Tempering Chocolate

Why we temper
  • So that the chocolate will set with a good gloss and snap.
  • So the chocolate will contract as it sets and release easily from molds.
  • To reduce the chance of bloom forming during storage.
The yellow stuff below is pure melted cocoa butter. It is the key item we are actually tempering. This gives you a clear view of what is happening in the chocolate.
Step 1: Completely untemper the chocolate by melting to 120-125 degrees. A warming box at 120 for a day is sufficient, otherwise 125 is a more useful number. Set the pot of liquid chocolate over a bowl (touching) of 70 degree water and stir until the temperature goes down to 94 degrees.
Step 2: Pour about 20 percent of the liquid chocolate (or cocoa butter) onto a flat, smooth worksurface, such as a marble cutting board or countertop. Set the remaining chocolate over a bowl of 94 degree water and maintain that temperature.
Step 3: Using a scraper work the liquid back and forth. The goal is to keep the chocolate in motion while providing even cooling. The edges and part closest to the work surface will cool fastest, so you need to work those back in to the main mass to keep solids from forming.
Step 4: Sometimes you will have some chocolate set, so you will have to leave it out of the main mass, as noted in the chocolate image (see next image pair for reason why).
Cautionary note. Stirring chocolate that has already set back into the main mush can result in chocolate that, while passing the temper test metioned later, still has lumps.
Step 5: Work the mush until it becomes thick and dull in texture, but still barely spreadable. At this point return the mush to the pot of liquid chocolate that you have been keeping at 94 degrees.
Step 6: Stir the mush completely back into the liquid which is still set over 94 degree water. The liquid will cool as you stir in the mush. Add heat to the water at this point, and keep stirring until you raise the temperature to 91 degrees. Test for correct temper by spreading a dab on a piece of foil and cooling under a fan. It should set within 3 minutes, and still have a high amount of gloss.