- What is chocolate tempering
- Let’s look at each of the factors important in chocolate tempering process
- Where to use tempered chocolate?
- What could you make from tempered chocolate?
- What chocolate to use?
- Recommended tools for chocolate temperin
- SIMPLE CHOCOLATE TEMPERING TECHNIQUE AT HOME
My chocolate experience began 20 years ago. Until my teenage years, I grew up in the regime of the Soviet Union and didn’t even really know that there was chocolate. Such a delicacy was not really available to us.
Later, when the iron barrier fell and the opportunity to travel appeared, I ended up in Brussels. Oh this happiness, the many chocolate shops. Gradually, the idea arose to create a handmade chocolate factory and shop in Latvia as well.
At that time, I was extremely fearless, I could realise any idea at a fast pace… without money, with enthusiasm and a clever plan. I turned all the salary I earned into an investment and the first chocolate shop in Latvia was created. If only I had known the many nuances that I know now. I made the first sample candies by simply melting the chocolate, I tried to roll them into some kind of balls that somewhat resembled chocolate truffles. At that time, I didn’t know much about chocolate, let alone that it had to be specially prepared in order to work with it and I learned that chocolate has to be tempered.
Photo: Ritvars Skuja
What is chocolate tempering
Chocolate tempering is a process in which the following factors participate – temperature control, movement, and process execution time.
TEMPERATURE / MOVEMENT / /TIME
In one sentence, this tempering process can be described as follows:
MELT CHOCOLATE TO 45 ºC, STIR COOL TO 29 ºC, HEAT TO OPERATING TEMPERATURE 32 ºC
By remembering just this one sentence, you will be able to work with chocolate without fear. Just note that the working temperature may differ by a few degrees for dark, milk and white chocolate!
The purpose of tempering is to ensure that the chocolate hardens in the final product and does not remain in a liquid soft consistency. So that when it hardens, it forms its characteristic chocolate “crunch” when we enjoy it, so that it is not soft and does not form a gray shade on its surface.
The main function of tempering is to form the cocoa butter crystals in the correct shape, which will guarantee the above-mentioned product properties. The amount of these crystals is important and also the correct shape – V.
Tempering can be done according to any of the existing methods, the requirements for all methods are the same: temperature, movement and time. Understanding how cocoa butter crystallises, will make this process easier to follow.
In this article , I will cover a very simple, easy-to-follow tempering technique. Its advantages – it can be done without unnecessary stress, it is a clean method, you don’t have to worry about chocolate on the table tops. The whole process takes place in containers and is relatively no more complicated than making any pastry cream.
Photo: Ritvars Skuja
Let’s look at each of the factors important in chocolate tempering process
Temperature control is a critical factor in the tempering process.
When heating and cooling chocolate, complicated processes take place, but in order to start working with chocolate, you need to know the essence of these processes.
The temperature zones where the melted chocolate should be are 45 ºC- 50 ºC when the chocolate is melted before starting the tempering process. Chocolate should not be heated above this temperature, it may burn. “in this temperature zone, the crystals in the cocoa butter are all melted.
Then the chocolate is gradually cooled and reaches the temperature zone below
34 ºC- 29 ºCAt this moment, the most important crystal formation processes take place.
The most important thing to remember is that in order for the chocolate to solidify after melting, forming the above-mentioned quality requirements, it must have a conditional time in different temperature regimes.
The second important factor – when the cocoa butter in the chocolate melts and hardens, so-called crystals are formed, it crystallises. These crystals have different shapes and properties.
It should be remembered that these crystals are stable and unstable in structure. Stable crystals are formed only in a specific temperature zone of 34 ºC-29 ºC When cooling chocolate, when its temperature falls below 34C, they crystallise rapidly, and when the chocolate reaches 29 ºC, unstable crystals also form.
But since the condition of well-tempered chocolate is not only the presence of these stable crystals, but also their quantity, so the chocolate is cooled below the actual temperature required for work, achieving a rapid quantitative formation of these V-shaped crystals. This working temperature is slightly different for each type of chocolate. You will get this information most accurately by studying the specifications offered by the chocolate manufacturer.
