Chocolatiers know that tempering chocolate is an essential step in the production of fine chocolates. The process of tempering chocolate ensures that the finished product has a smooth, glossy appearance and a consistent texture. In this article, we will explore the art of tempering chocolate and learn how to do it properly.
What does tempering of chocolate mean?
Chocolate is a supercooled liquid, which means that chocolate's melting point is lower than its actual temperature.
Tempering of chocolate is a process of heating and cooling chocolate in order to modify the crystals that form during the manufacturing process.
Chocolate tempering allows us to create the beautiful sheen and smooth texture that is prized in fine chocolates. This has an effect on the way chocolate melts in your mouth as well as on its appearance and texture.
Science of Tempering Chocolate
The crystals that form during tempering will determine the final appearance and texture of the chocolate.
There are three main types of crystals that can form during tempering:
1) Alpha crystals are small, sharp crystals that give the chocolate a shiny appearance and a brittle texture.
2) Beta crystals are larger and more rounded than alpha crystals. They give the chocolate a dull appearance and a soft, creamy texture.
3) Gamma crystals are the smallest and most numerous of the three types of crystals. They produce a smooth, glossy appearance and a firm, snappy texture.
The type of crystal that predominates in tempered chocolate will determine its final appearance and texture. For example, lightly-tempered chocolate (with more beta crystals) will have a dull appearance and a soft consistency. Heavily-tempered chocolate ( alpha and beta crystals predominate), on the other hand, will have a glossy appearance but a very firm consistency.
How do I temper chocolates?
Tempering involves three major steps: Melting and Cooling the chocolate, Slowly raising (or "tempering") the temperature, and Cooling the chocolate.
Melting and Cooling the chocolate
It involves melting the chocolate (in small amounts) over a bain-marie (water bath). Once fully melted, it is removed from heat and allowed to cool.
The initial cooling stage is crucial; you must not let your chocolate solidify at this step or you'll have to start all over again! Instead, you want to temper (raise the temperature of) the chocolate.
Slowly raising the temperature
The next step involves raising the temperature of the tempered chocolate—but not too quickly or else risk burning it.
You do this by returning the chocolate to a bain-marie (or double boiler) and heating it until the chocolate is melted fully and desired consistency is reached (oftentimes, around 88-90 degrees Celsius).
It should be noted that chocolate can actually be tempered in several ways. For instance, you can temper by raising the temperature all the way to 30-32 degrees Celsius for Milk/White chocolates or 34-35 degrees Celsius for dark chocolates.
Cooling the chocolate
After you've achieved your desired blending consistency, you must rapidly cool down your melted chocolate before pouring it over a clean and dry marble slab.
You can also pour it into a container filled with cool water and stir until the required consistency is reached.
The marbling technique is another effective way of cooling your chocolate; you can alternate between adding portions of white and dark melted chocolate to give it that desired marble look.
How to Temper Chocolate
The first step in tempering is to melt and heat the chocolate in a bowl or in the microwave. It should be melted carefully over the double boiler, at a low temperature, so that it does not burn at the bottom of the bowl. And keep measuring the temperature of the chocolate using a thermometer.
Once the chocolate has been melted in the bowl, remove the bowl from the microwave or double boiler and it needs to be cooled down before being tempered. A way of doing this is by placing the bowl of molten chocolate in an ice bath.
Once the melted chocolate has been cooled down, the chocolate needs to be stirred constantly until it cools completely at room temperature—this will ensure that no additional crystals form during tempering. Once the chocolate has been fully cooled and all visible signs of crystal formation have disappeared, you can start dipping or coating your candies with your tempered chocolate!
Be sure to remember these tips when trying out the tempering process yourself:
1. Use good quality chocolate that contains cocoa butter (couverture).
2. Make sure your utensils (bowls and pots) are dry and free of any moisture or grease.
3. Melt the chocolate slowly over a pot of simmering water (or double boiler).
4. Remove it once there are no more chunks and stir until completely smooth, without stopping.
5. Test its temperature to determine if it needs to be tempered or not;
6. Once tempered, allow the melted chocolate to cool down until it returns to room temperature before using it in your recipes.
7. Store your chocolate in an airtight container at room temperature away from sunlight (this kind of exposure tends to give chocolates a greenish hue due to the formation of alkaloids).
8. DO NOT place plastic wrappers directly on top of the chocolate (this will cause condensation that will affect its texture).
9. If you accidentally overheat your chocolate, it is best to use it as an ingredient in another recipe; it will take too much time and effort to try to re-temper this chocolate for later uses.
10. Keep in mind that there are many ways of tempering chocolates so be sure to follow the instructions given by the manufacturer.
Methods for tempering chocolate
There are four main methods for tempering chocolate:
The dry method is the oldest, most traditional method of tempering chocolate. It involves adding solid cocoa butter pieces into melted chocolate to lower the temperature of the molten chocolate—these solid chunks of fat will act as tempered seeds and allow crystallization to occur more easily.
In this method, a small amount of molten chocolate is added to a larger mass of fully melted and tempered chocolate in order to "seed" the batch with crystals that will promote the formation of beta crystals.
