We asked Weslie Leung, our very own office Willy Wonka, to show us how to successfully temper chocolate.
Tempering chocolate takes a bit of patience and practice. For those who are interested in the science behind it, chocolate forms different types of crystals as it cools from its liquid form. Each type has a different melting point and the desired crystal (called beta crystal) has the highest one. In this form, it doesn’t stick to its container, won’t melt in people’s hands, and is shiny. These properties make it easy to work with.
There are different methods to temper chocolate, but the one shown in this DIY is commonly referred to as “seeding” and is one of the easiest methods. Total preparation time is between 30 minutes to one hour.
Make sure the room temperature is under 68ºF (20ºC). Ideally, it should be between 59ºF (15ºC) and 64ºF (18ºC).
What you’ll need:
- Large mixing bowl
- An absorbent towel
- Chocolate pistoles (coin-shaped chocolate pieces)
- Accurate thermometer
- Wooden spatula
Fill your pot with water until it’s about half full. Heat to 130ºF (54ºC), then cover it with the towel. Be sure to carefully fold the towel so that it’s completely clear of the heat source.
Fit the large mixing bowl on top of the pot. This will allow its contents to be indirectly heated by the steam.
Put two-thirds of the chocolate pistoles into the large mixing bowl.
Melt the chocolate slowly, being careful not to overheat it. This upper temperature varies depending on the chocolate, but it’s usually around 120ºF (49ºC). Stir slowly to evenly distribute the heat.
Keep stirring until all of the chocolate is melted.
Remove your mixing bowl from the heat and mix in the remaining one-third pistoles gradually as it cools down. The target temperature depends on the chocolate, but it’s usually between 80ºF (26.5ºC) to 90ºF (32ºC). Dark chocolate generally sets at slightly higher temperature.
Continue to stir in remaining chocolate and check the temperature. As chocolate sets properly, it becomes shinier.
As the chocolate approaches its target temperature, perform tests on a piece of parchment paper. Properly tempered chocolate will set within 30 seconds. Once it sets properly, the chocolate is ready for use in molds and decorations.
- Overheating. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate in the beginning because once it has overheated, it won’t set properly. Take frequent readings and set stove to a low heat.
- Moisture. Chocolate is a mix of cacao butter and cacao powder. If moisture gets into chocolate during the tempering process, it will separate these two ingredients and won’t set. A sign of moisture is when the chocolate becomes lumpy. Before you start, check to make sure all cooking tools are completely dry.
- Under tempering. This can happen when the pistoles melt too quickly, which results in not enough beta crystals being formed. If chocolate is under tempered, it won’t set. If this happens, simply reheat and go over the process again.
- Over tempering. This can happen when the chocolate has been sitting at its target temperature for too long. A sign of over tempering is too-thick chocolate that doesn’t flow well. If this happens, slightly reheat the chocolate, but be careful not to untemper it.