To many, “tempering chocolate” sounds like a culinary disaster waiting to happen.
Indeed tempering chocolate is a careful process of heating chocolate to precise temperatures and treating it so it can reform into a tight stable structure. It can be best described as using heat to crystallise the cocoa fat in chocolate so that is dries to a hard, smooth and glossy finish that can be snapped perfectly when you break it apart.
Tempered chocolate also has the added benefits of strengthening the chocolate and boosting its shelf-life, but most of all it is about appearance.
Putting fear aside however, tempering chocolate is an extremely useful skill to acquire and it’s not as complicated as you might think! Once you know how to do it you’ll be able to make anything from chocolate ganache, chocolate fondant, to chocolate-dipped strawberries and a whole load of other luxurious looking chocolate candies to enjoy.
Here’s our guide to tempering chocolate:
The Double Broiler Method
One of the main methods to tempering chocolate is the double broiler method.
Start by breaking the (milk, dark or white) chocolate into chunky pieces
Separate them and place 2/3 of chocolate into heatproof bowl
Heat a saucepan full of water
Once gently simmering, place heatproof bowl over the water
Allow to melt gently. Both milk chocolate and dark chocolate should reach a temperature of precisely 45 degrees Celsius, whilst milk chocolate is kept to 40 degrees Celsius
Once your chocolate has reached the precise temperature melting point, remove from heat and stir in remaining chocolate.
Stir thoroughly until chocolate cools to the precise temperature
White chocolate 25 degrees Celsius
Milk chocolate 26 degrees Celsius
Dark chocolate 27 degrees Celsius
8. Return chocolate to heat and stir until it reaches 30 degrees Celsius
9. Once chocolate becomes smooth and shiny remove from heat10. You can now use for dipping, decorating and more!
The Microwave Method
Another popular method is the microwave method.
- Start by breaking the (milk, dark or white) chocolate into chunky pieces
- Place all of the chocolate into microwave safe bowl
- Set your microwave at 50% power and begin melting
- Melt for 2 to 3 30 second microwave rounds and stir between each round until just starting to melt.
- Reduce the microwave round to 10 second increments and stir after each.
- Repeat until 3/4 has melted.
- Stir thoroughly and allow the rest to melt.
- Your chocolate is ready for use!
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What causes chocolate become thick when melted?
When tempering chocolate take care in avoiding the use of excessive heat. If chocolate become overheated it will result in a thick and dull paste. Even a small drop of water mixes with the melting chocolate, it can cause the chocolate to seize up and result in a solid grainy mass that can’t be used or remelted. As opposed to dark chocolate, milk and white chocolate are particular vulnerable to such mishaps.
Can liquid be added to chocolate?
It depends. One little drop of water can ruin the outcome of your tempered chocolate. However large amounts are acceptable as long as there is a consistent ration being applied. Use at least 1 tablespoon of liquid to 60g of chocolate. You can use water, cream, milk and butter to melt chocolate. For best results, bring the liquid to a boil, remove it from the heat and then add the chocolate. Stir until it is completely melted.
How can I store chocolate and for how long?
It is best to wrap chocolate in foil to be then placed in an air-tight container and kept in a cool, dry place. Make sure it is kept away from any strong smells or flavours so that the taste of your chocolate is not altered. You don’t have to store in the refrigerator as chocolate has a shelf life of up to 12 months if stored correctly. It is important to check the use by date on the packet.