How to temper chocolate, the easy(ier) way
Ever melted chocolate to coat something and when it hardened again it had gross white spots all over it, or it almost looked dusty? It is because it wasn’t properly tempered. Tempering is the process of heating and cooling chocolate in a way that makes it suitable to dip. Professional chocolatiers use a chocolate tempering machine. This one’s a steal at $2,099? Especially since I would use it maybe three times a year?
Okay, since that isn’t an option, we must learn to do it sans expensive device.
I am somebody that doesn’t just want to know what steps to take, but the why behind those steps, so I can adjust and translate that knowledge into other recipes and techniques. Soooo I researched a lot about tempering chocolate.
Tempering is only required when using actual chocolate. There are special dipping chocolates that have fats other than cocoa butter, usually shortening. These are convenient, but not as delicious. They require no fancy-pants handling.
Ok, everybody, put on your scientist hats (or pocket protectors or lab coats or whatever,) ’cause it’s about to get technical.
Chocolate molecules can combine together to form six different crystal structures. Each crystal formation melts at a different temperature and only one of these structures is desirable. The others will form chocolate that is grainy, mushy and spotty. Bleh!
Beta crystals folks, they are what we are after.
There are many ways to go about getting those desirable beta crystals to form. I have tried them and they are kind of a labor intensive. One day while I was slaving over my bowl of brown, I had an “um, duh!” moment. The chocolate I was using was tempered before I melted it. So if I could just keep the temperature of the melting chocolate below the temperature at which beta crystal melt, then I wouldn’t have to get beta crystals to form because I would never have destroyed the ones that were there in the first place..
To accomplish this you just have to melt your chocolate in a very careful and patient manner. (But believe me it is still way less difficult than trying to go through the maneuvers to get those crystals back.)
You can use the microwave or double boiler. But if you use a double boiler you have to be extra, extra cautious that you don’t get any moisture into the chocolate be cause it will seize and then you have a whole different problem.
It is essential that your chocolate is cut into small bits. This ensures you don’t have to heat as much to melt the chocolate. Chocolate chips work great. Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and place in the microwave. Everybody’s microwave behaves a little differently so I’ll say that you should cook it as little as possible.
In my case, the first round I microwave for 15 seconds, then Remove and stir. The chocolate should still be almost completely solid with just the edges starting to shine.
Then another 15 seconds, removing and stirring after. It should just be starting to melt still but still be chunky. It will form a big blob of chunks glued together with the melted chocolate at this point when stirred.
Then put in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time stirring after each time. The total time will depend on the amount of chocolate you are trying to melt. Stop when you have about 2/3 melted chocolate and 1/3 chunks.
Stir for a couple minutes. Usually the melted chocolate is warm enough to melt the last bits of solid chocolate. If it hasn’t all melted after stirring a couple minutes.
Pop it back in the microwave, but only for 3-5 seconds. This is the danger zone where you can ruin all your work. I like to test the temperature to make sure I haven’t gone past 92* (which is about where the beta crystals melt.) You need an accurate thermometer for this test. Here is the one I use and LOVE! But if you don’t have one, you should be okay as long as you stop microwaving before all the chunks have disappeared.
Once it is all melted you are set to dip and use that beautiful chocolate.