Hello, everyone! In this lesson we will show you that you don’t need a lot of expensive tools to work with chocolate. Lots of things can be easily found in our own kitchens.
If you have ever tried to melt a chocolate bar and create something out of it you already know what tempering is for. It’s an obligatory process so that chocolate will be hard, and deliciously crunchy, have a high gloss and melt slowly in your hands after crystallisation. We will cover 3 main methods of tempering. In this lesson we will use two type of chocolate: dark and white, but any method is fine with any chocolate.
Before you start working please check the environment conditions. The best temperature of your environment is 18–22°C (64.4–71.6°F). The temperature of a marble (or granite) slab will be at the same temperature.
Find out the fluidity of your chocolate. Industrial chocolate fluidity is usually marked with a drop symbol system: from one to five. One drop means the thickest chocolate and five drops – extremely fluid one. If your packaging doesn’t have this marking just remember that there is such a system. If you understand while working that your chocolate is too thick and not enough fluid for some products then you can add cocoa butter and thus increase the fluidity of chocolate. You have to do this before tempering chocolate.
If your packaging does have manufacturer’s instructions at which temperature to temper chocolate don’t ignore them. If there are none then use the classic temperature range.
- Dark chocolate: 45–50°C → 27°C → 31–32°C
- Milk chocolate: 45°C → 27°C → 29–30°C
- White chocolate: 45°C → 26°C → 28–29°C
- Dark chocolate: 113–122°F → 80.6°F → 87.8–89.6°F
- Milk chocolate: 113°F → 80.6°F → 84.2–86°F
- White chocolate: 113°F → 78.8°F → 82.4–84.2°F
Tempering on a marble slab
- Microwave oven
- Pyrometer (infrared thermometer)
- Hand blender
- Marble or granite slab
- Plastic bowl
- Any amount of any chocolate
Melt the chocolate in short intervals of time to 45–50°C (87.8–89.6°F) in the microwave oven.
The duration of heat intervals depends on the amount of chocolate: if there is little chocolate then intervals should range within 10–15 seconds. The more chocolate you have the longer intervals should be. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir chocolate will after each interval in order not to burn it.
You can melt chocolate to 55°C (131°F), or even 60°C (140°F), but there is simply no need. In this case we will have to waste more time to cool it down afterwards, so 45–50°C (113–122°F) is more than enough.
When you heat chocolate to 45–50°C (87.8–89.6°F), cool it down on the marble slab to 27°C (80.6°F). In order to cool down chocolate pour it on the marble (or granite) slab. Leave some chocolate (no more than 1/3) in the bowl. If you temper a small amount of chocolate, let’s say 100–300 g., I recommend cooling down all chocolate. If the amount is bigger we can leave some chocolate in the bowl. It will make it easier for us to heat chocolate to the working temperature later.
27°C (80.6°F) is a rough temperature threshold you need to cross. You may cool down chocolate to 26.5°C (78.8°F), for example, but you may not cool it down to 27.5°C (81.5°F). Otherwise, nothing will work out. To cut the long story short, the point of tempering is to make cocoa butter contained in chocolate crystallise in its stable form. When chocolate reaches “the lowest” threshold temperature stable crystals start forming in the chocolate mass.
It doesn’t matter what tool you’ll use for moving the chocolate mass over the slab. We usually do it with two metal scrapers. You can work either with the tools you have or with the tools comfortable for you personally. The consequence of movements, their regularity do not matter. The most important is to move chocolate over the slab to cool down the mass evenly.
When the temperature is lower than 27°C (80.6°F) put chocolate back in the bowl. Stir well. If after stirring the temperature of chocolate in the bowl is lower than the working one (31–32°C (87.8–89.6°F), heat chocolate with a hairdryer or a hand blender. When we heat chocolate to the working temperature it’s extremely important not to exceed 32°C (89.6°F) in order not to melt all the stable crystals we create on the cooling stage.
When you heat chocolate with a hand blender, it helps get rid of undesirable bubbles in the chocolate mass.
After increasing the temperature of chocolate to the working one (31–32°C (87.8–89.6°F), check the result. By dipping the tip of a knife, a palette knife or any other tool in chocolate, just leave it to crystallise at room temperature.
Chocolate has to crystallise literally in 1–2 minutes depending on the temperature of your environment. It will become matte and won’t be sticky. Chocolate has to crystallise without blotches or bloom. It means that you have tempered chocolate successfully and can work with it.
If there are blotches or bloom on chocolate, or it doesn’t crystallise, it’s likely that you have violated temperature requirements at some stage. You either undercool it on a slab or overheat it when bringing to the working temperature. In this case you will have to start all over again and heat chocolate to 45–50°C (113–122°F).
Tempered chocolate, or chocolate in its stable form, falls out easily of a mould because it shrinks while crystallisation.
You can take any plastic glass, bowl, plastic or polycarbonate mould and fill it with tempered chocolate. Tap a glass or a mould against the table to get rid of air bubbles. If, while you were waiting for chocolate to crystallise on the tip of knife, it has got cold heat it to the working temperature with a hairdryer.
After crystallisation in a container chocolate will easily fall out of it. Slightly bend the mould to help chocolate come off. Collect the remaining chocolate in a bag and close tightly. Keep chocolate in the dark at room temperature. You can temper chocolate repeatedly but you will have to go through all the stages from the very beginning: melt, cool down and heat to the working temperature.
Tempering with Mycryo
- Microwave oven
- Plastic bowl
- 650 g chocolate (or any other amount)
- 6.5 g Mycryo cocoa butter (or 1% chocolate mass)
Melt the chocolate in short intervals of time to 45–50°C (87.8–89.6°F) in the microwave oven. Weigh Mycryo cocoa butter. We need 1% of the chocolate mass. In our case it’s 6.5 g Mycryo cocoa butter. Wait until chocolate cool down to 34°C (93.2°F). You can stir chocolate meanwhile to make the mass cool down quicker. When chocolate cools down to 34°C (93.2°F), add Mycryo and mix well with chocolate to make cocoa butter melt. After we had added Mycryo and mixed everything well the temperature should drop to the working one (31–32°C (87.8–89.6°F)). Chocolate is ready. You can check the result the same way by dipping the tip of a scraper in chocolate and leaving it to crystallise. Pour the remaining chocolate on the parchment paper When it will crystallise it will be much easier to collect it in a bag and store before the next use.
Mycryo is a common cocoa butter of fine fraction what allows it to melt quickly in the chocolate mass at low temperatures.
Tempering with callets
- Microwave oven
- Plastic bowl
- 450 g white chocolate (to melt)
- 115 g white chocolate (in callets)
Melt the chocolate in short intervals of time to 45°C (87.8°F) in the microwave oven. Add callets. We have added 25% of the chocolate mass.
It’s impossible to define the exact ratio of chocolate to melt and callets to add because it all depends on the temperature of melted chocolate, callets and your environment. That’s why this method requires some practice.
Mix well until callets melt. If you have added more callets that necessary and they don’t melt quickly. You will simply have to help them melt with a hairdryer. Heat them slightly but do not exceed 32°C (89.6°F). Approximately.
If you added few callets, I mean that they melted but the temperature is 34°C (93.2°F) then chocolate won’t be tempered properly. It means that all stable crystals have melted and we’ve got melted chocolate without stable crystals. It’s always better to add more callets, mix them longer and help melt with a hairdryer than to add few.
You can check the result the same way by dipping the tip of a scraper in chocolate and leaving it to crystallise.