You may notice some differences between the two chocolates above. The image to the right holds a shine and doesn’t look tacky like the image on the left. We’d also bet that the chocolate on the right would ‘snap’ when broken.
This right-side image is a direct result of tempering chocolate.
Un-tempered chocolate (on the left) lacks all the qualities you probably notice in any chocolate you’ve seen or eaten throughout your lifetime.
If you’ve ever purchased chocolate at a store, chances are it has gone through the tempering process (like the image above). This involves melting and cooling chocolate in a manner that promotes very specific fat crystals (called beta crystals) to form.
Chocolate itself is an emulsion, however if warmed or melted the chocolate emulsion breaks. When it finally cools, the cocoa butter rises to the surface. This creates an unattractive product and some will actually throw their chocolate away thinking its moldy, when it’s really just fat ‘bloom’.
So why temper chocolate? The result of tempered chocolate offers a noticeable shine, chocolate that won’t melt to the touch, and a formed chocolate that audibly ‘snaps’ when broken. These expectations are what all chocolate consumers have grown to know and love. Although chocolate that hasn’t been tempered is completely harmless, it seems unnatural.
There are a few methods to tempering chocolate although we are just going to introduce one which is widely used today (especially with tempering machines).
The Seed Method involves using un-melted chocolate to “seed” the melted chocolate. Which basically means that the stable crystals in the un-melted chopped chocolate encourages the formation of the stable beta crystals in the melted chocolate, thus seeding it.
Through this process stirring is very important, this lets you keep the smallest beta crystals possible in suspension.
- The first step of tempering chocolate is melting the bulk 2/3 of your callets/couverture/or chopped chocolate to ~113°F (45°C).
- To begin the tempering process you’ll drop the temperature to 90°F (32°C).
- Begin to add the 1/3 of chocolate you set aside earlier, this is what you’ll use as the beta crystal seed.
- The addition of this chocolate will slowly drop the temperature of the bulk melted chocolate you just added it too. The ‘seed’ chocolate will essentially teach the melted chocolate how to become tempered while it slowly cools to 90°F.
- Continue to stir in the rest of the un-melted chocolate until it has combined and melted completely into the full mass of chocolate within the tempering machine.
- Stir for a few more minutes after adding in the last of the ‘seed’ chocolate. At this point in time your chocolate should be tempered.
- The chocolate should feel a bit thicker and you should be sitting around 90°F.
- If you want to test the chocolate dip a spoon and let it dry.
- You should be left with a smooth, shiny finish.
Unfortunately, unless you are using something similar to our Mol d’Art tempering machine, you’ll have to constantly check the temperature of your chocolate mass. If you reach too high of a temp, you can ruin your batch and cause scorching. If you were to raise the temperature of the chocolate above 91°F after seeding, you’ll have to start the process over.
That’s truly what makes tempering machines so effective.
Mol d’Art machines use accurate temperature control via a built-in electric thermostat which holds desired temperatures with extreme precision.
If you were to compare this process to tempering chocolate on top of a bowl of boiling water, there’s a clear winner.
In addition to complete and reliable temperature control, our tempering machines also use dry heat in the form of an electronic induction heating device. This means you do not have a chance to pollute your high-quality couverture with water while also increasing accuracy, stability, and efficiency.
If you have any questions about tempering simply comment below! We’d love to hear what you have to say if you’ve ever used one of the most renown chocolate tempering machines in the industry.
Still unsure how to use your Mol d’Art Chocolate Tempering Machine? Watch the video below, this covers absolutely everything tempering from Step 1 to complete tempered beautiful chocolate.