Tempered vs Untempered - What's the difference? 

tempered vs untempered chocolate

You may notice some differences between the two chocolates above. Can you guess which of the two may be tempered and which may not be? You'll notice that 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 or melt with a smooth texture in your mouth.

As you might have guessed, this right-side image is a direct result of tempering chocolate. Chocolate that isn't tempered, also referred to as untempered chocolate, lacks all the qualities you probably notice in any store bought chocolate you've consumed in your lifetime.

If you've ever had a chocolate bar melt and then harden again, you'll notice that it has likely bloomed and lost its temper. Your once smooth and silky chocolate now has white streaks and lost its smooth finish. 

Why Temper?

If you’ve ever purchased chocolate at a store, chances are it has gone through the tempering process. 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).

Seed Method

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.

  1. The first step of tempering chocolate is melting the bulk 2/3 of your callets/couverture/or chopped chocolate to ~113°F (45°C). 
  2. To begin the tempering process you’ll drop the temperature to 90°F (32°C).
  3. Begin to add the 1/3 of chocolate you set aside earlier, this is what you’ll use as the beta crystal seed.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The chocolate should feel a bit thicker and you should be sitting around 90°F.
  8. If you want to test the chocolate dip a spoon and let it dry.
  9. You should be left with a smooth, shiny finish.

It is very important to pay close attention to the temperatures at which you maintain when seeding chocolate. Going above or below the threshold could ruin your temper. 

If you're still confused about the tempering process, watch this informative video below

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 for many hours on end.

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.

For your convenience our Mol d'Art melters will often ship the same day the order is placed.

If you have any questions about tempering feel free to give us a call at 636.278.1799! 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.