Tuesday, October 25, 2011


"Temper" / "In Temper" / "Tempered" / "Tempering"
These are all terms used to describe chocolate that is in its ideal form, meaning that the cocoa butter crystals have set in their most stable form [and there's a whole bunch of them, and so many ways that can go wrong....but lets not think about that just yet]
In its most simple explanation, you need to melt all of the cocoa butter crystals [so the chocolate will be warm] and then rapidly cool the chocolate down while stirring it. There are different ways to temper chocolate. The easiest [and cleanest, in my opinion] way to do so is to "seed"
"seeding" means that you melt your chocolate, and then add hardened TEMPERED chocolate to the warm chocolate, in order to rapidly cool the chocolate down. this will bring all of the chocolate to an equilibrium state of stable cocoa butter crystals to the entire mixture.
tempered chocolate pistols, ready to be melted and tempered

to melt chocolate place in microwave safe bowl, and microwave in 10 second increments, stirring constantly until completely melted

once everything is melted, add TEMPERED pistols into the melted chocolate, stir these in, and continue to add until the pistols are left and there is no heat in the chocolate left to melt them. 

*a good rule of thumb with tempering is usually to melt 2/3 of your chocolate and then to stir in 1/3 to cool down*

Unfortunately, you cannot temper chocolate chips that you buy at the grocery store [ie- nestle or ghirardelli] because chocolate chips are not pure chocolate. Usually they contain different oils/additives to help them keep their shape during the baking process. So in order to actually temper chocolate you must start with only chocolate. Ideally, good quality chocolate. You can buy quality chocolate online [try amazon or ebay] or go straight to the source - valrhona, cacao barry, guittard. Of course, there are many more chocolate companies than these three: these just happen to be the chocolates that I have worked with the most and really enjoy.

There really is SO much more to know about tempering, and I will go into more detail sooner or later in different posts, but until then, if you are looking for some good info about chocolate/recipes/ingredients/methods/everything about chocolate, go read Chocolates & Confections by Chef Peter P. Greweling.

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