On the other hand, the stable V-shaped cocoa butter crystals melt if the chocolate is heated above 34 ºC
For example, the ideal temperature for working with dark chocolate will be 31 ºC. Once we have heated, cooled and reheated the chocolate to this working temperature, it is important to keep it within these limits, not exceeding 34 ºC and not falling below 29 ºC
If we use chocolate below 29 ºC, it is likely to consist not only of V-shaped cocoa crystals, but also of unstable IV-shaped crystals, which can affect the chocolate’s shine, crispness and tendency to develop gray bloom.
To keep this obtained temperature in the working temperature zone – a special temperature pot is recommended.
Of course, you can do it with a water bath, but in this case you have to be very careful not to let the water get into the chocolate.
Stirring the chocolate promotes crystallisation. No matter which tempering method you choose, the movement/stirring factor will be very important to form the V-shaped crystals and mix them evenly throughout the chocolate mass. These crystals will act as seed crystals that will continue to form more correctly shaped crystals.
Time is needed to form crystals of the correct shape. The time during which these crystals form is called the residence time. The longer you keep the chocolate in this residence time, the more stable crystals will form. Milk and white chocolate crystals form more slowly. Also, I previously described the temperature regimes and mentioned that after reaching 29 ºC, the chocolate is heated back to these 32 ºC degrees. It is not desirable to speed up this period by rapidly heating, but rather more slowly, because it also takes longer for these unstable crystals to melt.
Where to use tempered chocolate?
You will need to temper the chocolate whenever you make chocolate candies, chocolate bars or chocolate figures. But sometimes I recommend using tempered chocolate also in the preparation of creams and fillings, such chocolate will have a more stable form.
What could you make from tempered chocolate?
Chocolate bars with or without filling and various decorations.
If you want to improve the nutritional value of the chocolate bar, which is essential in making healthier sweets, use high-quality chocolate with less sugar content. Or use chocolate with sugar substitutes such as stevia. You can use different nuts for decoration – almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, sugar-free dried or freeze-dried fruits and berries, various spices. Coriander, mint, pepper, etc. go very well with chocolate.
Chocolate candies and truffles with various fillings, including caramel, chocolate ganache, liqueur, nut creams.
If you want to make confetti, you will need special forms.
Photo: Kristiana Pinne
And chocolate figures. You can make your children and friends happy with them by making interesting figurines of various animals, cars, flowers, etc. in forms. You will need the following forms for this.
Photo: Kristiana Pinne
What chocolate to use?
Currently, there are many different high-quality chocolates available on the market, not only for manufacturers, but also for home confectioners and hobbyists. I have found the following ones that I like and recommend to others. My top favourite brand is Valrhona Premium French Chocolate , they offer a big selection of gourmet chocolates and also sharing many interesting recipes, tips and tricks from chocolatiers.
Recommended tools for chocolate tempering
- stove – induction portable
- microwave oven – recommended (or water bath)
- a saucepan for heating water
- bowls suitable for microwave ovens
- thermometer digital
- infrared thermometer for measuring surface temperature
- metal bowl with cold water
- silicone spoons
- flexible spatulas – scrapers for cleaning the dish
- thermometer for determining room temperature and humidity
SIMPLE CHOCOLATE TEMPERING TECHNIQUE AT HOME
Below, you will learn the simplest chocolate tempering technique at home.
1. Melt the chocolate.
It is recommended to melt chocolate in a microwave oven, each melting period no longer than 15-20 seconds. Place the desired amount of chocolate in a microwave-safe container. Between each melting cycle, stir the chocolate with a silicone spoon.
While melting the chocolate, the temperature is measured in parallel. The melted chocolate should reach an ideal temperature of 45C. It can be slightly higher up to 50, but after exceeding this temperature we can face the risk of burning the chocolate!
An alternative to melting is to melt the chocolate on a water bath. However, when using this method, care must be taken so that water does not get into the chocolate.
2. Cool the chocolate
The chocolate is cooled in a cold water bath. The water should be about 10 C.
Place the container with the melted chocolate for a short time, about 30-40 seconds, and while holding the container in a cold water bath, stir the chocolate with a silicone spoon.
Periodically, remove the container with chocolate from the cold water bath and continue to stir the chocolate.
Place in a dry water bath until the temperature of the chocolate has cooled to 29 C
3. Raise the temperature of the chocolate to working temperature by heating it.
To raise the temperature to 32 C, which will be the working temperature here and will contain V-shaped crystals of maximum thickness, the bowl with the cooled chocolate is placed in a hot water bath.
When installing the hot water bath, make sure that the water does not bubble or boil, and water does not get in to the chocolate.