Tempering chocolate is the crystallization of the cocoa butter in chocolate. In the process of tempering, the cocoa butter transforms into a stable form. It makes the chocolate hard, brittle and shiny after cooling.
It’s very important to remember that you cannot buy ready-made tempered chocolate! More precisely, all the chocolate you can buy, is absolutely tempered, otherwise it would not be so shiny and stable! But as soon as you heat it up – the strong crystal cell demolishes, and you need to put it back together!
The easiest way to temper the chocolate is to use a marble slab. There is also something meditative in the process of cooling chocolate on the slab!
The most important thing that has already been studied and proven by the "chocolate scientists" is that there are three stages of tempering!
- dissolving the chocolate (melting)
- cooling it on marble
- heating it up to operating temperature
You can dissolve the chocolate in the microwave; the most important thing here is not to overheat the chocolate, therefore you better do it in short intervals, literally 5-10 seconds, and mix it constantly! Otherwise, the chocolate will burn and you will have to throw it away or eat it. You can dissolve the chocolate in a water bath, it's just that it takes a long time.
Of course, you know that there are three main types of chocolate: bitter (dark), milky and white.
Each chocolate type has DIFFERENT tempering degrees! Each manufacturer usually writes special tables on the chocolate packs! Just look carefully! It concerns professional chocolate! But it’s not always possible to buy it! Therefore, we will give you an example of a summary table, which is suitable for ANY chocolate.
Dark chocolate: heat to 45-50C (113-122F), cool on the stove to 28-29C (82-84F), heat to 31-32C (87-89F).
Milk chocolate: heat to 45-50C (113-122F), cool on the stove 26-27C (78-80F), heat to 29 -30C (84-86F).
White chocolate: heat to 45C (113F), cool to 26-27C (78-80F), heat to 29-30C (84-86F).
The exact observance of these degrees is the most important point!!!
You should cool the chocolate fast on the stove (not to go around the kitchen and wait for it to cool down). If you overheat it at the end, then just start all over again.
To understand why the instructions are the way they are, let’s understand what is happening inside the product!
To obtain the stable crystals of cocoa butter, the chocolate must be heated above the melting point of all the crystals - up to 45-50C (113-122F)! That’s how you destroy the crystals! Then, you have to cool the chocolate so that all types of crystals (and there are only 5 of them) are formed again. And then, slightly warm it up to the operating temperature, so that just one type of crystal lattice is formed! Thos one is the most durable and most beautiful.
Now, let’s move to the very process of tempering on a marble slab.
- Let's melt the chocolate to the temperature that matches it! You already have these numbers!
- Pour 2/3 of the total chocolate onto a cold slab. Knead the chocolate mass with a spatula, thereby keeping it to the temperature you need!
- Pour the cooled chocolate back into 1/3 of the chocolate that remains in the bowl.
Check the temperature! Sometimes the chocolate reaches the desired mark immediately. And sometimes it does not! Then you have to heat it up a little bit in a microwave (for 1-2 seconds) or with a hair dryer.
HERE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT! If you have overheated the chocolate at this moment, then you have to start all over again! That’s because you have destroyed everything, what we did all this for.
How can you check the crystallization? If you did everything correctly, then you should lower the tip of the knife into chocolate and wait for 3 minutes (at a room temperature, not exceeding 20C | 68F). The well-tempered chocolate will already start hardening! You can safely make any shapes, candies and figures!
The temperature in the room, where you work with the chocolate, should be from 16C to 20C (60 to 68F). The air humidity should not exceed 70%.
Store chocolate at a temperature of 12-20C (53 to 68F)! Not in the fridge!