I decided that making tempered chocolate was long overdue. I’ve seen it made a few times on cooking shows and it looks pretty awesome when it’s done right. It can go wrong if the heating process isn’t accurate so be sure to have a good quality thermometer before starting this.
What is tempered chocolate?
If you ever buy a nice box of chocolates, order a dessert at a fancy restaurant or go to a quality bakery, you might see chocolate that’s extra shiny. In fact, you can often see your reflection in it! This chocolate has gone through a process called tempering: it creates a fantastic looking chocolate that has a texture that snaps when you bite into it. Put simply, it looks and tastes better than the non-tempered stuff.
Tempered chocolate has another benefit. You can touch the chocolate without it melting or discolouring quickly. It’s a more robust chocolate that stores quite well at room temperature.
How to temper chocolate
I’m going to talk about tempering dark chocolate as that’s what I worked with. You need to keep in mind that the tempering process varies depending on whether it’s dark, milk or white chocolate.
- Fill a medium sized bowl with water and throw in a few ice cubes. Set aside.
- Create a water bath for melting your chocolate: place a saucepan over a medium heat with a small amount of water in the bottom of it. Heat until water simmers then place a metal bowl over the saucepan. It should fit snuggly and not be touching the water.
- Break your chocolate into small pieces and place into the bowl. Stir chocolate until melted and then continue heating until the chocolate reaches 55-58°C. You’ll need to use a thermometer for this. When stirring the chocolate, it is crucial that no water gets into the chocolate as this will cause it to seize and your end product won’t be good.
- Once the chocolate reaches the target temperature, remove bowl from heat and place in ice water. Continue stirring gently until it reduces to 28°C. Place back over heat until it reaches 31°C then remove from heat.
Your chocolate should now be tempered. You can use it to pour into a chocolate mould like I did in the pictures on this page. I used a pastry brush and coated a silicone sphere with three layers of chocolate. Another method is to simply fill each mould with chocolate, let it harden a bit then flip over the moulds so that most of the chocolate inside the mould drips out. Allow the chocolate to fully set before turning out of the mould.
Now you can add a scoop of ice cream to a plate then cover with the choc dome. Heat up some chocolate sauce and place in small jugs or bowls for your guests to pour over the domes. Their faces will light up, guaranteed.
In the picture you can see on this page, I also made some meringues and raspberry coullis for a bit more colour and texture.
Another good use for tempered chocolate is to spread out a thin layer onto the bottom of a baking tray or, preferably, a food grade acetate sheet. These sheets provide a shinier, cleaner finish. You can buy them from specialist kitchen/baking stores or online. Once you’ve smoothed out the chocolate, let is set until almost hard then get creative making shapes, curled chocolate, shards and much more.
What chocolate should I use to temper chocolate?
The type of chocolate you choose can really make a difference to the end product. Couverture chocolate works well. Try to find chocolate that is at least 60%, but 70% works even better.
A final word of warning. Avoid tempering if it’s a humid day. This weather doesn’t help at all and your end product will be very average.
Good luck with your tempering and shoot me a pic of your creations as I’d love to see them!