Chocolate seems to be in (and on) everything we eat these days. While some of its current uses may not sit well with some people, a few of chocolate’s purposes, such as covering confections when it is tempered, are quintessential to today’s dessert/food scene.
Tempering chocolate can be a tricky task. Trying to get that clean “snap” of broken, shiny chocolate makes most baking students cringe.
While we desire to attain such qualities for confections like candy bars, it may seem like a lot of effort for what seems to be only an exterior quality of the food item. However, if you see the end result, it is truly worth it.
With all of this said, is tempering chocolate really necessary?
Well . . . yes.
Allow me to explain.
The whole point of tempering chocolate is mostly scientific – within any kind of couverture chocolate (what you should use for tempering), there are several kinds of cocoa butter crystals that “build” chocolate’s structure after it solidifies (The Cooking Geek 1). Most of them (Forms I, II, III, and VI) are unstable, resulting in chocolate that melts too easily when held for a few seconds (the least unstable crystal, Form VI, melts at temperatures up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, lower than the temperature of an average human) (1). The goal of tempering chocolate is to get the first stable cocoa butter crystal (Form V) after finishing the tempering process (The Cooking Geek 1; Corriher 1). Obtaining these crystals means you now have the “snap” when you break the chocolate and it will not melt as easily when you hold it at room temperature (you have then obtained Form VI cocoa butter crystals, the most stables crystals in chocolate) (The Cooking Geek 1).
Now that we know why chocolate is tempered, how exactly do we temper this modern-day version of liquid gold?
Well, there are two different methods to temper it, but for this post I’ll show you how to do this via the seeding method. This method is very easy and less taxing than tabling chocolate (when you scrape chocolate onto itself on top of a marble slab to cool it down).
To temper chocolate by seeding . . .
- Set up a double boiler on top of the stove (make sure the water is simmering, not boiling). Chop 1 lb. of couverture chocolate into chunks; reserve 5 ounces for later use.
- Place the other 11 ounces into the bowl used for the double boiler. Melt the chocolate, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it reads 122 – 131 degrees Fahrenheit on a digital thermometer if using dark chocolate (113 – 122 degrees Fahrenheit for milk and white chocolates).
- When this range has been reached, immediately take the bowl of chocolate off the heat and bring it back to the counter (take care not to burn yourself or get water into the chocolate – the chocolate will bunch up and become unusable if there is water in there).
- While stirring, gradually add up to the full 5 ounces of leftover chopped chocolate into the bowl and cool the mixture to 80 – 84 degrees Fahrenheit for dark chocolate (78 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit for milk and white chocolate). Make sure to melt all of the chocolate you added before you add any more. Also, if you reached the temperature range before all of the chocolate has fully melted, just remove the unmelted pieces and set aside.
- After this, place the bowl of chocolate back onto the double boiler and reheat it while stirring to 86 – 89 degrees Fahrenheit for dark chocolate (84 – 86 degrees Fahrenheit for milk and white chocolate).
- Once the temperature range has been reached, take the bowl off the heat and test to see if the chocolate is properly tempered. To test it, spread a little of the chocolate onto the back of an offset spatula and let it sit on a flat surface at room temperature until it has set (about 5 minutes) (Corriher 1). If tempered correctly, the chocolate should shine. Then, bend the offset spatula to see if the chocolate breaks evenly and hear if the chocolate snaps. If nothing happens, temper the leftover chocolate again with 5 more ounces of chopped chocolate.
Now that you have successfully tempered chocolate, you can use it for any confections that sit out at room temperature, like truffles and chocolate-covered nuts. With tempered chocolate, your treats will now be as good to look at as they are to eat.
Another use for chocolate is to make modeling chocolate. This is a mixture of heated corn syrup and melted chocolate kneaded into a mass and left to set. It is then used like fondant for showpieces and cake decorating, from shaping flowers to forming figures (however, do not use it to cover a cake) (Craftsy 1).
I made both of these in lab. The tempered chocolate was used in knackerlis (chocolate discs with nuts):
And modeling chocolate for my first showpiece, an owl:
For some more examples of modeling chocolate uses, check out these links:
I hope, dear readers, that you have enjoyed reading this and, hopefully, see the potential in chocolate.
Thank you all for sticking with me! See you again soon!
All cited information:
Corriher, S. (n.d.). Food Science: Why Temper Chocolate? Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.finecooking.com/articles/food-science-why-temper-chocolate.aspx
M. (2013, October 11). Sculpting Jungle Animals Out of Modeling Chocolate | Sweet Dreams Cake App – IPhone, IPad, IPod Cake Decorating App. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.sweetdreamscakeapp.com/2013/10/11/sculpting-jungle-animals-out-of-modeling-chocolate/
Modelling Chocolate Roses. (n.d.). Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.instructables.com/id/Modelling-Chocolate-Roses/?ALLSTEPS
Tempering Chocolate. (2012). Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://thecookinggeek.com/tempering-chocolate/
W. (2014, March 05). Conquer Cake Decorating Fears: How to Use Modeling Chocolate. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/03/how-to-use-modeling-chocolate/