Why do I need to temper my chocolate?
There are two types of chocolate which can be used for baking, cooking or melting, real chocolate and compound.
When you are buying chocolate from the supermarket, it has already been tempered and therefore looks shiny, hard and snaps crisply when broken. However, once you melt it, in order for it to return to a shiny hard appearance and texture, you must temper it again.
Most likely you will only need to temper real chocolate at home if you are making your own chocolates using chocolate moulds or wanting to give your desserts a glossy hard chocolate finish. Tempering will ensure that your chocolate regains its shine and prevents it from appearing cloudy or blotchy when finally set.
So what happens once tempered chocolate is melted?
The cocoa butter crystals are in suspension with the cocoa solids until the chocolate is warmed. Once you have warmed the chocolate, this suspension is broken and when the chocolate cools, the cocoa butter crystals rise to the top, making white streaks on the tops of your chocolate sweets. This is called ‘blooming’. It won’t affect the flavour, but it doesn’t look very good!
Tempering returns the cocoa butter crystals to suspension within the chocolate and produces a chocolate with a deep shiny gloss.
This is the simplest way of tempering chocolate at home:
Kitchen utensils required (ideally)
- Double boiler, or a saucepan and heat proof bowl to fit snugly on top of the open saucepan
- Candy thermometer
- Rubber spatula
- Coarsely chop the amount of chocolate your recipe specifies
- Place ⅔ of the chocolate in a double boiler over gently simmering water. Ensure the water does not touch the bottom of the double boiler or your chocolate may overheat and lose its shine and smoothness
- Melt the chocolate until the temperature reaches 45°C on a cooking thermometer
- Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate; stir with a spatula from time to time
- Keep stirring the melted chocolate until it cools down to 27°C, and return to the heat stirring gently until the chocolate reaches 32°C
- Once the chocolate is smooth and shiny, it is ready to be used for chocolate curls, as coating or poured into chocolate moulds.
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