The Perfect Bite

Tempering (c) Saanse CC BY-SA 2.0

I love chocolate. I love the way snaps as I break it apart and the way it melts in my mouth. When I was little, I would simply melt chocolate chips in the microwave and pour them into silicone moulds. This way, I could eat larger pieces of chocolate instead of nibbling on the tiny chips. However, the moment I tried to remove them from the mould, my fingerprints would smudge the surface of the chocolate. I was utterly confused. I did some research and then realized I needed to temper chocolate or it will not set at room temperature.

What even is tempering?

Chocolate is made up of many beta crystals and fatty acids. Their structure is what makes shiny, snappy pieces of chocolate. The fatty acids melt at different temperatures which is why tempering is crucial to ensure the loose crystal formation returns to a stable structure.

Tempering chocolate is the process of introducing hardening crystals into melted chocolate to control the crystal structure. By tempering the chocolate, it will have a denser structure of beta crystals, hence creating its stable structure. These crystals lock with each other tightly and will prevent the white film or streaks you find on the surface of non-tempered chocolate.

Additionally, improper tempering affects the chocolate’s hardness, stickiness and lightness. Over-tempering can increase its hardness while reducing its shine. Contrarily, by under-tempering chocolate, it will also negatively affect the chocolate’s texture and colour.

The easy way

Seeding is a common method to temper chocolate using a microwave. First, chop or grate the chocolate finely. Microwave about 75% of the chocolate and stir every minute. When the chocolate is almost completely melted, remove it from the microwave to prevent it from burning. At this point, the chocolate should have a temperature of:

  • Dark: 114 – 118° F
  • Milk: 105 – 113° F
  • White: 100 – 110° F

Gradually add the reserved 25% of chocolate bits into the melted chocolate. Stir the small bits until completely dissolved. The temperature of the chocolate should be at:

  • Dark: 88 – 89° F
  • Milk/White: 84 – 86° F

Spread a spoonful of the tempered chocolate onto a piece of wax paper. If it sets at room temperature within 5 minutes, the chocolate is properly tempered.

Not everyone knows the importance of tempering chocolate. However, just keep in mind how much attention and care is put into the making of chocolate in order to enjoy that perfect bite 🙂

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