Tempering Chocolate

Tempering chocolate is taking real chocolate, such as eating chocolate and preparing it for use.  There is no need to temper chocolate if you will be using it for baking, but in cases where you will be using it as a decorative garnish, or as a coating, it is highly recommended that you temper your chocolate.


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Chocolate which is out of temper will get accumulations of cocoa butter known as blossoms.


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What Does Tempering Do?

The tempering process allows your chocolate to set up perfectly, giving it a snap and sheen. The process will also allow you to coax the most flavor from the chocolate. There are 6 different ways that the crystals is your cocoa butter can form.  The formation of these crystals is controlled by the tempering process.  The goal for good tempered chocolate is crystal type V, which will not degrade over time.

Crystal Type Melting Temperature Chocolate Properties
I 17°C (63°F) Soft, crumbly, melts too easily.
II 21°C (70°F) Soft, crumbly, melts too easily.
III 26°C (78°F) Firm, poor snap, melts too easily.
IV 28°C (82°F) Firm, good snap, melts too easily.
V 34°C (94°F) Glossy, firm, best snap, melts near body temperature (37°C).
VI 36°C (97°F) Hard, takes weeks to form.

Tempering Process

Tempering is a process of carefully manipulating the chocolate temperature during crystallization. There are two ways to temper your chocolate you can use a tempering machine, or you can do it manually.

Tempering by Machine

If you plan on tempering large amounts of chocolate, or doing it often, a tempering machine comes in quite handy.  A brand new tempering machine will cost you between $400 and $2000, depending on the size and how many bells and whistles you want.  For example, if you were a professional chocolatier, or bakery that needed to temper chocolate, you might want to purchase a Chocovision Revolation Delta (Rev Delta) Commercial Chocolate Tempering Machine, which will temper up to 10 pounds of chocolate in an hour.  It’s a great product, but is a little much for the home chocolatier with it’s $1800 price tag.  For the home chocolatier, the Chocovision Revolation 2 (Rev 2) Chocolate Tempering Machine Temperer is a great deal at only $550.  It will do up to 1.5 pounds of chocolate in 30 minutes, which is more than enough for most home users.

Tempering Manually

Tempering your chocolate manually starts with a heavy double boiler on the stove.  Add water to the lower section and boil.  Add your chocolate to the top section of the double boiler and heat, checking the temperature with a thermometer.  I like an instant read thermometer with probe and digital readout, such as the Taylor 1470 Classic Digital Thermometer and Timer, for this process.

  • The chocolate must first be heated to melt all six forms of crystals (heat dark chocolate to 120 degrees, milk chocolate to 115 degrees, and white chocolate to 110 degrees).
  • Once it reaches the desired temperature, the chocolate is cooled to allow crystal types IV and V to form (cool dark chocolate to 82 degrees, milk chocolate to 80 degrees, and white chocolate to 78 degrees).
  • The chocolate is then reheated to eliminate any type IV crystals, leaving just the type V (heat dark chocolate to 90 degrees, milk chocolate to 86 degrees, and white chocolate to 82 degrees).
  • After this point, any excessive heating of the chocolate will destroy the temper and this process will have to be repeated.

According to Baking911.com, a simple method of checking if the chocolate is in temper, is to apply a small quantity of chocolate to a piece of paper or to the point of a knife. If the chocolate has been correctly tempered it will harden evenly and show a good gloss within five minutes. Or, spread a thin layer on a scrap of parchment, wait five minutes, and then try to peel the chocolate from the paper. If you can, and it’s not blotchy, you’re in business. If not, start the tempering process again. KEEP CHOCOLATE IN TEMPER: Ideal temperatures are: Dark 88-90°F, Milk 86-88 degrees F, and white 82-84°F. If the chocolate hardens, you must start the tempering process again.

Using Tempered Chocolate

Your tempered chocolate can now be used for lots of things.  The simplest of these is to pour your warm chocolate into molds and let set.  You can also take your chocolate and dip cookies, nuts, fruit, truffle centers, and all assortments of other objects into your warm chocolate and place on a parchment lined baking sheet to set.


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Have you ever tempered your own chocolate?  What did you use it for?

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