Whether dark, milk or white, chocolate has captivated people for centuries and desserts made with chocolate have long been favourites in kitchens around the globe. As an ingredient, chocolate is incredibly versatile, straightforward and most importantly, delicious. The process gets a little more complex, however, when the chocolate is used in its purest form, such as when creating chocolate garnishes or moulded chocolates. Here the tempering process is required to get the best results from high quality chocolate, such as Lindt.
What follows is a simple guide to processes required when working with chocolate:
This is the term used for the process of cooking chocolate to ensure an even setting with a beautiful shine and a crisp, clean snap when broken.
If chocolate is not tempered properly, it may result in an unsightly fat-bloom, where a white-grey film forms on the surface of the chocolate. Although fat-bloom doesn’t affect the taste of the chocolate, it results in a crumbly texture and influences the chocolate’s resistance to temperature. Fat-bloomed chocolate is reversible by simply melting and re-tempering the chocolate.
There are various methods for tempering chocolate by hand and they all involve three basic steps: melting, cooling and reheating.
There are several ways to melt chocolate. Please click on the above video to view our melting chocolate video.
In a water bath (bain-marie): This process requires care to ensure no moisture gets into the chocolate. You will need a medium-size saucepan and a heatproof bowl that fits snugly into the rim of the saucepan. Place approx 5cm of water in the saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, ensuring there is limited steam. Put the chopped chocolate into a bowl and place it on the saucepan. Frequently stir the chocolate until it is molten and then, using a digital thermometer, warm the chocolate until it reaches 48°C. Take the bowl off the saucepan and allow it to cool to approximately 26°C before using.
In a microwave: This is more suitable for smaller quantities of chocolate. Place finely-chopped chocolate in a microwave-proof bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and melt the chocolate in short intervals (approximately 15-20 seconds on 75% power) stirring after every interval.
Once all the chocolate is molten monitor the temperature with a thermometer until it cools to 26°C.
Again, there are several ways of cooling chocolate. The goal is to bring the temperature of the molten chocolate down to 26°C.
Seeding Process. Add one-third of the total chocolate weight (finely chopped or grated) into the two-thirds of melted chocolate (48°C). For example, melt two 100g blocks of Lindt Excellence using either of the methods described above, then mix in one 100g block (finely chopped). Stir through and allow to stand for a couple of minutes, during which time the temperature of the molten chocolate will slowly melt the finely-chopped block. Continue to stir until all the chocolate is molten and the temperature has reduced to approximately 26°C.
Pour two-thirds of the molten chocolate (48°C) onto a marble slab and spread out with a palette knife. Using a scraper, push the chocolate to the centre. Mix the chocolate in the centre and then spread it out again. Continue the process until the chocolate starts to set slightly. Once the chocolate has reached the consistency of cooked custard, add it back into the bowl containing the remaining third of the warm molten chocolate and stir through thoroughly. Check that the temperature is approximately 26°C.
Constantly monitoring the temperature, gently heat dark chocolate to 32°C, milk chocolate to 31°C and white chocolate to 30°C. Your chocolate is now tempered.
Before commencing work with the chocolate, it’s always a good idea to take a small sample to check how your chocolate is setting. Just dip one corner of your scraper into the chocolate, place it on the bench and allow it to set. If tempered correctly it should set within a couple of minutes, with a nice even shine.