Two-Sided Bowl Method
The Two-Sided Bowl Method is a newer method that involves placing a bowl of melted chocolate over another bowl of hot water. As the bottom bowl heats up, its contents slowly approach the proper melting point for tempering—which allows for better temperature control as well as faster heating/cooling rates.
Bain Marie Method
The Bain Marie Method is very similar to the Two-Bowl Method in that it also uses a double boiler system (albeit with only one bowl). This method differs from the two previous methods in that it utilizes water instead of hot air or steam to heat the upper bowl (of molten chocolate).
The above methods can be applied regardless of whether you're tempering small or large quantities. They also allow for greater temperature control and can be done using various different utensils—not only a microwave.
The tempering process is a lengthy one, but the end result is decadent and delicious chocolate that you can use to make all sorts of candies and confections! With proper temperature control and patience, you should be able to master this technique in no time.
Why is it necessary to temper chocolate?
Chocolate starts off with a specific arrangement of cocoa butter molecules (the fat from which it is made). In this crystalline structure, some areas have formed into solid fat while others remain as liquid fat.
During storage or shipping, some melting may occur from exposure to heat from above or below, resulting in uneven crystals where small amounts of solid fat coexist with pockets of liquid fat.
Tempering chocolate is the process of getting the cocoa butter to crystallize in such a way that it forms mostly solid fat and some liquid fat. The solid and liquid fats allow for a "snap" and smooth melt, respectively.
The right tempering will give the chocolate its proper sheen and crisp finish which enhances the taste and texture of the final product.
What happens if I don't temper my chocolate?
If you do not temper your chocolate, you will end up with a product that is dull and streaky in appearance. The taste of the chocolate will be off as well; it might taste greasy or waxy instead of rich and smooth.
This has to do with the fact that cocoa butter crystals are small enough to "slide" over each other (in their liquid state), making way for a sleek and easy consistency—similar to vegetable oil.
However, if these cocoa butter crystals stay in their solid state, they will be too large to move past each other, and friction/resistance within the mixture will build up.
This increases the viscosity of the molten chocolate until it either becomes too thick for your purposes or breaks (turns hard and crumbly) as you try to make your confections.
Tempered and untempered Chocolate
Distinguishing between tempered and untempered chocolate is fairly easy.
Un-tempered chocolate will show streaks or lines, where the cocoa butter has not mixed well with the rest of the ingredients. This can be caused by incorrect tempering temperatures, holding time at each temperature, stirring during the process, and even the addition of certain ingredients like milk powder and condensed milk (which contain water).
Chocolate that is tempered correctly will not show these lines; instead, it will have a nice shine to it and snap when you break it.
What kind of chocolate should I use for tempering?
Tempered chocolate can be used for dipping or enrobing, making filled candies and molded chocolates. It will set to a smooth finish after cooling. Un-tempered chocolate should not be used for decorating purposes as it lacks the right consistency and texture, plus it is prone to bloom (when cocoa butter crystals form on the surface).
You can temper dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, or unsweetened chocolate since this kind of product should contain less sugar (which hinders crystallization) than milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate, or sweet chocolate(that contains more sugar).
You can also use couverture chocolate that has already been tempered; make sure however that your utensils are free of any possible moisture or grease (since couverture chocolate is more sensitive to these substances than normal chocolate, which can cause it to seize or break).
What is the difference between melting chocolate and tempering chocolate?
Melting chocolate and tempering chocolate are two entirely different processes.
When you melt chocolate, you end up melting the crystals within the food product (breaking them down into smaller particles). The problem with doing this is that it may be impossible to get these larger crystals to form again; they will either remain melted or take too long to recrystallize (if at all).
Tempering on the other hand involves getting your chocolate hot enough so that it melts and then cooling it again so that the cocoa butter forms back into stable crystals. You must be very careful not to overheat or underheat your melted chocolate as both of these scenarios will affect its final
What happens if my chocolate gets too hot?
If your melted chocolate manages to get too hot, the cocoa butter crystals will melt completely.
This means that they cannot recrystallize, which makes it impossible for you to temper this chocolate again—eventually resulting in a product with no snap or shine.
After reaching this point, there is really nothing you can do except use it as an ingredient in another recipe (i.e. truffles) so that it does not go to waste.
You can prevent your chocolate from getting too hot by taking precautions like setting up a water bath and checking its temperature regularly; avoid adding ingredients like condensed milk and milk powder (which contain extra amounts of moisture).
Art of Chocolate tempering
What is the point of tempering chocolate? It takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to do so, plus it can be very dangerous if you don't pay attention. Tempering chocolate is not especially hard to do, but it does require some practice.
If you are new to the process of tempering, try practicing with dark chocolate before moving on to milk or white. Keep in mind that couverture chocolates are even trickier to work with due to their higher fat content and sensitivity towards temperature changes.
To put it simply, all this process does is give your chocolate the right consistency and texture, which allows you to use it for making molded chocolates or decorating. If done correctly, tempered chocolate will have a nice sheen to it with no streaks or lines anywhere on its surface.