How to Temper Real Chocolate

Tempering chocolate can seem like a big mystery, but there's no magic in getting chocolate to temper, just follow these 4 easy steps and it works perfectly every time! 
 
Bowl of chocolate
 
What is tempering anyway?
When you buy chocolate, it is already "in temper." This means that all of the fat crystals are aligned to give the chocolate perfect snap and shine. When you melt chocolate to change its shape or use it in a recipe, you are taking it out of temper. The heat causes the fat molecules to separate, and if they aren't realigned correctly, you get what's called "bloom." Bloomed chocolate still tastes great, it just loses its visual and textural appeal (swirls). But even bloomed chocolate can be brought back into temper!
Typically tempering is only required for "real" chocolate, or chocolate that contains cocoa butter. Candy or confectionary coating doesn't require this process.
 
To get started all you need is a bowl, a saucepan and a thermometer. For the most accurate results, use an instant-read thermometer. 
 
Step 1: Setup
You can use a double boiler, but if you don't have one, you can set up a simple "bain-marie." 
  • Rest a metal bowl on a saucepan with 1 inch of water in bottom. Make sure the bottom of the bowl is at least 1 inch above the surface of the water - not resting in the water.
  • Using chopped chocolate or chocolate wafers, reserve a quarter of the amount of chocolate in a separate bowl to use as "seed" later.
  • Grab a silicone spatula and a good thermometer, and you're ready.
 
 
Step 2: Melt
  • Bring the water in your saucepan to a SIMMER (do not boil).
  • Stir the chocolate continuously until it has all melted smoothly.
  • Bring the chocolate to: 118° (48C) for Dark Chocolate or 112° for Milk Chocolate
  • Remove the bowl of chocolate from the suacepan and carefully wipe the steam from the bottom of the bowl.
WARNING: Just 1 drop of water in the melted chocolate will cause it to seize and ruin it completely. So be careful!
 
 
 
Step 3: Seed
Now we seed the melted chocolate with the reserved chocolate pieces. This will help bring down the temperature of the chocolate.
  • Add in the unmelted chocolate, and stir until smooth. Keep stirring with your spatula until the temperature of the chocolate reaches: 89-90° (32C) for Dark Chocolate or 86-88° for Milk Chocolate

    Tip: You may set your bowl of chocolate into another bowl of cool water to help speed up this process.

 

Step 4: Rewarm & Maintain
If the temperature of your chocolate drops too low, just SLOWLY reheat it over the bainmarie, or double boiler until it reaches it prper temperature: 89-90° (32C) for Dark Chocolate or 86-88° for Milk Chocolate
 
 
 
Your chocolate is now ready to use!
Maintain the tempered chocolate at these temperatures using both the cool water bath and the bain-marie as needed. Do not allow your chocolate to harden completely, as it cannot be successfully re-heated (will be lumpy), so only temper the amount that you need!
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