Why do we have to temper chocolate?

You know when you get a lovely smooth, shiny chocolate that has the perfect sounding snap? Well that is well tempered chocolate.  It also helps to prevent the chocolate from blooming

Dull, soft, melty chocolate is not well tempered. Just look at the difference of the two below!

 

The Science bit

There are 2 important things you need to think about with tempering.

1.Temperature:

You bring it up, drop it down, bring it up again. Chocolate is a very complex thing and likes to morph into all sorts of different forms. The heating and cooling of the chocolate in a specific way helps to encourage fatty acid crystals in the chocolate to get into the best arrangement for chocolate heaven. 

The temperatures you play with differ depending on which chocolate your trying to temper. Firstly, heat to around 48C, then drop it to around 25C. Ultimately, bring the temperatures back up to:

Dark: 30C -> 31C

Milk: 29C -> 30C

White 28C -> 29C

  1. Movement:

Stir, stir, stir - once you've brought it up to the right temperature you need to bring the temperature down again. Stirring helps it to cool. We need to keep it moving so that we know that all the chocolate has an even temperature throughout. Cooling the chocolate allows for the crystallisation of cocoa butter and gives it the delish glossy look we all salivate over.

Things to be wary of:

DO NOT get water in your bowl of melted chocolate/put a lid over the bowl when you're melting: A small drop of liquid can cause all the cocoa solids to clump together and separate from the cocoa butter – this is called seizing.

DO NOT overheat the choc. This does exactly the same as above and will turn the smooth melted chocolate into a dry paste. If you burn it, chuck it. It also smells pretty grim.

IT'S TEMPER TIME

What you'll need (the slightly cheats method):

The method below does not require all these stages above as, frankly, we all have lives to live and it's a big enough deal if we take on the task of tempering at all!

A chocolate thermometer 

A heatproof bowl

Chocolate

Pan

And some patience

  

Step 1: Heat chocolate to melt the fatty acids

Chop choc in to small pieces (they will melt more quickly this way) and put about two-thirds in to your heatproof bowl.

Pop on top of a pan with a little water - make sure the bowl is not touching the water. Melt chocolate slowly.

Step 2: Cooling the choc

Once it's melted, turn off the heat and remove the bowl from the pan.

Add the remaining chopped chocolate a little at a time stirring constantly.

This is where your thermometer comes in to play.

Keep adding and stirring until you reach the desired temperature for the chocolate you are tempering (see above). Another way to know that it’s ready, is to dab a little on your lip, if it feels cool, it’s ready to go!

Pout into your mould/enrobe your truffles etc… then pop in to the fridge and voila!