Tempering Chocolate

Tempering is a specific method used to obtain a shiny and smooth chocolate; if it is not tempered, the surface will be dull and lifeless when it solidifies. Chocolate comes tempered from the manufacturer, but the tempering disappears when it is melted, i.e. when a certain temperature is reached. Therefore, it needs to be tempered again if it is to be used for encapsulation and decoration, but not if it is to be used in cakes, puddings, creams, confectionery fillings and other such things.

However, it is sometimes possible to avoid tempering chocolate that is supposed to be glossy if it can be melted without heating it higher than 32°C – then it will retain the temper it received in the factory. In this video you can see how chocolate is tempered, but you can also read a more detailed description of the process below.

It is really necessary to have a good thermometer that can measure the temperature of the chocolate accurately. In fact, there are also special machines or electric chocolate pots that take care of tempering the chocolate for you. But the traditional way is like this:

Start by chopping the chocolate and melting it over low heat. Stir it while it melts and measure the temperature; dark chocolate should ideally be around 50°C, light or white chocolate should be cooler. Pour most of the chocolate onto a cold, flat counter or marble board and spread it evenly with a spatula. Then stir it and scrape it back and forth with a plastic scraper or a lolly. Continue until it starts to thicken and cool and the temperature is as close as possible to 28°C. Then scrape it back into the bowl, mix it with the remaining chocolate and put the bowl back over a pan of hot water.

Heat the chocolate to around 32°C, or until it is smooth and glossy (white chocolate should be around 29°C though). The chocolate is now ready to use. Keep the bowl over hot water to maintain the temperature and carefully pick it if it starts to cool and congeal. If the temperature exceeds 32°C, the chocolate must be tempered again.