The word “tempering” throws many people off and rightly so. That too in noncommercial kitchen setups (Indian homes) were humidity is at its peak, tempering chocolate can be even more daunting. I’ve done a little bit of research, pulled up information from great places and collated it together for you. We need to get down to basics though; you can’t just buy a piece of chocolate and begin to temper it. You have to know what tempering is and more importantly you need to know your chocolate.
What is tempering?
To use chocolate for dipping or coating, your chocolate needs to be tempered. What you essentially do when you temper chocolate, is making the chocolate stable so that it remains solid without melting even at room temperature. Chocolate is also tempered for that lovely gloss and a brittle snap, characteristics that we find in chocolates we buy from a store. The key is to not get intimidated by the physics of chocolate tempering – just blindly follow the instructions, warming, stirring, cooling, warming, so on and so forth.
This might be a harsh truth for many people who cook with a small budget, but guys, you can’t be frugal with buying chocolate. Especially if you have to temper, you need to buy a good quality chocolate, preferably couverture. So read between the lines of the package. Your package should say at least 60% or more cocoa solids for best results. I know some of us use 45 – 50% – it’s not bad, but it won’t be the best.
Most of us are tempted to store chocolate in the refrigerator. Please don’t. Even if you require only half a bar of chocolate, wrap the remaining chocolate tightly in cling film, place it in a zip lock bag and store the chocolate in an airtight box. If you store your chocolate in the refrigerator, you are causing it to bloom, where the cocoa solids separate from the remaining chocolate resulting in a dull texture.
Let’s temper some chocolate
There’s more than one way to temper chocolate, tabling method, microwave method and seeding method. But I’ve found seeding method to be less messy, clean and efficient for both large and small quantities of chocolate.
For tempering you’ll need:-
- 300 g dark chocolate (60% or more cocoa solids)
- Large bowl of ice cubes
- Candy thermometer
Finely chop your chocolate. Reserve a handful of chocolate and add the remaining to a bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stick a candy thermometer in. Allow it to cook till the temperature reaches 115 F/45 C. Remove the bowl and add the reserved chocolate (seed chocolate) and gently stir until the chocolate is incorporated. Place the bowl into the large bowl filled with ice cubes. The temperature has to drop to 82 F/31 C on the thermometer. Place the bowl back over a saucepan of simmering water and bring the temperature back up to 90 F/ 34 C. Your chocolate is now tempered and ready for dipping and coating, use it immediately.