Tempering Chocolate

Tempering Chocolate
What is Tempering?
In order for chocolate to have its maximum aesthetic and utilitarian qualities,
the chocolate needs to be prepared through a
process called Tempering. To understand
tempering, one needs to learn a bit about the
chemistry of chocolate. Tempering is the act of
pre-crystallizing the cocoa butter in chocolate.
The ingredients of dark chocolate are cocoa
liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla. Milk
chocolate has the same ingredients, but with
the addition of milk powder. White chocolate is
only cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder; no
cocoa liquor is used. Whether dark, milk or
white chocolate, cocoa butter is the essential
ingredient. When chocolate is heated, the crystals in cocoa butter break
apart. There are 6 different forms of crystals in chocolate, but it is the beta
crystals that produce the desired aesthetic qualities in chocolate. The beta
crystal is also referred to as the stable crystal because its formation results in
chocolate being hard, shiny, and with an even coloring. To pre-crystallize
chocolate, you melt the chocolate to break apart the cocoa butter crystals.
Then you stir and cool the chocolate so that the stable beta crystals are
formed. It is at this point that the chocolate is ready for use.
Chocolate does not stay tempered. As the chocolate cools, the chocolate
begins to harden. This means that too many crystals have formed and the
chocolate is now over-crystallized. This harden chocolate can be reused by
re-tempering it.
Tempering doesn’t impact taste. Chocolate that is not tempered or overcrystallized will taste the same as properly tempered chocolate. You temper
chocolate to maximize the look and feel of the chocolate.
Characteristics of Properly Tempered Chocolate
When chocolate is properly tempered it will have the following characteristics:
• Shine - Shiny and glossy when hard
• Even coloring – The color and shine will be evenly distributed throughout
the chocolate
• Hardness - A crisp hardness that snaps when broken
• Shrinkage - Clean and consistent shrinkage in molds
If the chocolate is not properly tempered, it will 1) take a long time to harden, 2)
have a grayish color, and 3) stick to moulds.
Ways to Temper
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There are different methods for tempering chocolate. These methods are
defined by their means for heating or cooling the chocolate. Probably the
oldest and most well known method involves heating the chocolate in a bainmarie (double-boiler). A more modern heating method is with a microwave.
In terms of cooling, you can pour the chocolate on a cool surface, such as a
granite or marble table and mix it on the table until it is cooled. Or you can
cool the chocolate by adding un-melted chocolate to the warm chocolate to
bring up the temperature, called seeding.
Tools and Utensils for Tempering Chocolate
You probably have all the tools and utensils you need for making chocolate
already in your kitchen.
• Microwave oven or double boiler
• Plastic mixing bowls (microwave safe)
• Plastic spatula
• Big spoon for stirring (preferably plastic).
• Cooking thermometer (You can use a regular or digital meat
These instructions offer a variety of methods for heating and cooling the chocolate.
STEP 1 – Melting the Chocolate
The first step in tempering chocolate is to melt it. Chocolate melts at 45 degrees
Celsius. There are two simple and safe ways you can melt chocolate in your
kitchen. The first is with a bain marie (double-boiler)
and the second is with a microwave.
Bain Marie (double-boiler): Because chocolate burns
easily, one needs to keep the chocolate away from
direct heat. This is accomplished using a double-boiler
rather than a saucepan. Put the chocolate in a double
boiler until it starts to melt. Once some of the
chocolate is melted, stir regularly. As soon as most of
the chocolate is melted, turn the heat off and stir.
When the chocolate is completely melted, pour the
chocolate into a plastic bowl.
Chocolate heated in a
microwave begins to melt from
the inside. Be sure to stir after
each 30 seconds to distribute
the melted chocolate.
Microwave: If you are going to use a microwave, put
the chocolate in a plastic bowl that is no more than 2/3
full. Heat the chocolate in short intervals until it starts to melt. The amount of time
will vary depending on how much chocolate you are using. If you have a large
bowl, start with 2 -3 minutes. If you are using a tiny bowl, start with 1 minute. Stir
regularly from the center outwards until the chocolate is melted.
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How full: Do not fill the bowl more than 2/3 full. You will need room to mix the
chocolate. If you fill the bowl to the top, it will be hard to stir without chocolate
spilling out.
Type of Bowl: You want to use plastic and not glass
because you don’t want the bowl to retain heat.
Temperature: Because the intensity of the heat can
vary from microwave to microwave, use med-high
instead of high to avoid burning the chocolate.
