ensuring that the pot does not not touch the water below because the intense heat could scald your chocolate, making it unworkable. Stir the chocolate frequently while it is melting and take its temperature occasionally, ensuring it does not exceed 115°F.Remove the top pot, drying the outside to eliminate the risk of water falling into the melted chocolate. Add the remaining ⅓ chocolate to the bowl and stir constantly to incorporate. The process of adding the extra ⅓ chocolate and stirring will reduce the temperature of the chocolate and encourage your melted chocolate to set up correctly. Take the temperature of your chocolate occasionally, and keep stirring until you reach 84°F.
  2. Ice Water:
    Using two identical bowls, fill one with just enough ice water so that the other can rest inside without spilling the water.In your second bowl, which must be microwave safe. Melt your chocolate on full power for 30-second intervals, stirring in between. When your chocolate is almost completely melted, take its temperature. When the chocolate reaches 115°F, remove from the microwave and place the bowl of melted chocolate into the bowl with ice water stirring slowly, but constantly, ensuring that no water gets into the chocolate, or it will seize. Once it begins to thicken and reaches 84°F, remove it from the ice water.

Completing the Temper
Whichever method you use, after the chocolate has cooled, reheat it to a working temperature of 89°F. You can use the same double boiler you used to melt it, or microwave it for no more than 2-3 seconds at a time, taking its temperature in between.

Checking for Temper
Dip a piece of parchment paper into the melted chocolate and set it down on a hard surface. It should set up hard and shiny within 2-3 minutes. When you break the chocolate, you should hear a satisfying snap. If it does not set up properly, you will need to repeat the process.

Keeping the Chocolate in Temper
Tempered chocolate cools quickly, so it is imperative that you keep it at optimum temperature and stir frequently. If the chocolate starts to set up or harden, gently rewarm for up to 5 seconds, over a double boiler or in the microwave, and mix thoroughly. Check the temperature frequently to ensure that it does not go above 91°F because that will push your chocolate will go out of temper and you will need to begin the process again.

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