Tempering chocolate is when you melt the chocolate but using the proper technique you bound back the molecule. The difference between just melting the chocolate is that once it set, melted chocolate will melt back in your hand super fast also it doesn’t have a nice sheen, that nice glossy finish you want.
Note that white/milk/dark chocolate temper at different temperature. Also each brand may have a different value. If you buy any cooking chocolate brand like Callebaut, Barry, Valrhona etc they will usually show the temperature graph for their product.
Before you proceed make sure you have a candy thermometer. While searching for one on amazon, I stumbled on this combo spatula/thermometer. To my surprise, it actually works ok. If you want more precision and have the budget I highly recommend buying a Thermapen. Much much much more precise and can be used for different usage.
dark chocolate ( need to contain cocoa butter)
At the minimum, you want to use 200g of chocolate else it will be very hard to monitor the temperature. I used Callebaut No 811 and needless to say the results amazing. It’s one of the best chocolate you can get your hands on 😉
When tempering chocolate it goes into 6 stages. Below is a very condensed resume for dark chocolate.
1-Chocolate goes from room temperature to 120F, all cocoa butter crystals are melted
2-Going from 120F to 95F –> Chocolate is cooling, no crystallization yet
3-95F to 85F –> Crystals are formed but not stable
4-85F to 81F –> Mostly stabilized but still some unstable crystals
5-81F to 90F –> Reheating to melt any remaining unstable crystals
6-90F –> This is where you use the chocolate
If you use the chocolate without following all the phases, you will end up with issues, bloom ( either sugar or fat), no gloss or snap, etc
Set up a bain-marie( double boiler) over simmering water and put 2/3 of the chocolate. Temperature is critical. Let it reach 115F. Stir stir stir and keep watching the temperature. This is a slow operation and if you overheat the chocolate you are done. Note that if you do this for milk chocolate the temperature to reach will be different.
Once at 115F, remove from heat and add the remaining chocolate little by a little while stirring making sure it’s melted before adding some more. By adding unmelted chocolate, it drops the melted chocolate temperature. Keep doing this process until you reach 95F
Let it cool to 80-81F while stirring on occasion.
It’s time to test the chocolate, put a little bit of chocolate on a piece of parchment paper, and wait 2-3 minutes. If it removes cleanly from the paper and its “snap” when you break it, you have tempered chocolate, my friend. If not, re-heat to 95F and restart the process to add chocolate to cool it down.
If you succeeded, put the chocolate back on the bain-marie and heat it back to 88-90F, take it out and use it. I don’t have any tool to do that so I used a fork and bath each square of chocolate. I think if you want to do professional-looking chocolate, putting the chocolate on a grill/mesh and pouring the tempered chocolate over ( with a bowl underneath to recover and re-use the chocolate) would do a super slick job.
For those chocolates, I used a base of gianduja ( see recipe here), using some of the tempered chocolate, I glued a hazelnut on top of each.