If you melt the chocolate slowly in a microwave, you
Once the chocolate starts to
can melt it at precisely the temperature that chocolate
melts without getting the chocolate hotter than it needs melt, stir it. The melted
chocolate will help melt the unto be. The ability to have complete control of the
melted chocolate.
temperature of the chocolate is one of the advantages
of using a microwave instead of a Bain Marie (double boiler).
Step 2 – Cooling & Stirring the Chocolate
Once the chocolate is melted you begin the cooling process. For properly tempered
chocolate you need the temperature of the chocolate to be within a specific
temperature range. Dark, milk and
Temperatures for Tempering Chocolate
white chocolate are tempered at
different temperatures. The
31° - 32° c
88° - 89° f
Dark - Callebaut
differences in cooling temperature
30° - 31° c
86° - 87° f
Milk - Callebaut
have to do with the amount of
82° - 84° f
White - Callebaut 28° - 29° c
protein in the chocolate. The more
milk protein, the lower the temperature to melt and to cool.
There are three popular ways to cool chocolate: Seeding, using a marble table, and
letting the chocolate cool on its own.
With this method you slowly add un-melted chocolate (the same kind of
chocolate that you melted) to the already melted chocolate. You do this until
the desired temperature is reached. You start off adding handfuls of
chocolate. At first the added chocolate will melt very rapidly. As the
chocolate begins to cool, the added chocolate will take longer to melt and
require more stirring. Stirring is very important in the tempering process.
When the added chocolate no longer melts, then you are close to the desired
This un-melted chocolate you are adding is already tempered. By adding
tempered chocolate (un-melted chocolate) to melted chocolate you
accomplish two essential steps in tempering: 1) the chocolate is cooled
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down because the un-melted chocolate is at room temperature and 2) the
tempered chocolate begins the chain reaction necessary to form the proper
beta crystals.
Marble Table:
Another way to cool the chocolate is to pour 2/3 of the chocolate on a cool
table, such as granite or marble, and mix the chocolate on the table until it is
at the desired temperature. This mixing is important in forming the beta
crystals. Once the chocolate is cool, you put the chocolate back in the bowl
with the remaining chocolate and mix the chocolates together. This results
in all the chocolate being properly tempered.
Cooling Naturally:
You can also just let the bowl of chocolate cool on its own. This can take up
to 30 minutes or longer. You need to stir the chocolate throughout the
cooling process.
Measuring the Temperature
To measure the temperature, you use a meat
thermometer rather than a candy thermometer
because a candy thermometer is for very high
temperatures and a meat thermometer is for lower
temperatures. With chocolate you try not to get it
hotter than 45 degrees.
The Effect of Ambient Room Temperature on
Tempering Process
Chocolate is highly sensitive to ambient room
temperature. If you are working in a cool room the
chocolate will cool more quickly than in a warm room.
When working with chocolate, you always have to
factor in the ambient room temperature and humidity.
Checking the temperature of
the chocolate.
Importance of Stirring
The right temperature on a thermometer does not insure that the chocolate is
properly tempered. The chocolate also needs to be stirred. In fact, chocolate
masters do not rely on a thermometer. They know when it is properly tempered by
the look and feel of the chocolate when they are stirring it. One technique used by
chocolate masters to test the temperature of chocolate is to put a dab under their
bottom lip. Since chocolate melts at body temperature, if it feels hot, the chocolate
is too hot. If it feels just right, then the chocolate is at the right temperature.
The difference between chocolate chips and the chocolate used for making
chocolates: There is a difference between the chocolate you use to make
chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate used to make chocolate candy (or bon
bons, as they are called in Belgium). Chocolate chips are heat stable chocolate so
that they will not lose their shape and melt while baking. To make chocolate heat
stable, less cocoa butter is added. The chocolate used to make candy (bon bons),
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on the other hand, has more cocoa butter so that it will melt into a liquid form at 45°
Step 3 – Testing if Properly Tempered
You can test to make sure your chocolate is properly
tempered and ready to use by dipping a spoon into the
chocolate and then letting the spoon sit for 3-5 minutes.
If the chocolate is properly tempered, the chocolate on
the spoon will turn hard and glossy. If the chocolate is
not tempered, the chocolate will still be liquid and/or will
have a marble-like color indicating the fat and cocoa are
still separated.
When the chocolate starts to get Thick (Overcrystallization)
When the chocolate cools too much, it will become thick.
This means that the chocolate has started to overcrystallize. To get it back to a nice liquid form, you just
need to re-temper.
To check if the chocolate is
properly tempered, put a little
chocolate on a spoon. If it
hardens within 3-4 minutes, the
chocolate is ready.
