the appetizer:

Chocolates and Confections at Home by Peter P. Greweling and The Culinary Institute of America, includes recipes like Almond Dragees; Green Tea Truffles; and Rochers; and techniques like Dry Sugar Cooking and Tempering Chocolate.


Tempering Chocolate

Tempering Chocolate

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Incorrectly tempered chocolate with a spotty. grainy appearance; incorrectly tempered chocolate with streaks; and chocolate properly in temper.


What Is Tempering?

Tempering chocolate is the process of heating and cooling chocolate to ensure that it will set with a proper gloss and snap. Tempered chocolate will set quickly and will not show streaks or spots as it sets. Once set, properly tempered chocolate will harden and have the desired snap and shine. When chocolate is not tempered, it will take a long time to set and will have streaks on the surface. Once set, these streaks will turn gray and the chocolate will have a soft and grainy texture.

A thermometer can be helpful when tempering chocolate. but it is not mandatory. With a little practice, you can temper chocolate using only your wrist to gauge the temperature and a spoon to verify that it is setting properly.

Tempering Chocolate

Many home candy makers are intimidated by the thought of tempering chocolate; they think it is complex or difficult. While the physics of chocolate tempering are indeed complex, we do not need to know much about these in order to be successful. In truth, tempering chocolate is very much like driving a car: Automobiles are complex machines with many moving and electronic parts that most people know nothing about. However, most of us think nothing of getting behind the wheel and driving. Tempering chocolate is much simpler than driving a car, and there is no danger of getting speeding tickets or having a fender bender while tempering chocolate. You can do it.

There are several professionally used techniques to temper chocolate by hand, and there are numerous tempering machines on the market suited to home candy making. For the home confectioner tempering by hand, there is little reason to temper chocolate using any method other than the seeding technique. It is fast, clean, and highly effective. With just a httle practice and patience, you can use the seeding method to properly temper chocolate every time.

1. Weigh or measure the chocolate you will be tempering. As always, weight is the preferred method for measuring any ingredients; otherwise, use the chocolate conversion table on page 24 of the book.

2. Weigh or measure a second amount of chocolate equal to 25 percent of the original amount.

3. Fully melt the larger amount of chocolate using either a microwave or water bath (see pages 34 to 35 of the book). Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the heat. The chocolate should be 120 degrees F for dark chocolate or 110 degrees F for milk or white chocolate.

4. Add the smaller amount of unmelted chocolate to the melted chocolate. This is called the seed; it will cool the melted chocolate and cause it to set the way you want. You can use either pistoles or a single block as the seed; a single block has the advantage of easy removal once the chocolate is tempered.

5. Stir the melted chocolate gently and constantly until the temperature falls to 85 degrees F for dark chocolate or 83 degrees F for milk or white chocolate. This will take 15 to 20 minutes, and most or all of the seed should have melted by the end of this time.

6. Test the chocolate. Testing chocolate for temper is the only way to know for sure that chocolate is actually tempered. Following temperatures is a good guideline, but even with strict adherence to technique, no one can tell for sure whether chocolate is tempered without performing a test to see how it sets.

7. If the chocolate sets properly, gently warm it over a water bath not exceeding 89 degrees F for dark chocolate or 86 degrees F for milk or white chocolate.

8. If all the seed has melted but the chocolate is not setting quickly without streaks or spots, it must be seeded more. Add a few more pistoles or another small block to the bowl and stir for another 3 to 4 minutes. After this time, test again (step 61 and proceed from there.

9. Remove any unmelted seeds from the melted chocolate.

10. Use the chocolate as desired while maintaining the proper working temperature.

Maintaining Chocolate Temperature

When you work with tempered chocolate, it is crucial to keep it at the proper temperature. If it cools too much, it will thicken and set. If it is too warm, it will no longer be tempered and will not set properly. Dark chocolate should be used at 86 degrees to 90 degrees F, milk chocolate at 84 degrees to 87 degrees F. There are several options for maintaining this crucial temperature:

Regardless of which method you use, always take care to maintain your chocolate at these temperatures and you will be rewarded with a perfect set and shine.

How to NOT Temper Chocolate

When your schedule, your ambition, or your kitchen temperature makes it impractical or impossible for you to temper chocolate, you can still make chocolate-coated confections by using compound coating (see page 21 of the book). While this is not true chocolate, it is quick to work with, very forgiving of warm temperatures, and can be used as a coating on any product. Most coatings do not have the crisp snap of tempered chocolate, but when melted to the temperature the manufacturer recommends, they are ready for use without tempering and testing. They are particularly useful in hot weather, which is why they are frequently referred to as summer coatings. Any of the recipes in this book that require dipping in chocolate can be dipped in either tempered chocolate or melted coating.

Although coating is acceptable for the outside of chocolates, do not attempt to use it in place of chocolate in the recipes for centers.


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This page created April 2010