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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Tempering Dark, Milk or White Chocolate

There's a great deal of information out there regarding tempering chocolate.  Unless you want shiny dipped chocolates, chocolate decorations, or molded chocolates that can last days without looking funny (blooming to streaking) - don't bother with tempering.  Just following the instructions I've given here for dipping your chocolates, and enjoy.  Anything eaten within a day or two will look just fine made this way.  And if you store your chocolates in the refrigerator, they can look great for a couple weeks.  However, sometimes I want lovely crisp, shiny tempered chocolate.

Homemade molded truffles & caramels, decorated with edible shimmer, colored cocoa butter or chocolate transfer sheets. 

Why would you want to temper your chocolate?  The short story is: Tempered chocolate has a smooth sheen.  It hardens quickly - so you don't have to put things in the refrigerator to cool/harden the chocolate. It's crisp and not soft, so when you bite into it, it isn't mushy tasting - it snaps.  If you make molded chocolates, dip chocolates, or make chocolate decorations - it is nice to temper the chocolate or you might get what is called 'blooming' or 'streaking'.  There's nothing wrong with chocolate that has streaks or blooming in it, but it doesn't look as pretty and means your chocolate won't have that crisp snap to it since it's not "tempered".
Molded pear-shaped truffles with chocolate just going out of temper - hence the swirls. No problem! Still tastes delicious - and looks rather neat, too. (Although I try not to do this)

I love making molded chocolates - although I keep it to about once or twice a year that I get out my molds and whip things together.  I'm all about simplifying my cooking while ending up with the best possible result, and this version of tempering chocolate is about as good as it gets. You still need patience during the cooling part of the process.  If you're nervous about using a microwave to make these. No problem!  Just set your toaster oven (or regular oven) to 175-200F and use that to slowly heat up your chocolate.  It takes a bit more time to bring things to temperature, and you still want to remove the bowl every couple minutes to stir the chocolate, but since it heats a bit slower, it will give you a bit more time to get used to how quickly chocolate heats up and how slowly it cools down.
A variety of molded chocolates - made with tempered chocolate. 

Tempering Dark, Milk or White Chocolate
Based on directions in the book 'Making Artisan Chocolates' by Andrew Garrison Shotts (a beautiful chocolate making book)

You can temper as much or as little chocolate as you like.  Just use the following percentage guideline:

Place 75% of your total amount of high-quality chocolate (chopped or as chips) in a microwave-safe bowl.  Save 25% chopped, chips or as a large hunk for later.  (For example, I typically use 3 bags ghirardelli or guittard chocolate chips and save 1 bag for later in the recipe. I find milk & white chocolates can be thick and a bit difficult to work with - but the guittard chips seem a bit less sticky than ghirardelli.  My favorite are Callebaut, with a proper consistency for molding, but I have to order these online.  However, the taste and texture is wonderful to work with!). 

* Purchased chocolate chips have varying amounts of cocoa butter in them. Some melt and are quite sticky and others are nice and smooth and flow easily.  Unfortunately, for most of us not ordering bulk from chocolate companies, it just takes a bit of experimentation to find the right kind.  Just don't get any chocolate that has 'extra' ingredients added into it, or it won't temper properly.  I find milk chocolate tends to be harder to work with and temper than dark chocolate - so best to keep that in mind!

Tempering process:
Usually takes me ~45 minutes - 1 hr.  A little longer if heating in toaster oven/regular oven (as mentioned above as a heating option, though the cooling time is the most time-intensive part of this process). 

Step 1: 
Heat 75% total chocolate in the microwave for 60 seconds at 50% power.  Stir well (even if it looks like nothing has happened).  Repeat heating and stirring process.

Heat until 115-120F.

Step 2:
Place bowl on the counter and let SIT for 10 minutes.

Step 3:
This next step takes time - be patient as you wait for your chocolate to cool.
Start adding ~ half of your 25% remaining chocolate by handfuls to your melted chocolate.  Stir in thoroughly.  Stirring every 20-30 seconds, allow the mixture to lower in temperature to:
86F for dark chocolate
81F for milk or white chocolate
When your initial chocolate you've added has melted in most of the way, add another handful or two of chocolate to your mixture to help it continue to cool.   Keep stirring every 20-30 seconds.  Be patient!  This can take 30-45 minutes or more depending on how much chocolate you have melted.

Step 4:
Once your chocolate has cooled.  Return it to the microwave and heat 1-5 seconds at 50% power.  Chocolate heats fast compared to how slowly it cools!  You don't want to go above 91F for the dark chocolate or ~89F for the milk chocolate, or the chocolate will go out of temper.
Heat chocolate to:
89F for dark chocolate
86F for milk or white chocolate

You can scoop out any chunks of chocolate that didn't melt all the way.  (Plop them on parchment paper and save them and reuse them next time you temper chocolate - or save for chocolate chip cookies, etc.)

Step 5:
Test your tempered chocolate on **parchment paper by drizzling a small bit with a fork. It should harden quickly.

Now, work quickly!  Use chocolate however you like for molds, dipping, piping decorations, etc.  Don't use too much chocolate from the bowl at a time, so the chocolate stays warm.  If you worry it's cooling, place it back in the microwave for 1-5 seconds at 50% power.  Make sure to give the chocolate a stir occasionally, so you can keep it in temper.

If you lose the temper, then you will have to reheat the chocolate back to 115F-120F and start the process again.

**Parchment paper is wonderful for chocolate making - I use it to line the counters & line cookie sheets.  I line containers with it before putting tempered chocolate items in them.   It helps a great deal with clean-up, too!
Molds filled w/ tempered chocolate, then shaken to remove excess, and excess scraped off with a knife.

Molds filled most of the way with white chocolate ganache filling. Extra white chocolate was put on top once filling set.  I find they're easier to get out if I pop them into the refrigerator for a few minutes before removing. (Plus, I sometimes don't bother tempering the chocolate going on the bottoms, so refrigerating it a bit helps it harden).

Finished chocolates - lightly dusted with edible shimmer.

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