How to Temper Chocolate
Tempering is the easiest part of working with chocolate — a little stirring is all that’s required.
Tempering allows the right crystal structure to form from the cocoa butter in chocolate, making the texture smooth, shiny and crisp. Chocolate that hasn’t been tempered is softer, melts more easily and often shows blooming or streaking.
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Yield: Equals the amount selected per recipe.
Equipment: Brod and Taylor Folding Proofer (without water tray), thermometer, bowls, and spoons or utensils.
All surfaces in contact with the chocolate should be thoroughly clean and dry. Consider the temperature and humidity of any surfaces or tools your chocolate will come in contact with. For example, a very cold spoon could develop condensation when moved to a warm area. The resulting moisture will likely cause your chocolate to seize, becoming lumpy and unworkable.
Timing: Varies according to the type and amount of chocolate selected. With the temperature set at 115 °F / 46 °C, a 1‑lb / 0.5‑kg solid block of dark chocolate will gently melt in about 2.5 hours. After it is melted, the Proofer can hold the melted chocolate for an extended time at 90 °F / 32 °C.
Dark, milk, or white chocolate containing cocoa butter.
Step One: Melt the Chocolate. Set up the Proofer with wire rack in place and the thermostat at 115 °F / 46 °C. The water tray may be placed underneath the rack, but make sure it is completely dry. The entire Proofer should be dry to prevent the chocolate from seizing. Place about 3/4 of the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, setting aside the other 1/4 to use as “seed” chocolate. Your chocolate can be white, milk or dark, but it should be real chocolate containing cocoa butter, not palm oil or other non-chocolate fats (candy melts or some brands of white chocolate should not be used for tempering). It is not necessary to chop the chocolate, but smaller pieces will melt considerably faster. Place the bowl on the wire rack in the Proofer and allow the chocolate to melt slowly and safely. A quarter pound / 113 g of chocolate will be completely melted in 60 minutes or less, larger quantities may take longer.
Step Two: Adjust the Proofer Temperature. When the chocolate is completely melted, remove it from the Proofer and lower the thermostat to the correct holding temperature, normally about 90 °F / 32 °C for dark chocolate or 86 °F / 30 °C for milk or white chocolate. Leave the top open briefly so the Proofer will cool.
Step Three: Seed the Chocolate. While the Proofer is cooling, add a piece (or pieces) of the reserved, un-melted chocolate to the bowl to provide seed crystals for the cooling chocolate. Stir continuously as the seed chocolate melts, and continue stirring until the temperature of the chocolate cools to 90 °F / 32 °C for dark chocolate or 86 °F / 30 °C for milk or white chocolate. To check if the chocolate is tempered, dip a spoon into the melted chocolate and place in the refrigerator until firm. The chocolate should be hard and smooth with no streaking. If this test is a success, place the chocolate back into the Proofer to hold at the right temperature to maintain the temper. If the chocolate is streaked, the tempering process may need to be repeated.
Tempered chocolate (right) is smooth and shiny.
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Chocolate Tempering Table
Below indicated is the temperature range to maintain temper while frequently stirring. Do not exceed the indicated temperature range.
|86-90 °F / 30-32 °C
|84-86 °F / 29-30 °C
|84-86 °F / 29-30 °C
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why should I temper chocolate?
Tempering is the process of melting and cooling chocolate so it will be smoot and glossy when it sets. Chocolate that is not tempered can become streaked with white and may be soft. Tempering is key for making chocolate-dipped candies and treats. Chocolate covered strawberries, pretzels and dried fruits are more attractive when covered with tempered chocolate.
Chocolate that has been melted but not tempered after melting should really only be used in recipes that combine the chocolate with other ingredients, like a cake or brownies or ganache. If the chocolate is used by itself for a coating or bark or something like that, after melting it should really be tempered. The only exception might be if young kids are working with it, then that might be too much detail for them. Chocolate that has not been tempered will be soft, matte and will often show streaks.
Why should I remove the water tray?
Humidity will cause the chocolate to seize. The entire Proofer should be clean and dry to prevent the chocolate from seizing.
What does tempered chocolate look like?
Tempered chocolate should be shiny smooth and snap when broken.
How do I test to see if my chocolate is tempered?
Spread a small amount of melted chocolate on a plate; the chocolate should harden in a few minutes and should remain shiny. If it does not, repeat the tempering process.
What types of chocolate can be tempered?
Your chocolate can be white, milk or dark, but it should be real chocolate containing cocoa butter, not palm oil or other non-chocolate fats (candy melts or some brands of white chocolate should not be used for tempering).
Why won’t my white chocolate chips melt in the Proofer?
Some chocolate chips, especially white chocolate, are specially formulated not to melt so that they remain in chip form when baked in a cookie (instead of melting and leaving a hole in the baked good). Try a bar chocolate formulated with cocoa butter instead.
If my chocolate has streaks, what should I do?
Repeat the tempering process.
Can I re-use leftover tempered chocolate?
Let your leftover tempered chocolate harden, then cover it and store at room temperature. You can re-temper it up to two more times.
Will the temperature of my cooking utensils effect the chocolate temperature?
Yes. Many bakers hold their utensils and bowls at the desired set temperature in one corner of the Proofer to avoid problems in the tempering process.