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General Information on Working with Belgian Chocolate
Writing with Chocolate
URL: http://www.writingwithchocolate.com
Reviews of Belgian chocolate shops and more.
Supplies and Ingredients in Belgium
Colruyt and Makro regularly carry 2.5 kilo bags of Callebaut
• Colruyt (for a listing of all locations go to www.colruty.be)
• The bags of chocolate are on the bottom shelf in
the chocolate candy aisle. When you get to the
cash register, the person will ask you if you have a
Facture card. Say no, and when you go to pay
you will have to put your name and address on
the receipt. I don’t know why this is required, but
I’ve bought 2.5 k bags of Callebaut at several
Colruyts and I always have to go through this
• Makro (for a listing of all locations go to www.makro.be)
Chocolate Making Supplies
Chocolate World
A cash and carry warehouse of chocolate making supplies and
chocolate molds
Location: Lange Elzenstraat 18, 2018, Antwerpen, Belgium
URL: http://www.chocolateworld.be
Packaging, Decorations and Paper Supplies
A party and paper supply store that also sells chocolate ballotin
Locations: 1) Brusselsesteenweg 490 - 3090 Overijse and 2) SintJans-Molenbeek , Koolmijnenkaai 80-82 - 1080 Brussel
URL: http://www.ava.be
Belgian Sweets Design
Cash and carry warehouse of chocolate packaging and decoration
supplies. This is where the chocolatiers go for their boxes, bags, and
Location: Av. Z. Grammelaan, 16, Saintes 1480 Sint-Renelde Belgium
URL: http://www.bsd.be
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Online Instructions
How to Temper Chocolate
Tempering Chocolate
By: Callebaut
URL: http://www.callebaut.com/usen/333
Step by step written instructions on different methods of
tempering chocolate.
• Tempering on a cold (marble) work surface
• Tempering with callets (also called seeding)
• Tempering with a microwave.
• Video dubbed in English on how to temper (precrystallization) in a microwave
Chocolate Tempering: How To Temper Chocolate
By: David Lebovitz’s blog “Living the Sweet Life in Paris.”
URL: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/08/temperingchoco/
One of the best write-ups on why tempering chocolate is
necessary and what happens when chocolate is
improperly tempered. You will also find instructions for
tempering using a double boiler.
How to Use Molds
By: Callebaut
URL: http://www.callebaut.com/usen/604
Video on how to work with hollow figure and praline molds
• Pouring into molds
• Pouring hollow figures with single molds
• Pouring hollow figures with double molds
• Chocolate (pralines)
Dipping/Enrobing Chocolates
By: Callebaut
URL: http://www.callebaut.com/usen/605
Video on how to enrobe chocolate
• Dipping chocolates/petits fours/biscuits
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Chocolate Library
Making Chocolate
David Lebovitz. The Great Book of Chocolate: The Chocolate
Lover’s Guide with Recipes. (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press,
ABOUT: A personal and entertaining look at chocolate
covering its history, how it’s made, as well as recipes and
Ewald Notter, et at. The Art of the Chocolatier: From Classic
Confections to Sensational Showpieces. (New York: John Wiley &
Sons, 2011).
ABOUT: This is an almost encyclopedic coverage of chocolate
making. If you want to understand the tools, techniques, and tastes of
chocolate making in detail, then this is the book for you.
Andrew Garrison Shotts. Making Artisan Chocolates
(Providence, RI: Quarry Books, 2007)
ABOUT: This is my go-to book for great recipes. The
instructions are clear and everything tastes as good as it
Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe. The True History of
Chocolate, 2nd edition (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2007).
ABOUT: Considered one of the best books on the history of
chocolate. This book was written by an anthropologist
(published posthumously by her husband) and combines the
best of historical analysis with the sensitivity of ethnographic
research to bring the complex history of chocolate in the old
world and new world to life.
Health Benefits
Rowan Jacobsen. Chocolate Unwrapped: The Surprising Health
benefits of America’s Favorite Passion (Montpelier, Vermont:
Invisible Cities Press, 2003).
ABOUT: A little book of general information on the health
benefits of chocolate. This is not a technical or medical
reference; rather it is merely a good place to start.
Chocolate Trivia
Linda K. Fuller. Chocolate Fads , Folkore, & Fantasies:
1,000+ Chucks of Chocolate Information. (New York:
Harrington Park Press, 1994).
ABOUT: The publication date may be almost 20 years ago, but
the fun facts and bits of useless information will satisfy a
chocolate trivia sweet tooth.